Marriott Makes Changes to Points Advance Feature

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Marriott is making a change to one aspect of the Bonvoy program. This change impacts how Bonvoy members book Points Advance stays. On the surface, this change will seem overwhelmingly negative. However, that actually might not be the case.

A Brief Overview of Bonvoy Points Advance

The Points Advance feature of the Bonvoy program allows members to book future stays using points even if they don't have enough points in their account for that stay. That is, if you plan on earning or purchasing points ahead of a future stay, you can book that stay in advance despite not having enough points.

Assuming you earn the number of points required to complete the reservation for your future stay, you won't have to worry about availability. Having booked using the Points Advance feature, you will have already secured a room. If you don't earn the points required for your future stay by 14 days before check-in, you lose the reservation.

Marriott recently announced a change to the Points Advance feature that might impact how some travelers use the feature.

Bonvoy hotel search results for Marriott hotels in Maldives
Use the Marriott Bonvoy Points Advance feature to book popular properties even while you still earn the points required for your stay. (Image via Marriott.com)

How the Marriott Points Advance Feature is Changing

Before Marriott's most recent announcement, stays would be held up to 14 days until the beginning of a guest's stay, regardless of when the stay was booked.

So, if you were to book a stay on July 1 for November 1, you would have until October 18 to get the rest of the points needed for the reservation. If you had the points needed for the reservation by October 18, your reservation would remain intact. However, if you failed to earn enough points, your reservation would be canceled.

However, now Bonvoy members will need to have the points required to complete a reservation within 60 days of making a reservation or 14 days of arrival — whichever is sooner.

Say you were to book a stay on July 15 for a stay beginning December 21. You would need the points required for the reservation on or before September 13 — 60 days after the reservation. However, if you book a Points Advance booking on July 15 for a stay starting September 15, you'd have until September 1 to accumulate enough Marriott Bonvoy points.

If you tend to be the type of traveler that books travel ahead of time, this change can impact the way you book Bonvoy award stays in potentially good and bad ways.

Why This Isn't A Terrible Change

For some Bonvoy members, this might seem like a pretty significant loss. Under the previous policy, you could snag availability at a high-demand hotel 11 months out despite not having enough points. Then you'd have 10.5 months to sign up for a new credit card or accumulate points through other means.

However, that meant that travelers that didn't have points could hold hotel award space. Meanwhile, other members that had enough points to book a stay might not be able to find award space.

Indeed, Marriott explained its reasoning for making these changes to the Points Advance feature with the following:

“We have seen a rise in Points Advance bookings at these resorts that are being canceled because not enough points have been accrued to pay for the stay. In some cases, around 25% of all bookings at any one time at these properties are Points Advance. This potentially disadvantages members who would otherwise book using points in their account, and it has an economic impact on these properties.”

So, in short, Marriott wants travelers to have better access to properties often booked up well in advance as a result of members taking advantage of the Points Advance program. With so few of these far-out reservations ending up as confirmed stays, this meant some travelers were unable to book specific properties, with rooms ultimately going unsold.

The Bottom Line

While not a great change for Bonvoy members, Marriott's reason for making this change makes sense. The Points Advance feature of Bonvoy came with very relaxed policies and requirements. Though Marriott has added new requirements for members that book Points Advance stays, the feature is still useful for Bonvoy members that need a bit more time to accumulate points for a stay. And if you aren't someone that plans your travels months in advance, you probably won't even notice this change.

How do you feel about this change? Have you ever used the Points Advance feature?

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Comments

  • Sounds reasonable enough for me….a failure rate of 25% is too high, makes sense that they would reign it in a bit to make sure folks were using this responsibly and not penalizing legitimate customers who would actually be able to acquire the needed points.

  • Agree that the impact to most Bonvoy members is rather limited.

  • Seems like a reasonable change. It’s good to know what the policy is. Thanks!

  • I’m on board with this. Should hopefully keep reservations a bit more open at high demand properties and force people to not make multiple speculative bookings.

  • Marriott …. never been a real fan, I wonder why ? Bad news for some, but good for others.

  • Ok I see how it can benefit. I never like the what if I have enough thought with a reservation. I like having enough points or money for what I am going to do and book it. I see how it’s nice to have this as an option then you don’t have to wait and possibly not buy points but it’s not for me. It sounds like a lot of people take advantage of it.

  • Personally not crazy about the change. I’ve used the feature a couple of times to book a room for Coachella early, before rooms have sold out or been blocked for package deals, earned the points over the ensuing months and used the rooms booked. This year, I had to transfer valuable UR points to keep my booking. Not the greatest use of the points on the surface, but at least there was a transfer bonus in effect right now.

    • I wonder whether such strategy would have worked on events like the Oktoberfest.

    • Yes, I’m surprised there’s not more dissapointment expressed in the comments here, since the option could be used very effectively, as you just described. It must simply be that the majority of folks didn’t take advantage of the offering or perhaps even know it existed.

  • You never know certain benefits were there practically forever until they have been withdrawn!

  • Seems more than reasonable and will open up reservations to people who are more likely to actually end up having the necessary points.

  • Smart of Marriott to crack down on people misusing this feature. I never tried it, always made sure I had enough points in my account to start with before booking.

  • Not a terrible change but not the best. Marriot should make changes to favor their loyal customers not hurt them.