I see today (thanks to my having bokmarked Marriott Rewards in my google mail account) that Marriott Rewards is offering membership in the Clear airline screening program, and most recently, membership in Priority Plus, a program that allows access to many airline clubs around the world at discounted prices. If you choose the highest tier (80,000 points) of membership you can be admitted to any of 600 clubs for no cost.
While I applaud disversification of the program I might caution people that the cost of doing this is by having spent 8000 dollars in Marriotts (10 points earned per dollar spent, not including any elite add on points).
Much like the free airline roundtrip flights you've gotten in exhange for cashing in "just" 25,000 miles, there is not "free flight lunch" to mix many metaphors.
I do think that giving us options on where to spend points is a good strategy for Marriott and us, especially for frequent fliers who need to convice the accounting department that membership in an airline club is a necessary expense (I gave up!).
How about adding other ways to spend those valuable points?
I'd be interested to see what everyone else thinks about this idea. Let's start a discussion thread.
Marriott's strategy is to cash-in on every new prospect and customer delivered to its business partners and marketing affiliates. Millions visit Marriott.com daily, tracking is easy using Marriott Rewards ID#. So, don't be duped, go under the hood before forking over hard-earned points. The points required for Clear Airport Security*, The Luggage Club** and Priority Pass*** are excessive especially since Marriott offered Clear membership to Platinum for free last year.
What's disappointing is that Marriott could negotiate a better deal and present a more compelling offer to loyal guests at a discount. For example, Marriott Partner Offers and AAA Hotel Discount. Marriott: To deliver more value and retain customer loyalty, come up with new ways to stretch points, like Pointsavers.
*** Priority Pass
Yes. non-Marriott ways to spend Rewards points are quite pricey compared to the actual cost of belonging (you'd spend about $400 for a year's membership in an airline club for example, rather than the $8,000 equivalent in Marriott Rewards dollars). Given the difficulty in making airline reservations with miles most of the times to most of the places that I'd want to go, I would recommend that anyone contemplating relinquisiing Marriott Rewards points think twice about doing so for other than actual free Marriott stays.
Has anyone gotten those "use your expiring miles for magazine subscriptions" offers? Same theory--reduce the unspent miles and points through trade offs.
Bottom line: be prudent when spending Marriott points: I have only spent a smallish (well, not that small, about a third) portion of my hard earned Reward points (about a million so far) at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square. Given the going rack rate when I used the points this was a good deal, and remains so today, even though the Marquis is now category 8 among hotels and costs about 240,000 points for a seven night stay. It was amusing and a guilty pleasure to look at the maximum rate for the suite that we used in November ($1400 a night as I recall, multiply that times 7, and calculate what the stay would have cost if I had paid that rate, plus tax, for the accomodation. Luckily the bill for incidentals was less than 75 dollars, a real bargain. At the time I used 150,000 points, actually 15,000 dollars spent by me exclusive of bonuses (the old system) for my stay that would have cost over 12,000 dollars! Almost an even trade, and a great place to savor New York City's many attractions.