Last week John wrote about the new feature Marriott introduced, namely the ability to add a certain amount of points to a capped award certificate in order to book higher value properties.
As I had a couple of different certificates in my account I decided to use one of them for an upcoming stay in Seattle where prices are almost $300/night and the property was priced 41,000 points.
These certificates are given out for a range of reasons, most prominent are the annual free nights for the Bonvoy credit cards but also the 75 night milestone certificates and those for new member enrolments.
The biggest issue especially as Marriott just moved to flexible pricing was that these certificates were often eliminated in use as soon as a property crossed the designated 35,000 / 40,000 / 50,000 points threshold and you could not supplement with your points balance to the required price.
Now with the change Marriott Bonvoy implemented customers with such certificates can top off the certificate with up to 15,000 points which brings real premium properties into range of being used with these certs.
Here is Johns article from last week about the change:
These were most welcome news as the situation has frustrated many members seeking to use their certificates but who were suddenly prohibited from booking an award night because due to the flexible pricing they were now a few thousand points over the allowed limit for the category.
Here is what I booked at the W Seattle:
I decided it’s a good idea to use my 40K certificate for this stay that I selected last year as my 75 Night Elite Choice and this is a very decent value.
For this reservation I was charged 1,000 points extra:
The $2 must be some sort of local tax in Seattle. I will ask the front desk about this. I also took the opportunity to apply one of my Suite Night Awards and have selected the WOW Suite. Let’s see if this will be confirmed, I won’t hold my breath for that to happen.
I’m happy with this redemption. While one could always argue that it’s possible to push the use of these certs to the limit and find a high-value destination, I rarely visit those and I’m not traveling half way around the world just to get the maximum value out of my certificates. Using it for this particular stay ahead of my cruise saves me ~ $250 cash which is the lowest I’ve found for a decent hotel that night.
One has to remember though that this issue with the new flexible pricing and award certificate is homemade. Hyatt for example allows you to book a Category 4 property with their certificates regardless of the pricing being 15,000 (regular) or 18,000 (peak) and I did just that last weekend in Los Angeles.
It was about time Marriott tackled this problem and members can use their certificates more freely now, even way beyond the original category. I want to use the 50k certificate from my Bonvoy Brilliant card at the Luxury Collection Josun Palace in Seoul and as it looks like right now I’ll have to pay another 12-15k on top which I think will be worth it to try once.
Good to see that this worked very well and just as intended. I wonder why Marriott wouldn’t just allow members to top up the award with any amount of points rather than 15k. What is so magical about this number?