Banking travel certificates for future luxury

Domes of Elounda. Currently this is a Category 9 property requiring 45,000 points per night. In the new program this will be Category 8 requiring 60,000 points per night through early 2019, and then 70,000 to 100,000 points per night if booked thereafter.

I didn’t want to write yet another post about Marriott Travel Packages, but this continues to be a burning topic.  I just may have convinced a number of readers to jump on the last opportunity to buy these travel packages at great rates, and that there’s maybe a 60% chance that the result will be way better than expected.

Following my own advice, I had already bought one travel package to add to the one I’ve had sitting around for quite a while, and I decided to buy one more.  As a reminder, when you buy a travel package, you exchange lots of Marriott points for a bunch of miles (always go for 120K or 132K miles) plus a 7 night stay certificate that can be applied later.  If things go really well, floater certificates (stay certificates that are not attached to an award reservation) will be exchanged for points to cover a similar 7 night stay (see this post for more).

But that’s just one theory.  There are many other theories of what Marriott will do with floater certificates when the new loyalty program kicks in on August 18th.  We don’t know which is correct because Marriott won’t tell us.

In an email conversation with a Marriott source just a couple of days ago, I was told this: “…we are encouraging members with certificates to attach them to a hotel stay before 8/18.”  There’s probably not anything too revealing in this statement.  After all, regardless of what Marriott decides to do with floater certificates, we do know that they’ll honor reservations that have already been booked.  And it makes sense to encourage customers to do the thing that will produce a reliable result.

On the other hand, it’s possible that I was given a little hint.  It’s possible that attached stay certificates will be worth more than floater certificates (un-attached certificates).  I asked a follow-up question: “Would you recommend attaching [stay certificates] to a refundable future hotel stay even if you don’t know where you really want to stay?”  No response.  Was I getting too close to the secret that Marriott won’t reveal?

Is there any downside to booking a refundable stay?

We don’t know how Marriott will handle floater certificates.  We also don’t know how they’ll handle stays booked with certificates before the new program takes effect, that are then cancelled afterwards.  Will they handle those two scenarios exactly the same?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Here are the likely options (in my opinion):

  1. Tie: Both scenarios result in an equal points refund.
  2. Floater certificates result in a points refund, whereas cancelled stays result in new stay certificates

If the first is true, then there’s no harm in booking a cancellable stay now.  If the second is true, booking a stay now would mean losing out on the chance of getting a good number of points back, but it also means that you may be able to make your stay certificate more valuable by booking a property that you know will go way up in price after the merger.

If you plan to attach, then attach big

If you know where and when you want to stay, then you might as well go ahead and book exactly that.  If you have no idea where you want to stay, though, and you don’t mind the chance of losing out on a points windfall, then it makes sense to book a hotel now that will become much more expensive in the new program.

I drilled down on the award chart information to find the best opportunities to book stays now that will be worth more in the future.  This led me to the following recommendations for how to use existing stay certificates:

Current Category 1-5 certificate (Worth 25K Points Per Night)

Potential value gain: 10K points per night standard; 15K peak [peak pricing will be introduced in early 2019]

Book any of these properties that will be 35K per night in the new program:

  • Marriott’s Villas at Doral
  • Residence Inn Temecula Murrieta
  • Paragraph Resort & Spa Shekvetili, Autograph Collection
  • Eugenia de Montijo, Autograph Collection
  • Calgary Airport Marriott In-Terminal Hotel
  • JW Marriott Hotel New Delhi Aerocity

Current Category 6 certificate (Worth 30K Points Per Night)

Potential value gain: 20K points per night standard; 30K peak [peak pricing will be introduced in early 2019]

Try to book this property that will be 50K per night in the new program:

  • Marriott’s Club Son Antem (unfortunately there is no award availability at this time)

Current Category 7 certificate (Worth 35K Points Per Night)

Potential value gain: 15K points per night standard; 25K peak [peak pricing will be introduced in early 2019]

Book any of these properties that will be 50K per night in the new program:

  • Fairfield Inn & Suites Virgin Zion National Park
  • Marriott’s Imperial Palms Villas
  • Marriott’s Fairway Villas
  • Marriott Vacation Club Pulse, San Diego
  • Marriott’s Royal Palms
  • Marriott’s Sabal Palms
  • Marriott’s St. Kitts Beach Club
  • SpringHill Suites Springdale Zion National Park
  • Marriott’s Cypress Harbour Villas
  • Marriott’s Marbella Beach Resort

Current Category 8 certificate (Worth 40K Points Per Night)

Potential value gain: 20K points per night standard; 30K peak [peak pricing will be introduced in early 2019]

Try to book any of these properties that will be 60K per night in the new program (unfortunately award availability is virtually non-existent in these)

