InsideLook: Marriott Rewards

InsideLook: Marriott Rewards

Marriott, the company that began as a nine-seat root beer stand in Washington, D.C. in 1927, has continued as a family business and grown to more than 3,800 properties in over 70 countries including a mix of luxury, moderate, extended stay and boutique brands.

Honored Guest Awards launched in 1983 and evolved into Marriott Rewards in 1997. Marriott Rewards participating brands include EDITION, JW Marriott, Autograph Collection Hotels, Renaissance Hotels, Marriott Hotels, Marriott Vacation Club, Gaylord Hotels, AC Hotels by Marriott, Courtyard by Marriott, Residence Inn by Marriott, SpringHill Suites by Marriott, Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott, TownePlace Suites by Marriott and Moxy Hotels. Members can also earn and redeem points at Marriott’s luxury hotel partner, The Ritz-Carlton.

Earning Ability
Members earn 10 Marriott Rewards points or up to two miles per dollar spent on all qualifying charges at JW Marriott, Autograph Collection, Renaissance Hotels, Marriott Hotels and Marriott Vacation Club; 10 points or up to two miles per dollar spent on room rate only at EDITION, Gaylord Hotels, AC Hotels, Courtyard, SpringHill Suites, Fairfield Inn & Suites, Moxy Hotels and Ritz-Carlton locations; five points or one mile per dollar on room rates at Residence Inn and TownePlace Suites.

Members can also earn 2.5 points per dollar spent all qualifying charges at ExecuStay, as well as one night toward Elite status for every three nights stayed, and 2.5 points or one mile per dollar spent on room rate only at Marriott Executive Apartments, also with one night toward Elite status for every three nights stayed.

Marriott Rewards members can earn points for shopping, credit card spend, travel services and other services.

Qualified members can earn three points per dollar spent with a maximum 50,000 points, or one mile per dollar spent with a maximum of 15,000 miles, for qualifying events or meetings. Members also earn 10 elite night credits for every qualified meeting held–giving you instant Silver Elite status.

Award Choices
Marriott Rewards has nine hotel award categories determined by location and hotel type. One night at a Category 1 hotel requires 7,500 points, Category 2 is 10,000 points, Category 3 is 15,000 points, Category 4 is 20,000 points, Category 5 is 25,000 points, Category 6 is 30,000 points, Category 7 is 35,000 points, Category 8 is 40,000 points and Category 9 is 45,000 points. Members receive their fifth and 10th award nights free.

PointSavers offers discounted award nights–up to a 33 percent savings. Hotels participating in PointSavers are discounted by one category in the required number of points. Hotels offering PointSavers change frequently. Seasonal Awards offer at least a 25 percent discount on some of the program’s most popular destinations during their off-seasons.

Awards at Ritz-Carlton hotels start at 30,000 points per night for a Tier 1 hotel and go up to 70,000 points for a Tier 5 hotel. PointSavers are available for 10,000 points less than the standard award, and if you redeem for four award nights, you get the fifth night free.

Upgrades to a larger room/suite or a room with a preferred view are available starting at 5,000 points per night when booking an award stay at Marriott Hotels and Ritz-Carlton hotels. Most rooms require only one upgrade but two or more upgrades may be required. Members can also combine a cash upgrade with award nights, starting at $25 for an upgrade.

Instant Redemption, available any time between check-in or checkout, offers a way to redeem your points for anything that you charge to your room, including a room upgrade or an extra night’s stay. Instant Redemption starts at 2,500 points for up to a $5 credit and goes up to 190,000 points for up to a $1,000 credit.

Members can redeem points for miles on partner airlines with international airlines offering 1,500 miles for 10,000 Marriott Rewards points, up to 35,000 miles for 140,000 points; and domestic airlines, including Alaska, American, Delta, Southwest and US Airways offering 2,000 miles/points for 10,000 Marriott Rewards points, up to 50,000 miles/ points for 140,000 points. JetBlue and Virgin America points are available starting at 10,000 Marriott Rewards points for 1,000 TrueBlue or Elevate points, up to 25,000 TrueBlue or Elevate points for 140,000 Marriott Rewards points.
Joining RewardsPlus entitles members to a 20 percent discount on points for miles redemptions: 8,000 points for 2,000 United MileagePlus miles, up to 112,000 points for 50,000 United MileagePlus miles. Marriott Rewards members can redeem points for travel packages, which allow them to couple seven-night hotel awards with miles at a 1:1 ratio, and RewardsPlus members receive 10 percent more United MileagePlus miles.

Car rentals with Hertz, Thrifty or Dollar start at 10,000 points per day. Flights can be purchased with Marriott Rewards points. Members can also combine cash and points for flights and car rentals. Members can redeem points for dinner and spa treatments, Orient Express tickets, cruises and Priority Pass memberships.

Meeting planners can offset the cost of a meeting starting at 67,500 points for a $250 Meeting Credit Certificate. Marriott GiftCards range in cost between 2,500 points to 255,000 points and a cash value between $5 to $1,000 and can be used for Marriott stays, spa, golf, dining and more.
Sports and leisure award options include golf instruction, rounds of golf and spa services. Points can be redeemed for online shopping at merchants such as Canon, Samsung, Tumi, Apple and many more. Marriott Rewards also offers music, movies, audio books and ebook downloads for point redemptions. Members can redeem points for sporting events and concert tickets. If you don’t see what you want, Marriott Rewards will try to source it for you.

Points can also be donated to the charity of your choice by searching a vast database of nonprofit organizations including two featured causes: International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and Fisher House Foundation’s Hotels for Heroes, which helps wounded servicemen and women. Point donations start at 10,000 points for a $25 donation.

