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Marriott Bonvoy Eliminates Air & Hotel Travel Packages (Generous Refunds)

As we had first learned last week, Marriott Bonvoy has now eliminated the Air & Hotel Travel Packages as of January 19, 2022, and has communicated a few updates for holders of existing travel packages.

What Are Marriott Air & Hotel Travel Packages?

In the years leading up to their purge, Air & Hotel Travel Packages had served a fairly niche role in the overall Marriott Bonvoy strategy. 

Bonvoy points can be redeemed for free hotel nights, and can also be transferred to 40+ airline partners at an optimal ratio of 60,000 points = 25,000 miles for a good value too. 

Indeed, Marriott Bonvoy is often considered a useful program for earning miles with airline loyalty programs that are otherwise hard to access, like Asiana Club, JAL Mileage Bank, or Korean Air SKYPASS.

The Air & Hotel Travel Packages offered some savings when you’re planning to redeem Bonvoy points for both a seven-night hotel stay and a handsome sum of airline miles.

The reward chart looked as follows:

As you can see, you were able to trade in a given number of Bonvoy points for a voucher for a consecutive seven-night stay at a given hotel category, plus 50,000 or 100,000 airline miles in the program of your choosing (or 55,000 or 110,000 miles in the case of United MileagePlus). 

This is a one-time transaction that can’t be reversed; you earn both the seven-night hotel package and the airline miles at the time of the transaction, and you typically have one year to redeem the hotel certificate for a seven-night stay. 

For example, let’s say you wanted to book a seven-night stay at a Category 5 property, and convert 240,000 Bonvoy points into 100,000 airline miles. 

Ordinarily, the seven-night hotel stay would cost you 35,000 × 6 = 210,000 Bonvoy points, factoring in the Fifth Night Free benefit. Adding the 240,000 Bonvoy points, both transactions in total would cost you 450,000 Bonvoy points.

Instead, you could redeem 390,000 Bonvoy points for a Category 5 seven-night certificate plus 100,000 airline miles, thus saving yourself a considerable sum of 60,000 Bonvoy points.

You’d even unlock greater savings if you happened to plan your hotel stay during peak dates. The seven-night Category 5 hotel stay would cost you 40,000 × 6 = 240,000 Bonvoy points, plus 240,000 points for the airline transfer for a total of 480,000 points. 

By using 390,000 points for the travel package instead, you’re unlocking a very respectable savings of 90,000 points.

The Final Chapter for an All-Time Great Deal

While the elimination of Air & Hotel Travel Packages wasn’t too much to get worked up about because of the limited value in the first place, it did represent a sad ending for a favourite sweet spot among Marriott loyalists who have been around from a few years ago. 

The words “Marriott travel packages” will surely bring about fond memories for anyone who’s been in the game since 2018, the days of the Marriott & Starwood merger, before “Bonvoy” was ever a thing. 

Under the old program, these air and hotel packages were extremely favourably priced. Combined with the ease of earning of Starwood’s SPG Starpoints at the time, and those were some very pleasant days of converting 180,000 Amex MR points into 270,000 Marriott points and then into a seven-night hotel stay plus 120,000 airline miles. 

Indeed, I myself had kept a seven-night hotel certificate from all the way back in 2018 still active in my Marriott Bonvoy account, mostly because of the program’s continued extension of Free Night Awards through the pandemic.

What Will Happen to Existing Hotel Certificates?

At the same time as eliminating Air & Hotel Travel Packages on January 19, 2022, Marriott Bonvoy has communicated a few policies around existing seven-night hotel certificates that are sitting in members’ accounts.

If you attach a certificate to an upcoming reservation, it’ll continue to be honoured as usual, as long as the reservation is booked by February 28, 2022 (even if the stay takes place after that).

From March 1, 2022 onwards (which is presumably the official date that the move to dynamic pricing and the elimination of hotel categories kicks in), the hotel certificates associated with Air & Hotel Travel Packages will no longer be valid. 

Any unattached certificates as of this date will be refunded to Bonvoy members in the form of Marriott Bonvoy points, as will any certificates that are detached from a reservation after this date.

How is the refund calculated? Well, for once, Marriott Bonvoy is being fairly generous with their policies here. The points returned to members’ accounts will be the current peak pricing amount of the certificate’s maximum category, multiplied by the number of nights. 

This means that if you currently have a seven-night certificate at a Category 4 hotel sitting in your Bonvoy account, you’ll receive a refund of 30,000 × 7 = 210,000 Bonvoy points.

This is certainly among the more generous ways that Marriott Bonvoy could’ve dealt with this situation, and I, for one, am quite pleased with this outcome.

I’ll obviously prefer to take the 210,000 Bonvoy points over a rather inflexible certificate that must be used for a seven-night consecutive stay at a rather limited selection of Category 4 properties with a June 2022 expiry date.

(This also means that I made out quite handsomely on my Air & Hotel Travel Package back in 2018. Back then, I had exchanged 270,000 Marriott Rewards points for 120,000 Alaska miles plus this seven-night certificate, which means that I’ve effectively traded in 60,000 Marriott points for 120,000 Alaska miles. Knowing what we know now, I really wish I had kept more of these hotel certificates around!) 

It’s of course still disappointing that the refunded points will only be redeemable in a new era of dynamic pricing, and I’ll absolutely be looking to maximize their value during the rest of 2022, when ~97% of properties will remain at their current levels. 

Conclusion

Marriott has eliminated the Air & Hotel Travel Packages as of this week. These redemptions haven’t offered too much value for a while, so their loss isn’t much to lament; instead, it’s simply another sign that Marriott’s focus appears to be on stripping value away from the loyalty program rather than adding to it. 

At the very least, holders of existing hotel certificates from the Air & Hotel Travel Packages will be refunded on a rather generous basis when the hotel category system goes away as of March 1, 2022. 

18 Comments
  1. Steinberg

    I called and got same answer for getting backing only 45k in points only. I don’t understand this. Although it is clearly indicated in the FAQ for certificate refund point value but can they ignore that? What to do?

  2. Roy Loius

    Are you sure on the conversion rate of the old packages? I have talked to 3 reps and each say they will only return 45k on the older converted packages. New to site – really nice!

    1. Ricky YVR

      Marriott says so themselves at the FAQ page that’s linked in the article.

      1. Roy Loius

        thank you – I did not even notice the links in your post

  3. Shawn

    What happens to those ‘up to 35,000’ certs issues by amex and others?

    1. Ricky YVR

      Those remain at 35,000 points, and we’ll soon have the ability to top-up Free Night Awards by up to 15,000 points.

  4. Jules

    Oh how I miss the Travel packages for the 5-night Certs and a 100k airline miles which were supposedly only for time share members but I never had any trouble obtaining them when asking nicely.
    Out of curiosity, how do you have 75-night cert that expires 31-Dec-2023?
    Although I already used the one I earned in 2021, I believe it had an expiry date of 31-Dec-2022. Also its not mathematically possible to have requalified for Titanium and to have earned 75 night cert this calendar year.

    1. Ricky YVR

      Careful, some members reported that they’ve had Bonvoy accounts audited and ineligible five-night certificates cancelled.

      I picked my Choice Benefit after January 1, 2022, which resulted in an expiry date of December 21, 2023.

    2. Jules

      correction: 5 night Cert and 120k airline miles

  5. DenB® YTO

    You’re right, Ricky. You’re not the only one with a legacy 7-nighter. Mine’s Cat5 and I’m only interested in redeeming it in Asia. Good luck with that. Sigh…

    1. DenB® YTO

      This is news I can use! PoT’s update today, about refund values, warm the cockles of my heart. My Cat5 7-nighter (renewed about 27 times since issued in 1935, or something) was an albatross around my neck.