  • Marriott’s Waiohai Beach Club
  • Marriott’s Waikoloa Ocean Club
  • Marriott’s Kauai Lagoons – Kalanipu’u
  • Marriott’s Newport Coast Villas

Current Category 9 certificate (Worth 45K Points Per Night)

Potential value gain: 15K to 40K points per night standard; 55K peak [peak pricing will be introduced in early 2019]

Book this property that will be top tier in the new program (60K through early 2019, then 85K standard, 70K off-peak, 100K peak)

  • Domes of Elounda, Autograph Collection

My approach

After compiling the above data, I realized that current Category 9 certificates have the most potential long-term upside. By using the certificate to book a hotel which will go up to category 8, it might be possible to make the certificate far more valuable.  There’s absolutely no guarantee that this will happen, but it is possible that if one were to wait until after the merger on August 18th and then cancel such a stay, Marriott might issue a new program category 8 certificate (top tier) in its place.  Between August and early 2019 there won’t be any difference between a new category 8 or new category 7 certificate since both will be able to book top tier 60K per night hotels.  But when category 8 and peak pricing appear in early 2019, category 8 certificates will be much more valuable than category 7.  By then, the mad dash to book top tier resorts for 60K per night will be over, and it should then be much easier to book any top tier property you want and at any time.

On the other hand, if I could have leveraged a current category 8 certificate into a future category 7 (60K per night) reservation, I would have done so.  But I couldn’t find any award availability at the properties that would make that possible.  So, I decided to go with current category 9.  If I had a Ritz Tier 1 or Tier 2 certificate I would try to downgrade it to a Category 9.  But I don’t, so I didn’t.

I called Marriott Rewards to upgrade my existing category 8 certificate to category 9 (this process took over 2 hours: the first agent said it couldn’t be done but offered to transfer me to someone who might be able to help. She transferred me to reservations. Sigh. The next Marriott Rewards agent was able to do it, but it took an eternity to complete).  Next, while I still had a competent agent on the phone, I purchased a second category 9 travel package.  Finally I asked her to use both 7 night certificates to book two separate rooms at the Domes of Elounda.  Award availability was quite good for June and July 2019.

With all of that done, I set an April 2019 reminder in my calendar to cancel these reservations in case I haven’t already done so.  I have to cancel this one more than 30 days before in order to avoid a cancellation fee.  Of course, we might alternatively actually stay during the times I picked — that would be great too.

And now I’ll wait to see what happens.  Will we learn any real facts about how Marriott will handle the travel package transition in time to do anything about it?  Probably not.  Most likely, we’ll have to wait until August 19th or maybe even later to find out what will happen with our old style travel packages.  To hedge my bets I kept one certificate un-attached… just in case.

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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Julia
Guest
Julia

Sorry I haven’t done this before and 30 mins on Marriott’s reservation line I’m starting to think I’m hopeless.

I have a spare 270,000 points which I don’t mind gambling on a Cat 1-5 Hotel and air package. If there is a chance of getting points returned then it’s worth it for me.

Here’s my lack of understanding problem: Do I phone up Marriott rewards asking for a Hotel and Air package and ask them to book me a stay with the Hotel and Air package certificate or, do I say I just want a Hotel and Air package and I will choose a hotel sometime in the future?

Marriott reservations just lost me….

Nick Reyes
Editor

See this post:

https://frequentmiler.boardingarea.com/2018/06/26/navigating-marriotts-phone-prompts-to-book-a-travel-package/

No, you don’t need to pick a hotel now. You just need to give them your Frequent Flyer info nowas the miles get transferred right away. You get a digital certificate for the 7-night stay.

Blue
Guest
Blue

That’s an amazingly useful post, by the way. I’ve called twice and while it took a while both times I also got someone who knew exactly what they were doing.

Arkanoid101
Guest
Arkanoid101

Greg, can you provide more info on the option of downgrading a Ritz Tier 1 or 2 certificate (obtained via the Ritz card signup) to a Category 9? For those of us that followed your advice on getting the Ritz card now, is this a potentially valuable option?

Julia
Guest
Julia

Thank you Nick. Trying again later 🙂

craig
Guest
craig

I ordered last week do you know how long until miles should post as I have the certificate attached to my Marriott account but my points still haven’t shown up ordered last Friday.

Blue
Guest
Blue

This is very interesting. I have two 1-5s and it would be very nice to leverage them into new Cat 5s at 35K each. I know it isn’t sexy but that’s a huge jump in potential–for example, it opens up stays in Manhattan.

