Starwood Preferred Guest

Aug 2018 Marriott Rewards finding value in Category 1-3 hotel rewards

a table with numbers and points

The merger of Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest will move to its next step in August 2018 when 6,864 hotels worldwide are classified on the same unified hotel reward system of Category 1 to Category 7 hotels.

Since I do not have a big balance of Marriott Rewards or Starpoints to play with for the 60,000 points per night category 7 deals, my interest is finding value in category 1, 2 and 3 hotels priced from 7,500 to 17,500 points per night beginning in August 2018 when Starwood and Marriott work off same hotel category reward chart. I also want to know which hotels I might want to stay are better to book in July 2018 before they increase in reward price in August changes.

Starwood Preferred Guest is selling points for $22.75 per 1,000 points through July 20 and a maximum purchase limit of 30,000 Starpoints. These points convert 1:3 to Marriott Rewards for a potential 90,000 Marriott Rewards points.

Category 1 = 397 hotels (5.78% of 6,864 hotels on Marriott Rewards August 2018 hotel category list)

Category 2 = 1,284 hotels (18.71%)

Category 3 = 1,944 hotels (28.32%)

Category 4 = 1,580 hotels (23.02%)

Category 5 = 1,126 hotels (16.40%)

Category 6 = 313 hotels (4.56%)

Category 7 = 149 hotels (2.17%)

a screenshot of a hotel points reward
Loyalty Traveler-2018

In 2019, there will be a category 8 addition to the Marriott Rewards reward chart with Offpeak and Peak season rates.

*Category 8 =  61 hotels (0.89%) *coming in 2019, along with OffPeak and Peak Season reward rates.

a screenshot of a table

  • Category 1 = 397 hotels at $57 per night to buy 7,500 points. 
  • Category 2 = 1,284 hotels at $95 per night to buy 12,500 points.
  • Category 3 = 1,944 hotels at $133 per night to buy 17,500 points.
  • Category 4 = 1,580 hotels at $190 per night to buy 25,000 points.
  • Category 5 = 1,126 hotels at $266 per night to buy 35,000 points.
  • Category 6 = 313 hotels at $379 per night to buy 50,000 points.
  • Category 7 = 149 hotels at $455 per night to buy 60,000 points.
  • A couple can potentially buy 180,000 Starpoints with the current SPG 35% discount rate.

For my travels I look for hotels where $100 or less buys a good value room.

$682.50 buys 90,000 Marriott Rewards points

My main interest is where there are category 1, 2 and 3 hotels with relatively low reward rates offering a better deal than paid rates.

SPG is selling Starpoints for $22.75 per 1,000 points with a 30,000 points purchase limit. Potential to buy 90,000 Marriott Rewards points with this offer. 90,000 points buys about 7 reward nights in the new Marriott Rewards category 1, 2, 3 hotels.

2 nights at a category 3 hotel can easily be a $400 value, 3 nights at category 2 hotels can be $450 value and 2 nights at category 1 hotels can reasonably be a $200 value for an estimated $1,050 in redemption value on a $683 points purchase. The should be a reasonable return on investment easy to find among more than 3,500 hotels in these August 2018 Marriott Rewards low level categories 1-3 hotel reward nights.

And some hotels are better to book in July at lower SPG and Marriott Rewards rates before they increase in the cost for reward nights in August 2018.

Here are some examples of where there is good value in category 1, 2 and 3 hotel reward nights both before and after the August changes.

Category 1 Hotel Values

Calgary and Edmonton in Alberta, Canada both have two category 1 hotels listed in the new August hotel rewards chart.

  • Courtyard Calgary South currently MR category 3 at 15,000 points.
  • Residence Inn Calgary South currently MR category 3 at 15,000 points.
  • Four Points by Sheraton Edmonton International Airport currently SPG category 2.
  • Fairfield Inn & Suites Edmonton North currently MR category 2 at 10,000 points.

Several hotels in Canada are 15,000 points currently, but dropping to 7,500 points August 2018.

