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Will Marriott Bonvoy Offer 20% More Rewards for Travelers?

Jan. 18, 2019
Loyalty Programs, Travel, Travel Credit Cards
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Buried in Marriott’s announcement introducing Bonvoy was a claim about their new points program. The hotelier noted that bringing Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest together allowed members to earn an average of 20% more points per dollar spent at hotels.

Despite earning more points, those don’t necessarily add up to bigger rewards. After doing the math, we found that Bonvoy members coming from Starwood Preferred Guest do earn more points – but the average value of points holds the programs steady.

Are Marriott Rewards members earning 20% more points per dollar spent on average?

When Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest were two separate programs, members earned different amounts at each hotel chain. Without elite status, Starwood members earned 2 Starpoints per $1 spent at hotels, while Marriott Rewards members earned 10 base points per $1 spent at hotels. Under the old program, a $100 hotel bill without using the right hotel credit card or elite status would earn:

Marriott Rewards: 1,000 points
Starwood Preferred Guest: 200 Starpoints

After the two programs were linked together, members were allowed to transfer Starwood Preferred Guest points to Marriott Rewards at a ratio of one Starpoint to three Marriott Rewards points. When moving points from one program to another, that same $100 spend at a Starwood Preferred Guest location would turn into 600 Marriott Rewards points.

» Learn More: Marriott Rewards Card vs. SPG Card: How they compare

Today, members of Marriott Rewards or Starwood Preferred Guest without status or a Marriott credit card earn 10 points per $1 spent at participating hotels. Compared to the previous award earning structure, former Starwood Preferred Guest members definitely earn more points.

How much could points be worth?

Although both programs share the same points earning structure and award chart, the combined loyalty programs do not hold the same value. According to our latest analysis, Marriott Rewards points are worth an average of 0.8 cents each. When we last measured the value of Starwood Preferred Guest points, the average value was 2.3 cents per point.

To earn one award night at a Category 4 hotel, Marriott Rewards members must use 25,000 points. Under the former Starwood Preferred Guest reward chart, the same hotel would have cost an estimated 8,333 Starpoints. Based on how we value points, the average potential value of using those points at the Category 4 hotel could be:

Current Marriott Rewards: $200
Previous Starwood Preferred Guest: $191.66

» Learn More: What hotel credit card upgrades mean for your bottom line

Even though it’s true that current Marriott Rewards members are earning more points for their stays and through spending on credit cards including the Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card or the Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card, they don’t hold any additional value. Thus, the additional points don’t equate into increased returns for future Marriott Bonvoy members.

Are there better options for future Marriott Bonvoy members?

Frequent travelers who are concerned that they aren’t getting a great value from Marriott points should weigh the overall loyalty program benefits – including the value of their points – against the overall size of the company. Marriott is the fourth largest hotel brand in the world with over 6,700 properties and nearly 1.3 million rooms across 130 countries and territories. With a large footprint, finding a Marriott branded property is rather easy, making points and loyalty status rewarding through convenience.

But if Marriott isn’t a rewarding program for you, or you want to explore more options through status at other properties, travelers have plenty of other options. If network size is important, Wyndham Rewards has over 9,000 properties in their network and all awards cost 15,000 points per night – but their focus is on economy and midscale hotels.

Should you value luxury and potential rewards value over hotel availability, Hyatt Hotels is our choice for most valuable points and best program for luxury travelers. According to our analysis, World of Hyatt points are worth an average of 1.7 cents each, leading the way for hotel programs.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2019, including those best for:

Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:
5 things you need to know about the Marriott-SPG merger
NerdWallet’s top travel credit cards
7 guaranteed ways to find cheap hotel rooms

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