Back in April, Marriott Bonvoy announced that off-peak and peak redemption rates for a free night stay would be coming to Marriott.com and the Marriott Bonvoy App in the future. Today, Marriott said that those changes come into effect on September 14th, 2019 so you have about a month to make some reservations at the standard redemption rate. A few other minor changes to Marriott Bonvoy are also being introduced which I’ll highlight below
For those who aren’t familiar with off-peak and peak redemption rates, it means that when you’re redeeming your Marriott Bonvoy points, it’ll now cost you more points during peak periods and fewer points during off-peak. Marriott says there will be an equal distribution of off-peak and peak rates across the entire portfolio but standard rates will be offered the majority of the time. This of course could change at any time so it’s always in your best interests to book early. Here’s a look at the off-peak and peak redemption chart.
How off-peak and peak redemption rates affect you
Obviously, if you’re travelling during peak seasons, you may need to use more points when making a redemption. But if you travel during off-peak times, you can now stretch out your points. Marriott states that the majority of free nights will still be offered at the standard rate so hopefully these changes don’t affect you too much. Some people will see this as a devaluation, but off-peak and peak pricing applies when paying cash so applying that concept to rewards was likely inevitable.
What we don’t know right now is the exact dates of off-peak and peak redemption rates for each individual hotel. When I previously spoke to Marriott, I was told that hotels had the power to change peak redemption rates locally based on demand but I’m not sure if that still stands. The press release also says “Across the entire portfolio, Standard rates will be offered the majority of the time with the rest being an equal distribution of Off-Peak and Peak rates.” Does that mean more popular hotels will be 80% peak while a hotel on the side of a highway in the middle of nowhere be 80% off-peak to maintain that equal distribution? Who knows, I just know you should book your stays now if you know your dates.
For example, let’s say you booked a category 5 hotel right now before September 14th which costs 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points for a free night. If your dates all of a sudden become “peak” you would actually be saving 5,000 points per night as the peak pricing is 40,000 points per night. Conversely, if your dates become “off-peak,” you could cancel your stay and rebook to save 5,000 points per night at the new rate of 30,000 points per night.
Presumably, we’ll know exactly when off-peak and peak redemption rates will apply come September 14th.
Cash + Points changes
One great feature of Marriott Bonvoy is Cash + Points. That still exists, but they’re updating the redemption chart to standardize what you’ll pay depending on the hotel category. With off-peak and peak redemption rates coming, they’re also modifying the number of points you need to make a redemption. You can view the new chart here.
Points Advance changes
Marriott Bonvoy members can book stays in advance even if they didn’t have the required number of points to make a redemption, you just need to have enough points before your stay. This feature remains, but now there’s a maximum of three reservations allowed come September 14th. Note that before that date, Marriott will honour up to five points advance redemptions at the standard rate. This change will annoy some people who are trying to minimize the points they spend but it’s meant to free up availability for other members. It also closes a loophole that some people were abusing.
Name change for 5th Night Free
Finally, there’s a minor change name change to the 5th Night Free promotion. It’s now referred to “Stay for 5, Pay for 4” which I guess it makes it more clear of how that promotion works. This is one of my favourite benefits of being a Marriott Bonvoy member so I’m glad it hasn’t changed.
How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points fast
Joining Marriott Bonvoy is free and you’ll earn points on every stay, but the quickest way to earn Marriott Bonvoy points is via the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card. You get a signup bonus of 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points when you charge $1,500 to your card in the first three months of card membership. Alternatively, if you sign up via a referral link, you get 51,000 points as a bonus but that’s on a minimum spend of $3,000.