I frequently see really low Air Canada fares to Europe that could potentially put me into Alberta, Canada for an overnight.

China has over 40 category 1 hotels. China is not on my radar, so not sure how these reward rates compare to paid rates and too lazy to search hotel rates for the scope of this article. My focus is usually Europe.

Category 1 Courtyard Pilsen, Czech Republic for $45.40 per night.

I stayed at Courtyard Pilsen July 2017 for 7,500 points per night. This is one of the hotels that Marriott Rewards raised in March 2018 to 10,000 points and is now lowering back to 7,500 points in August.

2,874 CZK Advance Purchase rate or $128.18/night for Sep 10-15 for 5 nights or 30,000 points for 5 nights with 5th night free reward. I can buy 30,000 Marriott Rewards points for $227.48 via Starpoints purchases through July 20, 2018 for $45.40 hotel nights at this category 1 hotel reward.

Category 1 Aloft Cleveland Airport Sep 10-11 $162 after tax or $57 for a one night 7,500 points standard reward when buying Starpoints.

Book SPG category 2 hotels before August, if they are becoming Marriott category 2 or higher.

Bad News for SPG Category 2 hotel rewards currently at 3,000/4,000 Starpoints assigned in new Marriott Rewards category 2 at 12,500 points Standard Reward. This is a 39% increase in reward rate for Friday and Saturday nights. 6,000 Starpoints (equivalent to 18,000 Marriott Rewards points) for Fri-Sat or pay 25,000 Marriott Rewards points in August for a Friday-Saturday at same hotel in new Marriott Rewards program. Sun-Thu nights for 12,500 points is only 6.3% reward rate increase over current 4,000 Starpoints Sunday to Thursday rates.

Since most SPG category 2 hotels become Marriott category 2 or 3 hotels, these are properties to book before the August reassignment of hotels.

But, SPG category 2 to Marriott Rewards category 2 favors Marriott August change for 5th night free stays

You will be better off in August booking a 5th night free reward at an SPG category 2 hotel moving to Marriott Rewards category 2.

SPG does not offer 5th night free at category 1 and 2 hotels, so you will pay 18,000 to 20,000 Starpoints for 5 nights (54,000 to 60,000 Marriott points), but only 50,000 Marriott points (16,667 Starpoints) for 5th Night Free Category 2 bookings in August.

Category 2 Villa C Boutique Hotel – Design Hotels, Porto, Portugal 115.02EUR/$134usd Sep 11-16 for 5 nights or 50,000 points with 5th night free reward stay.

$380 to buy Starpoints for 50,000 Marriott Rewards points or $670 to pay room rate. Most chain hotels have risen in reward rates across Portugal over the past three years.

This is one of the hotels I am seriously considering for a points purchase booking in July for a stay in October 2018.

Category 2 Four Points By Sheraton Ljubljana Mons 140eur/$163usd per night Sep 10-15 or 3,800 Starpoints per night. This hotel is 5th-night-free reward stay bargain for $380 to buy 50,000 Marriott Rewards points compared to the $815 posted room rate for five nights in up and coming Ljubljana. Hotel rates have risen quickly in Ljubljana the past few years and hotel reward category rise will likely follow soon.

Category 2 Courtyard Taipei 5,864 TWD/$192usd per night Sep 10-15. I canceled a trip to Malaysia in 2015, in part due to the high expense of two overnight stays in Taipei between long layover flights to Kuala Lumpur. 12,500 points for $95 looks like a real deal at this Taiwan hotel.

Category 3 Four Points Perth August 2018 Price Drop

a screenshot of a search engine

Four Points Perth in July 2018 is Category 3 SPG at 7,000 points or 28,000 points for 5 nights reward stay Oct 4-9, 2018. Lowest published rate is $220aud per night.

Four Points Perth 5 nights = 70,000 Marriott Rewards points with 5th night free reward stay Oct 4-9, 2018.

70,000 Marriott Rewards points x $7.5833/1,000 = $530.83 to buy 23,333 Starpoints for 70,000 MR points.

