Explained: Marriott Bonvoy Points Advance policy changes

Effective 27 May 2021, all Points Advance bookings must be funded within 60 days of booking or 14 days before arrival, whichever comes first.

Marriott Bonvoy has made changes to its Points Advance feature, which allows members to make award bookings now and earn the points later.

Effective 27 May 2021, Bonvoy members must earn the required points within 60 days of making a Points Advance booking or 14 days of arrival, whichever comes first. Previously, members only needed to cough up the points 14 days before their actual stay date.

This applies to all Points Advance bookings, even those made under the old rules. To put it another way, any Points Advance booking made prior to 27 May 2021 will be cancelled by 26 July 2021, unless members earn the required number of points before that date. 

What is Points Advance?

One of the more unique aspects about the Marriott Bonvoy program is its Points Advance feature. This is a “bill me later” option that allows members to lock in dates, with points only deducted 14 days prior to check-in. 

Points Advance option- back in the days when you could choose it even if you already had sufficient points

Points Advance used to be a Wild West situation, back in the days when there was no limit on the number of bookings you could make. You’d have people booking up every permutation of dates at aspirational properties in the Maldives and such, creating a tragedy of the commons scenario that left everyone worse off. 

Marriott eventually stepped in, limiting the maximum number of Points Advance bookings to three, and ceasing to offer this option where members have sufficient points in their account.

New Points Advance rules

W Bali Seminyak
W Bali Seminyak

From 27 May 2021, members who make Points Advance reservations will need to fund their bookings within 60 days from the time of booking or 14 days prior to arrival (whichever comes first). Arrival dates must be at least 30 days from the booking date, and as before, any Points Advance reservations in excess of three will be cancelled. 

Marriott Bonvoy offers the following examples: 

Booking Date  

Arrival Date

Automatic Cancellation Date (if Insufficient Points)

June 1, 2021 

July 10, 2021 

June 26, 2021 

June 1, 2021 

June 20, 2021 

Cannot Book a Points Advance Reservation; Arrival Date is Less than 30 days  

June 1, 2021 

March 30, 2022 

 August 1, 2021 

July 10, 2021 

May 16, 2022 

 September 9, 2021 

Do note that Points Advance reservations only guarantee a room, not the price. The number of Marriott Bonvoy points required is subject to change, as Marriott updates its peak/off-peak/standard dates every month based on expected occupancy. You’ll pay whatever the price happens to be when you fund the reservation with points. 

The only way to lock in a price at the time of booking is by having enough points and using them to complete the reservation. This means that you can’t use the Points Advance feature as a hedge against future price increases. 

Why the change?

St Regis Singapore
St Regis Singapore

Marriott says that Points Advance reservations represent up to 25% of bookings at some resorts, which creates an unsustainable situation if a large number end up being cancelled 14 days before arrival. 

To the extent that the policy changes free up more award space for other members, I’m all for them. I do feel, however, that a better solution might be to extend the buffer leading up to the reservation. For example, instead of 14 days, perhaps members should now need the requisite points within 30 or 60 days before staying. This would avoid penalizing early bookers, and gives the properties sufficient time to rebook rooms arising from cancellations. 

Conclusion

Marriott’s changes to the Points Advance system seem more than reasonable to me. If you’re holding on to an existing Points Advance reservation, however, you’ll need to figure out how to fund it by 26 July 2021. 

So long as borders remain closed, I doubt that many Singapore-based Bonvoy members will be making use of the Points Advance feature though. 

Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion to help people travel better for less and impress chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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