Edit: Also remember that taking a gamble on big upside from a high cat cert probably means you are forgoing the known benefit of a 1-5 F&N package.

king
Guest
king

If i currently attach a cat 5 cert to a cat 5 hotel , and if the cat 5 hotel moves up a category to cat 6 before i stay , and if i cancel my reservation before the stay , will i get a Cat 5 certificate or Cat 6 certificate back ?

Answer – Cat 5 certificates only

Sam
Guest
Sam

Greg- What miles did you get with these certificates? Thanks

Jan
Guest
Jan

I have a 7 night cat 6 certificate. I only have 150k points left in my account. If I upgrade to the Cat 9, I would have very few points in my account. I hope to book two 5 night hotels in CAT 1 category for 30k each post August. Also, from reading all your posts, does it seem more likely that unused certificate will be converted to points so I can book anything or converted into points for ANOTHER certificate that I need to use for a category (whatever it may be)?

Too Nashty
Guest
Too Nashty

I went big. Purchased $2000 of SPG points to put me over the top on my 4th, cat 1-5 package. 3x Alaska miles1x united miles. A bunch of category 6s are moving down to category 4 in Miami for my wedding; which in the worst case scenario, would be bookable if Marriott just does a simple certificate conversion to 25k certificates (1-4). If not and I get points there is huge upside. No lose scenario.

Wish SPG sale was still around I’d buy another 90k.

Nun
Guest
Nun

Seems like you should lead with, “this may be extremely time consuming.” 2 hours on the phone?

David
Guest
David

Nick & Greg,

Will you keep your floaters or book a dummy refundable booking as per above or will you split your certs between the two?

Nick Reyes
Editor

I’m floating at the moment. This post has me considering a split……

Tony
Guest
Tony

This is now bordering on fantasy… Based on all the interviews in the last couple of days by people running the Marriott loyalty program, Marriott is implementing some IT solutions to this thorny issue (and others) it faces with the merger of the loyalty programs. That’s why there’s a delay in launching the new combined program. If Marriott only wanted a simple (but costly) solution, it wouldn’t be investing its resources in this critical period before the merger on a complicated IT solution. Marriott may not succeed in time in implementing its desired solution (that’s the other reason it hasn’t announced what it would do), so it may have to adopt a simpler but costlier solution. But in no scenario I see the possibility that it would convert a certificate to a new certificate based on the category of hotel it’s attached to. You can’t do that even today. If you attached a certificate to a hotel, which became a higher category hotel later, and you then decided to cancel the reservation, you don’t get back a certificate corresponding to the higher category. You can’t even transfer your reservation to another hotel in the same higher category.

Blue
Guest
Blue

It is a non-trivial problem, actually, if basic approach is to remove the old-style certificates from the system entirely.

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

Help! OK, so I have loaded up with 3 Category 8 Certs. I would like to book a stay using ALL of them at one location in order to have a big family gathering/vacation. 1) Is it possible to use 1 cert for suites that have multiple rooms? 2) Is it possible to use multiple certs at such a location (if number 1 is true). I noticed some of your category 8 suggestions were vacation clubs…it has been my understanding that you can’t use certs to book these? I guess I have been wrong?

GregR
Guest
GregR

Jeff, this past March or April, I was able to find availability at Marriott’s Timber Lodge in South Lake Tahoe during ski season next year (early Feb. 2019) for 7 consecutive nights using points. I called and had them apply my cat. 1-5 cert. to this cat. 8 MVC resort and also upgrade from hotel room to 2-bedroom villa, paying 15k per night for the 3-cat. upgrade (times 6 nights since 1 night is free) plus another 10k per night for the 2-level upgrade. I checked other ski towns and found no rooms available on points at MVC resorts, so I think it just takes luck and persistence.

James in BNA
Guest
James in BNA

@Jeff I just came home from 3 rooms x 7 night stay at the Marriott Ocean Pointe for our clan of 11. I checked every vacation club in the Western hemisphere daily for over 3 months to find availability. It was painstaking, but worth it. I paid 10k/night/room (180k Marriott total with one night free) to upgrade to 2BR 2BA 1300 sf suites so we had 3900 sf total.

Blue
Guest
Blue

More I think about this the likelier I think it is, actually.

They have a set of instruments that have to be converted in some manner. For unattached, just returning points is easy enough. But if they are attached and removed…what then? I’d assume the initial conversion would be a simple database process–if unattached, cancel and add points to member’s account. But for attached certs they would have to be able to track whether the cert was an old cert or new cert, track the hotel cost before and after the new program was implemented, and then if unattached refund the old point value of the cert to the member’s account. Could this be done–theoretically. Is it possible that there are limitations in the underlying database structure that would make it difficult–and that just converting all attached certs to the new hotel category would be cheaper and easier? Absolutely.

