Upgrading Marriott Travel Packages

A couple of readers have recently reported problems with trying to upgrade their Marriott Travel Packages.  This is a quick post just to affirm that it can still be done.  I just did it.  And, as expected, upgrading or downgrading has the benefit of extending the expiration date of the certificate.

Marriott 7 Night Travel Packages

If you’d like background on Marriott Travel Packages, please see: 12 things you need to know about Marriott Travel Packages.

Starting from Category 1-5

I logged into my Marriott account to get a “before” picture of my certificate.  Here it is:

Marriott Travel Package Cat 1-5 Exp 1-23-18

Note that the listed Points Value was 270,000 points (the number of points I paid for the package) and that the expiration date was 1/23/18.  Also note that if I had asked to cancel the certificate, they wouldn’t have refunded the full 270,000 points since most of those points were for the 120,000 Southwest points that I got from the package.  Instead, they would have given me only a 45,000 point refund.

Calling Marriott Rewards

I called the Platinum number (800-399-4229) in order to get a person to answer immediately.  She was from Reservations.  I asked if she could transfer me to Marriott Rewards, but she offered to help me directly.  Accepting that offer was a mistake because she didn’t know what she was doing.  If you try this, I’d recommend calling Marriott Rewards directly: In the USA & Canada: 1-888-236-2427.

I asked the first agent to upgrade my certificate to category 6.  About 20 minutes and several clarifications later, she admitted that she couldn’t do it (she said that she didn’t have access to the right system) and she transferred me to a supervisor.

I repeated my request to the supervisor, was put on hold, and about 10 minutes later it was done.

Email notifications

I received two emails regarding the upgrade.  One was titled “Cancelled Award Order Confirmation.” This one shows that my 7 Night travel package certificate was cancelled.  I presumably received 45,000 points for the cancellation (as expected).

The next email was titled “New Reward Order Confirmation.”  It showed the following:

Reward Details
——————————–
Description: 7 Night Partial Package Category 6 Hotels
Reward code: P870
Valid through: Wednesday, May 16, 2018
Total points redeemed: 75,000
Confirmed on: Tuesday, May 16, 2017
Reward Terms & Conditions
https://www.marriott.com/rewards/terms/usetrms.mi

Description:

7 Night Partial Package Category 6 Hotels
Reward certificate number: XXXXXXX

Total points redeemed: 75,000

This is a bit misleading.  It appears that it cost 75,000 points to upgrade, but in reality it only cost 30,000 points.  45,000 points came from the cancelled certificate and the additional 30,000 points came from my account.

Ending with Category 6 and a new expiration date

The difference in price between category 5 and category 6 travel packages is 30,000 points.  So, they withdrew 30,000 points from my account and replaced my 7 night certificate with this one:

Marriott Travel Package Cat 6 Exp 5-16-18

Note that the point value is now at only 75,000 points and the expiration date has been pushed forward to 5/16/18.  The Points Value now is the full value of the certificate if I were to cancel it.  It is, as expected, the sum of the original cancellation value (45,000 points) plus the difference in point price between the original and new packages (30,000 points).

Travel Package Pricing (for reference)

You can see in each of the packages below that the difference in price between Category 1-5 packages and Category 6 packages is always 30,000 points:

Air Canada Marriott Hotel and Air Package

Marriott Hotel and Air Package 3

Marriott Travel Package RewardsPlus United

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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Comments

  1. Have there been any successful DP’s in changing from a 7 night certificate to a 5 night cert?

    I have been successful in pushing out my expiration date by two years at this point with calls to Marriott, but still haven’t found myself in a place for 7 days where it would be worth it. For instance I’m going to Hawaii in October for 8 nights, and splitting that up to 4 and 4 between two islands, but would consider a 5 and 3 split if I could swing it.

    • Would it be worth it to spend only 3 nights on the second island, considering the travel time between the islands and the additional costs to get to and off the island?

      • I’ll weigh in on the other side from Barry. I’ve gone to Hawaii a couple of times and island-hopped each time. I personally think I wouldn’t fly that far and not try to see at least 2 islands — not because there isn’t plenty to do for a week on 1 island, but because there is a lot to see and I don’t often have the opportunity to get there. I wouldn’t do less than a 4/3 split as I agree that you lose time in transit and places like The Big Island and Maui are big enough to be hard to see in much less time.

        The moral of the story: I think if you ask 10 people, you’ll get 10 variations on the answer. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer.

        • Thanks,

          Yeah coming from NYC to Hawaii is not a short trip, and our first time there. Ended up booking a Korean Air award ticket since we have a wedding in LA in September. Since it allows multiple stops and an open jaw it was a no brainer for the points redemption.

          We’re splitting the trip up between Kauai and Maui. The flight between the islands is 50 min, so it’s really not that bad. The costs are minimal at 6k united points for a direct flight.

    • I’ve been to Hawaii a number of times and I wouldn’t recommend hopping between islands. You’ll loose a significant part of a day in the process. There’s enough to do on one island that you’ll easily spend a week without running out of things to do. For the record, Maui is my favorite island. Oahu is my least favorite island with all of the traffic jams and the large number of homeless people.

