Is Marriott dead to us? Should it be to you?


Marriott has given us a rough week. The expansion of what is essentially blackout dates to legacy SPG properties and largely negative 2020 category changes had many readers asking us the obvious question: is it time to cut and run? Should we all dump the Marriott credit cards? Is Marriott dead to us? This week on Frequent Miler on the Air, Greg and I discuss the status of Marriott in our minds. Before we get into that, Greg nearly convinces me to spend my way toward Delta elite status and at the end of the broadcast our weekly reader question has us ponder why none of us carry the Chase Freedom Unlimited. Watch, listen, or read on for more of this week’s news at FM.

FM on the Air Podcast

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On to our weekend recap of the week’s top stories:

In Marriott Bonvoy news and reactions:

Marriott category changes: Bad news

a man holding his head

With more than one thousand six hundred properties increasing in category and just over five hundred decreasing, the coming Marriott changes are pretty brutal. New York City alone loses 24 Category 5 properties — significant since those with 35K annual free night certificates will find it increasingly difficult to use those to good value.

Making a game plan for the Marriott devaluation

a man drawing a diagram on a white board

Whether you’re eyeing a property that is increasing or decreasing in price, the time to book may be now, but how you book makes all the difference. See this post for the strategies you can employ to prep for the coming changes.

Searching for good news in Marriott’s latest devaluation

a man with lemon in his mouth

Ever the optimist, Greg tries to open a lemonade stand, difficult as it may be when you’re crushed under the weight of truckloads of lemons. Still, he makes a few sweet finds. They may not totally eliminate that sour taste in your mouth over the many hits Marriott has dealt us these past couple of years, but on the other hand you might discover a diamond in the rough. That property in Italy looks pretty nice to me!

In our wallets

Stephen's wallet 1

This week, Greg, Stephen, and I each wrote posts indicating which cards are in the wallet we carry in our pocket daily. To be clear, all of us have many more cards than the ones we carry daily: the purpose of these posts was to show readers what comes out with us on a daily basis and why. Don’t take these posts as recommendations: none of us are saying that you should carry the same combination of cards. In fact, I’d argue that most people shouldn’t copy our approaches. Still, if you’ve wondered which cards we use for daily stuff, here are your answers:

What’s in Nick’s wallet?

What’s in Greg’s wallet?

What’s in Stephen’s wallet?

I’ll add a quick addendum: I confessed in this week’s FM on the Air that I actually product changed to a Freedom Unlimited after we’d all published our posts and I will consider rotating that into my wallet in place of the Venture card for a few months only because I’m lower on UR points than I’d like to be. For more on our thoughts about the CFU and why none of us are carrying it, start the podcast around 1:14:18.

In new resources:

Delta Reserve complete guide

a screenshot of a website

The current offer on the Delta reserve cards is really notable. We discussed this for a bit at the beginning of FM on the Air and Greg nearly convinced me to pay $1K+ in annual fees to get both of these cards and MS my way to easy Delta Platinum status. I came to my senses and won’t actually consider doing that myself — but if you’re at a Delta hub, you should read this complete guide and consider the Reserve cards now.

That’s it for this week at Frequent Miler. Check back soon for our week in review around the web and this week’s last chance deals.

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[…] Marriott devaluation, Nick and I wondered if Marriott credit cards were still worth keeping (see: Is Marriott dead to us? Should it be to you?).  Most Marriott credit cards comes with annual free night certificates valid at any property […]


Yeah. We will not renew our Marriott cards this year…. probably not our IHG cards either. Between Hyatt, Hilton and (reimbursed w Cap 1), we’re good. We can always book with URs, too.

Hubby and I have made the decision to not chase status or keep as many premium cards this year. We’re kind of over Priority Pass and Centurion Lounges. We want more flexibility and not have certs we have to use before they expire, or have to eat on property at the Hilton resort to use the Aspire credit to reimburse ourselves for $250 we already spent on an AF.


Bonvoy means so little to me that I let a free night go unused. I realized a few days late but Bonvoy wasn’t interested and neither was I.

By By Bonvoy. Will now be impossible to use the free night so I’m done.


99% of Marriott properties would be greatly improved by flattening with a bulldozer. Absolutely my choice of last resort. Bonvoy destroyed their brand and they are just a really nasty bunch of sharks no with no objective but to rip off travellers.

Few companies are genuinely evil but Marriott is


If you are booking a room when a special event is happening like Oktoberfest in Germany or Mardi Gras in New Orleans the Free Night Certs are very useful. I am using 2 35k Certs in New Orleans. Regular price for Four Points Sheraton on Bourbon Street is $468 per night!


“A rough week”? You, my friend, have a serious talent for understatement, rather like saying WWII was a touch violent.


Bonvoyed, now means there are more options to appreciate other chains and their properties. Loyalty means nothing nothing to them and means less to us.

John Waters

The Marriott Rewards program is not as lucrative as it once was. But am I going to abandon staying at Marriott properties when there is a good cash rate for a property I want to stay: no. It seems that when blogs complain about the devaluation of Bonvoy they are speaking of their own situation which is based on extracting as much value for themselves from the rewards program. They are not seeking fair room rates, fair value and fair rewards but taking advantage (nothing morally wrong with it) of the program through cheap status, credit cards, manufactured spending and things like the conference promo. These guys aren’t profitable for Marriott. For most people though there still is fair value in the rewards program and if they are only staying in a hotel once or twice a year for a vacation, cash rates are what’s key.


I don’t think people are abandoning or boycotting staying at Marriott properties. People’s negative feelings are more towards the reward program than the properties. Like you said, you will pay a good cash rate for a Marriott property you want to stay. However, what happen if there is a Hilton or Hyatt offers a good cash rate for a similar level of property? People may choose Hilton or Hyatt over Marriott because of the reward program.

Joseph N.

A good cash rate? From Marriott? Let me think of the last time Marriott gave me the best cash rate in a market. Oh yes, that was all the way back last summer.

Marriott’s rates were never the best, and they still aren’t. It was always the rewards program that got my business, and this is coming from a guy who used to give Marriott 100 nights / year. No more. Marriott is dead to me. Beyond dead. This is strictly a financial decision.


Hyatt just gave me the best rate BUT Non-refundable .


I live in Canada and a couple properties I’m planning to stay at went down in category! And coincidentally me and gf and off to Niagara Falls today so she can get her free night for signing up and staying twice—so it’s working well for us, but also yes, I always opt to stay with a different brand if I can since Bonvoy became a thing.


If you spend at least $670/year with Marriott, with at least 3 $150+ nights, the Biz+Brilliant+Boundless is still a good combination. 3 nights at 35k properties for $370 is a good deal, and will be for some time. Plus Priority Pass and all that. Just because it isn’t outsized value doesn’t mean it isn’t good value.

Sure, the SUBs lose value with the Category changes. Call it a Hold recommendation rather than a Buy, so to speak. Just keep in mind that sometimes, it’s worth sacrificing a great SUB for good long-term value. Why else would people recommend the WoH card even when the SUB is 40k? Surely the value of Bonvoy points is 40% that of a World of Hyatt point?


Marriott is so dead not even Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, can revive it. Anyone still staying at Marriott should be accused of abuse of a corpse.