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Marriott Award Prices Will Change on March 15

Starwood’s new award pricing took effect on March 1. The number of points required for free nights at around 180 of Starwood’s 1,000-plus hotels are increasing, whereas the points required are decreasing at only approximately 140 hotels.

On March 15, Marriott will adjust the prices for free nights in its program, with the following effect:

  • One hundred hotels will be downgraded one category and require fewer points.
  • Five hundred twenty six hotels will be upgraded one category and require more points.

For context, Marriott has around 3,600 hotels in its network, so the changes amount to award price decreases at 3 percent of its properties, price increases at 15 percent, and no change at 82 percent.

As should be standard industry procedure with such annual pricing adjustments (yet hasn’t been), Marriott has published a list of the hotels that will be affected by the change.

Marriott also provided some insight into the rationale behind the yearly nipping-and-tucking:

What is a hotel category?
Hotel categories determine the number of Marriott Rewards points necessary to redeem for a free night. For instance a category 1 hotel requires 7,500 points while a category 4 hotel requires 20,000 points. Marriott Rewards has 8 hotel categories which are determined by prior year redemption volume at each hotel and are not determined by brand, rate, amenities, location, or services offered.

What causes a hotel category to change?
Every loyalty program performs an annual audit on the categories that are assigned to each property. A hotel’s category can change based on the number of redemption nights at that property in the prior year. Marriott Rewards makes an effort to minimize these changes to maintain stability across the portfolio of properties.

That’s the official explanation, anyway. The claim that award prices are driven solely by redemption volume, irrespective of a hotel’s location or rates, is a head scratcher and seems to fly in the face of the fact that pricier hotels almost invariably require more points than more modest properties.

Making the Best of the Changes

The new prices are for award bookings made on or after March 15. So if you have upcoming award stays, review the list and, if a hotel on your itinerary is changing, proceed as follows:

  • If your stay is at a hotel whose price will increase, book the stay at the current lower rate before March 15.
  • If your stay is at a hotel whose price will decrease, wait until the new lower rate takes effect on March 15 to book the stay. Or, if you’ve already booked at a hotel that is decreasing, call Marriott Rewards customer support at 801-468-4000 to adjust the reservation after March 15.

This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.

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