What I Plan On Doing With Existing Marriott Travel Packages

On Saturday Marriott revealed how Travel Packages would transfer over to the new loyalty program. This category mapping left a lot of us quite disappointed:

The good news is that within a couple of days Marriott announced some positive developments with this:

  • You can start redeeming existing Travel Package certificates right away, rather than having to wait until September 18, 2018, as originally announced
  • If you booked a Category 6, Category 8, or Tier 1-3 Package, you can have your certificate exchanged for one category lower, and receive a points refund of 30,000 points (since you get nothing extra for being one category higher)
  • If you don’t want to use your seven night stay certificate, you can receive a 45,000 point refund in exchange for a Category 1-5 certificate (and if you have a higher category certificate, you receive 45,000 points plus the price difference between the package you booked and a Category 1-5 certificate)

So with this update, what do I plan on doing with my Travel Packages?

The Marriott Travel Packages I booked

As a reminder, here’s what Marriott’s old Travel Packages pricing looked like:

I ended up redeeming a total of 810,000 Marriott points for two packages:

  • I booked a Category 9 certificate for 390,000 points
  • I booked a Tier 1-3 certificate for 420,000 points

So, do I actually plan on making the corresponding stays associated with these, or do I plan on trading in the certificates for points? Let’s do some math:

Option #1: cheap airline miles, and nothing else

I redeemed a total of 810,000 Marriott points for 240,000 Alaska Airlines miles plus 14 nights worth of hotel stays. If I wanted to, I could get a total of 360,000 points refunded. That’s because I’d get 165,000 points refunded for my Category 9 certificate, and 195,000 points refunded for my Tier 1-3 certificate.

That means I would have in the end paid 450,000 Marriott points (the equivalent of 150,000 Starpoints) for 240,000 Alaska miles.

That’s 1.6 Alaska miles per Starpoint, and that’s a value I’m really happy with.

Option #2: what’s the real cost of staying 14 nights?

The above is the opportunity cost of redeeming the certificates for two stays. If I were to actually use these certificates I’d receive a 30,000 point refund on the Tier 1-3 certificate, meaning I’d be paying a total of 165,000 points per seven night stay, and those Category 9 certificates can be redeemed at new Category 6 hotels.

Okay, a seven night hotel stay sounds nice, though in reality I typically only really like to stay in one place for 4-5 nights, and Marriott offers a fifth night free on award redemptions. So I should apply some real discount to that stay, since it’s not something I’d typically do.

For the remainder of the year, a Category 6 hotel would cost 50,000 points per night, meaning a five night stay would cost me 200,000 points.

In other words, if I could find a Category 6 hotel that I wanted to spend five nights at, I’d otherwise spend 200,000, so I’d still come out ahead with my Travel Package certificate.

So, what does that mean for me?

Based on how I value things, redeeming the certificates would be worthwhile if I could find a Category 6 property that I actually wanted to spend five nights at. Certainly many of those properties exist, though the added wrinkle is that this year I will be really focused on redeeming at Category 7 properties, since Marriott’s top hotels will be bookable at that rate due to Category 8 hotels not being introduced until next year.

So for me the Travel Packages math goes beyond whether I can find a Category 6 hotel I want to stay at, but also takes into consideration that I’d prefer to redeem at a Category 7 property, while Category 8 is still priced that inexpensively.

If you can’t decide what to do, the good news is that you have until the certificate expires to decide whether or not you want to refund it.

I’m very fortunate to have a big balance of Marriott points, and I don’t need the points that I have held up in these certificates. So I think my plan is to wait for now and see what my travel plans look like.

If I end up making a stay in the next year a Category 6 property where redeeming points is a good value, I’ll use the certificate. If I don’t, I’ll just take the partial refund, and view it as a great deal on Alaska miles.

What’s your strategy in light of Marriott’s modified Travel Packages policy?

Comments

  1. Do you get a 5th night free on a Points+Cash booking?

    Also I don’t think TP’s are actually redeemable currently regardless of the message you got from Marriott PR. Wasted 2 hours on that last night.

