Don't Freak Out: Marriott Will Honor Pre-Booked Points Advance Reservations
Today's the day: Marriott's 2019 category changes are locked in, pushing many aspirational properties into a newly-created Category 8, starting at 85,000 points per night. We encouraged readers to look ahead and make reservations prior to the shake-up, utilizing Marriott's consumer-friendly Points Advance feature to confirm a reservation without having all of the necessary points in their account just yet.
Now that the category changes are in place, Bonvoy members are logging into their My Trips portal only to find pre-booked reservations displaying a request for even more points.
In the most famous words of Samuel L. Jackson: "Be cool, honey bunny."
Marriott has confirmed with TPG that pre-booked Points Advance reservations will be honored at the old rate. While it's shocking to see a reservation command more points than you originally booked, members are instructed to call Marriott and have a representative manually adjust the price and issue the certificate once you have enough points to cover the entire stay.
Members in the TPG Lounge are finding that agents may not have received the memo just yet, with some hearing misinformation. If you're told that you needed to come up with enough points to cover your Points Advance reservation prior to March 5, 2019, that's incorrect.
Our advice is to hang up and call again, or if your reservation is a good ways out, be patient for a week or so. Once the dust settles from the category changes and agents have time to digest the proper handling of such requests, you're apt to have more luck on your first call. Just be sure that you have enough points to cover the full stay based on the original, pre-Mar. 5 price you booked. Without the points, there's no way to issue a certificate.
As an example, I made a Points Advance reservation at the W Maldives several months ago for a stay in November 2019. At the time, the property demanded 60,000 points per night and included one free night thanks to Marriott's fifth night free policy on award stays.
Today, that same reservation shows the hotel as a Category 8 property and has adjusted my required points to the new 85,000-point nightly rate.
If I wind up keeping this booking, I'll phone Marriott up in a few weeks and have the rate manually adjusted back to 60,000 per night to reflect the original price at the time of booking.
Meanwhile, fellow admirer of the Maldives (and TPG writer) Katherine Fan secured a Points Advance reservation at the St. Regis Maldives prior to the full implementation of Category 8 pricing. However, she applied the full balance of points at the old rate on March 4, 2019 — 240,000 points for a five-night stay, tabulated as 60,000 points per night with a fifth night free. Her reservation, which is now settled up, still shows the old rate.
In other words, if you managed to satisfy your Points Advance reservation at any point before new pricing went into effect, you shouldn't need to call Marriott and have anything adjusted.
Conversely, our own Summer Hull also made a Points Advance reservation at the St. Regis Maldives prior to Mar. 5 that she did not settle up before the change. Her five-night stay now appears as if it's a Category 8 redemption, totaling 340,000 points. That means Marriott is applying new Category 8 rates (85,000 points per night, minus the fifth night free) to an old Points Advance booking with a certificate attached.
Again, Marriott has confirmed that it will honor the originally-booked award rates for any property that has increased in price, as long as you don't make any changes to the existing reservation. However, this will require manual intervention by a phone agent, and you must have enough points in your account to issue the certificate when you call. Be prepared for a bit of a wait too, as we continue to get reports of longer-than-desired hold times.
Surprised by what you're seeing in your Marriott My Trips portal today? Let us know what you're hearing from agents as you call to get rates adjusted back to reflect the property category at booking.
Additional reporting by Katherine Fan, Nick Ewen and Summer Hull; featured image of W Maldives courtesy of the hotel.