Marriott, Starwood

SPG and Marriott Category Changes Announced for 2018

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Yesterday, SPG and Marriott both announced their annual recategorization of hotels in their various categories. Your last day to book at current levels is March 5th. Any reservations you have made by the end of March 5th will be locked in at current pricing.  Hotels that move down in categories can be rebooked in most instances by Customer Service.

Note: I believe that for SPG, you need the hotel to still have an available room night while at Marriott they can just swap out the award certificate regardless – so bear that in mind and I’d suggest calling to attempt to rebook at a lower category rather than trying to do it yourself online. You can do that starting March 6th. 

Here is a list of the SPG hotels changing categories.

And here is the Marriott list.

It’s worth noting that the Marriott changes are FAR worse than the SPG changes, with 4 times as many hotels moving up versus moving down. 21% of all Marriott hotels will move up while 5% will go down.

One major effect of these changes is the annual free night certificate that comes with the Marriott credit card. While I love the signup bonus for the card, it earns just 1 Marriott point per dollar on every day spend, worth about half a cent. The free night certificate basically erases the annual fee but that assumes you can use it and it’s limited to use for Category 1-5 hotels. Cat 1-5 now contains less hotels than ever. Hotels like the Renaissance in Austin, which was a great certificate use, will come off the table as an option as it moves to Category 6.  The Lisbon Marriott and Moscow Marriott Grand are now also moving from category 5 to 6.

As far as SPG goes, while less brutal, there are a few break points in the SPG tier system that can really hurt when it’s one of your favorite hotels. A jump from category 2 to 3 is particularly hard to swallow, representing a near double in points. And Category 4 to 5 means that hotel now has a “peak season” – meaning that in high season that is a 60% jump. Category 5-6 is a similarly tough pill to swallow, with the needed points jumping from 12,000-16,000 up to 20,000-25,000.

Good thing you still get the 5th night free!

Don’t forget, Marriott does allow you to make speculative reservations without the points in your account up to 350 days in advance. SPG currently allows bookings 550 days in advance, but that will change on Feb 11th to 350 days to align with Marriott. Keep that in mind for beating these category changes!

What do you think about these category changes? Any particularly devestating changes for you?  Let me know here, on Twitter, or in the private MilesTalk Facebook group.

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