Edit: And there is a potentially nasty situation for certs attached to properties that DROP in value!

Blue
Guest
Blue

Looks like they are going to wrap up the old certs on August 4th–so that gives them a couple of weeks to sequester a test database and make sure their code to deal with the old certs works correctly. Makes sense–I was wondering why they would sell these things until the day before the transition.

Edit: And now they’re going through till the 17th.

Tigris23
Guest
Tigris23

Greg, so based on your post above, if I currently have two cat.1-5 7 night certs. but don’t have any hotels in mind to stay in the future, BUT value the potential of them turning into points (I’m more in needs of airline miles at the moment), I should just leave them as is–unattached floater certs. right?

Kevin
Guest
Kevin

Greg- FYI on the Cat 5 suggestion of Marriott Villa at Doral, I checked all of next year on random dates and they all require 2 Suite upgrade certificates in addition to booking bc they only have 2 bedroom suites. Do you suppose if we book the refundable room without any suite upgrade certificates but attach the Cat 5 cert, this would be Ok? Thanks

JB from San Diego
Guest
JB from San Diego

Two weeks ago, I got a CAT 8 cert (7 nights) and currently sitting on this floater. Not sure what the probabilities of the un-attached vs the attached will be worth? Is it 60% for both? Which has a higher return in points for the 60% chance?

Diane
Guest
Diane

Greg. I want to book the Westin Cayman Island for late 2019. I had a cat 1-5 travel pkg that I just upgraded to a cat 7. The Westin is going to a cat 7 after the merger. I thought this was the safe thing to do. Do you now think that I should book ANY Marriott cat 7 before the merger with plans to change it later? I think another blog had said that they would only redeem your points and you would have to rebook and in that case I wouldn’t have enough points at the new rates. Help

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

Greg (and Nick)

Great news! In 8 days you will be able to rest, as the travel packages will no longer be bookable at the current rates! Thanks for all the Qs you answer, and giving your thoughts!

Leo
Guest
Leo

My problem is with attached certificates 1-5 category (for random hotels i would like to cancel after Aug 18) as my likely options are

– Tie: Both scenarios result in an equal points refund.

That would be perfect i will be happy to take the 125k-150k points back which i hope happens. But if there are only returning measly 45K points back i would likely keep my certificates attached n just go to that random hotel for the stay.

– Floater certificates result in a points refund, whereas cancelled stays result in new stay certificates

I would be butt hurt knowing all the floater certificates got converted in healthy 125-150k points nestag while we are been given new category 1-4 certificates :'(

Blue
Guest
Blue

I flat out don’t see how they can give back the residual value of floating certificates. I think they’d end up with a class action suit and that they would lose–it would be like a restaurant unilaterally cancelling out the value of gift certificates. Absent a bankruptcy, that can’t happen.

Leo
Guest
Leo

I simply can’t see them taking away our 7 nights and giving us points worth 1-2 nights instead. Either turn the voucher into 7 nights at a similar level in the new program or give us the points back so we can book 7 nights. I have 4 vouchers and if they do devalue them and I end up with only a handful of nights I personally will be taking them to SCC.

Trisha
Guest
Trisha

If you want to maximize your redemption, attach them. If you want to gamble let them float. Why do people refuse to see the difference between the value of the certificate and the redemptive value when it is attached? Greed?

Let me put it in easier terms!

I go into Costco and purchase a $100.00 Gift certificate for my favourite restaurant for $80.00 and later decide that I don’t want it, when I return them to Costco, how much will I get back? Hint! It is NOT $100.00 yet so many believe that is what is owed to them? Why?

Here the value of the certificate is $80.00 and the redemptive value is $100.00. Likewise, the value of your floater certificate is 45K while the redemptive value is 7 nights in a Category 1-5 property when attached. Giving you back the 45K value is not a devaluation. You are getting back the certificate value. Your handfull of nights is as a result of you failing to redeem your certificates when you had the opportunity. Plain & Simple.

Good luck with the SCC! The only fault would be yours when not redeeming (“attaching”) the certificate to maximize value when you had the opportunity to do so!

Leo
Guest
Leo

Not greed, but rather a clear and appreciable difference between members cancelling certs on their own and Marriott unilaterally cancelling the certs and returning 45k.

When you buy a Travel Package, you’re redeeming your miles for outsized value. It even says there right on the page. “Take advantage of an excellent vacation value.”

If you decide you’ve changed your mind and want to refund the cert, it makes sense that you only get the residual value, taking into account the airline miles. Otherwise, members would repeatedly redeem Travel Packages and refund the hotel cert to get something out of nothing.

That is different from Marriott unilaterally deciding to do this to everyone’s certs. That would be a case of members redeeming their points for outsized value, only to not get the outsized value they were promised. Members would be rightfully angry.

