USA Reality Check: Marriott 689 to Hilton 59 category 1 and 2 hotels

After publishing my Hilton hotel rewards map for properties in the USA at 5,000 and 10,000 points today, I noticed a related post link at the bottom of the Loyalty Traveler page from October 2013 –

Reality Check: Marriott tops Hilton for Category 1 and 2 Reward Night Hotels in USA (Oct 21, 2013).

Looking over my charts from 2013 reveals both Hilton and Marriott reduced the number of hotels in the USA with low priced reward nights at 10,000 points or less.

Marriott Rewards blows away Hilton Honors in sheer numerical advantage for the consumer in 2017 with 689 hotels in the USA priced at 7,500 or 10,000 points for a standard reward night compared to 59 hotels with Hilton Honors.

October 2017: Category 1 and 2 Hotels

Oct 2017 Hilton Honors 59 hotels in USA

(44% fewer low category 1-2 hotels in 4 years)

  • 1 category 1 hotels in USA at 5,000 points
  • 58 category 2 hotels in USA at 10,000 points

Oct 2017 Marriott Rewards 689 hotels in USA

(14% fewer low category 1-2 hotels over 4 years)

  • 133 category 1 hotels in USA at 7,500 points
  • 556 category 2 hotels in USA at 10,000 points

October 2013: Category 1 and 2 Hotels

Oct 2013 Hilton Honors 106 hotels in USA

  • 5 category 1 hotels in USA at 5,000 points
  • 101 category 2 hotels in USA at 10,000 points

Oct 2013 Marriott Rewards 801 hotels in USA

  • 189 category 1 hotels in USA at 7,500 points
  • 612 category 2 hotels in USA at 10,000 points

My interest in low-hanging fruit, i.e. hotels with low points reward rates, is primarily for places where there is a good opportunity to book a reward night for less than the published rate. I find it especially useful to know about hotels where I can buy points for a free hotel reward night at less than the price to pay the room rate. These are hotels I typically keep in mind for one night stays on road trips.

Cost to Buy Points with Hilton and Marriott

Marriott Rewards = $12.50 per 1,000 points. Maximum 50,000 points per calendar year. (See below for SPG points conversion opportunity for cheaper MR points).

Hilton Honors = $10.00 per 1,000 points. Maximum 80,000 points per calendar year.

Hilton Honors has frequent discounts for points purchases. There is currently a sale through October 5, 2017 for Hilton points at $5 per 1,000 points.

I purchased points a couple days ago and they were deposited in my account immediately and available for reward booking. My points purchase allowed me to book $25 reward nights for Hilton Honors category 1 hotels in Europe.

Loyalty Traveler – Hilton Honors points $5 per 1,000 offer good value redemptions (Sep 12, 2017).

Marriott Rewards does not commonly offer points on sale. A workaround for discount Marriott points is purchase Starwood points when they are on sale.

SPG Starpoints exchange 1:3 for Marriott Rewards points.

1 Starpoint transfers to 3 Rewards Points

Loyalty Traveler – Analysis SPG 35% off Starpoints $22.75 per 1,000 points to June 30.

SPG allows members to buy up to 30,000 points in a calendar year. A Marriott Rewards member could potentially accrue 90,000 points through a Starpoints purchase and conversion to Marriott Rewards points. The June 2017 sale reduced the price to acquire Marriott Rewards points from $12.50 per 1,000 to $7.59 per 1,000 points.

Equivalent Cost for Marriott Rewards Category 1 and 2 nights

7,500 points = $56.88

10,000 points = $75.84

Comparing Hilton Honors and Marriott Rewards points equivalency

One basic argument to be made is Hilton Honors points have a significantly cheaper acquisition rate than Marriott Rewards points.

Members can potentially earn Hilton Honors points at more than twice the rate of Marriott Rewards points for the same amount of hotel spend.

$100 in spend at Marriott Residence Inn earns 500 base points (5 point/$1) or 1,000 base points (10 points/$1) at most Marriott brands.

$100 in spend at Hilton Garden Inn earns 1,000 base points + 500 bonus points for Points & Points earners (15 points/$1).

Marriott Residence Inn and TownePlace Suites brands only earn 5 points/$1 and these two brands add up to 1,127 hotels of 5,118 hotels (22%) worldwide. All other Marriott brands earn 10 points/$1. 

Hilton Honors also has two brands earning only 5 points/$1 on base spend with Home2 Suites (36 hotels) and Tru by Hilton (14 hotels). However, these two brands combined are currently at 50 hotels worldwide or about 1% of all Hilton brand hotels.

Hilton Honors has a major advantage in terms of earning reward nights at low category hotels, as far as equivalency between earning 10,000 Honors points compared to earning 10,000 Marriott Rewards points for hotel stays.

In conclusion, Hilton Honors points are generally cheaper and easier to acquire through hotel stays and points purchases, but Marriott Rewards has far more hotels than Hilton available for reward nights at 10,000 points or less.

Courtyard by Marriott Pilsen, CZ is a European category 1 hotel I stayed at in July 2017.

Marriott Category 1 Hotels in USA (133 hotels)

Marriott Category 2 Hotels in USA (556 hotels)

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined in 2008.

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