      1. Ricky YVR

        A rare reverse Bonvoying. Enjoy those 280,000 points coming your way.

  6. Bobby

    Excellent article Ricky. Love that you clearly mention that travel packages are exempt from peak pricing so you can unlock significant savings when booking peak travel times. So many articles that “tell you everything about Marriott travel packages” fail or barely mention this. I’m waiting on 125K from my US Chase Visa bonus as I was potentially going to redeem most of my points for a Cat 6 + 100K miles. I’m thinking Singapore Air given I have some still and they are relatively hard to accumulate in Canada with the goal being to fly the new suites on the A380 to perhaps Europe. I actually had these new suites booked in 2019 but was “downgraded” to the old A380 suites on a PVG – SIN (although still nice as we got the double bed).

    I do think your point on “potentially getting stuck with a certificate” is HUGE. I know many people rushed on the last devaluation to try to game the system prior to the award chart change and got screwed with certificates they could not upgrade or change really. This will likely happen again so people need to factor that in (e.g. in March award charts might make booking 7 nights in a row relatively difficult somehow??). Probably only going to do the above transaction if I can book/redeem the 7 night immediately upon converting.

    1. Ricky YVR

      Agreed, I don’t think the most likely outcome for my remaining certificate is looking very favourable at all. Though I’d push back on the notion that racking up as many seven-night certificates prior to the devaluation was “gaming the system”; it was really the best deal around, since the 120,000 airline miles meant that it would’ve been worthwhile even if you only use the certificate for four or five nights.

      1. Bobby

        Perhaps “gaming the system” was too harsh. My comment was mostly around all the talk about what “old 7 night certificates” would turn into with the new award chart. Many people assumed Marriott would essentially allow legacy lower cat certificates to translate into certain new cats certificates but I remember everyone was pissed when they saw the remapped certificate table and realized that certain hotels they were thinking of using their certificates on were no longer applicable. I unfortunately didn’t have the points at the time to even attempt to do this as my stays are often less than 7 nights.

        The other thing that sucks is the timing of this as a 7 night stay is much more likely to occur for most Canadians in the fall / winter season (say a 7 night stay in Cancun or Bora Bora or Maldives) vs say the summer where you might travel to multiple locations to say the US, Asia or Europe. Winter is effectively ending shortly and by the time we sort out where we might go in the upcoming fall/winter (given covid), the new category system will already be in place and if we didn’t already decide where to use the certificate, we may not longer be able to by then!

        1. Bobby

          Finally opened up the original view from the wings article. It’s saying this change is effective Jan 19th, 2022! You should add that to your article Ricky (maybe with a caveat that this is still to be confirmed from Marriott…although given it was released in the T&C, it’s likely true). My Chase points are coming in Jan 21st! Oh the timing. Oh well, guess that seals the decision for me.

  7. Gustav

    Hey Ricky, For anyone with less than 255000 Bonvoy points this program is a non starter, but for analysis purposes using your point valuation, if someone has 330000 Bonvoy points (worth about C$ 2970) , would this not be a good cash out strategy to buy 100,000 Aeroplan points (worth about C$2100) and a 7 night Category 4 hotel stay (worth about C$ 1620 – using 30,000 per night x 6 nights) thus netting $ C$ 3360+ which is more than your initial Bonvoy points value while still retaining the flexibility to book travel later for both the aeroplan and the Marriott stay?

    1. Ricky YVR

      That’s exactly the value proposition of these certificates. You’ve described them in a different way than I have in the article (higher value vs. points saved) but the core idea is the same.

      One problem, however, is that relatively few travellers stay in one hotel for seven nights in the first place. Another problem is that even if someone made this move right now as a hedge against the dynamic pricing, we have no idea how the category-based seven-night certificates will be treated once the category system goes away. I suspect we’ll find out more soon.

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