Marriott Annual Category Adjustments: Lots of Hotels Getting Pricier

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Yesterday Marriott announced the list of hotels changing category for the year effective April 8th. There had been some rumors that they were going to be announcing a larger award chart change that might have increased the number of points required at the various category levels or introduced new category levels.  Thankfully that didn’t happen, but their annual adjustments did see a much greater number of hotels increase in category than decrease.

A fairly substantial 21% of Marriott hotels are increasing in category while just under 6% are going down.  That is a pretty unbalanced shift, but to me the most painful shifts are when hotels go from a 4 to a 5 or a 5 to a 6 as that puts them out of range for using the free MegaBonus nights that Marriott so frequently offers via promotions, or via the Category 5 annual night offered via their co-branded credit card.  You can view the full list of hotels changing category here.

As a reminder, here are the number of points required for the various Marriott Categories.  Keep in mind that these are not changing this year (though Cat 9 was added just last year).

Marriott Hotels:

Category 1: 7,500 points

Category 2: 10,000 points

Category 3: 15,000 points

Category 4: 20,000 points

Category 5: 25,000 points

Category 6: 30,000 points

Category 7: 35,000 points

Category 8: 40,000 points

Category 9: 45,000 points

Similar to with SPG, if you redeem four nights you get the fifth night for no additional points.

Ritz Carlton:

Category 1: 30,000 points

Category 2: 40,000 points

Category 3: 50,000 points

Category 4: 60,000 points

Category 5: 70,000 points

Hotels Increasing in Category:

There are several properties hitting the top tier Category 9 that are vacation oriented properties such as The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Autograph Collection, Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino, South Beach Marriott, and Vail Marriott Mountain Resort & Spa.  There are also lots of properties moving from the Category 5 to 6 slot that will put them out of range for the free night certificates such as Couryard Maui Kahului Airport, Courtyard Anaheim at Disneyland Resort, Courtyard New York LaGuardia Airport, Courtyard Miami Coral Gables, Gaylord Texan, Austin Marriott South, JW Marriott Hotel Houston, Seattle Airport Marriott, Residence Inn Washington DC/Foggy Bottom, and many more.  It is also interesting to note that all of the twenty Ritz Carlton properties that are changing category are increasing.

Aruba Marriott going from Cat 8 to Cat 9

Aruba Marriott Resort & Casino going from Cat 8 to Cat 9

Hotels Decreasing in Category:
There are only two properties falling from a 6 to a 5, the Spa do Vinho Hotel & Spa, Autograph Collection and the Costa Rica Marriott Hotel San Jose.  This will bring those two properties in range for some of the free night certificates.  There are also a larger number of hotels going from a 5 to a 4 including Courtyard Dallas Arlington by the Ballpark, Istanbul Marriott Hotel Asia, and SpringHill Suites Grand Junction, but as I mentioned far more hotels are increasing in category than decreasing.
Overall Assessment:
It’s good that no changes were made to the categories themselves, but seeing far more hotels moving up in category than down isn’t a good thing for points junkies – especially when it puts properties out of the range of using free night certificates.  It isn’t quite as bad when a Marriott property moves up as with some chains since the category levels go up in steady increments of 5k points (or 10k on the Ritz Carlton side) instead of seeing huge jumps between some of the tiers.  It’s also good that you have a couple weeks to lock in reservations for the next 50 weeks at the current point levels.  As a reminder, you can also book without having the required points in your account (just earn them by the time of the stay).
Did any of your favorite Marriott properties go up or down in points cost?

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  1. […] Marriott has announced their category changes this year. Mommy Points does a good job summarizing the changes.  The two biggest takeaways I see here are the number of properties that are no longer eligible for use with Marriott’s popular MegaBonus promotion because they’re above a Category 4 and the fact that the properties in categories 7 through 9 are really just way too expensive for most folks to plan on redemptions at these properties. […]


  1. I am so glad I locked in my stays for Hawaii for this summer! Looks like they raised all the properties we normally stay at.

    Just got the credit card and was planning on renewing it each year for the Cat 5 certificate. Now I don’t think we will. All the places we normally travel, or plan to travel have moved up to a Cat 6. So that would make it hard to even use the certificate for us.

    I just made reservations using the (2) megabonus certs I had. I made them at Cat 5 hotels. Both hotels are now moving up to Cat 6. Glad I made them before the change…

  2. They’ve absolutely gutted the credit card. 70k pts and a Cat 4 cert pales in comparison to 2 Free Hyatt nights as a bonus offer. The annual bonus Cat 5 cert doesn’t justify renewal, since as you’ve pointed out the more useful hotels are jumping to Cat 6. In fact, I stayed at Courtyard Maui Airport just last winter with Cat 4 certs and so it’s jumped 2 levels in 2 years. I used to hotel hop just for the MegaBonus free certs but now you’d struggle to redeem them anywhere that charges more than $100.

  3. It’s pretty bad, I would probably have preferred that they change the award chart it’s certainly more honest. Those Mega-Minus certs are next to useless now and so is the annual credit card night.

  4. Yeah, they definitely need to improve the free night that you get by having the $85 annula fee VISA. You get less and less return every year as the hotels move up. Pales in comparison to the annual free night you get from the IHG VISA for just a $49 annual fee, not to mention the 40k points and BOGO you get from Club Carlson for a $79 annual fee.

  5. It is painful to see so many go up to Cat 6’s – it would be nice to see the free night certs improve at some point for sure. Good luck getting stuff locked in before April 8th!

  6. I have a Megabonus certificate good thru Jan 2015. It’s good for cat 1-5, and the locations I was intending to use it at are moving from 5 to 6. 🙁

    There is a mere 3 weeks notice of this change. And that only thru travel blogs; Marriott has not yet directly informed me of this change. I wouldn’t be surprised if they never do contact me about this devaluation of a certificate I have already qualified for. 🙁

    Two of the locations I would normally use my cert for are an airport Residence Inn, and a small town Fairfield Inn. Why these now qualify for cat 6 is beyond me.

    If they don’t raise the cats that annual fee certs qualify for Chase will soon be getting a SM from me to cancel my Marriott card. And if the cats that Bonus certs qualify for don’t go up to 6, that will be the end of my going at all out of my way to participate in their Bonus programs. Something I have always done in the past.

  7. “As a reminder, you can also book without having the required points in your account (just earn them by the time of the stay).”

    Please explain… how do I book with points I don’t have in my account? Can I do this for fifth night free? I am 6K short of 140,000 necessary for cat 7 Hawaii stay in September.


  8. Found it! Cool…

    Members who seek to make a Rewards Redemption with an insufficient Point balance may make the Rewards Redemption and either (1) choose to purchase Points to make a valid Rewards Redemption, provided that the aggregate amount of Points purchased and/or received as a gift by the Member is less than or equivalent to 50,000 Points per calendar year; or (2) the Member accrues sufficient Points to use Points for payment of the Rewards Redemption no less than seven days prior to arrival. If Point purchase is not an option, or if Member does not have sufficient Points to use for a Rewards Redemption intended to be paid with Points seven days or less from arrival date, Member will forfeit any Rewards Redemption and must call 1-800-MARRIOTT or 1-800-952-2027 to re-book the reservation at the best available rate for which the Member qualifies.

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