Advertiser Disclosure: The credit card offers that appear on the website are from companies from which this site receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). This site does not include all credit card companies or available credit card offers.
Information about credit cards and card offers is accurate as of the date of publication.
Marriott has officially rolled out Category 8 pricing changes, moving 62 of their most luxurious Bonvoy properties into the new top-tier category.
Background: What is Category 8?
Rather than using dynamic pricing (like some of its competitors) or assigning award rates on a hotel-by-hotel basis, Marriott uses a published award chart that separates each of its Bonvoy properties into categories. Category 1 is the most budget-friendly, and Category 8 is the most extravagant.
Before this week, Category 7 was the highest tier, meaning Marriott Bonvoy members could book award night stays at top-tier hotels like the Gramercy Park Hotel in Manhattan or The St. Regis Rome for just 60,000 points.
If you’re hoping to book an award night stay at any of the hotels now listed as a Category 8 property, you’ll have to shell out 85,000 points for a standard night. When Peak and Off-Peak pricing takes effect later this year, you could end up redeeming 100,000 points per night to stay at these locations.
The introduction of Category 8 pricing is definitely a disappointment to many Marriott loyalists, but these changes don’t have to mean redeeming an extra 25,000 points every time you want a luxurious hotel experience. Many fan favorites in Marriott’s impressive hotel portfolio are still Category 6 or 7 properties.
In some cases, it makes more sense to forgo the Category 8 location to milk more value out of your points. Here are a few examples of when saving points doesn’t have to mean compromising your experience — and when it might be worth it to splurge.
When to splurge on Category 8 hotels
Planning an island getaway? Book at St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort
When it comes to island vacations, go big or go home. The St. Regis Maldives location is one of the most sought-after Marriott properties in the world. With sparkling reviews and luxurious amenities, it’s well worth the extra 25,000 points. Trip Advisor lists average rates for a standard room anywhere between $2,065 and $4,333, and other Marriott properties in the Maldives are notorious for being underwhelming in comparison. You might have to shell out more points to redeem a room here, but your overall experience will be better for it.
Want to experience the best of Hong Kong? Book at W Hong Kong
I’m a sucker for a well-designed space, and W Hong Kong definitely checks that box. Throughout the property, you’ll find beautiful and eclectic murals that complement modern interiors. W Hong Kong is also known for exceptional customer service, something that is increasingly hard to find these days. If you’re visiting for work, W Hong Kong has versatile business facilities available for meetings or workspaces. Vacationers will enjoy amenities like the Bliss Spa and Wet Deck. While you can find good hotels that don’t fall in Category 8, you won’t regret splurging on the W Hong Kong.
When to save with other Marriott hotels
Escaping to the Italian countryside? Book at JW Marriott Venice
With so many great booking options throughout Italy, there isn’t a real need to redeem 85,000 points per night on a room. Category 6 JW Marriott Venice Resort and Spa is located on a secluded island just a short water taxi away from the city. The property is home amazing amenities, including multiple restaurants and the largest spa in Venice. Plus, the view from the boat as you make your way to the resort’s entrance is breathtaking.
Business trip to NYC? Book at The New York EDITION
There are very few properties in the mainland United States I would be willing to book for 85,000 points per night, and New York City is no exception. There is no shortage of great hotels, and many of them don’t come with an 85,000-point price tag. If you’re looking for luxury, you can book nights at The New York EDITION, a Category 7 nestled on Madison Ave. New York is expensive, so saving where you can is absolutely necessary.
Using credit card points and miles to boost your points pool
Apply for the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card and hit the minimum spend for the welcome bonus. The offer alone can get you an award night stay at this property, even during future “peak” seasons. The card also comes with automatic Silver Elite Status to help you enjoy some additional perks during your stay.
If you love Marriott but want more options when spending your points and miles, adding a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve to your wallet could be a good idea. You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to both Marriott and Hilton at a 1:1 transfer rate, so you can pick which brand you want to stay with on a trip-by-trip basis.
By strategically booking your hotel stays and upgrading your credit card game, these Marriott award night pricing changes don’t have to put a kink in your 2019 travel plans.
This editorial content is not provided or commissioned by any of the referenced financial institutions or companies. Opinions, analysis, reviews or recommendations expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any financial institutions or companies, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any such entity. All products or services are presented without warranty. Bankrate.com is an independent, advertising-supported publisher and comparison service. This post contains references to our partners, and Bankrate may be compensated in exchange for featured placement of certain sponsored products and services, or your clicking on certain links posted on this website.