Marriott Travel Package Hotel Certificates Will Be Unusable For One Month

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**Update: A document containing the apparent terms and conditions of the new merged loyalty program was leaked over the weekend, and in it says that members will not be able to book pre-merger SPG hotels via Points Advance. If the document turns out to be official policy, that will put quite a damper on those wanting to book an SPG property with their travel package hotel certificates.**

One of the last remaining pieces of the Marriott/SPG merger puzzle that we’ve been waiting to hear more news about is how unbooked hotel certificates from Marriott Travel Packages  purchased pre-merger will be handled post-merger (August 18).

While we don’t have full details yet, we now know the following:

  • You will not be able to use (read: attach to a reservation) these travel package hotel certificates between the dates of August 18 and September 17.
  • Old travel package hotel certificates will be converted into “new certificates”, and you will be able to attach them to reservations again on September 18.

What we still don’t know is how exactly the old certificates categories will map to these new certificates in the new travel package pricing system. The development of this announcement from Marriott makes it pretty clear that hotel certificates will not be reimbursed for points like some speculated.

Why the Month Delay Might Not Matter (Fingers Crossed)

If you already know what hotel you want to book with your hotel certificate and it’s a Marriott, attach that certificate before August 18. But those of you wanting to book an SPG hotel with your hotel certificate might read this very bad news, since many of the sought after SPG properties award nights’ could get booked up during the month-long hold on attaching hotel certificates. While you won’t be able to attach your hotel certificate until September 18, I think it’s  likely you’ll be able to book your aspirational property just as soon as the new pricing system goes online around August 18 thanks to Marriott’s Points Advance system. A Marriott Member doesn’t need the full amount of points necessary in their account to book an award stay, they only need to have those points in their account (or assumedly, a travel package hotel certificate attached to the award reservation) within two weeks of their stay.

So as long as your stay is more than two weeks out from September 18, you shouldn’t miss out on your chance to book SPG hotels with travel package hotel certificates. I say should because we don’t know for sure if Marriott will keep this same Points Advance policy under the new unified program. I haven’t heard one way or the other if they will, but it is the status quo. **See update at the top of this post regarding information that was leaked over the weekend regarding the future of the Points Advance policy. It’s not looking good 🙁

The other issue at hand remains that we still don’t know (and probably won’t until mid September) at what hotels travel package hotel certificates purchased pre-August 18 will be redeemable (in other words, how the old certificates will map to new certificates). But there’s nothing stopping you from taking an educated guess and booking via Points Advance in speculation, as a means of holding the award space.

There are a few current package levels with prices that match up exactly to future travel package prices, so while it’s not yet guaranteed they’ll map this way, they probably will:

  • Current Category 1 – 5 hotel certificates are good for hotels that cost up to 25k points a night, and future Category 1 – 4 hotel certificates will be good for hotels that cost up to 25k points a night under the new program
  • Current Category 7 hotel certificates are good for hotels that cost up to 35k points and future Category 5 hotel certificates will be good at hotels up to 35k
  • Current Ritz Tier 1 – 3 certificates are good for hotels that cost up 50k points per night, and future Category 6 will be good at hotels up to 50k points per night
New unified award chart as of August 18. Sarah Page Maxwell
New unified Marriott/SPG award chart as of August 18.
How travel packages will price as of August 18. Marriott is maintaining their relationship with United, which means you get 10% more miles by purchasing a United Travel Package (either 7 Nights + 55k United miles, or 7 Nights + 110k United miles). You’ll also be able to trade in Marriott points for United miles at these continued rates. Sarah Page Maxwell
How travel packages will price as of August 18. Marriott is maintaining their relationship with United, which means you get 10% more miles by purchasing a United Travel Package (either 7 Nights + 55k United miles, or 7 Nights + 110k United miles). You’ll also be able to trade in Marriott points for United miles at these continued rates.

Current travel package info can be found here. If you’re sitting on a stash of Marriott or SPG points and have been eying a current travel package, buy it before August 18 when they become a much worse deal.

You can check the future categories of all Marriott and SPG hotels here.

Bottom Line

Marriott has publicly stated that the seven night hotel certificate portion of travel packages purchased before August 18 will be converted into a new certificate, at good for redemption at comparably priced hotels. We don’t know yet how these old certificates will map to new certificates.

You will not be able to attach an old hotel certificate to any award reservation during the period of August 18 – September 17. By September 18, we should have more information about what hotels your certificates will be good for and you’ll be able to attach them to an award reservation. If you want to book an SPG hotel with your hotel certificate (which you can’t do now, but will be able to do post-merger), this could present a problem for you in the case that your desired hotel’s award space is in high demand. Fingers crossed that Marriott keeps their Points Advance system in place so that you can book an award reservation between mid August and mid September without points and then attach your hotel certificate September 18 or later (but not later than two weeks of your stay).

Hat tip Frequent Miler


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8 COMMENTS

  1. According to the leaked proposed Marriott T&Cs the ability to book an award stay without sufficient points in the account will indeed remain (see 3.6) but they also say this is not currently offered at the following brands, St. Regis® The Luxury Collection® W® Sheraton® Le Méridien® Westin® Design HotelsTM Tribute Portfolio® Four Points® Aloft® Hotels· Element®
    It’s not looking good for the Starwood brands. They’ll probably fix this. Too late to do us any good.

    There’s still a hope that since this is only a proposed document that they’ll fix it before it goes live, but I’d bet against it.

  2. Question:
    If I’m trying to book a stay at a Marriott/SPG property with a certificate for 9/21 arrival date, do you think it’ll still be possible to do on Sept 18?

    • Points Advance won’t work to hold the space since you would need to be able to attach the certificate two weeks before your stay (as that is how Points Advance works). So you’ll be at the mercy of whether or not your desired hotel has award availability two days before your stay starts. I would call Marriott and ask if three days ahead of time is enough to attach a travel certificate to a reservation, but I don’t see why not assuming there is availability.

  3. Have you read anything indicating how far out the certificate may be applied? Ideally, I’d like to book a Cat 8 St. Regis property in Dec 2019. Somehow this seems unlikely.

      • Technically the current policy is that hotel certs are valid for one year past the date they are issued, but many have had success calling Marriott and getting an extension for the life of the certificate. I imagine if you have a specific date/redemption in mind that would give you an even better shot. How all that will be handled in the new program I’m not sure.

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