Not Happy With Marriott Post-Merger? The Answer to Your Woes Is Simpler Than You Think

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My personal outlook of the new Marriott program isn’t all that bleak.  There have been a few positive changes after their merger with Starwood.  Some Starwood hotels become much cheaper, and you can book top-notch hotels at a big discount through December 2018, etc.

But there’s plenty to squawk about.  Transferring miles is a little more confusing.  It’s now MUCH harder to open Marriott and Starwood credit cards.  Marriott Gold Elite status isn’t worth nearly as much (no more free breakfast, no lounge access, no guaranteed late checkout).  Not to mention the number of technical issues Marriott has yet to fix, like occasional incorrect elite status listed on member account pages, and flawed migration of previous hotel stays.

So what’s a loyal Marriott customer to do?

The simple solution:   TAKE OFF THE HORSE BLINDERS, MAN.  Look around.  Marriott isn’t the only hotel chain you can reserve for free.

I strongly suggest disgruntled Marriott customers should consider diving into Hilton hotels.  Here’s why.

Hilton Has Incredible Hotels All Over the World, Including Super Ritzy Ones in Singapore

Why You Should Consider Switching To Hilton

Hilton hotels are probably the BEST fit for someone previously invested in Marriott.

  • Both hotel chains are gigantic
  • Both hotels can be found in the same areas
  • Both offer super budget hotels as well as mega luxury resorts

Additionally, the points price range for both hotels is roughly the same.  A standard room at a Marriott hotel costs between 7,500 and 85,000 Marriott points per night.  And while Hilton has no award chart, rates at Hilton hotels are between 10,000 and 95,000 points per night.

But here’s a big fat difference.  Hilton points are a million times easier to earn.

Hilton Hotels Cost More Points – But They’re Still Cheaper

Here’s an example.  It takes 85,000 Marriott points to stay at the W Maldives.  And it takes 95,000 Hilton points to stay at the Conrad Maldives.  Both are super highly-rated resorts.

The Conrad Maldives Is On LOTS of Folks’ Hotel Paradise Bucket List

Marriott looks to be the much better deal (by a hefty 10,000 points!)  But it’s not.  That’s because you can earn Hilton points in your sleep.  Here are 3 points that prove it.

Point 1.   Hilton Cards Earn Points WAY Faster Than Marriott Cards for Spending

For example, the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Card earns 6 Marriott points per $1 spent at Marriott & Starwood hotels, and 2 Marriott points per $1 on everything else.

But the comparable Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card earns 12 Hilton points per $1 at Hilton hotels (DOUBLE what the Marriott Premier Plus earns) and 3 Hilton points per $1 on everything else (50% more points than Marriott).  Not to mention 6 Hilton points per $1 at US restaurants, US supermarkets, and US gas stations.

If you only used these cards for non-bonus spending, you would get a free night at a top-notch hotel after spending:

  • $42,500 on the Marriott Premier Plus (85,000 points per night / 2 points per $1)
  • $31,667 on the AMEX Hilton Ascend (95,000 points per night / 3 points per $1)

So which hotel award night is actually cheaper?

Point 2.   Hilton Cards Give You Elite Status to Rack Up Points

With the AMEX Hilton Ascend, you’ll get automatic Gold Elite Status, which gives you an 80% bonus on base points you’ll earn for your hotel stay.  The Marriott Premier Plus gives you automatic Silver Elite Status, which comes with a 10% bonus on base points.

Both Hilton and Marriott offer 10 base points per $1 for your stay.  So with these cards, if you spend $100 for your room, you’ll earn:

  • 1,700 Marriott points ($100 X 10 points per $1 + 10% bonus + 6 points per $1 for using the card)
  • 3,000 Hilton points ($100 X 10 points per $1 + 80% bonus + 12 points per $1 for using the card)

That’s a huge difference!

You’ll Get Lots More Points for Your Spending at Hilton Hotels

Point 3.   Hilton Usually Gives Better Promotions Than Marriott

In addition to the credit cards, Hilton gives folks tons of opportunities to earn bonus points for their hotel stays, much more than Marriott.  A good example is the current double points promotion, which they run almost constantly.

Again, both Marriott and Hilton offer 10 base points per $1 on hotel stays.  But with Hilton’s current promotion, you’ll earn double the base points on your hotel stays (20 points per $1).