Blue
Guest
Blue

That’s a ridiculous analogy. Giving residual value would be like going into Costco with your cert and them telling you that you can only get $80 in goods because that’s what you paid for it.

Edit: And there is absolutely no requirement it be attached in the first place–I have a cert in my account that clearly states what it is good for–7 nights in a category 1-5 hotel–and an expiration date for when it must be used.

Leo
Guest
Leo

If I have in my possession a certificate worth 7 nights in a hotel I have a right to redeem it for that. The residual value has no relevance unless I choose to forgo that value in lieu of points. Unilaterally cancelling certs and returning the residual value is nothing like that.

I have no clue why certain people seem so insistent on this facially absurd position.

Nick Reyes
Editor

This analogy doesn’t work. A closer analogy would be that you go to Costco and check out with a $100 gift card and pay $80 and then the guy working the door pulls it out of your pocket and puts a $20 gift card in your pocket in its place. Or three weeks later, before you’ve had a chance to use your gift certificate, Costco cancels it and sends you a check for $20. That wouldn’t make any sense to the customer — he or she paid $80 and expected $100 in value.

Only the (relative tiny number of) real enthusiasts would know that Marriott cashes these things in for 45K. The average Marriott customer probably doesn’t read points and miles blogs on a daily basis and therefore likely has no idea about the cashout value of a certificate. If he or she just “checked out” with a 7-night certificate and airline miles today, and “paid” hundreds of thousands of points for that package, I can’t imagine how confused they would be if Marriott suddenly took away what they paid for and replaced it with something much less valuable.

I’m certainly not faulting you if you want to attach it to be safe, but I would be really shocked if they gave everyone 45K points.

That’s not to say that they couldn’t give less than 7 nights worth of points — I find that a little more plausible. For instance, if you booked a 7-night Cat 1-5 package, the stay portion of that (7 nights at a current Cat 5 at 25K per night) would normally cost 150K points. I could imagine a world where they might give you only 100K points for that certificate under the (somewhat reasonable) justification that you bought a package deal where both parts (the stay and the airline miles) were “discounted”. Essentially, this would be like giving you your $80 back on your gift card scenario and saying that you didn’t pay $100 for it so you’re not going to get $100 back. That could make some sense.

I still think it’s more likely that they’d either pay out 150K or a new 7-night certificate of some sort, but that’s the more likely negative scenario in my mind (where having it attached would be more desirable).

Pam
Guest
Pam

you cannot return gift cards to Costco…you are stuck with them if you decide you don’t want them. Marriott is decidedly more flexible.

Diana
Guest
Diana

Not true. I have returned gift cards with no problem.

Pam
Guest
Pam

How does Costco know they haven’t been redeemed before they return your funds?

Steven
Guest
Steven

Greg,

What is the worst case scenario if and when you cancel the reservation at Dommes of Elounda before April of next year? Would it be that you get a 7 night certificate to stay at a new category 5 or 6 hotel worth around 45k points per night?

tyler ford
Guest
tyler ford

I’m having trouble attaching my 7 night cert to a hotel stay online. Do you need to call-in or email to do it now?

Kimbra
Guest
Kimbra

Any tricks to find availability at Marriott Waikoloa Ocean Club or Newport Coast Villas? I’ve been looking for weeks, nothing 🙁

SanNed
Guest
SanNed

I am currently sitting on a cat 6 TP. Do you think it is worth it to transfer AMEX or Chase points to upgrade to a cat 9 and book. The upgrade would cost an additional 90k MR points which I have no other idea of getting the points from.

Nick Reyes
Editor

I don’t think so. 90K Membership Rewards points (transferred to ANA) is more than enough for a round trip business class ticket from the US to Japan. It’s almost enough (also with ANA) for round trip buisness class to Africa on Star Alliance partners (that’d be 105K with ANA miles). That’s one partner and two examples. I don’t think there is enough of a win here to justify using up that many (much more valuable) points.

Tommy B.
Guest
Tommy B.

Ah, I’ve already got a Cat 6 floater that I’m still trying to figure out what to do with, but also over 500k Marriott points that I don’t know what to do with before 8/1. What’s the smart move?!

Nick Reyes
Editor

Buy another travel package.

Thomas
Guest
Thomas

Once you’ve purchased one of these hotel+air packages, where in your online account does it indicate your certificate? Or does it not show at all? For instance, IHG will actually tell me that I have a free night cert available to use. I can’t seem to find this on Marriott’s side…

Josh
Guest
Josh

Yes it shows in your account. “Rewards Certificate 7 Night Travel Package Category 1-5 Hotels – 270,000 Points”

Nick Reyes
Editor

As Josh said, there is a section in your online account for “certificates” where you’d find the annual free night cert from one of the credit cards or the club upgrade certificates if you’re a Ritz card holder, and you’ll find this there as well.