      • Your description of Oahu plus my experience of it as well is plenty reason why I wouldn’t do anymore than 3-4 days there. My wife and I did 5 nights there once (did not island hop), and we thought that was too many. We figured we could’ve seen all that Oahu has to offer in about 3 days, 4 days max. Day 1: Diamond Head in morning, Pearl Harbor mid-day, luau in evening. Day 2: Drive around island seeing sites like Dole Plantation, North Shore, Waimea Valley, Hanauma Bay. Day 3: Perhaps some other nature excursion (ziplining, hiking, surfing, etc.). You could insert a relaxing day in there if wanted to, but I’d prefer a rest day on another island island with a more quiet, laid-back atmosphere.

    • I think that one reader reported success swapping from 7 to 5, but I imagine you’ll have to call a dozen times (or more) to get someone both willing and able to do so. As an alternative, you could always simply book just 5 nights with your 7 night cert. The extra 2 nights will be lost though.

      • Thanks for the DP, I’ll try the HUCA route I think.

        Would rather not give up those 2 free nights on the 7 night certificate if I can avoid

        • We were recently planning a trip to using these certs. My wife and I had a 5-night Cat 6 cert and our friends had a 7-night Cat 5 cert. We wanted to go to Costa Rica and stay at the JW Marriott Guanacaste which is a Cat 7 property.

          Besides the category problem, we also had different durations and there were limited award rooms available at the property.

          Our friends got a category upgrade to Cat 7 but could not shift from a 7-night to a 5-night despite repeated HUCA. So they had a 7-night cert while we had a 5 nighter (also upgraded easily to Cat 7.) We really wanted 6 nights.

          Easy for us – we used the 5-night cert and then added one more night on regular points. Two separate reservations, stitched together at check-in.

          Our friends had the more difficult issue – they could not find availability for 7 nights – even though they only wanted 6. In fact, if you searched day by day, there were rooms every day, but not the same type of room for all days.

          It took a few days of Marriott Rewards working with the property to get the inventory aligned, and then our friends were able to book the 7-night award. They ended up staying 6 days, but I guess could have left after 6.

          Finally, I have never heard of Marriott splitting an award into multiple stays or even where someone was able to downgrade from 7-night cert to a 5-night cert.

          Hope this helps and good luck.

  2. As a timeshare owner, I recently booked a five night travel package and during the conversation I asked the rewards rep what would happen if I was unable to use the package before the expiration date. She replied that I could call back in a year and have it reissued for another year without any cost or penalty. She went on to say that I could do this indefinitely until I was able to use the package.

    I don’t know if this is only because I am timeshare owner or if she was even accurate in her comments, but she sounded very confident in her ability to extend as necessary.

  3. I wad about to sign up for the travel package today. I want the category 1 -5 hotel and 120000 SW points. Two questions…will i get a companion pass? And second…i cant use 7 nights in a row. Will i loose them?

    • 1. You won’t get the Southwest companion pass anymore. Southwest ended counting hotel points for the companion pass on March 31st.
      2. You need to use all 7 nights in one trip. I’ve read that somebody was able to have a gap in their trip with the 7 night certificate, but you need to use all of the nights in the same location. If you checkout early, you’ll loose any unused nights.

    • 1) As someone else said, no — you will not get a companion pass. Southwest stopped counting these points toward the Companion Pass as of March 31st.

      2) The certificate is for 7 straight nights. If you only use 3 nights, you don’t get the other 4 back. There are also 5-night packages, but these are restricted to timeshare owners. In the past, it was possible for anyone to book these sometimes by just asking — but that changed over the past year. At this point, your only option is a 7-night certificate unless you are a timeshare owner.

      • So maybe its better just to get 100000 southwest RR points and save the rest of my marriot points for when i need them?

        • I’d go for the 120,000 Southwest RR points and 7 night certificate. The Southwest points are more valuable than Marriott points (1.4 cents per point for SW RR vs. 0.8 cents per point for Marriott points). You’ll gain an extra $120 of travel value by trading the extra 20,000 Marriott points for the extra 20,000 Southwest points.

        • Barry is absolutely right that you’d be better off trading that last 20K Marriott Points for 20K Southwest points in almost any scenario.

          That said, are you sure you want Southwest points? Remember that there are tons of airline partners. If you’re mostly looking for domestic/Caribbean/Mexico travel, it’s hard to beat Southwest (especially with legacy carriers having such little saver availability domestically). But if you’re interested in international travel, 120K miles is enough for a nice business class RT to many parts of the world using some of the other airline partners. Just food for thought.

  4. Yeah for me SW is a must…for where i go ..florida , Mexico and new Orleans. At the 5/24 on so i cant apply for thw SW card for a while again.

    • That makes sense then. As Barry said, take the 120K Southwest points. You’ll get about $300 towards Wanna Get Away fares with 20K Southwest points. You’re unlikely to get that kind of value out of 20K Marriott points.

