Point Me to the Miles

Navigating the Path to Great Travel

Marriott Adds “Cash + Points” Awards…. Or So They Say

Last week I posted my thoughts on the great value of the Marriott Rewards program.  While it certainly has a number of strengths, I recognized that one weakness of the program has been their lack of so-called “Cash & Point” awards.  The best example of this is Starwood, where for example a one-night stay might cost a total of 3,000 points plus $45 dollars—a great deal in my opinion.

So when I heard that Marriott was introducing this to their program, I got very excited.  After all, the acquisition cost of Marriott Rewards points is relativelty inexpensive.

Unfortunately, the trill of the moment crashed when I read the fine print:

Get ready for Marriott Rewards Cash + Points, a new way to book a stay that lets you combine redemption nights and cash nights within a single reservation of two nights or more. Along with this new flexibility, you’ll still earn points and Elite night credits for your nights paid with cash. So add a few days of relaxation onto a business trip or redeem just a portion of your points for a vacation.

That’s right.  It’s not a true “Points + Cash” stay in my opinion.  In what I would call a true “Points + Cash” system,  a small cash outlay means far fewer points are required for a SINGLE night.  And it shouldn’t require a stay of more two nights or more.

Granted, I do suppose this is an improvement.  I had this problem earlier in the year, where I had to check in and out of the same room on a two-night stay when one was on an award.  Fixing this makes sense, as it will make the overall experience seamless.

But Marriott, you got all of our hopes up, only to drop the ball.  I think if Marriott were to add the ability to book stays for say 5,000 or 10,000 points + $50 cash, I think the program would be even more Rewarding and a lot more respected.

In no way am I saying that coming out with this sort of award makes Marriott a bad program.  I stood by them when I defended them recently, and I will stand by (and stay with) them today.  I would be delusional to think one announcement about how the do things should change the value.

It’s just that if Marriott were to go to a ” true” Points+Cash award, with  small cash outlay meaning far fewer points are required for a SINGLE night, such an award would provide truly INCREDIBLE value.

Again, it’s a strong program in my opinion, and doing so would make it even stronger.  So maybe you can understand my frustration and slight irritation when hearing “Cash + Points” gets my hopes up, only to have them dashed against the rocks.

Tip of the hat to Lucky.


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