Marriott Extends Flexibility for Reservations, Pauses Points Expiration, Extends Benefits

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Update: Marriott has extended the points expiration pause until February 1, 2021. Check this post for the latest on which airline and hotel programs have paused point expiration.
Update 7/1/2020: The booking window to change or cancel an existing reservation with no charge has closed.
Update 4/17/2020: Good news! Marriott has now processed extensions for elite status, Free Night Awards, and Suite Night Awards.

As the coronavirus crisis deepens, large travel brands seem to be issuing policy updates every week or so. Marriott has recently extended its original policy providing flexibility for new and existing reservations. However, Marriott has still been quiet about extending elite status for members living outside Asia.

Here are the policies Marriott currently has in place for COVID-19:

Existing Reservations

Marriott customers now have until June 30, 2020 to change or cancel an existing reservation with no charge up to 24 hours in advance of arrival. This includes pre-paid rates that are typically non-refundable. That's a two-month extension from the original deadline of April 30, 2020.

This policy applies only to reservations made directly with Marriott. Any bookings through travel agents or other third parties are not covered by this policy. Instead, travelers are directed to contact the company that they booked through for options.

New Reservations

With all the uncertainty surrounding the future of travel these days, new bookings might not be at the top of your COVID-19 quarantine to-do list. If you are feeling optimistic, Marriott is making it easy to book anytime in the next few months without worry.

Any reservations made between now and June 30, 2020, can be canceled or changed up to 24 hours before arrival. This includes prepaid rates. Since pre-paid rates tend to be lower, maybe now is the time to lock in good prices with limited risk!

Photo of Marriott's Ko Olina Beach Club

Exceptions

While these policy updates provide travelers with some peace of mind and flexibility, we did spot “some exclusions may apply” language in the announcement. Marriott recommends that travelers “refer to the property's Rate Details for applicable terms and exceptions”. Some specific exclusions include:

  • Design Hotels and Homes & Villas by Marriott International are not covered by this policy.
  • Marriott Vacations Worldwide has exceptions for owner reservations.

Full details about possible exceptions are available on Marriott's updated statement on novel coronavirus.

Bonvoy Benefits

In mid-March, Marriott emailed Bonvoy members to say that it's extending the following benefits for Bonvoy members:

  • Points expiration is paused through August 31, 2020.
  • Active Free Night Awards is extended to January 31, 2021.
  • Suite Night Awards with an expiration of December 31, 2020 are extended an additional 12 months to December 31, 2021.

Marriott is making these updates automatically for all Bonvoy members. However, it is always a good idea to keep an eye on your account to make certain that updates are applied correctly.

Elite Status

Marriott has two sets of policies for its Bonvoy members. One policy was announced in February for members who reside in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan which included extending elite status through February 2022.

In the mid-March update, Marriott said it's “too early” to make decisions around elite status extensions for Bonvoy members residing outside of those specific areas listed above. As the situation evolves, we hope to see Marriott follow other hotel brands in extending elite status for Bonvoy members.

Our Take

While Marriott's policy updates are overall good news, some Bonvoy members may be frustrated by the delay in the decision to extend elite status. As the coronavirus crisis continues to make travel difficult, we'll keep looking for updates from Marriott.

For more on about how other major hotel brands are responding to the coronavirus crisis:

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Comments

  • Avatar

    I have found Marriott to be more flexible than other hotels on rewards. On a morning I was checking out of a Marriott, I figured out I should have used my free-night certificate that I get with my credit card, and Marriott let me switch to pay for the previous night with my free-night certificate.

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    I’m happy to see again in my account the 7 day travel package which was expired a week ago and which now will expire at the end of January.

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    I had no issues when I canceled on both a paid and an award reservation. The certificate was right back in my account.

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    At least they extended the flexibilization of the points twice more. Choice fell short and they remain firm until April 30 and that I think will cause enormous damage to the members! I hope they correct it in time! Stay home!!

