Marriott response: Extended certs, upgrades, flexible cancellations

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Marriott has updated its COVID-19 / coronavirus cancellation policies and made some really positive changes for members, making new and existing bookings more flexible while also extending the shelf-life of free night certificates, suite upgrade awards, and more. Note that even existing advance purchase reservations can now be canceled, so if you’re holding a reservation you need to cancel but thought you couldn’t, you may be in luck.

Flexible cancellations

Update: The included dates below have been updated to reflect the new policy as of 3/30/20.

Marriott has made the following changes to improve the cancellation policy on all bookings:

  • Reservations for arrival through June 30 can be cancelled up to 24 hours prior to arrival. While most hotels have a 72-hour cancellation window, this could be huge for some properties with more restriction cancellation policies.
  • All new reservations made by June 30 can be cancelled up to 24 hours prior to arrival regardless of travel date. That’s a decent incentive to book future travel, especially at properties which traditionally have those 14-day, 30-day, or 45-day cancellation windows.

The former bullet point is nice peace of mind for those folks whose plans are up in the air and the second point is a good way to drive new business — both are good for consumers.

The wording from the announcement clearly stipulates that even existing advance purchase reservations will qualify for cancellation. It is less explicit about new reservations at the advance purchase rate. It doesn’t say that those won’t be covered under the new 24hr cancellation window – it’s a little unclear to me. Further, this new 24hr cancellation window is not reflected on the booking page of hotels as far as I’ve seen. Here is the text from the announcement for your reference — I recommend saving screen shots from that announcement page for the sake of your new reservations.

Given the impact of COVID-19 on how we work, socialize and travel, we have been adapting our cancellation policy over the past several weeks to the evolving nature of this epidemic. Today, we are updating our policy to provide our customers the most flexibility we can offer during these challenging times. Generally speaking, for guests with existing individual reservations, including reservations with pre-paid rates that are typically more restrictive, we will allow changes or cancellation without a charge up to 24 hours prior to arrival as long as the change or cancellation is made by April 30, 2020. For guests making new individual reservations between today and April 30, 2020, we will allow those reservations to be changed or cancelled at no charge up to 24 hours before a guest’s scheduled arrival date. Please visit our website for the most up-to-date information and for additional details about availability and exclusions.

Extended points, suite nights, and free night certificates

Marriott has additionally announced that Marriott Bonvoy points will not expire until August 31, 2020 (though hopefully most readers have easy access to keep those alive well beyond that date).

Furthermore, Suite Night Awards set to expire on December 31, 2020 (i.e. those earned last year as 50-night or 75-night choice benefits) will not expire until December 31, 2021. Additionally, free night certificates — including annual credit card free night certificatesannual choice benefit certificates, and travel package certificates that were scheduled to expire in 2020 will be extended to January 31, 2021. That’s not a huge extension for those whose certificates were due to expire on December 31st of this year (since this extension would only represent an extra month), but it’s a great deal for those with certificates that were set to expire in the next month or two (especially given the likelihood that most are pausing travel plans during this time). Note that my certificates do not yet reflect this new expiration date: I expect it will take weeks or months to fix all of that in the computer if it ever happens, so keep an eye on your certificates and screen shots of everything.

Update 4/8/20: Marriott has advised the following:

Members who have active Free Night Awards or The Ritz-Carlton Club Level Upgrade E-Certificates (where available) as part of a credit card benefit, 75-Night Annual Choice Benefit, Promotion or Travel Package, and have an expiration date of March 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020, will be extended through January 31, 2021.

Our System will automatically complete these updates. You will see updates in your Account on marriott.com by the end of April 2020. You do not need to take any action. I regret the inconvenience this delay may cause.

Again, this is a net win for those who were struggling to find a use in the near-term for these certificates. The extension of suite night awards until the end of 2021 could mean the chance to stack them on a longer stay if you qualify for more this year.

On that note, we do not yet have any news as to Marriott’s adjusted elite status requirements for 2020, but I think it is likely that we will see them follow suit with their competitors and reduce requirements to some degree. IHG announced changes yesterday and Hilton and Hyatt’s websites both indicate that they will make adjustments to elite status qualification requirements but that it is too early to say what those adjustments will be. Still, I expect we’ll see reductions across the board.

