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Update: Marriott isn't adding a surcharge for award stays, refunding members

July 29, 2021
4 min read
JW Marriott Los Cabos
Update: Marriott isn't adding a surcharge for award stays, refunding members
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Update 7/29/21: Marriott reached out to us to share that this issue has now been resolved. The service charges for award stays at the JW Marriott, as well as two other properties with similar charges were rescinded to comply with Marriott Bonvoy terms and conditions. The service charge for paid stays remains.

Marriott shared, "Members who booked redemption stays at the JW Marriott Los Cabos Beach Resort and Spa, Courtyard Nassau Downtown/Junkanoo Beach and Westin Cozumel during the period when service charges were imposed for redemption stays now are being notified in an email that they are eligible for a refund and how to apply for it."


Earlier this week, MilesTalk flagged a hotel in Mexico that was apparently adding a "Marriott Bonvoy Redemption Fee" of $30 per night when using Marriott points for a stay. The property in question — the JW Marriott Los Cabos Resort and Spa — listed the surcharge as a note when booking but didn't actually include it in the pricing breakdown.

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This was a concerning development, so we reached out to Marriott to clarify what was happening.

On Friday, we got our answer.

In short, this additional fee was not appropriate and should not have been added to award stays. Instead, it was a service fee that — per the terms and conditions of the Marriott Bonvoy program — shouldn't be charged when redeeming points for a room. Section 3.2.e. clearly discloses this fact (emphasis mine):

"When redeeming Points for an Award Redemption Stay, the Award Redemption Stay includes the cost of a single or double standard room at a Participating Property, room tax/service charge, and extra-person charges, if any."

A spokesperson told TPG that the property should be removing these charges from all redemption stays and Marriott will investigate to see if there are other properties using similar practices. While our team at TPG hasn't found examples of this, it's great that Marriott is working on getting to the bottom of what happened.

Related: The award traveler’s guide to Marriott Bonvoy

Here is the full statement from Marriott:

"All hotel reservations at the JW Marriott Los Cabos Beach Resort and Spa include service charges. The full amount received from these service charges is paid directly to hotel associates as a gratuity. These service charges have also been applied to redemption stays using Marriott Bonvoy points which is inconsistent with the program’s terms and conditions. We are taking this matter very seriously and have instructed the property to rescind the service charge for all redemption stays. Marriott is looking into whether this practice existed at other properties in the company’s portfolio. Once our review is completed, we will communicate with our members who were impacted by such charges and intend to address the situation."

It's great to see that Marriott is taking concrete steps to hold this property accountable to its terms and conditions while also digging deeper to identify other (potential) offenders. If you recently redeemed Marriott points at the JW Marriott Los Cabos and were charged this "redemption fee" as part of your stay, you'll hopefully see this refunded to you in the weeks to come.

Keep in mind that Marriott Bonvoy does still require resort fees to be paid on award stays — a notable difference from both Hilton Honors and World of Hyatt. Thankfully, though, it appears that this situation was a single property going against the terms of the program rather than a significant change to the way you redeem points in the program.

Additional reporting by Benji Stawski.

Featured image by JW Marriott Los Cabos (Photo by Nick Ellis/The Points Guy)
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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  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
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  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
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Best Marriott card for Business Owners
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

6X6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
4X4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
2X2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.

    Earn 100,000 points
    75,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $125
  • 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 Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

Pros

  • 6x points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program
  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases
  • Earn a free-night award each card renewal month (up to 35,000 points)
  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start status
  • Transfer Marriott points to 40+ airlines

Cons

  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees