I posted my previous chart right before the announcement by the major chains regarding changes to their reward/loyalty programs. There have been many posts relating to switching and trying out other programs, especially those of us that may be Platinum lifers where the switching costs of maintaining status is very low. Some of you might not agree with this analytic approach to comparing, but it does provide me with a "price basis" of the reward program.
This analysis looks at the points needed to redeem per category based on the various number of nights. It then translates that into "how much would I need to spend at this chain to get enough points to redeem" the given reward. For instance, under the new 2013 changes a Cat 1 one-night reward at Marriott runs 7,500 points. For Hilton, it is now 5,000 (down from 7,500 in 2012 and from 10,000 in 2007). A Marriott platinum would earn 15 points for every dollar, as well as a Hilton diamond. Therefore, it would cost the Marriott platinum $500 in room charges versus the Hilton diamond $333 in room charges to receive the same category reward. A SPG platinum would need to spend $1,000 for the same entry level reward. So for this reward, Marriott has a $167 premium spend and SPG has a $667 premium spend for the same reward. At the top category for each program, a Marriott platinum needs to spend $3,000 for one night in a category 9 while a Hilton diamond would need to spend up to $6,333 (or as little as $4,667) for the same one night.
Granted, categories across chains as well as within chains have no real standard of comparison, This does translate the rewards programs into a dollar comparison for a level of reward. Then you throw in promotions such as MegaBonus and other free night/point boosting carrots, and it makes it harder to compare programs (intentionally). It is interesting to note that Marriott has kept the same point level separation between levels over the past 10 years while only adding three levels and increasing the point ceiling for top properties by 15,000 points/night. Hilton has reduced their lowest category point redemption requirements of its lowest three levels over the past decade, have added FOUR new levels, and increased the point ceiling for the top properties by as much as 55,000 points/night (40,000 to 95,000). Starwood has only added one level and added 5,000 point/night to its top level.
In the end, you still need to spend a lot more money at either Hilton or Starwood to get similar reward nights at Marriott.