  2. Do you have to cancel the existing reservation to get the 30k refund – I have an existing 7 night stay booked at a category 8 hotel which has just gone from 40k to 50k points in the new chart – if I can keep the reservation and get 30k back that would be great but if I have to book under new rates that might be worse?

  3. Lucky, A Marriott customer service supervisor today told me that soon all travel packages will be able to be upgraded using the prices under the NEW travel packages. For example, a new Cat 6 could be upgraded to a Cat 7 for 60,000 points. She said this was the intent all along it just hasn’t been announced until the software is fully programed. So it seems like good news and worth waiting to see when it is announced before asking for a points refund. Can you contact Marriott to get a confirmation of this?

  4. I cannot wait for this to all be resolved so I can stop seeing articles about Marriott travel packages. I don’t mean to be a pest, but man there are a lot of them

  5. I had a Cat 9 cert, and had attached it to Paris Marriott Champ Elysees. Now, that hotel is a Cat 7 under new chart, and I wouldn’t be able to book it with my Cat 9 cert if I had waited. So even with a Cat. 9 cert, my options among what were previously Cat 9 hotels is now more limited than it was before, and if I hadn’t booked in advance, would have been SOL.

  6. It would’ve make sense to get the 30k refund if you’re getting category 8 value when you paid for a category 8. I believe it’s only for those whose 8 dropped to 5, same as the 7. I have an 8 booked as well, but will have to cancel likely; hopefully I get my 30k.

  7. Lucky, didn’t you buy a cat 9 package? you correctly stated you spent 390,000 points. That’s how much the cat 9’s cost. I myself bought a cat 8 for 360,000 so i remember.

  8. I was going back and forth on this. Refund Tier 1-3 and the Cat 1-5 for 240k and go 4 nights for 60k each at a top tier before the points cost change or just hold and see if the 7 night certs make sense. I’m doing the same and holding them for now.

    My other problem now is AMEX sent 20k SPG points from a retention offer on the SPG personal to my old SPG number which had already been converted to the new Marriott number and merged with my old Marriott number. I have no idea where those points actually went at this point.

  9. Do we have to USE the certificate by the expiration date or just make a booking to use it before it expires?

  10. With the mapping and the max point value, can you cross categories? For example Cat 9 (old) is up to max 60k points per night which is up to a Peak Cat 6 (new), would I be also able to redeem for a standard Cat 7 (new)?

  11. @Justin I have the same problem. My SPG statement period ended on August 18, and my points are MIA. Nobody has explained what is happening with those points, whether they’ll post, whether we should wait to merge accounts until they have, etc.

  12. @ David — Nope, unfortunately you have to stay within the same category, even if the standard or off-peak pricing would otherwise allow it.

  13. Currently have Cat 8 attached to a hotel that became Cat 6, so keeping the reservation for now. Very disappointed that Cat 8 got mapped to Cat 5 though because all of Cat 8 hotels I’ve been considering became Cat 6.

  14. Lucky — Please ask them why we can’t upgrade these one category versus having to downgrade. They could have avoided all of this by publishing the conversion chart before last Saturday. Everyone could have gotten exactly what they wanted. They have no excuse for hiding the chart, so they should make do what they need to do to make this right.

  15. @Lucky- I went ahead and requested a points refund for cancelling 3 Tier 1-3 certificates as I just don’t see 7 nights becoming available and I would rather have the points to be flexible in booking 5 nights at Top end properties.

  16. I called Marriott multiple times yesterday and today with no luck of using the pre-8/18 7 night Cat 1-5 certificate for the upcoming trip next week. Everybody told me that they cannot do it until 9/18. Any tip for getting it nailed? Thanks,

  17. Do you have any advice for how to get the points refund for cancelling these certificates? I wrote in using the Contact form and they sent back a form letter that didn’t address my question at all.

  18. I’ve not seen any reports of successful attaching of these to any hotel since the announcement yesterday that we supposedly can.

    My attempt the agent could get Marriott properties to load though errors trying to attach them. SPG properties do not load at all, she said, ‘they are still downloading them’ and had been told by her superiors that it could take as long as the end of the week to have SPG in their system.