Josh
Guest
Josh

What about modifying or changing the dates of the reservation? Does that require a cancel and a re-reservation?

Nick Reyes
Editor

I don’t know for sure, but I don’t think so.

MRW
Guest
MRW

Josh gave me an idea. Noob here asking this question:
What about calling in before Aug 18 and have the reward dept staff change the reservation date and re-booking for us for a room after the merger date?
So we can’t book online because the hotel website won’t let us, maybe we can ruffle some feathers on the phone?

LTL
Guest
LTL

I’m not sure I understand the logic of taking a ‘gamble’ on attaching to a reservation.

Let’s say you booked a Cat 9 at 390k points, got 120k miles, and 7 nights at Domes of Elounda. Right now, that’s 45×6 = 270k points for the hotel, plus 120k points for the miles — effectively converting 1 MR point –> 1 mile.

You suggest attaching it to a reservation at Domes, then the gamble is that you could cancel and have a Cat 8 certificate going forward.

But if you just bought the package and they liquidate it (which I think seems most likely) then you’d probably get 50k points per night (I’m assuming since Cat 9 is 3 categories form the top, you’d get Cat 6 values, which would be 3 categories from the top in the new program).

Let’s say they give you 6x the points (because 5th night free); you’d have 300k points + 100k miles. So you converted, effectively, 90k MR points –>100k miles, slightly better than 1:1.1, AND you have 300 points, which are probably more flexible than a Cat 8 cert. And if you wanted a Cat 8 hotel, you could still get 6 nights at a Cat 8.

So it seems to me that leaving unattached would be fine; you get something more flexible (points instead of a cert), a better transfer ratio for the miles, and you can do equivalently or nearly as well on the hotel stays (worst case is 6 nights instead of 7).

For me, I think the 7th night is not as valuable as the flexibility of having points rather than a cert…

rk123
Guest
rk123

If leaving it as a floater, they may give you back 50k x 6 = 300k points, which is a good deal itself.
This post suggests that by attaching to Domes of Elounda, where it becomes a NEW Cat 8 hotel (85k points after 17 Aug), and cancelling after 17 Aug, Marriott may reissue a NEW Cat 8 certificate, which can then be used at any NEW Cat 8 hotels worldwide, subject to the usual availability of course. NEWCat 8 certificate in point terms are worth 85k x 6 = 510k points, or if you like, 100k x 6 = 600k points during peak period from 2019 onwards.

seeking
Guest
seeking

Looking for opinions:
i need around 30,000 more marriott points to book two Ritz stays post merger. I have Chase UR points i can utilize, but i have such a hard time parting ways with UR points. ha
This leads me to this question, buy points or use my UR points and shed a few tears.
I should also state I have no plans for the UR points.

Rob
Guest
Rob

If you haven’t bought the max 30k points per year in your SPG account, I would definitely buy the points. Although I’m not sure if the promo for SPG points is still going. If it is, and you can buy SPG points for around 2.1 cents per point, you should most certainly do way better than that with a Ritz redemption. I’ve got a 5 night stay booked in november at Ritz Tokyo where I am getting 2.3 cents per MARRIOTT point (7.1 cents per SPG) and another 5 night stay at Ritz Kyoto where I am getting 3.1 cents per marriott point (9.2 cents per SPG point). That’s literally like a 78% discount by buying the points for me.

Seeking
Guest
Seeking

Thanks for the response! I have purchased the SPG points.
That’s a great ROI. Should have had myself husband buy additional points with SPG, but it slipped our minds. The Sale is over sadly.

KD Shull
Guest
KD Shull

I’ve never done the travel certs. Do you have to use all 7 nights in a single stay? I rarely take vacations that long.

Rob
Guest
Rob

Yes, that is the deal breaker for many.

rj123456
Guest
rj123456

Will this be another argument for NOT attaching the certificate to a reservation, and hoping that Marriott will give you back points?

rj123456
Guest
rj123456

Eugenia de Montijo, Autograph Collection
35K per night??? They must be crazy. It’s showing up as $72 today.

rj123456
Guest
rj123456

Noob question here: most of the people here booking the 1-5 night packages are in favor of the 270K points version, i.e. 7 nights + 120K miles (+12K for UA). What is benefit of booking that versus the 200K version, 7 nights plus 50K miles. Isn’t one better off saving the MR points to buy another package (assuming one has more than 270K)??

