Marriott offers a number of great redemptions for travelers of all types. Luxury travelers can use their points to stay at hotels such as the Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis and price-conscious travelers can save their points for stays at Four Points or Courtyard Hotels.
The program recently switched from a traditional award chart to a dynamic pricing model where costs fluctuate based on demand. Using the Marriott search by points tool can help you find out how much an award night will cost for your travel dates.
Marriott is one of the largest hotel chains in the world, with 32 different brands. Each brand aims to target a specific type of traveler with varying amenities and prices.
Some brands are aspirational and expensive, while others are budget hotels that can be used to stretch your points. This tool makes it easy to find available Marriott properties in your destination, including their award category and price.
You can also search by using the Marriott Bonvoy redemption calendar, which shows both awards and pricing for a month at a time. This can help you decide whether it’s worth paying cash or redeeming points for a particular stay.
Renaissance is Marriott’s upscale brand that features more personality and design than you’d expect from an ordinary Marriott or Sheraton. The select-service brand Courtyard competes with hotels like Hilton Garden Inn, while TownePlace Suites targets travelers looking to extend their stays and save on food. There are also the luxury Collection brands, which feel more like independent boutique hotels.
The hotels in Marriott’s portfolio are grouped into categories, from Category 1 to Category 8. Each hotel has an award chart that shows how many points it will take for a free night. The number of points increases as you move up the categories. The hotels are also rated by a hotel rating system that takes into account the property’s services and amenities.
The hotel category system is changing starting March 29, 2022. It will introduce dynamic pricing, where the price of an award night will vary depending on the season and demand. For example, a popular Westin Maui resort will become a Category 7 hotel and could cost as many as 100K points per night during peak times. In addition, many limited-service properties in brands like Fairfield Inn and SpringHill Suites will see their prices increase by up to 20K points per night.
You can make your Marriott points go further by booking award nights at hotels in low-categories during off-peak periods. This will save you thousands of points, while still providing the same high-quality experience.
With a flexible dates search, you can find hotels that cost fewer points during low-demand periods. This is particularly useful for Marriott Bonvoy properties with higher redemption tiers, where peak and off-peak rates can be significant.
However, checking prices using the Marriott Bonvoy website has become a bit more complicated since it dropped its award pricing calendar. Now you must search each hotel in a city and month by looking at its rates calendar, rather than doing it from the same page as an Award Search.
The Marriott website does make it a little easier to do this by offering a Lowest Rates Calendar drop-down menu for each result in the list. You can also check for Marriott point saver rates, which are reduced rates available on certain dates and for select hotels.
In general Marriott and the individual hotels have pretty standard cancellation policies. However, there are some hotels that have much more punitive cancellation requirements than others. In particular, some of the higher-tier properties like category 6 Mauna Kea and Ritz-Carlton Bal Harbour have really strict cancellation policies.
Luckily there are some easy workarounds to these hotel-specific policies. One of the most straightforward ways is to call the hotel and ask to push out your stay by a few weeks or months. In most cases the hotel will do this for free and not charge you a fee.
Another way to avoid these harsh cancellation requirements is to make sure to book a standard rate and not an award rate. This can help you save a lot of points in the long run. Another great option is to use an app like WalletFlo to check the cancellation policy of each hotel before booking. Then you can cancel the reservation before it’s too late!