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“Reader Questions” are answered twice a week by TPG Senior Points & Miles Contributor Ethan Steinberg.

Marriott recently announced its first quarter promotion for 2019. Dubbed “Double Take,” members can earn double base points from March 19 through June 4, 2019, beginning with their second stay after registering. Obviously this is only useful for cash stays, as you don’t earn base points on award stays. However, TPG reader Jae wants to know if he’ll earn double points even if his first stay is an award stay …

With Marriott’s double take promotion, if my first stay is an award stay but my second stay is a cash stay, while I still earn double points on my second stay?

TPG READER JAE

The major hotel chains tend to run promotions several times a year, giving members the chance to earn bonus points for completing certain qualifying activities. Unfortunately, award nights are often excluded from these offers. After all, earning double points on a base rate of $0 per night results in zero bonus points. But would an award stay count as a qualifying first stay and unlock the ability to earn bonus points for all subsequent stays?

Unfortunately, the answer to this question is no. We reached out to our Marriott contact who confirmed that an award stay with zero paid nights associated with it would not count towards the promotional requirements. As a result, Jae would either need to book a separate, paid reservation before his currently booked cash stay or book a stay where at least one of the nights is paid.

Depending on what your upcoming stays look like, however, it may be worth booking a cheap, one-night paid stay if you have a pricey reservation with Marriott early in the promotional period.

Let’s say that you have a five-night, paid stay coming up for work, and your daily rate is $400 per night. Members earn 10x base points per dollar spent, so with this promotion you’d get an extra 10x points on top of that. That results in a total haul of 20,000 bonus points for your five-night stay (above your standard earnings and elite bonuses). This is worth an additional $180 based on TPG’s most recent valuations. As a result, you could consider booking an inexpensive, one-night stay ahead of your much more expensive stay; that will ensure your $400 per night stay is eligible for double base points rather than being your first stay that qualifies you for double points on subsequent stays.

It’s also worth noting that Hyatt and Hilton are both currently running similar promotions for their members that do include award stays. World of Hyatt members can earn up to 75,000 bonus points based on the number of nights they stay at eligible brands, while Hilton Honors is offering a 2,000-point bonus on every stay and milestone bonuses for five stays or 10 nights. Both of these promotions require registration, but since award nights are eligible to earn bonus points, they are slightly more flexible and rewarding than Marriott’s promotion.

Bottom Line

It isn’t surprising that you won’t earn double points on an award stay with Marriott, as your rate for those reservations is $0. However, the program also won’t count an award stay as a qualifying “first stay” unless you have at least one paid night as part of it. If you have an expensive stay early in the promotional period (Mar. 19 through Jun. 4), you’ll definitely want to crunch the numbers to see if a cheap one-night stay would help you maximize the pricier one. Regardless of how you approach it, you’ll continue to earn double base points on all cash stays through the end of the promotion.

Thanks for the question, Jae, and if you’re a TPG reader who’d like us to answer a question of your own, tweet us at @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or email us at info@thepointsguy.com.

Featured photo by Shuttestock.com

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