Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

How does Marriott Bonvoy ‘Points Advance’ – booking rooms without having the points – work?

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

‘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
  • you have up to 60 days to earn the points needed before your room is cancelled

I have always 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, the reward you want may not be available.

Now let’s look at how ‘Points Advance’ helped Marriott Bonvoy. Imagine you are a Hilton loyalist but you read our article in Spring about the new Le Meridien Maldives being wide open for redemptions at just 30,000 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 could then start moving your future stays from Hilton to Marriott, in the knowledge that a great reward is guaranteed.

But …. Marriott has taken a lot of the value away in 2021

‘Points Advance’ was first downgraded 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 30,000 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.

In mid 2021, there were another round of changes:

  • you can only have up to three ‘Points Advance’ bookings at any one time (not an issue for most people)
  • 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

The 60 day rule is a problem

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 a handful of points from stays.

What you CAN’T do in 60 days is earn a huge volume of points via stays. Even 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.

‘Points Advance’ DOES still have its uses. For a start, it gives you a window to transfer some points in from a credit card partner. It also gives you a window to top up your balance if you are a little short of what you need for a free night. It just isn’t as flexible as it once was.

You can learn more about ‘Points Advance’ on the Marriott 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 (June 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.

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points 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 (22)

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

  • Blair says:

    We’re all liquidating our Bonvoy points prior to March anyway, right? At guaranteed rates rather than Points Advance. Bonvoy will remain my scheme of choice for benefits but IHG for earn and burn points. Despite the “dynamic” pricing on IHG, I am mining massive value from my points in the most unexpected of places.

    • Backpacker says:

      Hey Blair, where are you getting great value on your IHG points?

      • Blair says:

        Some of the higher end ICs in Europe. Toying around with dates generates some surprises. I have a rock bottom points rate in the US over Xmas/New Year too that bore no relation to the cash rate. Long may the bats*it craziness of dynamic pricing continue.

    • Rob says:

      I have just burned 290k for a last minute New Year holiday getting 1.2p per point. Doubt that will be possible after March …..

  • Whiskerxx says:

    Anyone have any experience regarding confirmed bookings being cancelled by hotel? I had award rooms booked at a Marriott hotel in Doha for next November during the World Cup 2022 period. The rooms were booked on Marriott website and confirmations were issued.
    The hotel is now saying that the Qatar Government forbids such sales during this period and has cancelled the rooms.
    My view is that once booked and confirmed a contract is in place, but I’d be happy to hear advice from others, legal professionals or readers with same experience.
    Is there an MCOL route?

    • The Streets says:

      I had a week booked for the group stages but received the cancellation email too saying the ultimate reservation guarantee policy did not apply… I had booked one of the last direct Avios flights too! All wishful thinking I guess given the low number of hotel rooms that will be available to accommodate the number of visitors expected

      • Benilyn says:

        When did you guys both book? I don’t think the hotels were meant to release availability.

        • The Streets says:

          I booked as soon as the dates came up for late November/early December.. in truth i knew it was odd it let me as showing sold out everywhere and absolutely nothing on booking.com

    • Alex Sm says:

      The governments normally have the right to requisition the hotel capacity at short notice (eg. US govt has a deal with Radisson on that) but they should provide a like-for-like alternative if this happens

    • John says:

      You won’t be able to MCOL a hotel in Qatar and good luck if you want to sue the Qatar government.

      • Whiskerxx says:

        Well, with a contract in place and with Marriott supposedly offering the “Ultimate Reservation Guarantee “ I was going to direct everything at Marriott. Marriott are selling space at the moment through FIFA Hospitality, so space is available.

  • TPB says:

    Think you’ve missed a zero off… Even heavy business travellers are unlikely to spend more than, say, £2,000 over 60 days

    • Rob says:

      No, £2,000 is correct. 20 nights over two months (which is 40 working days) at £100 per night sounded about right.

  • Alex Sm says:

    In all this dynamic pricing logic, should we expect that the next step: if the price of stay increased between the time of booking and the price of stay, you will be expected to pay the difference on arrival?

    • Rob says:

      Hopefully not!

      We still don’t know how dynamic pricing will work – whether they will retain caps, like Hilton, or just let it go crazy like IHG (100k for a Holiday Inn Express on a busy day).

  • NorthernLass says:

    I find Bonvoy points relatively difficult to earn and will definitely be burning our stash in 2022. Currently got 5 nights booked at the Castillo Son Vida in Majorca next October half term and the rest are earmarked for somewhere nice in Florida next Christmas as soon as availability is released.

    • Blair says:

      I agree. My counter seems to creep up; and that’s even with Your World Rewards meaning Emirates flight purchases also feed my Bonvoy balance. I tend to see Bonvoy properties now as aspirational options so am willing to spend cash to secure them, via an agent Stars or Luminous rate. My one big Bonvoy bounty was when I had 3 rooms credited to my account for a work stay during a peak convention period. Is Castillo adults only? I had thought it was.

    • Harry T says:

      The solution is just to spend loads of money at Marriott Bonvoy hotels, as Titanium or Ambassador – the 75% bonus adds up.

  • Alex Sm says:

    Another question: what happens if one counts on certain amount of points to come at the time of PA booking but then something unexpected happens (a lockdown or cancelled trip, or a technical glitch when posting the points etc). Do they have a grace period or something to wait for stays/points to come through?

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

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.