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Back in April, Marriott detailed its new combined loyalty program, which came along with a slew of changes when it launched this weekend. One much-welcome change, as confirmed by Marriott at the time, would be an expansion of Points Advance to SPG properties. Sadly that addition is still to come.

As outlined in Marriott’s updated Terms & Conditions document, Points Advance allows you to reserve a room even if you don’t have the required number of points in your account:

“Members who seek to make an Award Redemption with an insufficient Point balance may make the Award Redemption and either (1) purchase Points (as described in  Section 2.9) to make a valid Award Redemption, provided that the aggregate amount of Points purchased and/or received as a gift by the Member is less than or equivalent to 50,000 Points per calendar year; or (2) the Member accrues sufficient Points to use Points for payment of the Award Redemption no less than fourteen (14) days prior to Member’s arrival date.”

That 14-day requirement was expected, up from the previous 10-day requirement, however the policy goes on to state:

“If a purchase of Points is not an option, or if a Member does not have sufficient Points to pay for an Award Redemption with Points fourteen (14) days or less from Member’s arrival date, Member will forfeit any Award Redemption. The Award Redemption may be canceled by the Loyalty Program or the Participating Property without prior notice. The Member must re-book the reservation at the best available rate for which the Member qualifies.”

One big concern is stated here: “The Award Redemption may be canceled by the Loyalty Program or the Participating Property without prior notice.” That conflicts with what a Marriott spokesperson provided just a few days ago, stating: “A representative will call a certain days in advance, if the points aren’t in the account, to discuss other payment options.” I’m hopeful that a Marriott rep will indeed attempt a call before canceling a booking, though that clearly is not a guarantee.

Perhaps more alarming is the list of brands that are not “currently” participating in Points Advance, such as St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, W, Sheraton, Le Meridien, Westin, Design Hotels, Tribute Portfolio, Four Points, Aloft and Element. That’s the full Starwood portfolio — exactly the hotels we were expecting to be added on August 18.

According to a Marriott spokesperson, however, Points Advance will become available for former Starwood properties starting in the fall. We don’t have the exact details on timing, but at least we know that it will eventually become available for all the brands in the SPG portfolio. For now, though, you’ll need to have the points in your account before you make an award booking with any former SPG hotel.

Photo by Shutterstock.com

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