Four Points Perth is $637.00 to buy 28,000 Starpoints for a 5th Night Free reward booking through SPG this month.

Advance purchase paid rate for Oct4-9 is $1,100.58aud/$813usd for 5 night stay.

Booking a reward stay in August using purchased Starpoints converted to Marriott Rewards points will only cost $531 compared to $813 to book 5-night stay for a savings of $282. Room rates drops to $106/night buying points compared to $163 for lowest published rate on Starwood Hotels.

14 Delta Hotels in Canada will be in new category 3 at 17,500 points per reward night and 70,000 points for 5 nights. 10 of these 14 Delta Hotels drop from their current 20,000 points as category 4 hotels in Marriott Rewards to category 3 at 17,500 points in new Marriott Rewards hotel category classification.

Delta Calgary Downtown Oct 4-9 at $853cad/$649usd after tax for 5-night stay. Currently category 4 at 20,000 MR points or 80,000 points for 5 nights. Rate drops to category 3 at 17,500 points in Aug 2018 or 70,000 points for 5 nights. $531 to buy 70,000 points for $118 savings.

Book Croatia before August for best rates

Westin Zagreb and Sheraton Zagreb, Croatia rise from SPG category 2 to new Marriott Rewards category 3. This is a change to 17,500 Marriott Rewards points at Standard Reward rates from the current SPG lower reward rates equivalent to 9,000 MR points (Fri-Sat) and 12,000 MR points (Sun-Thu).

Room rates for 5 nights from Oct 9-14, 2018 at both hotels are 162eur/$189usd night.

a screenshot of a hotel

These are hotels to book before August when a Fri-Sat stay is only $22.75 x 3,000 Starpoints = $68.25/night and Sun-Thu nights are $22.75 x 4K = $91 per night.

A 5-night stay increases from 18,000 to 20,000 Starpoints (54,000-60,000 MR points) to 70,000 Marriott Rewards points next month.

There are 110 hotels in the August 2018 Marriott Rewards hotel category assignment list that are currently Marriott Category 2 (10,000 points) or SPG Category 2 (3,000/4,000 Starpoints; 9,000/12,000 MR points). These hotels will be 17,500 per night in August. (I will post a list of these category 3 hotels in a separate article).

Marriott Rewards New Award Charts and Hotels to Book Before August Series

Marriott Rewards New Award Charts and Hotels to Book Before August Series

This is a series of posts on the new Marriott Rewards program launching August 2018 for 6,864 hotels worldwide. These are hotels you should consider booking at their lower rates in July 2018 for stays into June 2019.


  • fll July 4, 2018

    The best value in Croatia is Sheraton Dubrovnik. It too, would go up significantly as the Sheraton and Westin in Zagreb.

    The big difference is, the Sheraton Dubrovnik is a 2 years old resort hotel in an area south of Dubrovnik halfway between Dubrovnik and the airport. It has public bus to / from Dubrovnik. It does not have the price or the crowd as Dubrovnik. When it opened it was a 10K SPG property but for whatever reason it dropped to 3/4K – a big bargain.

    We stayed there for 3 nights in 2016 and loved it.

    The Sheraton and Westin at Zagreb are OLD, very outdated hotel only good for an overnight stay if you need a transit day at Zagreb. We spent a day at Zagreb after our 2 weeks driving trip in Croatia and then flew to Sydney on Qatar via DOH from Zagreb. (AA allows you transit DOH from EU to South Pacific provided it is QR to QR – a great redemption).

    Four Point at Ljubljana is a good property. It is outside town by the freeway but is buffered by a little hill and next to some forest area so you would not feel the noise from the freeway at all.

    We spent our first night in Ljublijana there when we drove from Istria Peninsula towards Zagreb (have to go thru Slovenia). The 2nd night we stayed at a Radisson property on the other side of the town (also outside town but it was a full service, much nicer property with an excellent buffet breakfast free for all guests.)

    The SPG hotels in Eastern Europe were really good value before August 1st. After August 1st, one may fare better going for non-chain options, including B&Bs.

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