  19. Hard to worry about travel packages when they completely wiped out my account in the merger…. nothing in there but a single zero. Never had any stays, no stays in the future. Should be fun checking into Vegas this weekend….

  20. Hi Ben – have you heard of anyone having success with getting the 30k refund yet? Everyone seems to be just given the brush off by the Marriott CS team.

    Also I’ve not yet heard of anyone that’s successfully used a TP at an SPG property (which is what I’m looking to do) – any word when this might be possible?

    PS your save name/email box doesn’t seem to work consistently – I’ve just had to fill everything in again despite already doing so a day or two ago in this same browser – is it properly working across articles?

  21. Finally got a reply from Marriott Rewards about a refund or downgrade. Read it below and realize it is time to step up the heat on Marriott. FYI, multiple people posting on Flyer Talk about getting this same form letter.
    ______

    Thank you for contacting Marriott Customer Care regarding your travel package details.

    After further reviewing your account, I see that your certificate is not attached to your reservation. Any certificates that were not attached prior to August 17, 2018 will not be honored. There will be no adjustment of points for the category changes, and you will need to book at the points rate for the new category. There will be a month long black out period ending mid September, where you will be unable to access your certificates. Once access to use them are restored, guests will have the ability to book reservations through http://www.marriott.com.

    We appreciate your patience during this time. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any further questions or concerns.
    Safe travels,

    Jeffrey Robinson
    Marriott Customer Care

  22. Hi Lucky,

    My major goal is to extend two 7 night old 1-6 certificates for later use instead of their current October 31 and March 31 expiration. Absolutely ideal would be end of August 2019 and mid September 2019. The desired hotel , Starwood legacy tends to be open for award bookings up to about 350 days in advance, suggesting that I could book this a month from now, if Marriott doesn’t change their rules between now and then.

    Is my best course to wait till then and ask for 30000 point refund on each certificate as well as an extension to allow those stays?

    is It correct to say that no automatic extensions are being granted for all certificates, but that I get a one year extension at the time that I request the 30000 points back? That this can be done at the time of requesting the 30000 points back, which can be at any time as long as it is prior to the certificate expiry? Is any of this ever put in writing by Marriott anywhere, or do they announce changes through rumors that they don’t share even with their senior representatives?

    I am also wondering about possibly extending (or refunding for points would be just as good) Canadian credit card certificates, one for a now defunct chase card, and two for Amex spg cards — might that be possible?

    Finally I have bigger personal issues with respect to the number of stays that I have year to date, past gold and platinum years and whether they count chase credit card years, etc. Who do I contact about such matters?

    Thank you

  23. Lucky- please be careful what you tell your readers, billing it as “gospel” info.

    Marriott are NOT going back on the “you cannot use certs or do anything with them until Sep 18” was on hold for an hour and insisted on different agents and supervisors. That is still the case.

  24. Its a stupid insulting standard response they are giving out. I asked them to cancel for points refund my Tier 1-3 certificate and they emailed me the same response. Just ridiculous.

  25. @Andy Marriott-run insiders website reported the same thing so I’d blame Marriott for poor internal comms rather than Lucky.

  26. Lucky, thank you for sharing your math and perspective.

    I was unsure of what to do myself, and hearing your thought process has helped me figure out how to approach the problem for my own preferences and upcoming travel. I haven’t decided what to do yet, but now I feel confident in making a decision when the time comes.

    I especially appreciate the though that I should discount the value of a 7 night stay, because just like you, I wouldn’t normally stay 7 nights at the same place. I’d much prefer 3-4 nights in one place and 3-4 nights in another than 7 in a row.

  27. There were posts (on this blog I thought) that indicated that the hotel portion could now be booked, well before the original 9/18 date. I’ve tried to book several times, and finally had someone explain that they are not bookable until 9/22. Is there a way to book them?

  28. Hey Lucky!

    Could you please update the status of when can we apply hotel certificate of old marriott package to SPG hotel?

    I called both marriott and spg to apply my 7 nights (up to 25,000 per night) to spg hotel, Marriott side told me they cannot book spg hotel for me and spg side told me they cannot see the 7 night certificate.

    Thanks for your time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *