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Big Marriott Bonvoy changes: peak/off-peak, Points Advance and ‘5th night free’ tweaked

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Marriott Bonvoy has just announced a number of changes to the programme, a couple of which seem innocuous but which have the potential to bite.

Full details of these changes can be found on this special page of the Marriott website.  The site includes a few videos explaining how the different changes work.

Marriott Bonvoy peak night pricing

Change 1:  Peak and off-peak pricing is here

We have known since the launch of Marriott Bonvoy that the programme was going to introduce peak and off-peak pricing.  The implementation date has been delayed a couple of times but it is finally here.

Peak and off-peak pricing will launch on 14th September.

Here is the reward chart as it will look from 14th (click to enlarge):

New Marriott Bonvoy redemption chart

You can see the chart online here.

From 14th September, a ‘flexible date finder’ will be available on line, hotel by hotel, so you can pick off-peak dates if your plans are flexible.

As you can see, a top category property such as St Regis New York will now cost 70,000, 85,000 or 100,000 points per night depending on the date of your stay.  It is currently 85,000 points for every night.  It is worth remembering that when Marriott Bonvoy launched and Category 8 did not exist, it was 60,000 points per night, every night.

Here are the key things you need to know:

All redemptions booked by 14th September will be booked at the current standard rates

If your room drops in price after 14th September because the date is now off-peak, you will not automatically receive a refund.  You need to cancel and rebook, assuming that redemption rooms are still available.

If your room goes up in price because the date is now a peak date, don’t worry.  You will only pay the rate you booked.

Note that whilst the ‘majority’ of dates will be at standard prices, this is being measured across all 7,000 hotels and not on a hotel-by-hotel basis.  In theory, a specific property could be ‘peak’ for the bulk of the year.

‘Cash & Points’ redemptions are being standardised.  Instead of the previously proposed structure, there will now be a fixed cash element across hotel categories with only the points element varying.  Here is the new chart:

Marriott Bonvoy cash and points redemption chart

Change 2:  ‘Points Advance’ is changing

‘Points Advance’ is, for me, one of the best aspects of the Marriott Bonvoy programme – and one of the cleverest.

Marriott Bonvoy allows you to book redemption nights even if you don’t have the points available.  You have until 14 days before your stay to earn them.

This is a smart move.  A lot of people don’t like switching brands because they are not confident that the new scheme will let them get the redemption they want.  Marriott lets you lock in, say, a hotel for a New York break next Summer.  This means you are VERY motivated to move your stays across to Bonvoy to ensure you earn the points in time.

‘Points Advance’ has had issues, however.  One is with some members booking large volumes of rooms with very little intention of using most of them.  If you were planning a Paris trip ‘at some point next Spring’ you could hold a room every weekend for three months with no penalty.

There were also issues over Marriott repricing rooms due to the introduction of Bonvoy, with the IT being unable to track the price at the original point of booking.

‘Points Advance’ will change in two ways on 14th September:

The price you pay is the price in force on the date you have enough points in your account to confirm the booking.  You are NOT locking in the price, just the availability.  If the hotel goes up in points price, you will need to earn more.  This means that there is no benefit in locking in rooms now using ‘Points Advance’ to avoid the jump to peak pricing.

You will be capped at a maximum of three ‘Points Advance’ reservations at any one time.  For bookings made before 14th September, you will be allowed to have up to five at any one time.

I am OK with these changes, given that no other scheme offers a benefit like this which I think both Marriott and members value.

It appears that existing ‘Points Advance’ bookings are ‘safe’ although if you have more than five then some will be cancelled.  If you have one in place by 14th September, you will just pay the price in force on the day of booking.

Marriott Bonvoy peak pricing

Change 3:  A tweak to ‘5th night free’

At present, if you book a five night Marriott Bonvoy redemption, the fifth night is free.

This is not going away, but the formula used to calculate it is changing.  The new rule is that the free night is the cheapest night.

If your stay covers both peak and off-peak dates, it will be an off-peak date which is treated as the ‘free’ one.

Conclusion

We knew that peak and off-peak pricing was coming eventually, and we already knew the prices, so there is nothing here to surprise us.  In some ways we should be grateful that the implementation is running six months behind schedule.

The changes should, of course, also net out over time.  Some members will end up better off if they tend to redeem off-peak, others will be worse off.

The changes to ‘5th night free’ and ‘Points Advance’ are acceptable, especially if it means that these valuable benefits stick around.

Remember to lock in redemptions before 14th September to guarantee you don’t pay peak day pricing.

