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Last month, in the week that Marriott was selling its e-gift cards at a discount, I made 4 separate gift card purchases in an attempt to see how the transactions would be treated by various credit cards I hold and in an attempt to use up the Marriott travel credit offered by the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant credit card from American Express. Things did not progress smoothly.
In the second week of May Marriott started selling select e-gift cards with a 20% discount and announced that gift card purchases would code in the same way as Marriott stays when a Marriott Bonvoy cobranded credit card was used. For those of us likely to be visiting Marriott properties in the near future that was a pretty good deal but the deal became even better when two further details became clear:
- Marriott e-gift card purchases coded as travel purchases for credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card and the Citi Premier Card (meaning that they would almost certainly code as travel purchases for all other cards too).
- Marriott e-gift card purchases triggered the Marriott travel credit on the Bonvoy Brilliant Card from American Express.
Three of my four transactions took place on 12 May and all three were for $50 e-gift cards (at a cost of $40 each). The purchases were made using the following credit cards:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Citi Premier
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card from American Express
All three transactions posted to my credit card accounts successfully, and the transaction on the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card triggered the Marriott travel credit that Amex offers with the card:
So far so good.
Two days later things started to unravel. Two near-identical emails dropped into my inbox informing me that my gift card orders had been cancelled:
As strange as it was that two of my three orders should be cancelled (I hadn’t broken any of the rules), what was stranger still was the fact that neither of the order numbers quoted in the emails corresponded to the order numbers I was given when I purchased the gift cards.
I checked my credit card accounts to see which orders had been cancelled and my Citi Premier card and my Bonvoy Brilliant Card were both showing refunds:
The only purchase that “stuck” was the one made with my Chase Sapphire Reserve Card.
To add to the strangeness of all this, American Express didn’t reverse the Marriott Bonvoy credit it had given me when the transaction was first processed. To this day the credit has not been taken back.
I confess that I couldn’t be bothered to call up Marriott to see why my purchases had been cancelled (I had only made the purchases to see how the transactions would code) so, for a few days, I left things alone.
On 16 May I decided to use up what was left of my Amex Marriott credit by purchasing a further $350 of Marriott e-gift cards at a cost of $280. Once again the transaction posted to my account without issue and the Amex Marriott credit was applied within 24 hours:
Over a week passed by and no gift cards were forthcoming when, just as I was about to give Marriott a call to see what was going on, another cancellation email appeared. Once again the order number in the cancellation email was different from the order number I was given when the transaction first processed and, once again, the refund appeared in my Amex online account without the Amex Marriott credit being reversed:
In total, I have bought $600 of Marriott e-gift cards and seen $550 of e-gift card purchases cancelled.
More interestingly, I bought enough e-gift cards to trigger the full $300 Marriott credit offered by my Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant credit card, I’ve had the credit applied to my account but also had all the gift cards refunded too. Essentially, I’ve been given a $300 rebate by Amex for products I’ve never actually managed to purchase.
We’re coming up on 2 weeks since the last set of gift cards were cancelled and I still haven’t been able to get anything from Marriott to explain what has been going on. It would appear that no one can tell me why my transactions were cancelled and no one can tell me why the order numbers in the cancellation emails don’t match with the order numbers on the purchase orders. It’s all a big mystery to everyone I’ve dealt with.
I’m Probably Going To Give Up
Life’s too short to deal with Marriott so I’m probably just going to give up if I don’t have this resolved in the next week…but I’m not going to leave things as they are with American Express. My account may be $300 better off right now, but I have no doubt that Amex will come looking for that cash at some point in the future and I really don’t want any issues cropping up further down the line…especially not over a $300 Marriott credit.
I plan to give Amex a call once I’ve given up hope of getting Marriott to sort things out and I’ll ask the customer services representative to reverse the cash credit that’s currently sitting in my account and ask for the Marriott credit to be reinstated too. I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to use the Marriott credit before the year is up (so this won’t leave me out of pocket) and I’d much rather give Amex back its $300 now (when it suits me) rather than at some future date when I may not be expecting my account to take a $300 hit.
Has anyone else had any issues with Marriott e-gift card purchases?