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A Marriott Rewards feature I had forgotten – you can book rewards without having the points

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I have just booked a couple of nights at the new JW Marriott in Venice on the back of peer pressure after my kids read ‘Olivia Goes To Venice’.

Whilst I ended up using cash, when researching my options I was reminded of a quirk of Marriott Rewards which is unique to the programme and which I have never mentioned on HfP before.

Marriott Rewards allows you to book redemptions nights even if you do not have all the points you need.

This is a very valuable feature of the programme and one which is probably good business for Marriott.  If you see a flight or hotel redemption which you can’t afford, you rarely put in the effort to earn the extra points.  Why?  Because there is a very good chance that the room or seat will have gone by the time you have the points.

By letting you book a room you can’t currently afford, you can start moving your upcoming hotel stays to Marriott Group properties to earn those points safe in the knowledge that your redemption room is in the bag.

If you were planning to buy points to make up the difference, it allows you to hold off in case a bonus promotion comes along.

It also allows you to lock in a reservation and then start the process of transferring points into your account from a family member.  This can often take a day or so and there is a risk that you might lose your room if you wait.

The process is very simple.  If you try to book a room redemption at without having enough points, you will be presented with the following choices – to buy the points or to order the e-certificate after earning the points.

Select the latter option.  Marriott will deduct your current points balance from your account and tell you how many points you are short.

Once you have earned the additional points, go back into your reservation confirmation.  You will see a line marked ‘Order reward certificate for this reservation.’

You have until seven days prior to check-in to trigger the reward certificate.

This is a very handy feature and one worth keeping in mind if you have Marriott Rewards points.

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards (December 2023)

There are various ways of earning Marriott Bonvoy points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.

The official Marriott Bonvoy American Express card comes with 20,000 points for signing up, 2 points for every £1 you spend and 15 elite night credits per year.

You can apply here.

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

20,000 points sign-up bonus and 15 elite night credits each year Read our full review

You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points by converting American Express Membership Rewards points at the rate of 2:3.

Do you know that holders of The Platinum Card from American Express receive FREE Marriott Bonvoy Gold status for as long as they hold the card?  It also comes with Hilton Honors Gold, Radisson Rewards Premium and MeliaRewards Gold status.  We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here and you can apply here.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive a huge 100,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 100,000 Avios) with The Platinum Card. You receive 75,000 points if you spend £10,000 in six months and a further 25,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.

The Platinum Card from American Express

Crazy 100,000 points (TO 9th JANUARY) and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points indirectly:

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive 30,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 30,000 Avios) with American Express Preferred Rewards Gold. You receive 25,000 points if you spend £3,000 in three months and a further 5,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.

and for small business owners:

The conversion rate from American Express to Marriott Bonvoy points is 2:3.

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which can be used to earn Marriott Bonvoy points

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Comments (9)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • mkcol says:

    Thanks – never knew about this.

  • Phil says:

    As a Marriott Platinum member, I always have mixed feelings of this feature. Often signature hotels get booked on a whim, only for the booking too be cancelled at the last minute. This obviously affects availability.

  • Andrew says:

    And what happens if you don’t get the points in time? Is the booking cancelled, are you charged to buy the points or do you just pay cash for the room?

  • ankomonkey says:

    I did this earlier this year for a Paris redemption. Having 2 young kids, the need to finalise all bookings at the same time was paramount so I could book this well in advance of travel. I knew I would have earned the points before travel (and I did), so I was very pleased with this feature. There are many times I’ve wished Hilton did this…

  • gnarlyoldgoatdude says:

    Although may only appeal to a smaller audience, Air Malta allow you to book an upgrade with miles when you don’t have enough for the full upgrade, but would have enough after the leg is flown.
    It’s quite good fun to see a negative points balance.

  • Nick says:

    Isn’t this very similar to the SPG scheme? They allow you to book a room and give you 7 days to get the points in to your account, too. I’ve done that on a number of occasions – book the room, then buy the points or transfer in some MR points. It’s always worked for me.

    • Rob says:

      Starwood will do this for 7 days by phone, apparently. The Marriott scheme is more radical though – you can literally have a room on hold for 11 months.

  • panka says:

    Wish I knew this 2 weeks ago.
    Just returned from a 2 nights stay, and could have moved some points.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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