Marriott Confirms It Won't Increase Prices for Stays Booked With Points Advance
Saturday, August 18 marked the official launch of the combined Marriott, Ritz-Carlton and SPG program, and while it took some time for things to go live, the integration is continuing to move forward. While there are ongoing issues being reported, many readers have been able to combine their accounts, bringing their elite nights, points and existing reservations under a single member number. Unfortunately, this has revealed a concerning problem with certain reservations repricing.
The issue appears to be for those who utilized Marriott's Points Advance feature to book award stays prior to August 18 at properties that now require more points under the combined award chart. These members (naturally) wanted to lock in the lower rates before the new chart took effect, a practice that Marriott even encouraged prior to the integration:
"You can explore the full list of hotel category changes and decide if you want to book your trip before or after the updates take effect."
Even though you have a confirmed reservation (and hopefully a confirmation email) showing the lower point requirements, since you didn't actually redeem any points, these reservations are repricing at the higher levels. Take TPG Reader Mike, who emailed us a screenshot of his five-night stay in London:
His original reservation reflected the old rate of 45,000 points per night for a total of 180,000 points (including the fifth night free). As you can see from his updated reservation, he's now supposedly on the hook for an extra 60,000 points.
Many other readers noticed similar occurrences with their reservations and immediately assumed the worst, and for good reason. The above quote from Marriott's integration site doesn't specifically address the points advance feature that allows you to book an award stay without the required number of points in your account. Do your reservations now revert to the new pricing simply because you didn't have enough points or chose not to actually spend those points?
Fortunately, the answer to this is no. I reached out to the Marriott team as soon as this came to our attention, and after a few follow-ups, a spokesperson sent the following statement to us at The Points Guy over the weekend:
"We are honoring the lower rates members booked for stays before August 18, even if they do not have a certificate attached to the reservation. We apologize for any confusion."
However, it's important to note that at this time, there are no plans for an automatic "fix" to these incorrect prices. While Marriott has indicated that it's continuing to reach out to members who don't have enough points to cover an award reservation (despite changes in the new program's terms & conditions indicating otherwise), I would strongly encourage you to proactively call Marriott support if you're in this situation. Marriott's spokesperson has told us that "representatives have been instructed to make sure the rate booked before 8/18 applies," so you theoretically shouldn't have issues getting the booking adjusted to the correct price — if you do, try hanging up and calling back for another agent.
But in the end, if you currently have a reservation that's suddenly showing a higher point total, as long as you leave the reservation intact and don't change it, you'll only need to spend the number of points from your original reservation booked before August 18. Just be aware that if you change the dates or otherwise adjust the reservation, you will need to pay the higher amount, so do your best to leave these reservations alone!
I know there's a lot of frustration out there with regards to the integration of Marriott, Ritz-Carlton and SPG, and we're planning to report on a deeper analysis of these problems later this week. However, we can now definitively tell you that one of the major remaining issues — award reservations using Marriott's points advance functionality requiring a higher number of points — shouldn't be a concern. As long as you leave your booking completely intact, it will not use the new pricing, despite what's probably showing in your account.