Marriott Bonvoy is later today moving to “flexible” awards (read devaluation) and has rolled out some updates to its program Terms and Conditions (T&Cs).
Marriott no longer calls its redemptions “Free Night Awards” (hint, they are not often FREE but come with junk fees), and there are new “Gifted Award Stays.”
You can access Marriott’s page for program T&Cs here.
READ MORE: Marriott Bonvoy Rate & Bonus Points Offers
Here are the significant changes:
1. Free Night Award
Marriott no longer calls redemption “Free Night Award” but instead Award Redemption Stays. The change is likely because Marriott awards, unlike Hyatt and Hilton, are not often free, but there can be loaded with junk charges such as Resort and Destination Fees.
Marriott then has made the following T&Cs changes to the rules governing All Inclusive Awards, but they likely apply to other types too.
2. Gifted Award Stays
Marriott has introduced new wording for T&Cs that deals with awards that a member gifts to others. I have not seen these covered by the program rules previously.
Gifted Award Redemption Stays (Third Party Transfers). Award Redemption Stays are valid only for use by the Member from whose Account the Award Redemption Stay was processed and are not transferable, except as set forth below:
A Member may request an Award Redemption Stay to be issued to another person and where the Member will not be present for the stay (each such stay, a “Gifted Award Redemption Stay” and, collectively, “Gifted Award Redemption Stays”), only when booking the Award Redemption Stay reservation through Member Support. All Award Redemption Stay Types listed under Section 3.3 of the Programme Rules are eligible to be gifted to another person, except for Free Night Awards.
A Member may book a maximum of five (5) Gifted Award Redemption Stays in a calendar year on a single Membership Account.
When booking a Gifted Award Redemption Stay reservation, a Member must provide to Member Support their Membership Number and name, as well as the name of the person who will be staying at the Participating Property (the recipient). Both names and the Member’s Membership Number must be provided to Member Support at time of booking the Gifted Award Redemption Stay and cannot be modified once booked. A Member cannot make an Award Redemption Stay reservation first and then contact Member Support or the All-Inclusive Resort directly to gift or otherwise transfer the Award Redemption Stay to another person. If a Member needs to make a change to an Award Redemption Stay reservation, the reservation will need to be cancelled and a new reservation booked (if available) through Member Support, and the Member is responsible for the changes to the Points or cash, as applicable, required to book a new reservation.
With a Gifted Award Redemption Stay neither the Member nor the recipient will earn any Points/Miles, Elite Night Credit, Qualifying Nights, or Qualifying Stays in connection with such Gifted Award Redemption Stay. In addition, the recipient on the Gifted Award Redemption Stay will not receive the transfer of any Elite benefits associated with the Member’s Account.
At check-in, the recipient of the Gifted Award Redemption Stay must show valid identification and provide a credit card or cash deposit to the All-Inclusive Resort for incidental charges.
Members can gift up to FIVE AWARD stays per year to third parties.
It does make sense to stop calling redemptions Free Night Awards when you sometimes need to pay $50 to $100 in various junk fees at high-end resorts or destinations.
Not sure why to limit the award gifting to five stays per year, although the majority only redeem only for themselves? I have never redeemed for a third party.