Marriott Travel Packages expiring again? Here’s what to do

9
Koloa Landing Resort at Poipu, Autograph Collection.  I used one of my 7 night certificates here last summer.  Read about my experience here.

Background

In the summer of 2018, many of us bought Marriott travel packages before it was too late. Prior to the Marriott/SPG merger, travel packages were a great deal. As a reminder, a Marriott Travel Package is a way to use Marriott points to purchase a travel bundle: you exchange Marriott points for both a set number of airline miles plus a 7 night Marriott stay certificate. In the old program, it often made sense to purchase a travel package even if you were only interested in the airline miles. At the time, you could return the stay certificate for a modest number of Marriott points and you would end up with a pretty terrific exchange rate from Marriott points to airline miles.

For the purpose of this post, let’s call the pre-merger program Marriott Rewards, and the post-merger program Marriott Bonvoy. That way, we can refer to the old travel packages as Marriott Rewards packages, and the post-merger packages as Bonvoy packages.

In the months leading up to the Marriott SPG merger, some of us speculated that the value of the Marriott Rewards stay certificates would increase. We knew that old program categories were impossible to map one to one to new program categories, so there was potential for big wins. I personally wrote maybe a half dozen posts speculating on what would happen and suggesting which category hotel packages were the best bets for big wins.

When the new Marriott Rewards to Marriott Bonvoy travel package mappings were announced, we were bitterly disappointed. Not only didn’t we win big, but many certificate holders seemed to lose. If you had bought a a Category 6, 8, Ritz Tier 1-3 package, you had made a bad bet since those packages mapped to the same Bonvoy categories as the one-level-cheaper Rewards categories. For example, both category 1-5 and category 6 Marriott Rewards stay certificates became Bonvoy category 1-4 certificates.

Fortunately, Marriott stepped back from that initial position and allowed Rewards category 6, 8, and Ritz Tier 1-3 certificate holders to request a one time 30K points refund. This brought their net cost down to the next lower level. So we ended up with a fair mapping where most certificate owners came out even when comparing point values in the Marriott Rewards program to point values in the Bonvoy program at standard rates (as opposed to peak or off-peak rates):

As you can see above, those who bought category 1-5 Marriott Rewards packages can still use their certificates for hotels priced standard at 25K, just as they could before. And, now that peak pricing has kicked in, it is possible to use those same certificates during peak pricing dates. So, arguably, the package has increased in value slightly. The same is true for Marriott Rewards category 7 packages. Category 9 comes out slightly ahead even compared to standard rates since category 9 was previously good for only up to 45K points per night, but it’s now good for 50K points per night hotels. Ritz Tier 4-5 package owners didn’t fair as well since the old package covered stays up to 70K points per night whereas the Bonvoy equivalent covers stays worth only 60K points per night at standard rates. If you book during peak pricing, though, you’ll come out even.

Expiring again. What to do.

If you bought a Marriott Rewards travel package in 2018 and you haven’t yet used it, then that means that your certificate was extended in 2019 (since they expire after 12 months if not extended).  You may have accomplished this by calling to convert your old style certificate to a new one as I explained last year in this post: Marriott travel packages expiring soon. What to do.

Now, you may once again be looking down the road at the next expiry date with no good plans for using your certificate.  If so, consider these options:

Call to ask for an extension

retention call

A simple way to extend the expiration date of your certificate is to call Bonvoy (here’s a trick for getting through to a person quickly) to ask them to convert the certificate from an old Rewards certificate to a new Bonvoy certificate. If you’re super lucky you’ll get an agent willing to extend it without trouble.

One reader named Darlene let me know that she called and was offered the option to extend her certificate without any argument.  That’s the best case.

I had almost as much luck as Darlene.  In my case, the agent I spoke with initially said that the certificate couldn’t be extended because it had been extended before.  Without prompting, though, the agent offered to speak to her supervisor.  She got back on the line within a few minutes and said it was done.  My certificate had been extended!

A reader named Mark reports that he was initially told no because he had previously extended his certificate (despite having been previously told that he would be able to extend it again).  He got the problem resolved though.  Here’s the resolution in his words:

As a lifetime Titanium member I was annoyed with the conflicting information I had received and was referred to the home office where I left a message for David Flueck, the head of Bonvoy loyalty. He had someone call me back immediately and I explained the situation. She called me back and said they would make a one time(and last) exception for me and extended it one more year.

Based on the above three data points, it seems that Marriott’s explicit policy is that the package certificates can be extended only once, but that it’s possible (and sometimes easy) to get it extended again.

Refund for points

If you originally bought an old-style Marriott Rewards stay certificate, you should be able to request a points refund according to the chart above. For example, if you refund a Bonvoy category 6 certificate (old style category 9), you should get 165,000 points back. If you wanted to use those points at a Bonvoy category 6 hotel (50K per night, standard), you’d only be able to stay 3 nights. However, if you used them at a category 5 hotel (35K points per night), you’d be able to stay 5 nights thanks to Marriott’s 5th Night Free awards. Plus, you’d have 25K points left over which is almost enough for a 6th night. In short, points are much more flexible, but also less valuable than an ideal use of a stay certificate.

You can find your certificates under the Activity tab when signed into your Marriott Bonvoy account.

Refunding for points might not be easy

It’s likely that when you call to ask for a points refund you’ll be told no or offered an insultingly small number of points.  This is because the new Bonvoy Travel Packages don’t allow refunds at the rates that were previously offered.  However, if you had bought the old style Marriott Rewards package, you should still be eligible for a points refund.  The hard part is finding someone who understands that and is able to help.  If you’re in that situation, read this post from Dan’s Deals to see how he got it done: Marriott Travel Packages Haven’t Been #Bonvoyed Again, But Good Luck Finding Someone That Knows That.

Bottom Line

If you bought an old style Marriott Rewards travel package and you still have the associated 7 night certificate (or 5 night certificate if you bought the type available to timeshare owners), then you have a few options for making sure you still get value from the certificate.  Obviously, you can try to use the certificate before it expires.  But if that doesn’t work for you, you can try getting the certificate extended or refunded for points.  I think that the former is both easier to accomplish and offers better potential value.  But if you’re sure you won’t need a 7 night stay anytime in the next year, a points refund is the way to go… if you can convince Marriott to give you the points you deserve.

Personally, I wasn’t sure whether I’d really be able to renew my certificate which had a July expiration date, so I decided to call to get it extended.  The downside of doing so now was that I now only have until February 2021 to use my stay certificate and there’s no guarantee that they’ll be willing to extend it again.  If I had waited until July to call, I would have had until July 2021 to use the certificate.  But I didn’t know at the time that the extension was possible, so I called to check.  If they were unwilling to extend it, I had a backup plan ready.  I had a points reservation ready to go if I needed it, but I preferred to keep my certificate for later.  Fortunately, it wasn’t necessary to go with the backup plan.  Now I’m hoping that I’ll find a great use for my certificate before having to roll the dice on another extension next year!

P.S. If you plan to use your certificate on a property that will be going up a category on March 4th, you’ll want to attach the certificate your reservation prior to that change over.  See: Making a game plan for the Marriott devaluation.

Email:*
Please enter all required fields Click to hide
Correct invalid entries Click to hide

9
Leave a Reply

avatar
5 Comment threads
4 Thread replies
9 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
8 Comment authors
Joel T. BellRoger Tandywise2uMarc VeverkaNorman Cabanilla Recent comment authors

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  Subscribe  
Notify of
Kijo
Guest
Kijo

Last week I used my pre-Bonvoy 7-night package at a Residence Inn for an upcoming trip. For some reason my credit card was charged $337.50 as “Marriott Travel Pkg”. It went through as a charge. I called Marriott and they said that they never charged me. Had to file a dispute with my credit card company. Just one more bad experience with Marriott. Dealing with them over the past couple of years has been exhausting. It seems that just about every contact with them generates a problem that requires multiple follow ups. I now avoid Marriott properties whenever possible.

bluecat
Guest
bluecat

If a hotel that you have already booked with a 7-night certificate goes UP in category (and will be “above” the certificate’s category when you stay there), will Marriott try to renege on the booking somehow? Or try to charge more? Anyone know?

