Can you use Marriott Points Advance if you already have enough points in your account?

Oct 15, 2019

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

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

Marriott’s Points Advance — which allows members to lock in award space at hotels even if they don’t have enough points in their account to pay for the award — used to be one of the best features of the Bonvoy program and one of the biggest edges Marriott had over its competitors, other than just its size. However, Marriott seriously devalued Points Advance in September when it introduced peak and off-peak award pricing. TPG reader Josh wants to know if he can still use Points Advance even if he has enough points in his account to pay for the award now …

I’m trying to make a Marriott award reservation for next spring and the Points Advance option isn’t showing up in my account. Is this feature only available if you’re short on points?

TPG READER JOSH

While the intent of Marriott Points Advance is obviously to help members who are short on points, there are plenty of good reasons to consider using it even if you have enough points in your account. For example, I’m planning a trip to the W Maldives in February 2020, and I currently have a five-night stay locked in via Points Advance at 85,000 points per night, or 340,000 points total with Marriott’s fifth night free. That’s a lot of points, and significantly more than I have in my account right now, so as I start making other travel plans for later in 2020 I’m opting to use the Points Advance feature so I can save all my points for my more immediate trip to the Maldives.

Note that as part of the changes to the program in September, Marriott now only allows you to have three active Points Advance reservations at a time. More importantly, Points Advance reservations made after Sept. 14, 2019 do not lock in the award rate, only the award space at your hotel. This means that the price can fluctuate up or down if the hotel switches to peak or off-peak pricing, and you’ll be required to pay the amount of points the hotel costs on whatever day you choose to complete your reservation. Thankfully my Maldives reservation was locked in before the September changes, so my 85,000 point a night rate is safe.

Related: Using Marriott Points Advance when you’re short on points

Now on to Josh’s question: The terms and conditions of the Bonvoy program describe the Points Advance feature as being available to “Members who seek to make an Award Redemption Reservation with an insufficient Point balance.” This isn’t a clear answer, but I’ve found that since the changes I don’t see the Points Advance option show up if have enough points in my account to pay for the reservation.

I can
I can’t use Points Advance at the Mira Moon since I have more than 35,000 points in my account right now.

There is, however, a shockingly simple workaround to this. The other day I was trying to make a Points Advance reservation in Syracuse for next May, and I wasn’t seeing the option because I had more than the 15,000 points needed to pay for the stay. In order to entice the Marriott system to let me use Points Advance, I booked a refundable award stay at the New York Edition for the end of 2020, draining the points in my account. When I went back to my Syracuse search with only 1,500 Marriott points to my name, the Points Advance option appeared like magic. Once I locked in that reservation I was able to cancel my reservation at the Edition and instantly get the points refunded to my account.

Related: Marriott Bonvoy current credit card offers

Obviously this would be a bit more complicated if you had hundreds of thousands of points in your account, but a refundable award stay somewhere like the St. Regis Maldives or Al Maha Resort should get the job done. Just be sure to double check and even screenshot the cancellation policy of whatever hotel you pick for this refundable booking, as some properties (especially in ski destinations like Aspen) have outrageously strict cancellation policies.

Bottom line

Marriott has devalued its Points Advance program immensely, and a small but significant part of that is only allowing members to use it when they’re actually short on points. The good news is that it’s easy to get around this restriction by using a refundable award reservation to temporarily lower the number of points available in your Marriott account.

Thanks for the question, Josh, 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 Shutterstock.com

Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Visa® credit card

This card from Bank of America gets really interesting if you have a BofA checking, savings or investment account. Depending on the value of your combined accounts you can potentially get as much as 3.5x points on travel/dining and 2.625x points on other purchases making it the richest consumer banking bonus out there.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Receive 50,000 bonus points – a $500 value – after you make at least $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • If you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase
  • No limit to the points you can earn and your points don't expire
  • Redeem for cash back as a statement credit, deposit into eligible Bank of America® accounts, credit to eligible Merrill accounts, or gift cards or purchases at the Bank of America Travel Center
  • Get up to $200 in combined airline incidental and airport expedited screening statement credits + valuable travel insurance protections
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Low $95 annual fee
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
17.74% - 24.74% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.