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Marriott tightens up on ‘Points Advance’ – but it is still useful

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‘Points Advance’ is a unique feature of the Marriott Bonvoy programme which lets you book a reward night if you don’t have the points.

It is as straightforward as it sounds:

  • find a reward stay you like – this can be a free night booking, a ‘cash and points’ booking or a points upgrade
  • book it, irrespective of the points in your account
  • earn the points within 14 days of check-in or your room is cancelled

I thought this was pretty smart, to be honest. What is a key factor stopping you from abandoning your current preferred airline or hotel chain? It’s the fact that, by the time you’ve earned enough points for a reward, there is nothing to book.

Now let’s look at how ‘Points Advance’ helps Marriott Bonvoy. You are a Hilton loyalist but you read our article recently about the new Le Meridien Maldives being wide open for redemptions at just 35,000 points per night.

Thanks to ‘Points Advance’, you could lock in a stay for 2022 even with zero Marriott Bonvoy points in your account. You can then start moving your future stays from Hilton to Marriott, in the knowledge that a great reward is guaranteed.

Marriott has already moved the goalposts once

‘Points Advance’ became a bit less useful back in 2019. Before that, booking your room guaranteed the rate. Now it doesn’t.

You may have locked in Le Meridien Maldives but you haven’t locked in the 35,000 points per night cost. If it goes up between the day you book and the day you confirm the reservation, you need to pay extra. This isn’t helpful but arguably isn’t hugely unfair.

The goalposts have now moved even further

According to Marriott, 25% of redemption bookings at some top resorts are made with ‘Points Advance’ and many are cancelled at short notice when the booker fails to produce the points.

Here is the new policy:

  • you can continue to make ‘Points Advance’ bookings even with zero points in your Marriott Bonvoy account
  • you can have up to three ‘Points Advance’ bookings at any one time
  • you can only make a ‘Points Advance’ booking more than 30 days before arrival
  • you have 60 days from the day you book to fund the redemption, or it is cancelled
  • irrespective of the 60 day rule, your booking is cancelled 14 days before arrival if you cannot fund it

Conclusion

It’s difficult to complain about this change to ‘Points Advance’.

There is no change to the number of rooms offered for free nights. In fact, it is likely to lead to MORE redemptions, because when a ‘Points Advance’ booking is cancelled at short notice there may not be time to resell it.

60 days is more than enough time to transfer some points into Marriott Bonvoy from American Express Membership Rewards, to earn the sign-up bonus on the Marriott Bonvoy American Express card or to earn some points from stays.

What you CAN’T do in 60 days is earn a huge volume of points via stays. Even the heavy business travellers are unlikely to spend more than, say, £2,000 over 60 days, which would be around 25,000 points. This won’t even get you one night in a decent hotel. This means that the original reason I liked ‘Points Advance’ – that you could move a large number of stays to Marriott over 9-10 months or so to fund a stay you booked for a year in advance – no longer applies.

You can see the new rules for ‘Points Advance’ on the Marriott website here.


Mariott Bonvoy American Express credit card

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards (September 2021)

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 usually 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 points sign-up bonus 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.

Until 2nd November 2021, The Platinum Card comes with a sign-up bonus of 60,000 Amex points. This converts into 90,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

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

You can also earn American Express Membership Rewards points with American Express Gold (30,000 bonus points – special offer to 9th November 2021), the American Express Rewards Credit Card (5,000 bonus points) and – for small business owners – American Express Business Gold (20,000 bonus points) and Business Platinum (40,000 bonus points).

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 (24)

  • Nick says:

    Is the 60 day rule applied retrospectively to bookings already made before this was announced! Thanks.

    • Rachael Bhella says:

      Yes they emailed me and said pay up or loose the booking in 60 days from their email.

      • Lady London says:

        Dirty.

      • DZOO says:

        Guessing the former but did they specify whether it was 60 days from the booking date or the date of the email/notification?

  • Tom says:

    Bugger. I was literally just about to use this feature to book the Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay for next year..but still have no idea if I’ll make the trip. Have squillions of points stashed in Membership Rewards and this will force me to decide whether to transfer them or not to Marriott for this booking.. had hoped to wait and see what happened next year. Boo!

  • Benilyn says:

    Sounds fair imo

  • Peter K says:

    Betteridges Law…oh, wait!

  • N says:

    I’m 99% sure Marriott haven’t communicated this change to me in any way at all.

    Surely they need to email or contact me? Got a few PA bookings in the diary!

    • Rob says:

      Depends how your email settings are set up.

      That said, I’ve not had the Amex email about losing my free BAPP yet.

      As someone who sends (15,000 x 93) 1.4 million emails per month, I can tell you that email deliverability is a very weird thing. What most people don’t realise is that the spam they get sent is NOT the spam they receive. Most is filtered automatically before it hits the inbox, even the spam inbox. It is this first level of filtering, which deletes stuff before it gets near your inbox, which is the problem especially as you can’t override it.

      • RussellH says:

        I used to have problems with receiving e-mails from a number of financial institutions. Some I just never got e-mails from, others kept telling me that I did not have an e-mail address registered with them (because they kept deleting it).
        My provider assured me that their spam logs showed that the e-mails never got to them.
        A sensible CS woman at one of the places decided to actually find out what the problem was, rather than just quoting the script.
        The problem was that their e-mail system did not recognise e-mails with a hyphen in the left hand side of the e-mail, so never sent them in the first place.

        • AJA says:

          That’s interesting, I guess that’s why there’s the convention of using the underscore instead of the hyphen in email addresses.

        • Phil W says:

          Friend of mine has the same issue with apostrophes, Firstname O’Secondname. Misses loads of emails.

      • Kevin C says:

        A weird thing happened in both lockdowns. My beardy email provider stopped pre-filtering for a while and I got loads of low grade emails for dodgy financial products.

      • N says:

        A gmail account that received a bunch of other Marriott comms.

        Would be interested to see them trying to enforce a change they haven’t told me about? They can’t rely on their customers reading blogs for changes in T&Cs.

        • Rob says:

          Good luck proving to Marriott that you never read an email they can prove they sent.

          • Crafty says:

            They should hold the data on whether or not you read it.

        • kitten says:

          maybe in US but in UK at least they have to prove you got it not just that they sent it… technically

  • TGLoyalty says:

    I think this a positive move.

  • Russ says:

    ‘What you CAN’T do in 60 days is earn a huge volume of points via stays. Even the heavy business travellers are unlikely to spend more than, say, £2,000 over 60 days’

    How do you get such cheap rates??? I’m lucky if I get 30 days for 2k and that doesn’t include parking, food, prosti …er….*cough* charitable donations…..

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