JD Power and Associates have ranked Marriott Rewards as the favorite hotel loyalty program Here are the details.
I'm not particularly surprised..
IHG has carried out a 2 year cull of its program with massive devaluations in 2012 very much picking out the most popular destinations that have seen a 50% increase followed by an enormous increase in elite qualification criteria with no balancing increase in benefits for those that make the enormously increased commitment there.
Hilton's devaluations over the last 2 years have left everyone gasping, some redemptions have increased 100%. The redemptions for better hotels, the ones we want to redeem for leisure have increased across the board. Even though it is possible with the right (USA) card to earn 25 points per $ with top rated hotels costing up to 100k per night you'll need to spend $4000 (!!!) to get there For just one night! A 5 night stay requires $16,000 spend... WOW!
Starwood, like Marriott has over the last couple of years has had a steroid driven category creep, but with an earning rate of only 3 points/$ (as compared to Marriott 10 points/$) earning the points for a 5 night stay at a top hotel is, like Hilton, dauntingly expensive.
Points with Marriott accumulate at a decent pace and redeeming is easy. The "no blackouts" verbiage may be disingenuous to some but Marriott doesn't claim last room redemption availability. Ive never actually found any difficulty in redeeming where I want and when I want. No, the scheme is not as generous as it was in 2008 when it was just cats 1-7. But availability was patchy and the anytime rewards ruinously expensive! We've said goodbye to the weekend BOGOs (of far more use to USA residents than EU/rest of world) but hello to free weekend breakfasts and free internet for gold and plat.
MY view is overall Marriott, along with Starwood - it's scheme has always been biased towards the in-stay benefits - have kept the faith, whilst IHG and Hilton have been working away at reducing the drag the points represent on their balance sheets.