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

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‘Points Advance’ is a unique feature of the Marriott Bonvoy hotel 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 (note the past tense) Marriott Bonvoy. Imagine you are a Hilton loyalist but you like the look of one of the Marriott resorts in the Maldives.

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

But …. Marriott messed it up by taking away most of the value

‘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 a particular Maldives resort but you haven’t locked in the points per night cost. If it goes up between the day you book and the day you confirm the reservation – which is likely, as Marriott is now using ‘dynamic’ pricing for its rewards which is based on the cash price – you need to pay extra.

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 such as, in the UK, American Express Membership Rewards. It would also give you some leeway if you were due points at the end of the month from your Marriott Bonvoy American Express credit card, or an upcoming stay. 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 (February 2023)

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.

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 Premium and MeliaRewards Gold status.  We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here and you can apply here.

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and unbeatable 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 (3)

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

  • Matt says:

    Given that Marriott has pretty good availability (last standard room) points advance now has very little use. Occasional hotels that are likely to be busy, eg W at the Abu Dhabi F1, but otherwise just transfer the points in and then book.
    Holding the rate would be useful, holding for 9 or 10 months might have some use occasionally, but variable rate for 60 days is rarely helpful.

    • Polly says:

      And dynamic pricing doesn’t help either… shame really, as Marriott is our favourite hotel group.

  • Polly says:

    Yes, that was a blow, reducing it to 60 days. We used this option first time we stayed at the W Sentosa. Took us months to bag the points. Now we can’t even look at it until we have most of the points. With the odd Amex referral bonus we can usually manage a 5n stay once a year. Worth it tho.

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

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