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I didn't know about peak pricing — reader mistake story

Oct. 18, 2019
4 min read
I didn't know about peak pricing — reader mistake story
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Today, I want to share a story from TPG reader Carson, who missed an important hotel program update before booking his stay:

Every fall I travel to Green Bay, Wisconsin to watch my beloved Green Bay Packers. It being a small town, hotel availability can be tight, especially for award nights.

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In July, I booked two nights in October at a Marriott property for 25,000 points per night. I did not have enough points to cover the reservation at the time, but I did have a free night certificate for rooms costing up to 25,000 points from my Marriott Bonvoy Premier credit card. However, I did not apply it right away, and unfortunately, I did not read about the new points advance policy with Marriott's peak/off-peak award pricing going into effect.

Yesterday, I logged in to confirm my reservation, having earned enough points for both nights. However, the price had increased to 30,000 points per night due to peak pricing. While I have enough points to cover one night, my free night certificate no longer covers the second. On top of that, there was little to no availability at other properties.

Luckily, I was able to upgrade my old Marriott card to the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card, which will allow me to make one purchase and receive a free night certificate for up to 35,000 points. While I am now covered for my upcoming trip, I will make sure to be aware of changing award prices moving forward!

When you're planning an award trip, find out whether any pertinent changes will go into effect before you book. Hotel award category changes typically occur en masse toward the beginning of each year, but programmatic developments (like Marriott's recent overhaul) or updates at individual properties can shift award pricing at any time. To avoid getting caught with an insufficient balance like Carson, budget for what award prices will be at the time of payment, which may differ from the prices you see during the planning stage.

Award rates aren't the only potential program changes to monitor; elite benefits like upgrades or free breakfast can also be added, modified or cut entirely, so make sure the ones you're relying on will still be available when you travel. You should also consider changes to your own award travel portfolio, such as whether you'll qualify for a higher tier of elite status, or apply for a credit card that offers perks (like free night certificates) you don't have currently. Finally, be aware of changes in store for the property itself, such as pool closures or other renovations, so you don't end up dealing with construction during your stay.

Related: Which Marriott Bonvoy credit card is right for you?

I appreciate this story, and I hope it can help other readers avoid making the same mistake. In appreciation for sharing this experience (and for allowing us to post it online), I’m sending Carson a gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I'd like to do the same for you. Please email your own travel mistake stories to info@thepointsguy.com, and put "Reader Mistake Story" in the subject line. Tell us how things went wrong, and (where applicable) how you made them right. Offer any wisdom you gained from the experience, and explain what the rest of us can do to avoid the same pitfalls.

Feel free to also submit your best travel success stories. If your story is published in either case, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure. Due to the volume of submissions, we can't respond to each story individually, but we'll be in touch if yours is selected. I look forward to hearing from you, and until then, I wish you a safe and mistake-free journey!

Featured image by Getty Images/500px Unreleased
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
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Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent, Good

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases