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One of the more rewarding benefits that come with the various Marriott Bonvoy co-branded credit cards are the free night awards that are offered on a cardholder’s card anniversary or as part of a very generous credit card welcome offer. These free night awards are also often earned through promotions, annual choice benefits, or travel packages but sadly, as most of us are still not in a position to travel freely, these free night awards haven’t been of much use this year. Thankfully, Marriott has just made them a little more useful.
Free Night Certificates
Back in early April (when most of us still hoped this crisis may be over by the end of the summer), Marriott announced that all Bonvoy members with unexpired Free Night Awards that were set to expire at some later point in 2020, would be able to use their certificates through 31 January 2021.
In April, that seemed fair enough. Now, with 31 January just 3 months away and with most of the world no more in control of the pandemic than it was back then, a lot of people still have unused Free Night Certificates sitting in their accounts and they’re no closer to using them now than they were in April.
Fortunately, Marriott has decided to act and, via an update to its Covid-19 FAQ page, it has announced a further extension to the expiration date of all unexpired Free Night Certificates:
“Effective December 11, 2020, members who currently have a Free Night Award (FNA) that had [has] an original expiration date in 2020, or which will expire before July 31, 2021, as part of their cobrand credit card benefit, annual choice benefit, promotions or travel package will be able to redeem it through August 1, 2021. Free Night Awards with an original expiration date prior to 2020 will not be eligible for the additional extension. Members do not need to take any action. The system will automatically update your Account with these extensions on December 11, 2020.”
I’m unclear as to how any member can still have any “Free Night Awards with an original expiration date prior to 2020” in their account but, that aside, this seems very clear and pretty generous (although not as generous as what Hilton announced earlier today).
Marriott Bonvoy Points
Marriott Bonvoy points usually expire following 24 months of inactivity but that policy was suspended through 31 August in the middle of March. At some point during the summer, Marriott realized that the world situation wasn’t getting any better and extended the suspension through January 2021. Now, and in line with the news on Free Night Awards, Marriott has said that Bonvoy Points will not expire before 1 August 2021.
To be clear, if your account contains Bonvoy Points and has been dormant for 24 months or longer come 1 August 2021, Marriott will expire all of your points. The good news is that, outside of staying at a Marriott property, there are a number of easy ways to generate some points activity in a Marriott Bonvoy account:
- Use a Marriott Bonvoy co-branded credit card to make a purchase (a purchase of just $1 will be good enough).
- Transfer points into your Honors account from Amex Membership Rewards or Chase Ultimate Rewards (if you’re only transferring to keep a balance alive make sure you only transfer over the minimum number of points).
- Register a credit card (any credit card) with Marriott’s “eat around town” dining rewards program and dine at a participating eatery and pay with your registered credit card.
- Buy the minimum number of Marriott Bonvoy points allowed.
There’s no real reason that you should ever allow a Marriott Bonvoy points balance to expire and now that Marriott is temporarily pausing expirations through 1 August 2021, Bonvoy members have plenty of time to generate the required activity.
Marriott Bonvoy members who currently have a Free Night Award that is set to expire in 2020, or which will expire before 31 July 2021 will be able to redeem those awards through 1 August 2021. In addition, Marriott has now confirmed that Bonvoy Points expirations have been paused through 1 August 2021.