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Without notice or warning, Marriott recently increased its most expensive award redemptions from 120,000 to 150,000 Bonvoy points per night, as View from the Wing first reported. This should not come as a complete surprise to anyone who has observed Marriott's continued devaluation over the last few years. But the good news is that you can still save on Marriott Bonvoy award redemptions.
Brief History of Marriott Award Pricing
Since Marriott Rewards merged with Starwood Preferred Guest (R.I.P) and the Ritz-Carlton Rewards program in 2018 to create the new Marriott Bonvoy rewards program, award rates at its most-expensive hotels have steadily increased in price.
When the three programs joined, the highest redemption rate for a night was 60,000 points. A short time later, the “Bonvoy effect” continued when Marriott introduced peak and off-peak rates and a new category 8 that elevated the most expensive rewards to 100,000 points per night.
In March 2022, following Hilton's lead (is that really who you want to follow?), Marriott abandoned its award chart altogether. Going forward, award rates would more closely resemble cash rates — according to Bonvoy Global SVP David Flueck.
With the elimination of award charts, we saw award rates at some hotels climb up to 120,000 points per night. Now Marriott has outdone itself, pricing award nights as high as 150,000 points.
St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort Now Costs 150,000 Bonvoy Points per Night
A stay at the St. Regis Maldives Vommuli is quintessential luxury. The standard room is a gorgeous garden villa with a private pool and sun deck. It even includes butler service — and now a price tag of up to 150,000 points per night.
To be fair, not all nights cost this much. You may find some nights pricing at a paltry 92,000 points — a difference of 58,000 points.
Without an award chart, it was only a matter of time before Marriott started charging an excessive amount of points for properties. Unfortunately, most properties hit with this rate surge are in prime beach destinations like the Maldives.
Ways to Save on Marriott Award Stays
Cash prices for the St. Regis Maldives Vommuli on those dates run over $3,700. So is there a better way than dropping 150,000 points or over $3,700 a night? Let's look at a few options.
Cash + Points
One way to potentially ease the pain of this increase is booking with cash + points. Marriott allows members to book stays with cash + points at various properties.
Unfortunately, the hotel chain does not list the hotels that are bookable with cash + points, making it difficult to determine whether or not you can plan your stay this way. The only way to find out if a property offers this type of booking is to click all the way through a booking to the room selection page at Marriott.com.
If you only have enough points for a few nights and are willing to fork over cash for the remaining nights, this can help make your trip attainable.
Note that booking cash + points will earn elite night credits. However, you will not earn points even on the cash portion of the stay — and that could be a significant amount in this case.
5th Night Free on Award Nights
One resourceful way to save points is to utilize Marriott's 5th-night free benefit. Anytime you book 5 nights, Marriott will waive the cost of the night that costs the fewest points.
For example, booking a 5-night stay at a property that requires 150,000 points a night drops the average night to 120,000. Combine the 5th-night free perk with a cash + points booking to fit your point budget needs.
One little-known insight into this benefit is that it also works for more extended stays. The rule is that for every 5 nights, you get one free, so a 10-night stay would garner 2 free nights.
Note that this perk only applies to points redemptions and not cash stays or when applying free night certificates. So, you may need a lot on Bonvoy points in your account to take advantage of a Marriott 5th night free booking.
Take Advantage of a Marriott Bonvoy Transfer Bonus
Make your points go further with a transfer bonus from one of the flexible currencies like American Express Membership Rewards or Chase Ultimate Rewards. These come along with some regularity and can provide a significant boost to your Bonvoy points balance.
At the time of writing, Chase is offering a 50% transfer bonus when transferring Ultimate Rewards to Marriott Bonvoy points. That means transferring 100,000 Chase points will net 150,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.
There are more valuable transfer partners with Chase, so we don't generally recommend transferring to Marriott unless you need to top off your Bonvoy balance or have your eye on a specific Marriott property.
Make no mistake, the end to standardized pricing and transparency never ends well. This allows sneaky award rate increases — like this one up to a maximum of 150,000 points per night.
Nevertheless, with a bit of creativity, there can still be value found in the Marriott Bonvoy program for these high-priced luxury resorts. Marriott's 5th-night free benefit alone can save a ton of points at this level, and combining that with the points + cash and transfer bonus opportunities can help ensure these types of trips are still attainable.
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