Brands
Guest
Brands

For most of the packages, the airline miles are converted from Marriott to the airline miles at a 1:1 ratio, and the airline miles are much more valuable than the Marriott points, so people try to maximize their return on airline miles. If you were to do 2 of the 50K miles packages, you would still have less miles than 1 120K miles package, but would have spent more MR points, because no matter what, the 7 night hotel package always costs the same (150K MR points for cat 1-5).

rj123456
Guest
rj123456

That made sense in the pre-gotta-buy-as-many-packages-as-possible days. And probably going forward with the new packages.

Nick Reyes
Editor

I’m not sure why you would want to convert 70K Marriott points (worth about 0.72 cents each) to 70K airline miles (worth about double when used toward domestic economy saver flights and potentially much more for premium cabin international travel or last-minute flights in general).

rk123
Guest
rk123

Well I currently have a 7 night stay for JW Marriot HK booked for Sep 2018, which will become new Cat 7 after program merger. I have already attached a Cat 9 certificate to it now to lock in the current prices.

I also have a floater Cat 6 and a floater Cat 8 certificate.

Based on this post, would you attach both Cat 6 and Cat 8 certificates to a hotel reservation as far as possible in 2019?

Any way I can make a bigger potential win for the reservation in JW Marriott HK?

king
Guest
king

Quick clarification – If i currently attach a cat 5 cert to a cat 5 hotel , and if the cat 5 hotel moves up a category to cat 6 before i stay , and if i cancel my reservation before the stay , will i get a Cat 5 certificate or Cat 6 certificate back ?

Answer – Cat 5 certificates only

Bcoz of the merger , r u guys gambling that if u cancel , u will get a cat 6 certificate back ?

This is a good read , but credits should be given to Dans deal also for posting this idea first
https://www.dansdeals.com/points-travel/hotel-deals/hunting-marriott-getting-expensive-potentially-maximize-travel-certificates/

Platinum
Guest
Platinum

My post never posted. The Newport Coast Villas are NOT available to book for points at all from now until the end of their current calendar. They may be a good value on paper but if you can’t book with points, its not a good deal. Please check availability on these suggested hotels before you get a certificate in the hopes of using it for them.

Ben
Guest
Ben

Respectfully, this theory doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

You’ve never been able to “upgrade” a certificate by attaching it to a property in Category N, waiting for the property to be devalued to Category N+1, then un-attaching it. Even for us gamers, that would be a silly loophole.

Furthermore, their IT systems can clearly “remember” what category your certificate is, even after it’s un-attached from a property (in my example above, the certificate remains Category N). Worst case for Marriott: if the transition would somehow cause them to “forget” the category, they could sweep through their database beforehand and backup each certificate’s category in a big Excel file, then restore those categories afterwards (with whatever new category mapping they want).

Nick Reyes
Editor

The difference here is that these certificates are a very unique animal — and not only are the packages at these prices disappearing, the categories associated with them are as well. That’s a much more complicated change than you paid X points for a hotel in Category N that moved up to N +1. When you cancel that, you obviously get X points back. Or if you attached an XYZ Certificate to a hotel in Category N and later cancel when XYZ Certificates still exist, so you can just get one of those back. In this case, both XYZ Certificates and Category N are totally disappearing (in many instances).

Dealing with that appears to be a lot more difficult — and potentially a lot more confusing for agents (this is a new Cat 8 hotel. Is the certificate attached an old 9? Or a new 7? Does it become worth “up to 45K”, or does it bump up/down to a new 6? It’s hard to follow that as I typed it….getting all of the phone agents up to speed and communicating it to a wide range of customers in a way that’s clear is no small undertaking). Greg is hypothesizing that it could potentially be a lot easier to take this one small corner of the Marriott world and make it easy by cancelling and refunding unused ones and converting attached ones to match the hotel’s new category level.

Greg’s not saying that this is a definite or even most likely scenario — but it’s possible. I didn’t necessarily take the email he points to as a possible hint in the same way he did, but I can imagine a world where he could be right.

Tana
Guest
Tana

I agree with Ben – from an IT perspective this is a pretty simple mapping exercise in the database and then some rules written to accommodate the different scenarios – it should be pretty easy (although I hope their system is a little more robust than backing up to Excel). Nothing is disappearing from the database and they will still have a way to track old vs new, we as customers just will not be able to see them anymore. Personally I don’t think reissuing an attached cert (canceled after Aug 18) to the category of the currently booked hotel makes any sense either for the same reasons as Ben stated.
The problem is not on the IT end but what rules management wants to use on these certs, balancing out keeping folks whole with not losing too much money in the meantime. I am sure it helps to read all of the bloggers to get an idea of the different ways to game the system :). FYI – I bought a cat 1-5 cert and am just leaving it unattached since I mainly care about the airline points.

