As if we need another reminder that hoarding points en masse is a bad idea, Marriott announced changes to their redemption charts this week. Perhaps the only good news is that customers will have three months to get bookings in under the old rates. The bad news is much, much more pervasive. The company is adding another award category at the top of the charts and more than a third of the properties will see an increase in redemption costs. I’m not so sure that OUCH does justice to the level of pain these changes will bring about.
The points required per night are not changing for the bottom 8 tiers; the new category 9 will require 45,000 points per night.
Not such a big deal if they don’t move all the hotels up a level. But 36% are moving up, compared to 1% moving down. I can only find one hotel (Renaissance Barcelona) which moves up two levels rather than just one. And only 13 properties appear to be moving in to the new Category 9 level. Still, the overall numbers are a bit disheartening:
- 8 to 9 – 13
- 7 to 8 – 32
- 6 to 7 – 55
- 5 to 7 – 1
- 5 to 6 – 190
- 4 to 5 – 370
- 3 to 4 – 401
- 2 to 3 – 184
- 1 to 2 – 43
The big pain points will be the number of hotels no longer in the Category 1-4 range for MegaBonus redemption or in the Category 1-5 range for redemption with the cert earnt for carrying the credit card. The 370 properties jumping out of MegaBonus redemption really hurts.
I’m not inherently opposed to award rates increasing. It is a necessary evil as the costs of the underlying product increase. At the same time, it sucks when it happens, and these increases don’t leave a lot of opportunities for anyone to win a part of the changes. I’m very happy I don’t have a stockpile of Marriott points to worry about dumping.
It is also somewhat interesting that this change comes just a couple months after the improvements to the lifetime status options with Marriott. Clearly they know they have to appeal to customers in some ways, though this move definitely isn’t one of them.
The Q1 promo for Hilton is open for registration, as reported over at PointsHoarder. The promo – double points or double miles for all nights through 31 March 2013 – is neither particularly generous nor stingy. Still, it isn’t enough to sway my hotel spending. For one thing, I am not particularly inclined to sift through the list of 600ish non-participating properties when I go to book a reservation, just to see if I might get a few extra points along the way. Plus, I find the 15% back I get via hotels.com and their WelcomeRewards program to be far more valuable personally. Given the upped requirements to attain HHonors Gold in 2013 the program has even less value to me.
Still, I’ll be registering for the double miles version, just in case I happen to end up in a participating hotel. You never know…
Did you catch the latest episode of the PointsHoarder podcast? If not you missed Stephan, Fozz and me talking about a bunch of changes to hotel loyalty programs for 2013, mostly regarding it becoming harder to qualify for elite status. And, believe it or not, one of the three actually thinks it is a good thing. We also talked a bit about American Airlines getting their pilots on board with a contract and the potential that leads to with respect to the theoretical merger with US Airways somewhere down the line. You can listen to the episode here.
In addition to the podcast there have been a few useful posts over there including:
Give it a listen (or read) and let me know what you think. There’s some pretty good stuff over there these days…
The latest episode of our podcast is out once again and I figured it was probably worth sharing that and some of the other stories which made headlines over there recently.
So, who is to blame when a deal dies? That debate is all the rage these days and it seems that the discussions quickly lead to rage, at least amongst some participants. There’s money to be made – LOTS of money – from credit card sign-ups and many bloggers are big in that space these days. But are they to blame for deals ending abruptly? After all, if they kill a deal then they stop making money because the deal they’re “selling” is dead. It is an interesting situation and one that we take a rather calmer approach to discussing.
Also of interest (I think):
The latest episode of the PointsHoarder podcast is now online with Stephan and me discussing a whole bunch of events from the past couple weeks. Listen to our discussion of the new Middle Eastern carrier alignments/partnerships/alliances and also discussion of Delta‘s planned expansion of their Seattle connectivity to Asia. I still cannot figure out how they plan to fill up those planes, but they seem to have a plan. Oh, and a couple mistake fares not being honored.
Also on PointsHoarder this week:
US Airways is at it again, selling points at a discount and making loung-haul, premium cabin award travel quite affordable. For the month of October there are two different buy miles promotions available. Combining them can lead to some great deals.
First up, there is a 100% bonus on purchases up to 50,000 points. For purchased miles the price tag comes out to around 1.88 cents each, up to 100,000 total points purchased. NOTE: Apparently this is targeted and I got lucky; go figure.
The second 100% bonus being offered this month is for mileage transfers to a second account. This promo is also capped at 50,000 points but the price point is rather cheaper – only 1 cent per mile, plus $30 per transaction and 7.5% excise tax. But you have to get the points in your account first.
If your end goal is 100,000 total points the best approach is to buy 25,000 points using the 100% buy bonus. That should cost $900ish
~$470. Then transfer those points to a second account (spouse, child, pet, etc.) using the transfer bonus. The second transaction will run you about $570. Total cost for 100,000 points is only ~$1470. And that’s enough points for some very attractive rewards. For less than $1400 in spend you can have enough to fly business class pretty much anywhere in the world from the USA. North Asia, South America or Europe can be had in first class around $1400 as well.
Note that accounts less than 12 days old cannot participate in these promotions. If you are even considering it and do not yet have an account open one NOW! You can still think about it and get the transaction done later in the month once you realize that is is a good idea.
So, you’ve figured out the basics on award bookings, have you? Getting where you want to visit and back home is great. But what about getting half of your next trip for free, too? Or getting to visit multiple destinations on a single journey rather than just one? With most frequent flyer programs this sort of "extra" fun can be had on a single award, adding more value to the points you’ve earnt. And in this week’s PointsHoarder podcast we’re talking about stopovers and open-jaws, the two routing constructs which allow this sort of thing to work. Give it a listen to learn about some of the different program rules, which allow stopovers and where along the routing, for example.
Over at PointsHoarder I’ve got details online about two major rental points car promotions running this fall. Both Hertz (which just got a bit bigger, acquiring Dollar/Thrifty) and National have big promotions running over the next several months.
I’m not huge into rental car points due to being caught with a corporate code which provided such great rates for so long that I used that rather than accrue points (the rate precluded points earning). The code is expired now so I’m a bit of a free agent in the rental car worlds and starting to learn a lot more about it pretty quickly. Deals like these certainly help.