Nick Reyes
Editor

They shouldn’t.

I say it that way because:

1) They haven’t pulled that move in the past. I stayed at Domes of Elounda last year on a 7-night cert. I had an old Marriott Rewards Cat 9 cert (the old Cat 9 was 45,000 points per night). That property went up to Cat 8 (85,000 points per night) after I booked it. Because I had attached the certificate before it changed in category, nothing changed. My stay was great.

2) We’ve previously reported on some sort of glitch where Marriott’s booking system is cancelling and then re-booking reservations on people. Is it possible that this could happen and cause a problem? Maybe. I’d think you could get it resolved, but I couldn’t leave this out of the answer:

https://frequentmiler.boardingarea.com/like-a-thief-in-the-night-watch-out-for-marriotts-latest-naughtiness/

3) Human error can also be an issue. If you read the post Greg linked to from Dan’s Deals, in a nutshell Dan had booked several sets of dates at his intended hotel and attached a 7-night cert to one of them. He called to cancel the dates he no longer needed (but keep the 7-night cert reservation). The agent accidentally canceled his 7-night cert stay. Since there was no longer award availability, Marriott couldn’t re-book it. They weren’t able to get the property to honor it I guess. So there’s always that possibility, too.

But yes, in theory, the 7-night reservation should stick even if the property goes up in category.

bluecat
Guest
bluecat

Thanks, Nick. After some back and forth with Marriott, I did get something in writing from them, so I guess I’ve got something to show them if the booking goes south on me.

Norman Cabanilla
Guest
Norman Cabanilla

I tried to get my certificate extended a second time in Nov 2019. Went through 3 different reps and each said it couldn’t be extended again. I hate Marriott!

Marc Veverka
Guest
Marc Veverka

Same thing happened to me in January. No extension given.

Joel T. Bell
Guest
Joel T. Bell

I just got my 2nd extension back in January and won’t press my luck again. They essentially cancelled my cert and reissued it good for 12 months from the date of the transaction.

wise2u
Guest
wise2u

I had 2, 7 day certs that expired in Feb, and 2 that expire in Aug,…extended each once. Then 2019 my Marriott cat 1-5 certs were changed to Bonvoy 1-4 and extended again. Used one Feb cert for business stay last week, gave the other to my brother, just to see it used….so now I have until march 4th to come up with plans for the other 2 weeks. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem but due to category changes the only Hawaiian hotel covered is in Kona and that is the only destination we visit for 2 weeks at a time….we have so many better alternatives for vacations these certs are real bottom of the barrel now…..to make things worse we also have 2 single day cc certs up to 25k that expire the end of the month and a 35k that expires in Aug…and my Plat status dies the end of this month….my best play now seems to convince a family member to join us for a week in a city (and surroundings) we have yet to explore, just to use the long ones up. I have found good value with residence inns with their free breakfast and 3 times weekly social hours. I also like the kitchens and separate bedroom setup…I haven’t seen one yet that charged for parking and I doubt any will become category 5 (but I take nothing for granted with Bonvoy)….after reading this post I will try and call to get an extension on anything I can, but am less than optimistic….sheesh who would’ve thought that too many free night certs with Mariott would be a problem, and it would come down to throwing them away unused ,or 5k points (basically the same thing), giving then away, or using them for a mediocre vacation.

Roger Tandy
Guest
Roger Tandy

Hopefully this helps some of y’all trying to extend your 7 night package. I called in January trying to extend mine and was told that it couldn’t be extended.I asked if there was anything she could do to help me. She told me that if there was a medical reason for not being able to use it she could. I said well my wife was sick several times last year with bad cases of bronchitis. She said hold on. Came back a few minutes later (presumably after speaking to a supervisor) and said that it was taken care of. I’m not usually an advocate for lying or stretching the truth, but the way we’ve been getting bonvoyed, I’m not quite as bothered by it. Good luck!!