So currently, if you have each of the hotel’s cards mentioned above and spend $100 for your room, you’ll earn:

  • 1,700 Marriott points ($100 X 10 points per $1 + 10% bonus + 6 points per $1 for using the card)
  • 4,800 Hilton points ($100 X 10 points per $1 + 80% bonus X 2 for the double points promo + 12 points per $1 for using the card)

As you can see, Hilton is giving away points as fast as they can.  So don’t be discouraged by the amount of points it costs to reserve a free room.

Hilton Credit Cards All Solid Options

Apply Here:   Hilton Honors American Express Card

Apply Here:   Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card

Apply Here:   The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

If you have a Hilton credit card, you are a ferocious Hilton points earning monster.  ALL of the cards come with large welcome offers.  And because these cards are considered different “products”, you can earn the bonus on them all.

Each card has a unique quality about it.  Here’s a quick reminder of why you should open each card.

Hilton Honors American Express Card

The Hilton Honors American Express Card is the most vanilla of the group.  It comes with 50,000 Hilton bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.  You’ll also get things like:

  • 7X Hilton bonus points per $1 spent at any Hilton portfolio hotel or resort
  • 5X Hilton bonus points per $1 at US restaurants, US supermarkets, and US gas stations
  • 3X Hilton bonus points per $1 spent on everything else
  • Complimentary Hilton Silver status just for having the card
  • Terms & Limitations apply

The best part of this card is that it has NO ANNUAL FEE.  Yet it has better points earning rates and a more useful elite status than you’ll get with the $95 annual fee Marriott Premier Plus!

You can read our review of the Hilton Honors American Express card here.

AMEX Hilton Ascend Card

We’ve already highlighted the power of the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card.  But there’s way more.

The card comes with 100,000 Hilton points after spending $2,000 in purchases with your new card within the first 3 months of account opening.

100,000 Hilton Points Is Enough for a Free Night at the Pristine Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh

The card comes with a $95 annual fee.  But you’ll get benefits like:

  • 12 Hilton points per $1 spent at a Hilton hotel or resort
  • 6 Hilton points per $1 of eligible purchases at US restaurants, US supermarkets, and US gas stations
  • 3 Hilton points for all other eligible purchases on your card
  • Complimentary Hilton Gold status
  • 1 weekend night after spending $15,000 on purchases in a calendar year
  • Terms & Limitations apply

You’ll also get 10 free airport lounge visits each year once you enroll in your complimentary Priority Pass membership.  Can your $95 annual fee Marriott card do that?  (Hint:  No.)

And don’t forget, Hilton Gold status comes with late checkout and free breakfast at all hotels – the stuff Marriott Gold Status discontinued.

You can read our full review of the Hilton Honors Ascend card here.

AMEX Hilton Small Business Card

The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card is very similar to the AMEX Hilton Ascend card.  You’ll earn 100,000 Hilton bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

Use the Welcome Bonus for a Stay at The Reach, Key West Resort

This card also has a $95 annual fee.  But you’ll receive:

  • 12 Hilton points per $1 spent at a Hilton hotel or resort
  • 6 Hilton points per $1 on select business & travel purchases (including wireless phone services from US providers, US restaurants, US gas stations, car rentals, and more)
  • 3 Hilton points for all other eligible purchases on your card
  • Complimentary Hilton Gold status
  • 1 weekend night after spending $15,000 on purchases in a calendar year
  • Priority Pass™ Select membership with 10 free visits each year
  • Terms & Limitations apply

With this card, you have the opportunity to earn a 2nd weekend night after spending an additional $45,000 in purchases on your card in the same calendar year.

One of the absolute best features of this card is that it’s a small business card that does NOT appear on your personal credit report.  So it won’t count toward your Chase “5/24” limit!  That’s VERY important for all of us looking to earn lucrative Chase sign-up bonuses again.

Bottom Line

The best deals in travel are always changing.  For many of us, Starwood and Marriott were our favorite hotel chains.  But we’ve seen some devaluation of late.

If you’re unhappy with the route Marriott is going, don’t get mad!  Get Hilton!  They can probably serve your Marriott travel patterns with comparable hotels in similar areas.  And earning Hilton points is SO easy with cards like the Hilton Honors American Express Card,  Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card, and Hilton Honors American Express Business Card.

Let me know your hotel strategy after the Marriott Starwood merger.  Are you content with the changes, or do intend to abandon ship?