Hotel loyalty programs are known for being pretty stingy when it comes to approving Best Rate Guarantee claims. I've noticed over the last two weeks that Hotels.com seemed to be consistently lower than the rates at Marriott.com so I decided to do some investigating and the results have been awesome. It's basically open season on the Marriott Best Rate Guarantee thanks to Hotels.com. It seems Hotels.com is running a pretty widespread sale (unadvertised) on Marriott properties.
Let me explain the process and give you a quick way to tell if your rate qualifies. I have submitted two best rate guarantees to Marriott based on this info and both were approved. Here's the thing- I've noticed the rates are not actually better than the direct rates booked through Marriott, they just happen to meet the Marriott BRG criteria. Of course I'm not surprised that Marriott, it's policies or it's agents (who knows?) haven't realized the issue or didn't care enough to take the extra step to see that the Marriott rate was in practice much better- but hey- you might as well get your reservations in now before someone somewhere has an epiphany.
Here are the exact terms straight from the Marriott website. (I'll lay it out in plain english later.)
“OUR BEST RATE. GUARANTEED.
“There are few guarantees in life. But our Marriott Best Rate Guarantee is one of the best. It assures that you’ll always get the best rate available when you book directly with Marriott®. Here’s how it works:
1. Make a reservation using any official Marriott reservation channel (Marriott.com, Marriott Bonvoy App, Customer Engagement Centers, or directly with a hotel).
2. If you find a lower rate for the same hotel, same room type, and same reservation dates on a non-Marriott website or non-Marriott Bonvoy app (“Comparison Rate”) you may submit a Best Rate Guarantee claim.
3. If we approve your claim, we’ll match the Comparison rate AND give you your choice of either an extra 25% discount on the room (20% discount for Design Hotels) OR give you 5,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points.”
Does Marriott Price Match? What Rates and Hotels properties are eligible
It's important to note that the guarantee is widely applicable across the Marriott brands but there are a few properties that are excluded -you can find the list here.
Qualifying Rates for Marriott's Best Rate Guarantee
(Again you can find the whole Marriott BRG policy here but I'll boil it down for you because you don't need to read all those words to get some pretty basic info.)
Rate has to be a publicly available rate that doesn't require any type of membership whatsoever- this is one of the more extreme points of the policy. It's not considered publicly available even if you have to log in (I guess they consider that a “membership”.)
Must be for the same room, dates, amenities, and number of guests
No package Rates- i.e. that include a combination of a room and travel, airfare, cruise, car rental are excluded
Rates on auction websites, on sites that do not disclose the hotel brand until the reservation is completed (i.e., Priceline and Hotwire), on sites that require a login or specific credit card to view or book, or on sites that don’t provide an immediate confirmation (e.g., an “on request” rate) are not accepted.
Pre-paid, advance purchase, or non-refundable rates on Qunar, eLong, Meituan Travel, Ctrip/Trip.com, Ctrip/Trip.com affiliate sites, or Fliggy are not eligible.
Any rates on WeChat are not eligible
You must submit a completed claim form within 24 hours of booking the reservation through the Marriott reservation channel, and at least 24 hours before the standard check-in time at the applicable Marriott hotel.
The Marriott Best Rate Guarantee offers the lowest Rates through official Marriott Reservation Channels (Marriott Website, Marriott App, Customer Engagement Centers, or directly with a hotel):
If you find a lower, qualifying rate for the same Room, let Marriott know by submitting aclaim form
If the lower Rate qualifies, they'll match the lower Rate and give you an additional 25% discount on the Room or 5,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points (the choice is yours.)
Process of Submitting a Claim:
After making a Reservation with Marriott directly online or over the phone, if you find a lower Rate elsewhere, you must file a claim within 24 hours of your initial Reservation
All claims must include:
The Rate reserved
The lower Rate found for the same Hotel
How My Marriott BRG Claims Turned Out
Generally after the Marriott BRG form has been submitted I've received a response from Marriott within 12 hours. I've included the correspondence below (because I know some know-it-all is going to say I'm wrong for one reason or another ;).
While searching for a room at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas I noticed the Hotels.com rate said it was on sale- as you can see from the photo above. I then noticed the “Standard Flexible Rate” at Marriott was significantly higher. I checked the terms and realized these were in fact comparable rates. But if you look at the “Deals and Packages” section on the Marriott site you'll see that the rates are way less-in fact, they're exactly the same as the sale rate on Hotels.com. It seems that Hotels.com prices out the standard rate for Marriott Hotels as the lowest available promo or package rate offered by Marriott. So why is this so amazing? If Marriott approves the claim, they not only match the rate, but they also give you your choice of 5,000 Bonvoy Points (per stay) or an additional 25% off the lowest matched price.
Marriott best rate guarantee: Real Life Example
Here's how the numbers worked out for Cosmo in my actual Marriott BRG claim.
Marriott's Flexible Member Rate $150
Hotels.com “Sale Rate” $113
Marriott's Rate After the 25% Discount $84.75
Here's the really crazy part, she actually gave me 25% off the “secret rate” on hotels.com, so my total price per night ended up being $73.63. I'm not sure if you'd always get that or if I just got lucky. It would seem that since you don't have to login to hotels.com to unlock the secret rate it should qualify but you do have to enter your email, so I could see it go either way for the additional secret rate savings.
Just to be sure it wasn't just a Vegas thing I did a bunch of other searches and had similar results. As you can see below, the AC is listed on Hotels.com at 15% off and it's listed for significantly more for the same room at Marriott. Since these reservations don't require you to pre-pay they are eligible. A quick way to tell if you've found a qualifying rate seems to be the red box with a percentage off- others that say “Great Rate” have been mixed.
Thank you for choosing Marriott and submitting a Marriott Best Rate Guarantee claim. I am happy to share that I was able to approve your claim.
I was able to verify the following rate on the comparison site listed on your claim:
Rate: $98.17 USD plus taxes and fees, per night
The confirmation number for your reservation will remain the same, as well as the cancellation policy under which you originally booked.
I have modified your reservation to reflect the following rate:
Rate: $73.63 USD plus taxes and fees, per night
Reservation Confirmation Number: XXXXX
Your room rate now reflects an additional 25% discount for submitting a successful claim according to the terms of Marriott‘s Best Rate Guarantee. Please be aware, any modifications made to your reservation are not allowed and will invalidate this approval. If you are viewing your reservation through a mobile device please allow time for the update to show based on your service provider. I have sent you an updated email confirmation to the email address on your reservation.
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