Today was the day where Marriott’s annual category changes went into effect. Unfortunately, many favorable properties went up a category, but hopefully you all were able to book your reservations in the nick of time. As long as your hotel was booked prior to today, you are locked into the lower category—or at least should be! I personally made a few hotel reservations for some upcoming stays and used Marriott’s “Points Advance” to secure the reservation. Points Advance allows you to make a reservation without actually having the points in your account—a unique feature amongst the hotel programs. The great part about it is that it allows you to lock in an award when the hotel still has points availability and then allows you some time to actually earn the points. You just need to have the points in your account within 15 days of your arrival date.
When I made the reservation yesterday at the Sheraton in Lisbon it was a category 4 only costing 25,000 points a night. This particular property moved up to a category 5 now requiring 35,000 points a night. This is 10,000 more points a night which isn’t a small change. My reservation in my Marriott.com account is also showing the increased 35,000 points. When I go to actually deduct the points from my account, it still shows the same increased 35,000 points.
But do not worry! Marriott is still honoring the lower pricing, it will just require more work on your part! Once you have earned the points required for the reservation, you’ll have to call Marriott customer service and have them manually tie your points and an award certificate to your stay. Explain to them that you made the reservation using Points Advance PRIOR to the March 5th changes and it only costs X number of points at that time. Like all customer service phone calls, this could be a hit or miss process. Some reps will know what to do immediately while others might tell you that it cannot be done. If you hit a rep that isn’t able to do it (or has no idea what you are talking about), immediately ask to speak to a supervisor or just hang up and call again. No need to spend time speaking to an agent that isn’t aware of the process.
I personally love that Marriott has this Points Advance process. It has allowed me to make many reservations that would have otherwise required more points. I was able to book reservations for a trip to Portugal this summer, some speculative stays in Disneyland this fall, and for a big family trip next winter in Florida.
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