(Ed. Note: I wrote and scheduled this before the onslaught of the 70k Marriott Rewards Premier offer “expiring soon” – I didn’t even know when the offer would be going away).
“Hi, I’m Trevor, and I am a Marriott Platinum member of 5+ years.” I say that tongue in cheek, but really, if you look at the blogosphere, I think you would be hard pressed to see much love for Marriott, except for the 70k miles after $2,000 spend in three months (and not nearly as much as you see Hilton mentioned).
More out of sheer curiosity, I tweeted to some of the titans of BoardingArea, Lucky and Gary.
— Trevor (@tmount) August 18, 2014
@tmount Like most hotel cards it’s worth keeping for anniversary benefits. But return on everyday spend is weak.
— Ben Schlappig (@OneMileataTime) August 18, 2014
Gary was slightly more verbose, so I’ll just type it: “Big hotel chains don’t need to be rewarding, smaller chains must be more rewarding.” He further noted: “extremely weak elite benefits, few special properties, poor credit card earn.” (emphasis mine)
About the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card.
Right now the offer is 70,000 Marriott Rewards (MR) points after $2k spend. We’ll get to what that actually gets you in a moment. But lets talk about the credit card earn that Lucky and Gary mention: Anniversary benefits – Category 5-night, and 15 Elite Qualifying Nights (EQNs), that’s why I keep it. You also earn 5 points per dollar at a Marriott, 2 points on travel (airfares from airlines, rentals, and restaurants). On the face of it, that’s really not bad of an earn rate–in a vacuum. The real problem is Marriott’s award chart.
First lets look at the redemption chart.
You’re looking at 7,500 to 45,000 points a night at a Marriott property. But wait, there’s more! You can also stay at Ritz-Carlton Hotels.
So now we’ve gone from being able to get 9 nights with that 70,000 sign-up bonus, to potentially a single night. It’s pretty rough, but, I’m not sure it’s the roughest, but I’d have to refer to the monumental work that Scott at HackMyTrip has done.
Now lets talk elite status
Many highlight the super high requirement to maintain top tier status – a whopping 75 nights!
Yes, you read that right, 75 nights in a Marriott to get top tier status. I’ve had top tier status since 2009, so I am going on 5 years. It is quite the commitment, but I can’t say that I have been disappointed. Last year I didn’t make the nights, but participated in a StarMegaDO, where ironically I met my blogging partner, @JoeCortez, as well as the VP for Marriott Rewards, who did a lot of listening that week.
Where Marriott has potential
Marriott’s Hotel + Air Package is pretty cool. If you’re the type that spends 7 nights in one place (you might’ve guessed, that isn’t me), you can “convert” a portion of MR points to airline miles, and not just a few. 37 Airlines!
Marriott’s “RewardsPlus” partnership with United gets you 10% more miles, over an above the Hote + Air Package 1. If you take the pessimistic approach, that you’ll get the 5th night free when you redeem, you’re actually burning points for 6 nights. At the lowest amount of miles, it looks like this:
What this boils down to is, if you’re looking to stay 7 nights at a Marriott Hotel, you’re looking at an even 1-1 exchange for a Hotel + Air Package 1. Avoid Ritz-Carltons! Just a brief review, you can transfer your 50,000 airline miles to Aeromexico, Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, British Airways, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, GOL/Varig, Hawaiian Airlines, Iberia Airlines, US Airways, Virgin Atlantic.
The Marriott Rewards award chart is hard to defend, but I don’t think it really is that out of the ordinary, especially when you consider that top tier Platinum members earn a 50% bonus on points for stays, and if you pay for your stay with your Marriott Rewards Premier card, you get another 5 points per dollar. Ok, not the greatest. I’ll close with this though – Its not as good as the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) transfer program, but, I’d say a 1-1 conversion of some Marriott rewards points ups the value, when one has MR points in larger numbers (which, logically, you would if you’re either churning credit cards, or staying 75 nights a year).