Yesterday Mark Ostermann wrote that Marriott travel packages can no longer be cancelled for a partial points refund. It turns out that’s not accurate, just bad information from a Marriott customer service representative.
Marriott’s Old Travel Packages Were Amazing Value
Marriott’s travel packages used to be the best use of Marriott points. You’d receive a week long hotel stay in conjunction with transferring points to miles and receive superior value for your points.
Unfortunately old travel packages that are still valid aren’t as good as some people were (unrealistically, in my view) hoping for in the new program. Here’s how those packages map to the new award chart:
Perhaps the most frustrating element of this change is that category 6 certificates – which cost more to redeem than lower category certificates – aren’t worth more. The same is true for category 9 and Ritz-Carlton tier 4-5 certificates.
So Marriott agreed to allow members who purchased a Category 6, Category 8 or Tier 1-3 certificate prior to August 18th when the new program started to request a one-time exchange for a package one category lower and get points back.
In the New Program Travel Packages Aren’t Great Value
Travel packages — a hotel stay in conjunction with transfer of points to miles — have gotten much more expensive in the new program.
Travel Packages Can Be Returned
You can request a partial refund for a travel package where the hotel stay portion hasn’t been used. You don’t get all of your points back.
- For example an old program category 1-5 certificate that would have cost 200,000 points with several airlines and yielded 50,000 miles will net you 45,000 points back.
- You get the incremental points for each level above that. So an old category 9 certificate gets 165,000 points back (45,000 points plus the additional 120,000 points that a category 9 certificate costs over a category 1-5 certificate).
Marriott’s terms and conditions say (emphasis mine):
3.14.c. Once a Travel Package is processed:
i. airline Miles cannot be transferred back to the Membership Account; and
ii. the hotel award portion of the Travel Package is non-refundable to the Member if cancelled or not used.
However we’ve seen plenty of examples where Marriott’s terms don’t actually reflect how the program works, and several changes to the terms since August 18th as a result (without notice to members).
A Marriott spokesperson confirms for me that “members can still receive some points back for unredeemed packages, however, we would strongly encourage members use the certificate rather than redeem them for points.”
Always Assume What a Marriott Representative Tells You Is Wrong
Never has hang up, call back been more true than in dealing with Marriott Rewards. That’s been the case for years. Call center representatives don’t seem to know program rules. They often make up information or repeat inaccurate rumors.
There is nothing new about this stemming from the new program or the integration with Starwood. There are just a lot of (legacy Starwood) customers who aren’t used to this, just like they aren’t used to waiting on hold for an agent.
If you don’t get an answer you like — or you’re told information that conflicts with what you think you know about the program or that seems new — it’s important to verify the information. That’s true with any loyalty program, and even any large company but it’s extra true with Marriott.
Another data point – I called in yesterday to convert my old category 6 certificate to a new category 1-4. I waited until now, hoping that the expiration date on the converted award would be extended to allow to redeem for Christmas 2019. I was told that they can only be converted when you’re ready to make a reservation, so I created a cancellable one for next summer. My account is now showing a new cat 1-4 cert with an expiration of Dec 28, 2019, with a subtraction of 45,000 points and an addition of 75,000. All is good.
Just called to get my old cat 1-5 travel package points refunded. It costed me 270k points for 132k UA miles & 7 nights. The rep said no refund, and even the supervisor said the same. What do I do now? I was originally going to use the cert @ JW Marriott Phu Quoc VN but now it’s 35k points/night.
Similar experience. Downgraded and got a solid deal on a Cat 4 hotel. Raising the alarm too soon.
Good article, thanks Gary! I really hope Marriott gets their act together. I have a few old travel packages that I’m just waiting to hear how they will be handled. I hope they will allow extensions, upgrades and downgrades as in the past. Cheers.
Gary and Nancy,
I’ve called many times, yet to get your and my take on what Marriott has done. Every rep says you have to redeem and buy travel package at current rate.
I bought category 6 hotel travel package with 132, 000 United miles on August 6th for 300K Marriott points. Booked that day Marriott Phu Quoc cat 6 hotel for Feb 2019.
Marriott basically cheated us by encouraging us to book Cat 6 hotel, when they knew it was soon to be Cat 5 hotel on Aug 18th.
Marriott cheated us out of 30,000 points.
Calling customer service for help or answers, 30 minute to 1 hour wait is common, I’ve been hung up on, told to call another number many times, some of the reps have no idea what a Marriott Travel Package even is.
Most of my business going to Hilton unless I see a change.
Marriott has quickly and shamelessly crossed the line from an incompetent company to an unethical one the past few months – IMO Gary this is worthy of a separate post by you.
Legacy Marriott property capacity control changes, SNAs never being returned despite requests, lack of CS responses versus just slow ones, breakfast benefit at many properties, the Al Maha example this week…it all now has the tone of malice, versus sheer incompetence.
@UA-NYC there were no actual capacity control changes at legacy Marriott properties. Marriott changed their terms, which were a mistake and never reflected reality. The terms described Starwood’s award availability policy which never existed at Marriott properties. David Flueck has said that at some point in the future legacy Marriott brands will move to the Starwood availability model, but that has not happened yet. The change in terms did not alter the status quo in any way.
I bought a Legacy Cat 8 and Cat 9 package before the category changes and made temporary reservations for summer 2019. I know I am due 30,000 points back on my Cat 8 booking but I am still not ready to commit to another reservation just yet and am hoping to extend it into 2020. Is there a deadline to request my 30,000 point refund? Should I wait till I have a booking in mind or is it better to make another temporary booking and get my refund back? Any guidance on this would be appreciated. Thanks
Except for all the loud proclamations about it Gary
I and many others call BS about this “mistake”
@UA-NYC Sorry but that author is simply mistaken or unaware of how Marriott Rewards worked before the new program, and continued to work with the launch of the program. Marriott brands have never had an ‘any standard room is available as awards policy.’ Never. They are allowed to limit to 10% of inventory on high demand dates and always have been. That’s a pretty significant limitation, and speaks poorly about the program, but it is not new.
But Starwood did, and it appears that now they don’t. That is a big change for Gold & Premium Elite!
More likely is that they tried to move to true Starwood-style award availability (especially with the move closer to variable redemption rates w/the three tiers), but per typical Marriott style, were unable to force properties to comply, thus they had to backtrack.
You don’t just let the new T&Cs ride for 4 months then say “whoops it was just a mistake”.
Took 4 calls tonight (only b/c the first 3 calls dropped whenever the rep came back from hold, no idea why), but was able to cancel Tier 4-5 package for 315k points.
There seems to be a nuance to this. Just had a discussion with a Marriott rep, who was helpful. I asked and she did read the policy. If you purchased the certificate on or after a certain date (I believe August 16) then the black and white policy is no refunds. I would have received only 5k points back for a category 6 certificate.
Anyone had experience on cancelling the booked reservation using the travel certificate? I booked the 7 nights at a hotel but I had to cancel it due to change of schedule. I called up Marriott and was told I cannot get the certificate back from Marriott as it’s non cancellable on those travel package 7 nights certificate.
Has anyone had same experience? This is ridiculous.