Full details of these changes can be found on the Marriott Bonvoy website here.


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

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards (May 2022)

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.

American Express Marriott Bonvoy credit card

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

20,000 bonus points and 15 elite night credits 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 Gold and MeliaRewards Gold status.  We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here and you can apply here.

The Platinum Card has doubled its sign-up bonus to 60,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert to 90,000 Marriott Bonvoy points, if you apply by 1st June 2022.

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points (SPECIAL OFFER) and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points indirectly:

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 (61)

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

  • Russ says:

    Interesting. Sunday nights are usually the cheapest so arguably be the most frequent free night. Points advance changes don’t look too bad.

    • Stu_N says:

      Agreed, this is not a disaster. The biggest draw of Bonvoy for me is “Points Advance” so I’m very glad it has survived in some form.

      Is there any clarity whether this affects existing Points Advance bookings? I have a 5-for-4 RC booking I made earlier this year for next Spring. I have a very strong interest in this not being repriced upwards.

      • Rob says:

        Good question. It may well do – after all, the ‘5 bookings’ rule applies to all with bookings being cancelled.

        EDIT: Seems to be safe looking at comments on US sites

        • Stu_N says:

          Do I risk an increase from 200k points to 240k points, or do I convert our entire MR stash to Bonvoy points and fund the booking….?

          • Rob says:

            Seems to be safe looking at comments on US sites which are apparently official. Looks like only fresh bookings from 14th will be under the new rule.

          • Stu_N says:

            Thanks Rob – I think I will chance it then argue my point through Customer Services if rates do go up.

  • KevMc says:

    Do you think that this will affect travel packages in future? ie do you think it is likely we will see an ‘off-peak’ and ‘anytime’ version of these?

  • Mr P says:

    O/T – Looks like you can watch 3D and VR movies on selected BA flights to New York if you are flying 1st Class, with the new ‘allosky’ headset. Interesting article:- https://www.shortlist.com/news/british-airways-now-offers-the-ultimate-in-flight-entertainment-vr-400670

    • marcw says:

      Well this is a company from Hangar 61 (or 51?). IB had them on a tripl for 6 month since february. Obviously the success was so great that now it will be on trail for 6 month in First Class. Soon everyone will forget about them.

  • Roger says:

    How will this affect any existing 7 night stay certificates?

  • Anna says:

    Is there any way of telling yet which dates will be peak (apart from the obvious ones?). I have a 2 night points advance stay at the Langley next late May bank holiday – I’m thinking I should re-book one of the nights separately which I have enough points to do outright as I can only see this property going up in points!

    • Jonny says:

      Some properties could very conceivably go up from Cat 7 “standard” to Cat 8 “peak” between the time of booking and the time of stay, thus having to shell out an extra 40k points per night if you don’t have them by 14 Sept!

      Or a jump in excess of 70% from Cat 5 standard (35k) to Cat 6 peak (60k)!

  • Crafty says:

    All seems fair enough on the face of it, the devil will be in the detail.

  • Matthew says:

    This means in the space of about 14 months, Domes of Elounda has gone from 270,000 points for a week to 600,000 for peak dates. Shocking!

    • Jonny says:

      Its still not terrible value for the school summer holidays vs the cash rates, and can sneak in 1 more stay at “only” 510k points…. just come back from there having booked a year ago at 45k a night, absolute steal!!

      • Matthew says:

        Same here….we booked using an old travel package so got incredible value. This year we got lots of free wine/cocktails/gifts given to us through the stay which was very much appreciated!! 👍 Been two years on the trot now so maybe time to try somewhere new….

        • Jonny says:

          I’ve been 3 years in a row now and still not bored of it yet. Next year unfortunately likely to be the last though due to points cost/number of children now!

          • Chelseafi says:

            We had such a wonderful stay there in June paid cash upgrade from points booking to Luxury Residence with Haute, fantastic everything, will stay again sometime but trying the Domes Corfu next June 5 nights points.

  • Ben says:

    O/T Anyone know about what to do with expiring old travel packages booked just before the changes?

    Was hoping to use it this summer but my plans changed and didn’t have a chance to use it. Will I be able to extend it?

    • Matthew says:

      I don’t think you can extend per se but it needs to be converted to a new travel package ie Cat1-5 becomes a Cat1-4. That might then have a new expiry date but not 100% sure.

      • Ian M says:

        Yes it will have a new expiry date, 12 months from the date you call to convert it from an old package to a new one.

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

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