Marriott Guts Points Advance Feature In Totally Reasonable Change

For years members have been able to take advantage of a very generous Marriott policy that allows locking in awards in unlimited quantity just in case you want them later. They’ve tamped down on this a little bit over time, but not a lot. And since booking awards at hotels where there’s limited space hurts other members by keeping them from redeeming awards, I don’t have a real problem with their clamping down further.

A Marriott spokesperson says,

We have seen a rise in Points Advance bookings at [some of our most popular] resorts that are being canceled because not enough points have been accrued to pay for the stay.

In some cases, around 25% of all bookings at any one time at these properties are Points Advance. This potentially disadvantages members who would otherwise book using points in their account, and it has an economic impact on these properties.

Two years ago Marriott stopped letting members use points advance when they have enough points in their account. This didn’t matter much in practice. There was no limit to the number of points advance bookings you could make once you depleted your points (and you could deplete your points, make points advance bookings, and then cancel those first redemptions).

Effective today, though, you can only hold a booking for 60 days and must support that booking at least 14 days prior to check-in. Restrictions on points advance now include:

  • Your stay has to be at least 30 days away to use points advance
  • Points advance reservations can only be held up to 60 days
  • And have to be supported by points at least 14 days prior to the stay
  • Whenever points are in the account to support the stay, those must be redeemed against Points Advance reservations
  • Only 3 points advance bookings are allowed at any one time

Al Maha Desert Resort

Marriott offers these examples: 

Booking Date   Arrival Date of Reservation  Automatic Cancellation Date if Insufficient Points in Account for the Stay 
June 1, 2021 July 10, 2021 June 26, 2021
June 1, 2021 June 20, 2021 Cannot Book a Points Advance Reservation; Arrival Date is Less than 30 days
June 1, 2021 March 30, 2022  August 1, 2021
July 10, 2021 May 16, 2022  September 9, 2021

Marriott still allows blocking off an award redemption far in the future, when you don’t have enough points in your account, giving yourself time to earn points, buy points or transfer them into your account to support the stay. That’s a nice feature that – for instance – Hyatt only offers to their top tier Globalist members.

Ultimately the lack of award availability at some properties is what I wish Marriott would address, rather than how these are fought over by members. But holding availability constant this seems like a reasonable change. What is disappointing though is that Points Advance no longer lets members lock in award stays at properties which are set to go up in points – the required number of points is based on redemption rates at the time points are actually redeemed.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. For those who have previously gamed the system, this will not be welcome. However, I believe this will be a benefit to a majority of Bonvoy members.

  2. Considering significantly less people were traveling in 2020, I wonder the timeframe of them noticing the increase. Of course there would be an increasw after the merger because legacy SPG members didn’t have this benefit.

  3. Agree completely it is reasonable and better for the overall member base. Funny I saw another blog that said this gutted the program and was a significant devaluation. Guess he was one of those that games the system.

    This is still more generous than competitors and allows a reasonable way to block a stay without points.

  4. Not serious.
    At least it is not a points devaluation, but that would not be a surprise either.

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