Points, miles, and snide remarks.


Underwhelming at Best: Marriott and MGM Finally Reveal Details of Partnership

After months of delays largely owing to the hacking of MGM’s IT infrastructure last year, Marriott and MGM have finally revealed the details of their new partnership, which will allow members of both loyalty programs to earn and redeem points, receive elite benefits, and transfer points between the two programs. Sounds great, right? Well, not so fast. When you look closer, you’ll see that this partnership is a shell of the old Hyatt-MGM partnership, which ended last year.

First of all, Marriott members do not receive any status match to MGM’s program, which means they still have to pay resort fees, unless they are Marriott Ambassadors. Resort fees are one of the biggest rip-offs in Las Vegas, and Hyatt Explorist and Globalist members used to be able to avoid them by matching to MGM Gold. Oftentimes, the resort fee far exceeds the actual rate of the room itself, so being able to dodge these as a Hyatt Globalist was huge. This also created interesting “virtual” mattress running opportunities by remotely checking into Excalibur or Luxor for a sub-$20 nightly rate, though MGM caught on and shut down remote check-ins for Hyatt members.

In addition to the lack of waived resort fees, the lack of a status match to MGM also means Bonvoy members (except Ambassadors) will have to pay for parking unless they have MGM status via another means. Maybe this finally gives the MGM Rewards Mastercard by FNBO, which doesn’t carry an annual fee, some tiny amount of value proposition for a very specific subset of readers who frequent Vegas? Self parking at MGM’s Vegas properties, once complimentary, now runs as much as $23 a day – which could, much like the resort fee, very well cost more than your room itself.

A mid-week room rate at Excalibur; the resort fee is almost double the room rate, and self parking ($18/day during the week) costs almost as much as the room itself… talk about getting nickeled and dimed!

Second, the benefits for Marriott elites staying at MGM hotels are pretty underwhelming. Silver and Gold members get almost nothing, except a small bonus on points and a welcome gift of 500 points (for Gold members), which is worth less than a cup of coffee (especially a cup of coffee in Vegas, where in-room coffee makers aren’t the norm). Platinum and Titanium members get a bit more, such as priority check-in, late check-out, and room upgrades, but these are subject to availability and not guaranteed. Only Ambassadors get one suite upgrade per year, early check-in, and free self-parking. The kicker: these benefits are only valid until December 31, 2024, which suggests that this partnership is not nearly as stable or long-term as suggested when it was first announced in 2023.

Third, the points transfer ratio between the two programs is not very favorable. You lose 20% of your points every time you transfer, whether it’s from Marriott to MGM or vice versa. That means you need 12,500 Marriott points to get 10,000 MGM points, or 12,500 MGM points to get 10,000 Marriott points. That’s a pretty steep price to pay, especially when you consider that MGM points are just not very valuable to begin with. You need 25,000 MGM points for a free night at a standard MGM hotel, or 75,000 MGM points for a free night at a premium MGM hotel, such as Bellagio or Aria. That’s equivalent to 31,250 or 93,750 Marriott points, respectively. You’re better off saving your Marriott points for other redemptions and just paying cash rates, which are often very cheap in Las Vegas – it’s a loss leader for these resorts to offer insanely cheap room rates to get you in the door and spending money on their casino floor.

The only potential benefit of this partnership is the ability to earn elite night credits with Marriott by staying at MGM hotels. This could be useful for mattress running, especially at the cheaper MGM hotels, such as Excalibur or Luxor. However, this is only possible if you book through Marriott channels, and not through MGM directly (a stark contrast to the former Hyatt partnership, where you could book directly with MGM and add your World of Hyatt number at check-in). This means you have to compare the rates and availability, and make sure you’re not paying more or getting less by booking through Marriott. Also, you have to hope that MGM will allow mobile check-in via their app, which they stopped doing for Hyatt bookings once the end of the partnership was announced.

This much-hyped partnership is a huge disappointment for Marriott and MGM loyalists, especially compared to the previous Hyatt-MGM partnership. It offers very little value, very few benefits, and very limited options. It seems like a half-hearted attempt to attract more customers, without giving them any real incentives or rewards. Unless you’re a Marriott Ambassador or an MGM Noir, we’ve all gotten Bonvoyed by this deal.

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