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As part of its loyalty program Marriott offers a benefit called “points advance” which allows guests to book award nights at Marriott properties even if they don’t have enough points in their account at the time of booking.
Even if a guest has no points in their account Marriott will allow them to make an award booking and will give them up to 14 days before their check-in date to earn/buy/transfer in the points they need for the stay.
With the recently announced Marriott hotel category changes (coming on 5 March 2019) can a somewhat ominous note which read:
Members who wish to book a points advance redemption under the current Marriott Rewards and SPG award chart are encouraged to order redemption certificates before March 5 to lock in the rate. On March 5, redemption bookings are subject to the new unified program award chart.
However you read this note it’s hard to escape the idea that it’s suggesting that anyone who hasn’t earned/bought/transferred in enough points to cover a future reservation by the time the hotel category changes kick in will have to pay the new higher rates (at properties where the cost of an award night is going up).
Fortunately this doesn’t seem to be the message that Marriott was intending to convey.
Gary from View From The Wing has confirmed directly with Marriott that anyone with a Points Advance reservation made before the hotel category changes come into effect will be locking in the existing rates.
Here’s what Marriott told him:
There is no change. We included language in the category changes email encouraging members to order redemption certificates before March 5 as a suggestion to help members lock in the rate because having a certificate attached makes it easier to retrieve the original reservation and the original rate. While we can retrieve a reservation without a certificate attached, it is a more involved and time-consuming process requiring the help of a CEC agent.
If you have already made a Points Advance booking (make one before 5 March 2019) the number of points needed for your reservation will not change following the hotel category changes.
This is very good news from anyone with a Points Advance booking and hopefully will now put at ease the minds of everyone who, understandably, thought that Marriott was about to pull the rug from under their award booking.
I’m not sure what Marriott was thinking with the wording which originally caused the confusion (perhaps another proof reader is needed) but the hotelier has been smart in not moving the goalposts on this issue – it has managed to annoy more than enough of its loyalty program members over the past few months so annoying yet more would not have been a clever move.