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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.
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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