Marriott's merger with Starwood Preferred Guest last year set off a cascade of changes for the combined points program, using points for hotel stays, and more. And one of the bigger changes is on the way soon.
Starting Sept. 14, Marriott will begin using peak and off-peak pricing, with higher award rates during busier times and lower-than-standard rates for less-busy periods. It's been in the works for months, but the hotel chain announced the brewing change on Thursday, giving members roughly a month to plan ahead.
The change introduces a big swing in award prices for hotels in the same of eight categories, depending on when you stay. For example, a top-tier category 8 hotel – which currently costs 85,000 Bonvoy points a night – could dip all the way down to 75,000 points … or increase to 100,000 points per night.
Here's a look at the new pricing when it goes live next month:
It's a big change for Marriott, which has always offered hotel stays at the standard rates year-round – or at least when rooms were made available for booking. Marriott says even after this change, the bulk of the year will be priced at standard rates, with an even mix of peak and off-peak pricing scattered throughout.
But that will change throughout the year, as Marriott will regularly retool the peak and off-peak dates. And of course, any bookings made before Sept. 14 will book at the standard rate.
That means you've got a month to book an award stay with Marriott Bonvoy points during a typically busy time before the price may go up. If instead you've booked a stay somewhere where the rate actually goes down due to off-peak pricing, you can cancel and rebook your reservation at the lower rate.
More Change on the Way for Marriott
The long-anticipated introduction of off-peak and peak pricing was just the headline item in a slew of other changes for Marriott.
Among the other changes coming soon to Marriott Bonvoy:
- Marriott's “Fifth Night Free” feature – which gets your fifth night free after booking four nights with points – is getting a small downgrade. Marriott is rebranding it as “Stay for 5, Pay for 4,” which means that you'll now get the lowest-priced night for free. So if you stay five nights at a Marriott and one of them is priced off-peak, that will count as your free night.
- Marriott is tweaking its “Cash + Points” booking option to standardize how much cash you need to pay based on which of the eight categories a hotel falls in.
This rollout of peak and off-peak pricing has been a long time coming. Luckily, Marriott is giving everyone a month's notice. If you've got holiday travel coming up, you'd be wise to book it now before peak pricing kicks in Sept. 14.