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.