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.
Thank you once again for the excellent analysis! It's good to know we're still getting a better value than two of Marriott's largest competitors, and I'm sure management already knows this... unfortunately, the fact that those other two did a devaluation doesn't help us any, but there are others out there that look promising!
I appreciate your analysis, but, it does not consider in the case of Hilton the option of double dipping and getting airline miles, but, more importantly, by-passing the airline miles and taking the "plus points" option, meaning that each dollar spent gets 15 points, and, if diamond, another 5 so you have 20 points to the dollar, whereas, at Marriott only 15. Your chart does not recognize the "plus points" Hilton option. Further, with the AmexHHonors credit card, you earn 12 points for each dollar spent at a Hilton property; whereas, the Chase Marriott Visa awards only 5 points for each dollar spent at a Marriott property. So, a Marriott Platinum member spending $1 at Marriott property using a Chase Marriott card gets 10 + 5 + 5 points = 20 points for each dollar spent; whereas, a Hilton Diamond with the "plus points" option spending $1 at a Hilton property using an AmexHHonors Card gets 10 + 5 + 5 +12 = 32 points for each dollar spent. That changes the analyis of your PDF file considerably if you adjust for these options.
It would be good to see Marriott coming up with a higher bonus point reward for charges on its Marriott Chase Card, to match what HHonors does with the Amex card.
Granted on the double dip - definitely a plus on the Hilton side. The intent was to give a base analysis to compare programs. Each program adds various promotions to differentiate and make it more difficult to drop this down to a "by the numbers" analysis.
At the 20 point level for Diamond, we get the following one-night adjustments on the Hilton Diamond Premium line:
Cat 1: $(250)
Cat 2: $(167)
Cat 3: $---
Cat 4: $167
Cat 5: $333
Cat 6: $500
Cat 7: $667
Cat 8: $833
Cat 9: $1,000
Cat 10: $1,750
Once we throw in all the other side promotions, including credit card, the variations become too great to start making an apples to apples comparison. Starwood, for example, is now doing a miles program with Delta that now adds value for those with loyalty to both programs. I guess the guidance would be to use this as a base and then consider the add-ons that you can personally use.
Using the Hilton AMEX vs the Marriott Chase gives you a net 7 points on hotel spending above the "plus points" options. This nets out to Hilton's benefit through category 4, equals out on category 5, and gives Marriott the advantage from categories 6 and above (Hilton premium on one night: Cat 6: $63, Cat 7: $125, Cat 8: $188, Cat 9: 250, and Cat 10: $719 - at Hilton's high season reward rates). You also pay foreign transaction fees on the AMEX card, which are hard dollars when using international properties (which I primarily do).
In the end, Hilton does still charge a premium for the upper level if you are paying the high-season reward rates. In most cases, it may mean the difference of staying 1-3 extra nights for each reward night to account for the extra spend.
I did a very similar analysis about 18 months ago (when I was a regular poster). Marriott points were the better deal. However, with both programs having changed up there points earning process and changing their categories, I cannot guarantee the accuracy of this post in 2013. However, for those who are interested, please see the "conclusion" post at Marriott vs Hilton Point Value - Conclusions (Part 4) and the related posts at:
Three previous a analyses were used to drive to the final conclusion:
When I consider the cost in points per night, I don't compare the category of the hotel, I look at the price that I would have to pay compared to the points needed to pay for it. I have found that the hotels in the categories vary even within one hotel brand. Then I consider the cost of earning those points. I usually get a better deal with Hilton or Starwood.