  • Avatar
    Harvey Kwan says:

    Time to start looking into travel for 2021

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    Another positive change to entice people to book with a little more confidence.
    Is it enough?

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    It truly is unfair for Marriott not to extend the Free night certificates for an entire year like they have done for members of the APAC region — indeed, as that region is coming out of lock down, many areas in Europe and North and South America are entering lock down and at this juncture might endure travel disruptions that are even longer that those experienced in the APAC region.

    Moreover, extending certificates to just 1/31/21 is only slightly better than what IHG has done, which has to extend them to 12/31/20!

    Come on Marriott, as the world’s largest hospitality company, surely you can do better than that!

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    Just got an email from Marriott saying all points expiration paused until February 2021 (does not give specific date).

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    Nice, but still lagging after Hilton.
    Wonder what would be if SPG were still around…

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    John Seidel says:

    Canceling prepaid rates does not mean you’re going to get your money back…. I’ve been told I will not get paid until sometime after July if the hotel is able to pay and is making money… So buyer beware with prepaid rates. It may be a long wait

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    As an owner of a week in HHI I would have kept my vacation club reservation with hope of making my trip there at the end of May. However, with the 60 day cancellation policy I had no option but to deposit the week with Interval International and forego my annual family reunion for 2020.

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    So many companies are making policy changes. It’s really great that they are offering free cancellations to new reservations – but I suspect the people that really needed the free cancellations are the ones that were previously scheduled. They just get to reschedule.

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    Florencia says:

    It seems to me a good initiative of Marriott, Hilton and all hotels; although I consider that the benefits should be even greater; since it is likely that when hotels are restored, night prices will be much lower than previously paid.

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    What about contacted meetings that need to be cancelled? Where’s the waiver there?!

  • Avatar
    Roger Rueber says:

    Why did Marriott exempt Design hotels from changes to its cancellation policy? The reasons for the changes should apply to all Marriott brands without exceptions.

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    I really hope Marriott will extend elite status for everyone and not just for people in China, for another year, considering that the U.S. and Europe are in a much worse shape than where China was when Marriott announced the status extension for China.

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    I wonder whether unconditionally refunding prepaid rates is an unprecedented move.

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    It’s good to see that even Marriott has made some moves to extend or improve the benefits of their members. Usually, after SPG merging, Marriott has been regarded as one of the not-so-friendly hospitality programs and was notorious for their contents of benefits or offers. This is definitely a good start for Marriott to regain the confidence of some customers and members.

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    Good to know they are doing something. I wonder how long they’ll wait on the elite extension. Also, they have moved their Insider Community to Facebook now. That was an interesting move.

    I wonder if any of this will create any policy changes for the future. If the hotels see positive rewards from any changes they are doing if they’ll become permanent.

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    This is good news. My free night certificate was just about to expire while we’re on shelter at home. 🙄

  • Avatar

    This is great news. I had JUST paid for the flight and hotel for a July trip just me and my daughter and was about to book the rental car when The Rona grounded everyone. Most of the initial announcements were focused on the short-term, so it’s comforting to see them start to extend the change waivers for dates farther out.

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    Thanks for the alert. Any word on Radisson? I haven’t seen an announcement from them yet and I’ve got a lot of points, reservations and status issues with that program. Stay safe everyone.

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    It is indeed good news, but yes, took them entirely too long. Hilton was really out in front of this thing.

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    tassojunior says:

    Hertz, by contrast, is refusing to extend Rewards points even though the only way to extend them is to rent a car. Lost almost 8000 points last week with their refusal to extend.

    • Avatar

      Thanks for the heads up on Hertz. With everything going on, I needed the reminder to check again to see if they’ve come to their senses on an extension. We will remember who stepped up during this period and who did not.

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      Thank you for the tip. Now, we can better decide where we should invest our loyalty at when we can return to a life of relative sanity.