  5. Hello All,

    I am in need of some guidance with a trip that I’m planning. My wife want to go to Hawaii(March 2018). I am trying to figure out accommodations. I currently have the 7 night Marriott Package ( I would have to upgrade to either a cat 7 or 8). I am also trying to redeem 2 nights (from Fairmont credit card sign up). However I am only staying 7 days. Which hotels and order would you guys recommend?

  6. Since you’re only staying for 7 days, I’d use your Marriott certificate for this trip and save your Fairmont nights for a future trip.
    Which hotel you pick is up to personal preference. Personally, I like the Residence Inn Maui Wailea. The rooms have a full kitchen and there’s an outside area with multiple grills. The hotel also has a complimentary breakfast. When I’m on vacation for a week, I don’t want to eat out everyday. You can save a lot of money on food if you have a Costco membership. The gas is also about 75 cents per gallon cheaper at Costco than anywhere else on the island. The downside of this hotel is that it isn’t right on the beach. It’s about a half mile walk to get to the beach from the hotel.
    If you’re looking for a high end resort, this hotel wouldn’t be the best pick.

    • Looking for somewhat of a nice hotel. (Celebrating 10 year anniversary). Plus the Fairmont nights will expire in May. No other trips are planned to be able to use them by the time they expire.

      • I haven’t stayed at either Fairmont in Hawaii, but I have had the Fairmont card with the free nights in the past (which I used in the Canadian Rockies). Many times the Fairmont free nights are hard to use. There has to be availablity in the lowest level room at the resort in order to use the certificate. I would check at either the Kea Lani on Maui or Orchid on the Big Island to see if there’s low level availablity during your week. Both hotels have amazing reviews. You won’t go wrong on either island, but I personally prefer Maui to the Big Island.
        If you haven’t gotten the Chase Hyatt cards in the past 24 months, I would look at them. They are not subject to the 5/24 rule. The signup bonus is 2 free nights at any Hyatt. If you get a card and your wife gets a card you’d have 6 free nights between the Fairmont and Hyatt stays.
        I would then save the Marriott certificate for a future trip by doing the upgrade trick to extend the expiration or by calling in when the certificate is about to expire.

  7. Hi Gene. I keep going back and forth about what I would do if I had the Fairmont 2 free nights and the 7 night Marriott certificate. If it were me, I’d use the Marriott 7 nights in Hawaii. There’s very few places that I’d want to spend 7 nights in the same hotel, but Hawaii is one of them. I think I’d just plan a weekend get away to use the free Fairmont nights. There are Fairmonts in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and Austin TX that I would consider for a fun weekend.
    Some Marriotts that I’d consider are Koloa Landing Resort (category 8 Kauai), Kauai Marriott Resort (category 8 Kauai), or the Wailea Beach Marriott (category 8 Maui). If you have a lot of Marriott points to burn, you could consider the Ritz-Carlton at Kapalua (Tier 4 Maui).

    • I also agree with Barry.

      One thought based on recent experience: I’d skip the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua. I went to Maui last fall and made an effort to try several different places for the purposes of taking pictures and gathering reviews. On Maui, I sayed at the Ritz-Carlton, the Andaz Maui, and the Westin Ka’anapali. I personally wouldn’t go back to the Ritz. The short version of the story is that it’s far from most of what you’ll want to see and do in Maui, it doesn’t have a nice beach of its own, and service didn’t match the price point. I have not stayed at any of the other Marriott properties in Hawaii, but I’d suggest the Wailea area of Maui over the spot where the Ritz is. I think Kauai might be my favorite island, but if I’m spending 7 nights I’d probably rather be on Maui — there’s more to see and do as you can drive a lot more of the island. Of course, that’s just my $0.02.

  8. I’d like some advice as well as to how I should upgrade and what properties are worth upgrading to. My wife and I are trying to decide where we want to go for our vacation though we’ll likely only be staying 5-6 nights max. We’re looking at Costa Rica, Rome, or Paris, either the Cat 6 Costa Rica San Jose, Cat 8 Paris Marriott Opera Ambassador Hotel, Cat 9 Renaissance Paris Vendome, or Cat 9 Boscolo Exedra Roma (Rome), Autograph Collection. We have the required 120K points to upgrade to Cat 9 if needed, but is it worth it? I feel like we could just go up to Cat 6 Costa Rica, keep the leftover points, and then do Paris/Rome with our (yet to be applied for) Hyatt cards.

  9. I am so torn! I think I’m just having hard time letting go of 90K SPG points to get to a Marriott package. I get that it’s a good deal though so I’m trying to decide if I’d be better off getting the United pkg, with the 10% bonus, or the Southwest pkg, despite missing the window for the CP.
    ORD is more convenient, but I previously had a SW pass so MDW is do-able too. I haven’t redeemed very much on United, so I”m not familiar with how available award space is. I know they can be used for other airlines, but does that make them much easier to use than say…. AA, which are ridiculous right now. We do mostly domestic/Caribbean, but like the option of international once in a while. Any advice is appreciated.

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