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In a formal announcement this week, Marriott Bonvoy dropped a bomb on its 120 million-plus members: It’s replacing a fixed award pricing chart with dynamic pricing. Put simply, it’s only a matter of time until Marriott has zero obligation to cap the number of points required for a night’s stay among its 30 distinctive brands and some 6,700 hotels. Not good!
Thankfully, they’ve given us a heads up before the first round of program changes, which will take effect March 2022. Further modifications will arrive by the close of 2022. Here’s what we know about the upcoming changes and why you should consider burning your Bonvoy points ASAP.
What negative changes are coming to Marriott Bonvoy and when?
Currently, Marriott Bonvoy classifies every property under the Marriott umbrella in one of eight categories. Each category represents an award pricing band, with published minimum (off-peak) and maximum (peak) rates. Award pricing begins at 5,000 points and ends at 100,000 points.
Come March 2022 (the exact date has yet to be revealed), this published award chart will be a thing of the past. Hotel categories will disappear, as will off-peak, standard, and peak pricing. At this time, Bonvoy will introduce new flexible point redemption rates, which will align with hotel rates as they change based on demand, occupancy, and seasonality (though it’s not yet known if points will be pegged to an exact dollar value).
To soften this initial blow, flexible point redemption rates will “still have a minimum and maximum number of points for redemption rates that will more closely align to how they’re categorized today,” according to Marriott. We interpret this as follows: Award pricing will loosely remain within its current category minimum and maximum despite the lack of an official award chart. That said, this will apply to bookings only through the rest of 2022, after which a complete dynamic pricing model is expected, without any caps on the points required for award stays.
I was so excited to travel again and have lots of Marriott Bonvoy points. What do I do now?
Fortunately, these Bonvoy changes won’t begin until March 2022. Until then, it’s possible to lock in award nights at prices stipulated in the published award chart. Our advice if you have lots of Marriott Bonvoy points: fast-forward those travel revenge conversations and book your dream trip as soon as possible (and before March 1).
Current policies on award bookings allow cancellations as few as three days in advance and up to 30 days in advance, depending on the property. Some of our recent award searches included stays at the Ritz-Carlton, Boston, which could be canceled up to three days prior, while a points’ stay at the St. Regis Bora Bora Resort could be refunded if canceled more than 30 days in advance. Suffice to say, it would be wise to prebook your upcoming vacation now, with the security of being able to cancel without penalty. Just be sure to note how far in advance you are required to cancel.
If you’re not so concerned with maximizing the value of your Bonvoy points now and can’t handle the stress of vacation planning by March 2022, make a mental note to spend your points before the end of 2022. The initial transition from a fixed award chart to dynamic pricing—taking place between March and December 2022—won’t be all that dramatic given Marriott’s guarantee of minimum and maximum pricing bands during this phase. Following December 2022, however, there will be no limits on the cost for award stays.
Are there any positive changes coming to Marriott Bonvoy?
Long-term program changes aren’t looking great, but there is some good short-term news to report. Those who earned elite status in 2019 or later will have it extended through February 2023. The expiration of points has been paused through December 31, 2022. (Points typically expire if there has been no account activity for 24 months.) Free Night Awards and Suite Night Awards set to expire at the end of 2021 will be extended until June 30, 2022.
As an overall program change, Free Night Awards will become more flexible in early 2022 (the date is yet to be announced). Free Night Awards are typically issued as certificates to new and renewing Marriott Bonvoy credit card holders and are valid for points’ stays up to a specified number of points (certificates typically come valued at 25,000 points, 35,000 points, or 50,000 points). An upcoming change called a Free Night Award Top Off will allow Bonvoy members to combine up to 15,000 points with certificate values to achieve stays worth a higher number of points. While this sounds good at first, it’s difficult to assess the value since we don’t know what 15,000 points will be worth under the renewed Marriott Bonvoy program sans award chart.
I was considering a Marriott Bonvoy credit card. Should I still get one and, if so, which one?
Quick answer: Yes, but get it now, don’t make it your primary card, and spend your welcome bonus offer soon after earning it. Currently, there are four Marriott Bonvoy credit cards: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card, Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card, Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card, and Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card.
Change is brewing for the Marriott Bonvoy program—and it’s mostly for the worse. Members should consider spending their hard-earned points before Marriott’s award chart disappears in March 2022. If that’s not possible, try to use them by December 2022, when an upper limit on points’ pricing ends. Thankfully, advance notice from Marriott gives us time to still earn points quickly through credit card offers—and spend them even more quickly.
While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they are subject to change at any time, and may have changed or may no longer be available. This article was originally published on October 29, 2021; it was updated on November 8, 2021, with current information.