Why You Should Redeem Marriott Rewards ASAP

With the Marriott-SPG merger, we got a whole bunch of redemption rate changes to Marriott and SPG portfolio hotels effective August 2018. Many hotels actually went down in terms of points required per night, which was great news for those with healthy point balances. On the flip side, Marriott and SPG credit cards were updated to slow down the rewards earning rate, so it balances out.

Another major change is slated for late 2019, which is the introduction of peak and off-peak pricing. On the Marriott website, the following chart has been published to indicate new variable points redemption rates in 2019.

This means that a hotel that is currently redeemable at 25,000 Marriott points/night will be either 20,000 points/night or 30,000 points/night depending on demand. Without any further detail from Marriott on how "peak" times are determined, I would hazard a guess that weekends would probably be more expensive, or during popular travel times (e.g. in the summer).

There's no word on when exactly this redemption model is going to be effective in 2019 - for all we know it could be January 1st, or it could be later in the year. Regardless, if you know you have a trip coming up in 2019 and plan on using Marriott points for the hotel, reserve your hotel NOW!

This way, if your dates end up being categorized as "off-peak", you can cancel within 24-72 hours of the booking and re-book at the lower rates. If your dates end up being categorized as "peak", then you can save as much as 10,000 points/night. Currently, you can book as far as 365 days in advance.

Marriott Rewards also has a nifty feature where you can reserve hotel rooms without paying the points balance upfront, as long as you have enough by the time the booking rolls around. So even if you don't have the points today, if you're earning points through stays or credit card spending, you can still reserve far into the future.

I'd recommend booking hotels using Marriott points if you're planning on some kind of long weekend trip next year, or if you're traveling between May to September. Since there's free cancellation and no obligation to deduct rewards points immediately, you have nothing to lose by planning ahead.

February 17 Update: Looks like Marriott has quietly gotten rid of the "Points Advance" feature and you'll need the points in your account in order to book. On top of that, there are a whole slew of hotel category changes effective March 5, 2019. While some hotels are going down, a lot of the sweet spots in expensive cities such as Manhattan and Chicago are going up. If you're planning on using points for one of those cities, make sure you book before March 5 to take advantage of the lower rate.