Here’s why you still need to check your Marriott account after every stay
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We’re well over a year into the new Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program, and while many of the IT problems that understandably plagued the early launch have faded and been fixed, some have not. IT issues continue to be one of the biggest complaints among loyal Marriott travelers, but if you don’t pay close attention to your account you might never realize what’s wrong or missing.
I recently returned from a month-long trip that saw me spending 22 nights at eight different Marriott hotels. I expected to earn a pretty large sum of points from all of those trips, but when I checked my account after returning home, I was surprised to see how low the number was. I ended up having to go back and audit each stay one by one to make sure I received the correct number of points, and I uncovered a few more mistakes along the way.
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Third time’s the charm
Some of my stays posted correctly to my account within 24 to 48 hours of checkout, exactly as they should. But I ended up with problems at three different properties out of the eight I stayed at, which is pretty disappointing. You could say I just got exceptionally unlucky this time around, though I find this error rate to be pretty common across all my Bonvoy travels.
Let’s start with the biggest discrepancy, which came when I checked my Bonvoy account a few days after checking out from an incredible stay at the W Maldives. While our room was booked for free using points, of course, there’s no avoiding the expensive island prices for food, drink and activities once you get there.
Ready to plan that bucket-list trip to the Maldives? Visit TPG’s Maldives destination hub for more stories about traveling to the region on points and miles, where to stay and what to do while you’re there.
Excluding our seaplane transfer, which isn’t eligible to earn hotel points, we ended up spending about $3,500 on our five-night stay. All Marriott members earn 10x points per dollar on their hotel folios, but due to my Titanium elite status I should earn 17.5x, or about 61,000 Marriott points (worth about $490 based on TPG’s latest valuations). How many points actually posted to my account? 4,285, or around 7% of what I was owed.
I do give a lot of the credit to the W here. Before I even noticed the error, Ali (the hotel’s welcome manager) had already opened up a case with Marriott on my behalf and submitted my folio to them. That should have been a quick and easy fix, but few days later, my account had been updated to show 25,164 points from the stay. It took two more emails, or over a week of back and forth after I left the hotel, to finally get all the points correctly deposited to my account.
A missing night in Taiwan
We’d originally planned to head home to Shanghai after the Maldives, but I jumped out of my seat when I got the opportunity to review Starlux Airlines on a flight to Penang (PEN) just a few weeks after its launch. This meant making my way over to Taipei (TPE), and for the one night I decided to stay closer to the airport instead of taking the 45-minute train into and out of the city.
Of course, as the coronavirus continued to spread we decided to cancel our laundry day and stay on the road a bit longer, which for me meant rerouting to Taipei and spending an extra night there catching up on work. I stayed at the Sheraton Taoyuan, a very affordable property just a 15 to 20 minute Uber ride from the Taipei airport.
The hotel was a great value for my stay, and I got an upgrade to a club level room and free breakfast due to my elite status. Thankfully the points posted quickly and correctly, but the hotel only credited me with one elite night when I’d stayed for two (probably because I’d booked two separate one-night reservations).
I knew I’d have to submit a missing-stay request with Marriott, but they make you wait 10 days to do so. I understand the rationale behind this, but by the fifth or sixth day I knew the stay wasn’t going to post, yet I still had to wait. Finally, 10 days after checkout, I went to submit my claim. Marriott has changed things up recently and now requires you to have a copy of your hotel folio to process this request. I usually ask the hotel to send it over email instead of printing it out for me, but this property never did.
So instead of submitting my missing night claim, I had to submit a missing folio claim, which I could then use to request credit for my missing night. I’m still in the process of sorting through this with Marriott, but the number of hoops I’ve already had to jump through to correct a simple and obvious mistake is frustrating. One night might not seem like something worth fighting over, but if I requalify for Titanium status this year it will be by the skin of my teeth, and every night counts.
Use Awardwallet and make your life easier
While this story is about Marriott specifically, the lesson applies to every loyalty program out there. You need to keep a careful eye on your account, set reminders, and make sure points actually post the way they’re supposed to. I’d estimate that maybe 50% of the time I spend on my points and miles hobby is devoted to following up with deals that didn’t credit correctly. This is what TPG’s Richard Kerr meant when he said that complexity is an ever-present devaluation: the harder you have to fight for a deal, the more likely you are to give up and let your points go, even if you did everything correctly to earn them.
To that end, one of the best tools you can use to minimize the amount of work you have to do yourself is Awardwallet. I make it a habit of opening it up first thing in the morning while I’m checking my email and letting it refresh all my points balances in the background. When I saw my Marriott balance go up by under 5,000 points after checking out of the W Maldives, I knew something was wrong and was able to start the multi-step process of following up.
It’s crazy to think how many points you might be leaving on the table just by not keeping a watchful eye on your accounts. Whenever you pursue a deal, stay at a hotel or take a flight, you should mentally set aside a few minutes to follow up and double check that you earned every last mile you’re entitled to. If you don’t advocate for yourself, no one will.
Featured photo by by @criene/Twenty20.
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