Marriott Rewards introduced the Cash + Points award offer in 2012, which allows members to combine paid and redemption nights in the same reservation and members earn points on the paid portion of the reservation.

Marriott Rewards partners with 39 frequent flyer programs with most offering two miles per dollar spent on all qualifying charges at hotels.

Members can earn 500 points per Hertz or Sixt car rental and three points per dollar spent with CruisesOnly. Members earn between one and 17 points per dollar spent with over 350 online retailers at the Marriott Rewards ShopMyWay Mall. Members can earn 10 points per minute for making mobile calls through Travelling Connect. Other partners include EnergyPlus and Ctrip. With the Marriott Rewards Refer A Friend program, members can earn up to 50,000 points when referring new members. Diners Club Club Rewards points can be converted into Marriott Rewards points: 1,250 Club Rewards points equals 1,500 Marriott Rewards points.

Marriott partners with Visa to offer points-earning credit cards for U.S. customers. Cardmembers who use the Marriott Rewards Premier Visa will earn five Marriott Rewards points per dollar spent at participating Marriott Rewards locations, two points per dollar spent on airline tickets, car rentals and restaurants and one point per dollar spent on all other purchases. Cardholders will earn a 50,000-point bonus after you spend $1,000 in your first three months and 15 credits towards elite status every year (enough for first-level elite status), plus one elite credit for every $3,000 spent, one free night at a Category 1 to 4 hotel upon approval and an additional free night at a Category 1 to 5 hotel every year you remain a cardholder. The card also comes with chip and signature technology, no foreign transaction fees, travel insurance benefits and trip cancellation coverage, among other benefits. The annual fee of $85 is waived for the first year.

Marriott Rewards also offers a Premier Business Credit Card for business owners. Premier Business owners earn all of the rewards above, plus two points per $1 spent at office supply stores, Internet, cable and phone services purchases. The annual fee of $99 for the Premier Business Credit Card is waived for the first year.

Elite Level Program
Marriott Rewards has a three-tiered elite program. Members who stay 10 qualified nights in a calendar year receive Silver Elite status. Silver Elite members earn a 20 percent points bonus on stays, late checkout, an exclusive reservation and guest services phone line, elite-only offers and guaranteed reservations. If Marriott is unable to honor an elite member’s reservation, they will pay for lodging at a nearby hotel and compensate the member for the inconvenience.

Members who stay 50 qualified nights are Gold Elite members and receive all Silver Elite benefits plus 25 percent bonus points on stays, guaranteed room type, room upgrades including suites, guaranteed lounge access/free breakfast at participating hotels, complimentary premium tiered Internet service and exclusive offers including customized awards.

Platinum Elite members are those who stay 75 qualified nights in a calendar year and receive 50 percent bonus points, an exclusive reservation line, guaranteed Platinum Elite arrival gift and 48-hour guaranteed availability, in addition to the previously mentioned Gold Elite benefits.

With Elite Rollover Nights, members can carry over any nights in excess of the requalification requirement into the next year.

Marriott also offers lifetime elite status: Lifetime Silver is earned with 250 nights and 1.2 million points; Gold at 500 nights and 1.6 million points and Platinum at 750 nights and 2 million points.

Rules and Conditions
Points may be purchased and received as a gift in increments of 1,000 points for $12.50 up to a combined maximum of 50,000 points per year. Members can transfer points from their account to their legal spouse or domestic partner’s Marriott Rewards account at no cost but only when needed for a specific award, rounded to the nearest 1,000 points.

Awards are transferable to anyone but you must call the service center to redeem points for a reservation under someone else’s name. Points do not expire and although Marriott Rewards reserves the right to discontinue accounts, the accounts are not discontinued because of inactivity.
Marriott Rewards does not have blackout dates for award stays but hotels may limit the number of standard rooms available for redemption on a limited number of days.

Marriott Rewards members can sign up for eFolio so that hotel bills will be automatically emailed after each Marriott stay–something that comes in handy in the event of missing credit for a hotel stay. Missing credit must be claimed within one year of the stay. Marriott Rewards members can use the Marriott Mobile App for Android and iOS to check-in and checkout at JW Marriott, Autograph Collection, Renaissance Hotels, Marriott Hotels, AC Hotels, Marriott Executive Apartments and at international hotels under the Courtyard, Residence Inn and Fairfield Inn & Suites brands.

Service Support
Members in the U.S. and Canada can call customer service between 8:15am and 9:00pm ET, Monday through Friday. Marriott’s toll-free number, (800) 450-4442, is available 24 hours/seven days a week to receive automated account information. A chat help feature is available on from 8am to 11pm ET daily and you can also email Marriott with questions or concerns (expect a response within 24 hours). Our email was answered within hours on the same day with a complete and correct answer to our question.

Plus Features
Marriott Rewards was awarded Program of the Year at the 2014 Freddie Awards (for the seventh consecutive year). Members appreciate recurring promotions like MegaBonus that allow for accelerated points earning. Members can save up to 33 percent with PointSavers; and when you redeem five nights, the fifth night is free.

Minus Features
Points earning at some brands is much lower than the normal rate at other brands. While there are many choices for award redemption due to Marriott’s large footprint, some members complain that there are no truly aspirational properties. Most of the complaints from frequent guests are related to the elite-level program, which they think lags behind other major hotel programs with what they offer their best customers.

Program Rating
Overall Score 7.35
Earning Ability 8.0
Award Choices 7.5
Partnerships 7.0
Elite Level 7.0
Rules & Conditions 7.5
Service Support 7.5
Online Services 7.0

Program Information:
Marriott Guest Services
310 Bearcat Drive
Salt Lake City, UT 84115
(800) 450-4442

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