Marriott Bonvoy has raised the ceiling on some high-end hotel redemptions. What used to cost at most 120,000 points now costs up to 150,000 points per night, which represents an increase of 25%.
It appears that the unofficial cap has been lifted at many other properties, too, as we’ve seen recent changes to the maximum number of points required for a night from what it had previously been since the program shifted to dynamic pricing last year.
These changes come without any warning or notice, which is unfortunate for anyone who will now have to pay more for a redemption, but not surprising due to the nature of dynamic pricing.
For the past year, redemptions at Marriott’s top-tier hotels have had a “soft cap” of 120,000 points per night. As a point of reference, prior to dynamic pricing kicking in on March 30, 2022, the most we’d see for a hotel stay on a peak night was 100,000 points.
In other words, in a year, there has been a 50% increase from the previous maximum number of points required to stay per night at some of the brand’s best properties, and up to a 25% increase in the very recent past.
The jump to 150,000 points per night is only at some of the brand’s most exclusive properties in some of the most exotic destinations. One needs to look no further than the Maldives to find these prices.
For example, a stay at The Ritz-Carlton Maldives Fari Islands can cost up to 150,000 points per night during peak season.
Looking for a stay at the St. Regis Maldives Vommuli during peak season? Expect to fork over 150,000 points per night, or 600,000 points for a five-night stay (taking advantage of the Fifth Night Free benefit).
Other iconic St. Regis properties, such as the St. Regis New York or the St. Regis Bora Bora, range from 84,000–126,000 points per night over the next year.
Another fan-favourite property, Al Maha Desert Resort Dubai, maxes out at 126,000 points, up from its previous ceiling of 120,000 points, which appears to be a recurring theme.
It’s worth noting that many other properties have seen jumps of greater than 50% since the move to dynamic pricing, even though they don’t approach the upper levels of Marriott’s pricing.
For example, The Bodrum EDITION had a maximum price of 100,000 points per night for the past year; however, now it’s possible to find nights at 106,000 points.
For what it’s worth, prior to dynamic pricing, you could find off-peak nights at this property for just 50,000 points per night.
Needless to say, it, along with many other highly sought-after hotels, have increased significantly in the past year, and there’s no indication that this is the last increase we’ll see.
While an increase to the cost of a redemption can be thought of as a devaluation, it’s a bit of a different story when it comes to programs that use dynamic pricing. Unlike fixed-pricing models, which have a set number of points for a particular flight or hotel stay, dynamic pricing models ebb and flow according to demand and whatever other metrics the programs wish to implement.
During times of peak demand, expect the price to rise significantly, and during times of low demand, expect to get a better deal.
As for Marriott Bonvoy, we’ve seen a “soft cap” of 120,000 points over the past year at the program’s most desirable properties. Now, it appears that the bar has been lifted to 150,000 points per night at some properties.
Similarly, other properties have seen increases to the maximum cost, which unofficially appears to be 126,000 points per night at first glance, while others have seen the ceiling lifted to higher than what it has been for the last year.
With this in mind, we can think of this move as not necessarily a change to the program itself, since this is just dynamic pricing rearing its head. Rather, it’s just the latest iteration of Marriott leaning into dynamic pricing, and it’s entirely possible that we’ll see this ceiling lifted again in the future.
In a sense, we haven’t yet seen unfettered dynamic pricing come to the program, and at least for now there appears to be an unofficial cap of 150,000 points per night. That doesn’t mean that we won’t see fully dynamic pricing in the future – it just means that it’s not quite here yet.
Of course, this doesn’t take away from the fact that you’ll now have to pay more for the same property, and in that sense, it’s a devaluation. If you’ve been holding out on a February trip to the Maldives, expect to pay around 25% more than what it previously would have cost.
One of the worst parts of dynamic pricing models is that changes often come without any prior warning or announcements, and the odds of prices shifting downwards rather than upwards are remarkably low. As members of the loyalty program, we’re subject to the whims of whomever is implementing these changes, and there isn’t really any recourse.
Indeed, we’ve seen similar moves happen in the recent past with other major loyalty programs.
On the airline side, Alaska Mileage Plan‘s changes to award charts in December 2022 left the door wide open for unannounced devaluations when “Starting from” language appeared on the new charts. This is exactly what happened when we saw sudden jumps in pricing on Japan Airlines First Class and business class redemptions.
Likewise, one of the best sweet spots in the game, booking ANA First Class with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, was recently devalued overnight, even though it’s still competitive with other programs.
On the hotel side, recall that Hilton Honors had a similar “soft devaluation” one year ago when it raised the upper limit of redemptions. Since both programs no longer use award charts, this move from Marriott Bonvoy is essentially the same as what Hilton Honors did.
In the coming days, World of Hyatt will shift a large number of properties up in categories, and even though it still uses fixed pricing, some properties will cost more than they used to (or less, in some cases).
All of this goes to show that the familiar adage of earning and burning has never been more true. Hoarding points can be quite risky, as you’re never guaranteed to get the same value tomorrow as you can today.
That’s not to say that there still isn’t value to be found in Marriott Bonvoy and other loyalty programs; however, with so many switching over to dynamic pricing models, you’ll have to be more strategic with your redemptions.
For the last year, we’ve seen a “soft cap” of 120,000 Marriott Bonvoy points for stays at its most desirable properties. Now, it appears that the upper limit has been raised to 150,000 points, which is an increase of 25% from before.
There has also been an increase to the number of points required at many other properties, which varies depending on the location. Many of Marriott Bonvoy’s other top-tier properties now cost up to 126,000 points per night, up from the previous maximum of 120,000.
With the ongoing implementation of dynamic pricing, this may not be the last time the bar is raised in this program. As always, you’ll want to look around your destination for the best deal, and it’s always better to “earn and burn” your points rather than stockpiling them for the future.