Many MRI members have alluded to point value comparisons between Marriott and Hilton. So, now the question is overall, which is the best program for earning and using points?
Three previous analysises were used to drive to the final conlcusion:
If you can't earn points, you can't spend them, so IMO, the most important angle is to determine how quickly points can be earned per dollar spend.
Over the course of one year (and assuming two Megabonus promotions), spending $22,828 will yield 788,528 and 517,820 Hilton and Marriott points, respectively, or an "earning factor ratio" (EFR) of 1.52 Hilton:Marriott.
If you can't spend points, they're worthless, so IMO, the second most important angle is to determine what the points are worth "cash-wise." Since hotel rooms have many variables (quality, location, etc.), the best "pure value" comparison lies within like merchandise and gift cards.
To buy a melding pot of similar items, the number of points required is 2,728,500 and 1,434,000 Hilton and Marriott points, respectively, or a "cash factor ratio" (CFR) of 1.90 Hilton:Marriott.
If you can't spend points on hotel rooms, what's the purpose of earning points for a hotel loyalty program, so IMO, the third most important comparison is to determine hotel room value of points.
To purchase rooms on points, it takes 4,086,250 points for $27,567.19 Hilton dollar-value of rooms whereas Marriott requires 2,425,000 points for $43,492.54, or 148.23 Hilton points per dollar versus 69.43 Marriott PP$ or a "hotel factor ratio" (HFR) of 2.13 Hilton:Marriott. ***
Even though the EFR is significantly higher for Hilton, so are the CFR and HFR ratios. A comparison of the Rs determines the ultimate winner.
Gifts and merchandise are earned 80.0% "quicker" under Marriott versus Hilton (EFR/CFR or 1.90/1.52) - WINNER: MARRIOTT
Free hotel rooms are earned 71.3% "quicker" under Marriott versus Hilton (EFR/HFR or 1.52/2.13) - WINNER: MARRIOTT
Summary: Without a doubt, the earning capacity of points goes to Hilton, but the actual usage of points is clearly a Marriott advantage. And for those who wish to spend some points on London or Paris stays, it's a slam dunk on Marriott without question.
*** These numbers are from the Part 2 comparison, but eliminated the two venues (London & Paris) as these significantly skewed the points favorably towards Marriott. However, including these venues yields 5,970,958 & $34,508.67 Hilton and 2,750,000 & $43,492.54 Marriott, a HFR of 2.64 H:M.
Using all venues, then Free hotel rooms are earned 57.3% "quicker" under Marriott versus Hilton (EFR/HFR or 1.52/2.64) - WINNER: MARRIOTT by the widest margins of all
Many MRI members have alluded to point value comparisons between Marriott and Hilton. So, now the question is what are points worth when cashing in on hotel rooms? Part 1 is found here for gift cards and merchandise: Marriott vs Hilton Point Value
The below analysis makes the following assumptions:
RESULTS: It takes 2.64 Hilton points to equate to a Marriott point. 173.03 Hilton points buys $1 of Hilton rooms whereas 65.54 Marriott points buys $1 of Marriott rooms.
Note on rank: in the first line, a -3 appears as Rank before the highest rated Marriott property; this means that three Hilton properties ranked higher than the best Marriott, yielding a corresponding 3 in the Rank column by the Hilton property. In other words, Tripadvisor ranks three Hilton properties ahead of the best Marriott property subject to the conditions specified, bove.
Many MRI members have alluded to point value comparisons between Marriott and Hilton. So, now the question is how quickly are points earned in both programs? Part 1 is found here for gift cards and merchandise: Marriott vs Hilton Point Value and Part 2 is found here for hotel rooms in major metropolitan areas: Marriott vs Hilton Point Value - Part 2
Now that we know how we spend points, let's look at how we earn points and compare.
The analysis below are for stays I made in September 2011 at a Hilton Garden Inn and a Marriott Springhill Suites, both in Columbus, OH and about 2 miles apart (both near my current client). Ironically, both have the same exact negotiated rates and state/city taxes making the comparison all the easier. Lastly, it should be noted that I have top-tier status in each program and also their "premier" credit cards and am signed up for Hilton's "Double Dip" bonus program and Marriott's Megabonus promotion. One assumption - I will make the number of required Marriott nights to earn the full Megabonus of 50,000 points.
Key findings: the Megabonus makes a HUGE DIFFERENCE in points earnings, nearly doubling the "normal points" earned when the promotion is not underway and not already achieved. Normal earning power of points is 35.54 points per dollar for Hilton and 18.30 points per dollar for Marriott yielding a ratio of 1.89 as many Hilton points per dollar spend versus Marriott points per dollar spent, whereas it is 34.54 and 36.53 respectively during Megabonus promotions or 0.95 ratio.
Finally, I added two additional columns to see how Megabonus works out on an annual basis using the assumption that 50 nights are needed to earn 100,000 Megabonus points (two promos per year) yielding a Marriott PP$ of 22.68 or a ratio of 1.52 H:M.
What a great study and analysis. This is a superb encapsulation of what travel rewards....and their all important value.... are really all about. Thanks for putting this together. This is the kind of info that will really help a lot of us travelers in the choices we make.
Although.....I think you have a little too much free time on your hands................but I (and probably a lot of others) are glad you do!
Wow! Thank you for this. But I do have a question.
Can the comparison for rooms obtained on points really be an apples to apples comparison? Hilton adjusts their points value according to room availability and how many days stayed, as well as the level of room and bed type. Marriott has a fixed rate according category of hotel. It's not a true comparison.
Thanks for spending your free time on this. I LOVE detail, and this hit home with me! Your results, adds value to the fact that myself and other business associates always max out on the Marriott side first before moving to Hilton; then once we max out on Hilton we come back to Marriott. Also worht noting, is that it takes fewer points to get a FREE NIGHT with Marriott than with Hilton.
Thanks again for the detailed analysis here! You should publish this data in some type of travel magazine.