Hopefully by the latter half of this year the landscape will change for the better. For now, these are some decent changes from Marriott.

H/T: View from the Wing

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Rajarshi
Guest
Rajarshi

Where is the notice for the extension of the expiry dates of free night certificates? I could not find it.

Greg The Frequent Miler
Admin

It’s in the section titled “ FOR OUR MARRIOTT BONVOY MEMBERS”

YoniPDX
Guest
YoniPDX

They really should roll back all of the 2019 devaluation’s –

kinda of crazy that its taken Marriott so long to send out a COVID19 email have been getting emails from so many different companies (besides Travel/Tourism categories).

Nun
Guest
Nun

Maybe we’ll see some “off peak” pricing, but I doubt they will undo what you want.

Sophia
Guest
Sophia

Awesome!

Gwen
Guest
Gwen

Ok – that solves and issue with one reservation I had , now I just need IHG to extend their certificates.

Jennifer
Guest
Jennifer

I called yesterday and they said no way, no how. Anyone else had luck with IHG certificate from credit card? Mine expires in about a week, and it’s the last unrestricted category one.

Matt
Guest
Matt

This past Sunday I was able to get my wife’s and my last uncapped IHG certificates extended by a year after mentioning the virus concern. It took about an hour on the phone and went through 2 reps and then a reward program supervisor to get it done. I was told it could not be done multiple times, even by the supervisor who eventually did it. I was kind but persistent. I already used it to rebook our Kimpton Seafire reservation for later in the year, so it works. It can be done.

Billy Bob
Guest
Billy Bob

Love those pullet points, especially on the grill

edman
Guest
edman

I have a quick clarification regarding nomenclature. Do the extended “free night awards” Include my 7 night travel package? This may be obvious to most, but I figure better safe than sorry. Thanks!

Bil
Guest
Bil

What about newly made points reservations? Some of them normally have a 30-day cancellation policy.

FF78
Guest
FF78

day late and a dollar short. After 2000+ nights with Marriott, stopped staying with them earlier this year and already have 30 nights with hyatt. not going back anytime soon. After the constant devaluations, it must have killed Arne to update these policies (probably why it took Marriott so long to send them).

bill
Guest
bill

Tonight, after this waiver was posted, I cancelled an award reservation which was already within the cancellation window (I think 14 days) but several days away from arrival, so it should have qualified for the new waiver. The page prompting me to confirm cancellation said I would be refunded 60,000 points, but the next page after cancellation said a cancellation fee applied and didn’t refund me the points. Should I send an e-mail, call Marriott, or contact the hotel directly?

Ethan
Guest
Ethan

Wow, that’s great news on the Marriott annual free night cert. extension! Thanks for that news Nick! Any idea the other hotel chains will follow suit?

trackback

[…] to its cancellation policies and has extended free night certificates and choice benefits. See this post for full details, but here is a brief […]

toomanybooks
Guest
toomanybooks

“…annual credit card free night certificates, annual choice benefit certificates, and travel package certificates that were scheduled to expire in 2020 will be extended to January 31, 2021”

Maybe I missed it, but will this be 100% automatic, or do we have to request it? Would that vary by status?

Marriott is going to learn that Bonvoying its customers during the good times has consequences in the bad times and after. Come over to Hyatt, everybody!

trackback

[…] not worth it if you’re not traveling anywhere and so can’t use them. They’ve been extending the expiry dates of existing certificates, but there’s (understandably) no knowing right now whether newly earned certificates will […]

Concerned father or thebride
Guest
Concerned father or thebride

My family has blocked 20 rooms for a wedding at the beginning of august 2020.
This is in the San Francisco bay area.
We have read the contract about the cancellation policy

The clause IMPOSSIBILITY says we can cancel for full refund because of disasters of coarse the ? Is — is covid 19 a disaster
We have not decided yet to cancel this event.
We hope to still have the event, but may need to reschedule or cancel.
Let me know your answer
Thank you