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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.

  • N says:

    Here’s a toughie…
    Booked 7 nights at a W back in January when it was still 60k per night under Points Advance. Total due 300k.
    Called the other day and they asked for 510k to confirm the reservation. I didn’t push it as I didn’t have the 300k to hand.

    Now, do I need to confirm the reservation before 14th September to pay the 300k?

    And for the tough bit… If I want to change the booking by a few days – currently Wed to Wed – to Sat to Sat, would I be best off paying the points first, or can I do it without debiting the points? Worried that a chance will charge at current rates (510k) and fix that price on the booking…!

    • Rob says:

      Not clear but the implication is you will need 510k to clear it after 14th.

      EDIT: It seems not. ‘Official’ feedback via US blogs is that existing bookings are safe.

      • Amit says:

        Does anyone know how this will affect the Ritz Half Moon Bay. Have points advance booking for October

        • Rob says:

          UPDATE: It seems you are safe. Bookings made before 14th September will be grandfathered at the price when booked.

    • E says:

      I don’t know about whether you’d need to confirm before the 14th September to stick with the 300k total. I think though that any change to dates even at this point will mean a reprice to current rates.

      • E says:

        And wouldn’t it be 360k anyway now….5 nights for 4 at 60k per night is 240k plus 2 nights at 60k each is surely 360k?

        • N says:

          Hello fellow single-letter name!

          Yes, you’re right. 360k, not 300k. My mistake

    • BigSi says:

      N, you only need the 300k for that booking. You need to call and ask and huca if it doesn’t work. If you change the date, it will reprice.

  • Matthew says:

    I get the feeling that a stealth devaluation is taking place. There seems to be no rules on how many dates hotels offer at off-peak and standard so surely most will just price at peak the whole year round? Unless cash rates are so low you’d be daft to redeem points on the quieter night. I’m hoping to be proven wrong of course….

    • Rob says:

      The rule is ‘across all 7,000 hotels, the majority of nights will be at standard rates’. Nothing stops all New York hotels being peak for 365 days though.

      • BJ says:

        This is probably good news for places like KL where we can likely expect the opposite on hotels that are low category anyway. Marriott high end properties in places like London, Paris and NY were already looking much to good in comparison to Hilton and even to lower branded IHG redemptions so an adjustment is not surprising. For example, who’s going to fork out 50k for HI Mayfair if they are flush with Bonvoy points.

        • Lyn says:

          BJ, I’m not sure the HI Mayfair is the best example here. I was given a charming and very spacious room on a points booking there recently as IHG Platinum, after only staying once before two years ago after Rob mentioned it in an article. It’s location so close to the Royal Academy and Hatchards suited me (granted, a bit niche) but the lifts at Green Park tube station are also practical for luggage en route to or from Heathrow.

          • BJ says:

            I think the rooms are a bit dated but many have two double beds IIRC which is certainly good for families. Location also excellent. However, with many Marriott hotels being at broadly similar points levels in the centre I just think there was better choices, but maybe not anymore.

    • Russ says:

      Good point Mathew. The cash and points nights at some of the lower Category hotels on quiet nights make cash bookings look sensible Then you have special offers to factor in such as the current and regular, pay for two nights get third free or, stay four nights get two free. And of course you earn points with a cash booking.

  • BJ says:

    Not fussed with these changes at all, I rarely stay at Marriott as I much prefer Hilton recognition. Just hope the airline transfers don’t get devalued as I’m sitting on my points until the BA transfer bonus next March. Points and cash provided useful opportunities at times but with the £ having crashed and continuing to slide that is no longer the case.

  • Pangolin says:

    For any Hilton status challenges you now only get matched to Gold at the onset of the challenge – regardless of what ultimate status is offered – and you may then achieve either Gold or Diamond based on NIGHTS not stays (10 and 18 nights respectively). But if the offer doesn’t specify Diamond for 18 nights you can only achieve Gold anyway (i.e. IHG Platinum match).

    You used to be able to get a match to Diamond status immediately (assuming Hilton recognised your current status as equivalent to Diamond) and keep it by doing 8 stays (or get Gold if you managed just 4-7).

  • C says:

    I’ve got 3 separate reward nights booked so will be looking to see if any of these are off peak come the 14th. Is the best way to rebook (if you don’t have any points left) to use points advance and then cancel the previous booking? Can the returned points then be used to pay for the new booking? How long do they normally take to return to the account after cancelling?

  • Nick M says:

    Potentially daft question – how do you tell if a booking is points advance or if you’ve paid the points?

    I currently have 2 bookings at the same hotel, I’ve definitely “paid” for one of them but not sure about the other (and this is the more certain of the bookings). Transaction history looks a bit of a mess from adjustments to my old travel package

    All 3 of my existing bookings currently say that an e-certificate is required prior to check in – but one definitely has travel certificate attached, and I’ve definitely had at least one lot of points deducted

  • Taylor says:

    I have booked two nights at a San Francisco hotel “the palace hotel”. However the points havnt been taken but the booking is confirmed. The booking states ‘certificate required for check in’. I’m not sure what this means. Is anybody able to help? What do I need to do?

    • Shoestring says:

      it normally means you used some code or other entitlement to get a reduced rate, & need to provide proof of your entitlement to the lower rate when you check in

    • Tom H says:

      I had this exact same thing for a 7 night TO at an edition hotel a few weeks ago. Quick call to Marriott and they just said it was the way it showed up on the system once a TP had been used up. And nothing needed to be produced or sent in advance etc.

      Sure enough no issues at all when we turned up.

    • Adrian says:

      I’m not sure why, probably poor IT, but all single night redemptions I have done have generated the certificates automatically, but multi-night ones have required a call to customer services to generate the certificates, not sure why in the digital age this should be required, but it only takes a couple of minutes on the phone, give them your reservation no. and they will generate the certificates.

  • ChrisC says:

    O/T but hotel related but also involved a devaluation (of sorts)

    Hilton have changed it’s status matches and the most you can get now os Gold not Diamond and they have increased the number of nights needed to maintain it after the 90 days match period.

    • BJ says:

      Not quite right on both counts. You can no longer get diamond during the 90 day challenge but you can still get it thereafter if you stay 20 nights. That is the second difference, Diamond now requires 20 nights as opposed to eight stays, Gold ten nights as opposed to 4 stays.

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

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