One week left before Marriott Bonvoy Points Advance changes

Sep 6, 2019

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Looking to book a Marriott property through August 2020 but don’t have the points for the stay in your account yet? Book now, because starting Sept. 14, 2019, Marriott’s changes to the Points Advance program come into effect, and they’re not pretty. Just two weeks ago the chain finally announced the remaining updates to the Marriott Bonvoy program. Here are the basics of what’s happening:

Peak and off-peak pricing

We’ve known for a long time that this was coming, but now it’s finally here. Depending on your travel dates, the price of an award night will now vary between off-peak, standard and peak:

Instead of having a set schedule for the year, Marriott will use an algorithm to recalculate these dates on a monthly basis, so a given property could increase or decrease in price.

Points Advance

One of the most useful features of Marriott’s award program, Points Advance enables you to book stays without already having the required amount of points in your account. This allowed you to lock in the cost of the room regardless of any changes in award costs (for example, if the hotel increases a category at the start of the new year). Unfortunately, as of Sept. 14, your reservation won’t be locking in the rate; rather, it’ll be locking in award availability for the room. This means that if you book the JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort and Spa as a Category 5 property during an off-peak period and Marriott’s new pricing algorithm decides three months from now that your stay is actually occurring during a peak period, you’re on the hook for an extra 10,000 points per night. Ouch.

Cash + Points

The Cash + Points feature is also changing to accommodate the new peak/off-peak pricing. Essentially, you’ll pay the same amount of cash regardless of when you book, but your point cost will vary according to the new pricing:

What do you do if you have upcoming travel?

If you’re planning on traveling with Marriott sometime in the next year, book your stay now. One of the best parts of Points Advance is that you can make and cancel bookings without any fees, so if there’s something you’ve been eyeing but aren’t sure about, snag it just in case. Marriott has confirmed that all Points Advance stays booked prior to Sept. 14 will lock in the award rate at the time of booking. Starting on Sept. 14, however, those reservations are subject to monthly recalculations until you actually earn and then redeem the points for the award stay.

And if you have Marriott annual free night certificates and thought you were safe, unfortunately those certificates are tied to points values, not award categories. This means that if you’ve got a certificate from the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card — which gives you an annual night worth up to 50,000 points — sometimes you’ll be be able to book at a Category 6 hotel, and sometimes you won’t.

Featured photo by Ethan Steinberg/The Points Guy

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