Coming off the back of announcing its move to completely remove award charts starting March 2022, Marriott Bonvoy has now made the decision to eliminate its once very popular Hotel + Air Package awards.
For those unfamiliar, Marriott’s Hotel + Air Package awards allowed you to redeem your points for a certificate for a 7-night hotel stay plus a certain number of airline miles ranging from 50,000 to 110,000 (depending on your chosen airline). But as of January 19, 2022, you will no longer be able to redeem your Marriott Bonvoy points for these packages.
Update: All Outstanding Travel Package Stay Certificates Will Be Canceled on February 28
Now that redemptions for Hotel + Air Packages have officially ended, Marriott has followed up that “announcement” by informing members that the hotel portion of all outstanding travel packages must be redeemed by February 28, 2022.
Those who do not redeem their 7-night hotel certificate by February 28 will have their package canceled, and their points will be refunded based on the peak price for your selected category.
In other words, a member who redeemed 390,000 points for a 7-night Category 5 stay, plus 100,000 airline miles, would be refunded 280,000 points (7 nights x 40,000 peak points for Category 5).
Given this, you might be better off letting your package expire if you don’t have an optimal use case for it in mind that you’re ready to book before February 28.
After all, you’ll get the required number of points back needed to book a 7-night stay at your chosen category (more when accounting for the fifth-night free perk), and then you’ll effectively have swapped the other 110,000 Marriott Bonvoy points for 100,000 airline miles — a great swap when you consider that that would usually cost 240,000 points.
History of Marriott Hotel + Air Package Awards
Many, many, moons ago, before the Marriott and SPG merger in 2018, Marriott’s Hotel + Air Package award redemptions were by far one of the best ways to redeem your Marriott Rewards points.
Prior to the merger, you could redeem 250,000 Marriott Rewards points for 100,000 airline miles (from your choice of 41 airlines) and a 7-night stay at a Category 5 hotel. Then, after the merger, this specific redemption was devalued to a price of 330,000 Marriott Bonvoy points (a 32% increase in the number of points required), and the 7-night certificate was dropped to a Category 4 hotel. Of course, higher hotel category redemptions were devalued as well.
After this change, what was once the best way to redeem your points quickly became a mediocre option that only made sense in certain circumstances.
Hot Tip: If you have a large balance of Marriott Bonvoy points, you might want to consider burning through some of those in 2022 before Marriott Bonvoy award pricing becomes fully dynamic in 2023. Check out our tips on the best ways to redeem Marriott Bonvoy points for hotel stays and for flights.
Why This Decision Was Made
The effective date for the change was recently published in Marriott Bonvoy’s Program Terms and Conditions:
According to Marriott Bonvoy, the decision to remove this redemption option was one part due to poor demand for it, and the other part that they would no longer be able to support specific category hotel certificates once the award chart becomes fully dynamic in March.
In fairness, this explanation does seem sensible, as it’s true there would be no way for Marriott Bonvoy to facilitate certain hotel category redemptions if these categories will cease to exist under the new pricing structure. Unfortunately, it is likely that this will result in much higher award rates going forward once the change is made in March.
The loyalty program giveth, and the loyalty program taketh away.
Marriott Hotel + Air Package awards are hardly what they once were, so losing them as a redemption option is far from a massive loss, though it is a devaluation nonetheless. What’s more concerning is that Marriott Bonvoy seemed to be waiting until the eleventh hour to notify members of this change.
Ultimately, this is yet another example of why you should not hoard points within any loyalty programs, as it’s only a matter of time before another devaluation rears its ugly head.
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Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels