‘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
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.
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.
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.
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).
(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.)