Another UPGRD Podcast, Another Day Marriott Rewards Gets Ragged On....

In the most recent UPGRD podcast, Marriott Rewards once again gets called out for being one of the "worst" programs out there! Is it the best? Nope. Can you get some great value out of it? Yup. I don't feel like writing a super long post, but I'd like to tackle a couple points.

  • "OMG it takes 75 nights to get platinum! That's like 25 more than SPG, and the benefits aren't even very good!" Marriott gives you so many ways to earn nights, without actually staying at their properties. For example, here's a screnshot of my current account activity.

Note that we are currently 16 days into the new year, but I already have 30 elite nights. At the one year anniversary of my credit card, I'll get 15 more nights. That will put me at 45 nights with Marriott, even after only staying one night thus far in 2011. Did I mention that every $3K I spend on my credit card, I also get an elite night. I'll be staying at primarily SPG properties in 2011, but I should be able to hit Marriott Platinum this year without ever staying at a hotel. So yes, the night requirement is high, but there are so many bonuses, rollover nights, etc, that it's not hard to hit.

  • "Marriotts are like so boring! They are really ugly!" Marriotts can be boring, and they have way too many properties that have not been updated in a long time. However, they also have the Renaissance line, which I think is fantastic, and typically in the same price range as the Marriott. Ritz Carlton is now fully integrated into Marriott Rewards as well. They also have JW Marriotts, which are exceptional. Let's not forget about the new Autograph collection of boutique hotels. Most of the Marriott "resorts" are very nice as well. I think these brands, on their own, put it in line with the other companies. To top it off, there's bound to be some sort of Marriott property in just about every random city in the USA, making earning points on the road a lot easier.
  • "It takes sooo many points to redeem anything!" Fair enough, but Marriott gives points away quite generously. The credit card gives you 2 points per dollar for every travel related expense, unlike SPG's 1. Also 5 points per dollar of every Marriott expense. After having 11 stays at SPG properties in Q4 2010, and only a few at Marriotts, my point balance at Marriott increased at a much faster rate. There are also ways to get exceptional value out of your points, like redeeming them for gift cheques.

Back to my original point: I'm not arguing that Marriott is the best program out there, but it has by far the most properties of any chain in the country, the Premier credit card is great, and I'm a happy customer . I have plenty of complaints about Marriott, though, and I'll save those for a later post.


Nick January 18, 2011 at 12:04 am

I will agree that the Marriott hate is a little strong on the podcast. While I am not a fan of many of their properties and brands (Courtyards are extremely uncompetitive, especially compared to Hilton Garden Inn) I find their redemption much better than Hilton. There is a strong bias on the podcast toward Hyatt, Priority Club, and SPG, but for many of us, none of the properties are really what we want when we travel (While all are great for higher end, there is an extreme weakness at the midrange properties for those programs).

Kevin January 18, 2011 at 10:09 am

I agree with EVERYTHING you wrote, except the bit about Courtyards being uncompetitive. I think they're just inconsistent. If you have been to some of the newer, updated Courtyards, they're really great. But if you find yourself in Vacaville, CA, just swing by that Courtyard to see how bad they can get.

To be honest, my favorite "low-end" property is Hampton Inn... I really like those.

Nick January 18, 2011 at 12:14 pm

Kevin, unfortunately my luck has been to be looking at areas with the older unrenovated courtyards. I have only stayed at one of the newer properties, and I really prefer HGI. However, I will say taht one of my preferred hotels in Toronto is the Courtyard Downtown, but that is more because of location.

I used to be a Hampton Inn man, but with the renovations that have been going at Holiday Inn Express, I've shifted to the point where I choose HIX over Hampton, unless it is a newly built Hampton. I will also say that Marriott has been doing a good job with the new Fairfield's. If only they would dump the Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwiches.

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