I've been reading the comments associated with this new Marriott Rewards program. I'm going to try to point out what this program is about and any advantages that may be there for us Rewards Members. These are my interpretations...please don't hesitate to correct my faulty thinking or add anything I've missed.
The one thing that is being touted by Marriott is you can now use one reservation to create a stay that uses some nights on points and some nights on cash. I guess the old system caused you to create two separate reservations and count on the hotel management helping you to splice them together. This doesn't seem to be WOWing the crowd, but it is an improvement.
Other chains offer a point and cash program. I am aware of Holiday Inn and I'm sure there are others. I think, most people were hoping for something like Holiday Inn's program......
The Holiday Inn program allows a person to use points plus cash for a stay of one or more nights. This is handy if you don't have enough points for a reward and would still like to redeem. For instance, if you have 40,000 Holiday Inn points and would like to stay 2 nights at a hotel that gets 25,000 points for a free night, you could only afford one night. With their program, they will allow you to use 15,000 points plus $70 (example) for each night. Therefore, you'll use 30,000 points of your available 40,000 along with $140 and get to redeem for two nights. In essence, Holiday Inn is letting you stretch your points when you don't have enough to cover the normal redemption amount. This cash transaction shows up on your credit card at the time of booking.
The Marriott program is different. You can't use points and $$ for the same night. In other words, you can't "buy down" the points needed with cash. Most people don't see any advantage to this versus what is already offered.
Here's what I think....... The new Marriott program will allow you to pick and choose nights for Reward stays. Let's say you would like to go to Atlanta for 7 nights. Typically, you would redeem 6 nights worth of points for this stay. You get one night free after 4 nights. With the new program, you could decide to use points for just 5 nights (one free) and pay cash for 2 nights. This would work for people that don't have enough points for the 7 night stay AND one other group of Reward Members. Read below.
When I tried the tutorial as to how this new program works, it gave me the option of clicking on each night of the stay and checking out the cash rate. This opened up the following thoughts:
Some of us have debated the "breakeven" point of these redemption nights. The quandary is....If the cash rate is $299 I believe points redeemed are a good trade off. BUT do I always want to use 20,000 points or should I just pay cash? If the nightly rate is $99 instead of $299, do I want to use the 20,000 or not? How about $89? $79?....At what price should you just pay cash and save your points for a more expensive trade off. With this new Marriott Cash + Points program, if I was looking for a 7 night stay and a hotel has high cash rates for weekdays, let's say $299 and low rates for weekends, lets say $99...I may choose to use points for the weekday nights and pay the cash rate for the weekend. I'll save two nights of points for another stay where I'll get a better bang for my buck. This I like....
I'm sure other folks will find advantages that I haven't seen....Some will find that there are no new advantages at all... Please share your thoughts.