Ben
Guest
Ben

Have they said how they are going to handle a credit card free night that’s attached, then un-attached after the transition?

Hard to wrap my head around why they would treat travel package certs differently than credit card certs in this circumstance…

Evan
Guest
Evan

Greg, just wondering since you went for a 7 night package does that mean you think it is not worth trying for the 5 night packages? If I am able to get a rep to sell me the 5 night I am wondering if Marriott would somehow use the fact I am not a vacation club member against me in the future conversion.

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

Want some advice given my goals which are somewhat different. Currently I have an unattached cat 1-5 certificate and my ideal outcome would be to get points rather than nights so I could transfer many of them to Alaska Air and maybe book a night or two. Seven nights locked into one chain hotel to be used within a year or two would not be my top desire. Having said that, 7 nights free would be worth more than 45k transferable points. Seems that most people advise attaching nights through dummy bookings, but given the way I prefer transferable points how much riskier would that be? Should I do nothing or should I attach to a dummy booking to the Saigon Renaissance which I may visit in 18 months (but would prefer to stay in 4 nights rather than 7)? Thanks for any help.

Lora
Guest
Lora

Would love to go to the Domes of Elounda. When I tried to make a reservation I noticed there is no availability after Nov 31st until April 17th. I asked Marriott about it they said it is a seasonal location. Does anyone know?

rk123
Guest
rk123

Yes correct.

Trev
Guest
Trev

Can someone help me to understand if a 5 NIGHT STAY package with the MAX airline mileage redemption is any better than the 7 NIGHT STAY with MAX airline mileage redemption – if you have access to either? Thanks!

Rye
Guest
Rye

What do you think would happen if you attach a certificate now, find out how they handle unattached certificates then cancel it for points, if they go that route? I assume you can cancel these certs if you need to anyway.

Colleen Z
Guest
Colleen Z

I would like to use the 7 night certificate on a SPG resort. Any recommendations on the ability to attach to a hotel or these certificates are only going to be good for Marriott?

Josh
Guest
Josh

Just adding this here as a DP: I called on Saturday and the agent said her system was down to do the package upgrade (cancel and then re-issue higher certificate, apparently). She said she created a ticket and would follow up with me but haven’t heard anything. I called again today (wait time only 30 mins) and got this taken care of.

Josh
Guest
Josh

Two part:
1) So the Domes of Elounda must have opened up booking past November in the article Nick wrote last month?
“That said, why pay 60K in August when you could pay 45K today? Well, here’s why: because the hotel isn’t currently bookable beyond November 2018, so if you want to stay next year, you might end up being cornered into paying more”
https://frequentmiler.boardingarea.com/2018/06/29/book-these-now-top-properties-going-up-in-august/.

2) All in all, I really like your strategy Greg. I also attached my certificate to the Domes of Elounda for next June. Does this property have a lounge? 🙂

TheBigEasyTraveler
Guest
TheBigEasyTraveler

Nick or Greg. can travel packages be used to book St. Regis or any SPG yet?

Nick Reyes
Editor

No. The programs combine and the new award chart takes effect 8/18. You’ll be able to book them after that. Marriott has said that it might not be possible to make reservations that day — they are planning for those systems to go down for a bit. It’s anybody’s guess as to whether the outage is an hour, hours, or a day or more. But you won’t be able to book an SPG property with your Marriott points / travel packages until then.

TheBigEasyTraveler
Guest
TheBigEasyTraveler

Nick, thank you. Do you have any insight or thoughts into a product change with regard to travel certificates? Example, I book any category 9 hotel using certificate for use next year. Then I product change to another property.

Albert
Guest
Albert

Hi Greg/Nick, I’m looking to book a Cat 8 package in Oahu. Once I have attached my 7nt certificate with a property would it be possible to either switch it to another Marriott property that is currently not showing any availability OR switch my Marriott stay to let’s say the Sheraton Waikiki which will be the same category in the new program? Basically, am I stuck with the hotel that the certificates are initially attached to?

Thanks!

Darlene
Guest
Darlene

I would most likely use the certificate for a top tier SPG hotel in Europe next summer. Which hotel category would you recommend: 8 or 9?

I was thinking of using United because my miles stash needs a boost. I live in Hawaii so I usually fly on AA or United F or biz on a through ticket to Europe. I have plenty of AA miles. However, sometimes I have just flown to NY to be able to fly on a carrier that we can’t usually connect with like Emirates or Singapore Airlines. Is there any way in which using Alaska would be beneficial? I only ask because I could transfer UR pts to United and Alaska is harder to amass.

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[…] consider using it to book a hotel that will be going way up in award cost in the new program (see: Banking travel certificates for future luxury).  It’s unlikely, but there’s a chance that this will increase the value of your […]