Marriott Bonvoy just made a change which some may see as negative, but ultimately, it’s for the best. From today, there will be stronger restrictions on how Marriott Bonvoy gives members an “advance” on points, to help make bookings for hotels where they don’t currently have enough points.
For highly speculative bookers, it may be a pain, but for the good of the program, it’s a big win. Here’s what you need to know about these evolving changes.
New Marriott Bonvoy Points Advance Changes
Marriott Bonvoy has a feature which is both user friendly and admirable, which isn’t something you get to say very often with loyalty programs. If you’re short on points for a future booking, historically, Marriott will let you lock the booking in, so long as you had the points in your account in time to check in.
Now, that’s changing, with new limits to how long you can hold a reservation, and a big move with when you need the points to be in your account, ready to “pay with points”.
Effective immediately, Marriott Bonvoy members can only use points advance for up to 60 days, and must have enough points to settle the booking within 14 days. Your stay also must be at least 30 days away to use points advance.
This means Marriott is happy to advance you points for up to 60 days, but if you don’t get the points in your account within 60 days, or at least 14 days prior to check in, the reservation will automatically get cancelled. Really, this is fair.
Why This Makes Sense
Marriott cited (HT: VFTW) that nearly a quarter of all points bookings were made using points advance, and that many people never bothered to cancel their reservations, which meant other people missed out on being able to book a room using points. Not only that, the hotel would then have to scramble to fill a room last minute, with no fair warning.
60 days of points advance still allows nearly two full credit card billing cycles to add or transfer points, and a 14 day cancellation window will actually help chances of being able to book properties on a close in basis.
In other words, if someone was holding up a booking and it falls off 14 days away, people *should* see more opportunity to use points, not only further out, but as days approach.
Slightly confused? Marriott offers the following chart to help explain the policy, based on a few different scenarios Bonvoy members may find themselves in.
|Booking Date||Arrival Date of Reservation||Automatic Cancellation Date if Insufficient Points in Account for the Stay|
|June 1, 2021||July 10, 2021||June 26, 2021|
|June 1, 2021||June 20, 2021||Cannot Book a Points Advance Reservation; Arrival Date is Less than 30 days|
|June 1, 2021||March 30, 2022||August 1, 2021|
|July 10, 2021||May 16, 2022||September 9, 2021|
GSTP Take: A Win For “Realistic” Travelers
Points advance was one of the last generous and attractive benefits of the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program, but sadly one which many people took ripe advantage of.
This move will still allow ample flexibility for people trying to book a trip (or up to three) to benefit, but keep people from booking 20 reservations, forgetting to cancel 19 and leaving both hotels and other Marriott Bonvoy members high and dry.
For any reasonable participant in the program, the best parts are still there, and if implemented properly, should actually help free up “space” for room bookings using points, even at the toughest properties. Plus, properties may roll their eyes a bit less at points bookers, without the disdain for those who forget to cancel.