Marriott Bonvoy has offered a feature known as Points Advance, which allows members to book upcoming stays using points without actually having the points in their account, and only “fulfill” the reservation at least 14 days in advance.
While Points Advance was previously a very attractive element of the program, it has gotten less generous over the years, and Marriott has announced that Points Advance will be fully discontinued as of March 28, 2023.
What Is Marriott Bonvoy’s Points Advance?
Long-time Marriott Bonvoy points collectors will recall the days when Points Advance could be used to lock in the pricing of a future reservation before a devaluation was set to happen.
For example, if you used Points Advance to make a booking at a property that was pricing at 60,000 Bonvoy points per night, but which would soon be rising to 80,000 Bonvoy points per night, you’d still be able to pay just 60,000 points as long as you cobbled together those points in your account at least 14 days in advance of the stay.
The ability to lock in pre-devaluation pricing was deemed far too generous, given that it resulted in members making lots of speculative bookings whenever one of Marriott’s (frequent) devaluations was announced.
In late 2019, the Points Advance policy was changed to lock in the room, not the rate, when redeeming points without having those points in your account.
Still, Points Advance had its use cases: for example, if award availability at a certain hotel was very hotly contested, you could strike quickly and lock in a reservation there during a popular period, even if you haven’t accumulated the full amount of points in your account yet (and even if you knew that price would change over time due to ever-encroaching dynamic pricing).
Points Advance could also be useful if, say, there was a hotel you wanted to book but you were waiting for the points you had earned from an American Express Marriott Bonvoy Card to post to your account on the statement date. You’d be able to lock in the booking, wait for your points to post, and then fulfill the reservation without worrying about the order of operations.
Points Advance Will Come to an End
It’s therefore somewhat disappointing to hear that Points Advance will be phased out as of March 28, 2023.
Going forward, you’ll need to have enough Bonvoy points sitting in your account to make any booking, and there will be no way around this requirement.
Any Points Advance features that were made prior to this date will still be honoured. You’ll need to have enough points in your account as of at least 14 days prior to the stay date in order to fulfill the reservation, and you’ll be subject to whatever dynamic pricing is in effect at the time of doing so.
Marriott Bonvoy Continues to Squeeze Away the Value
The discontinuation of the Points Advance policy may seem minor in the grand scheme of things – indeed, I can’t remember the last time I’ve personally used this feature, ever since it was made significantly less useful as of late 2019.
However, it’s still an example of the continuous downward spiral that has defined Marriott Bonvoy in recent years.
Value continues to be eroded from the program in the form of the recent change to dynamic pricing and ever-increasing award costs, while even the most seldom-used features that are only occasionally useful, like Points Advance, are now being eliminated.
While it’s true that a handful of welcome new features have been added over the years, it’s clear that the overall trajectory has been negative in terms of value for the user, and one has to wonder how far this trend can continue before Marriott Bonvoy members begin to look elsewhere.
Any Points Advance bookings made before then will still be honoured, but from April 2023 onwards, you won’t be able to make a new booking without having enough points in your account.
Points Advance was only appealing in limited circumstances in its current form, but it’s still disappointing to see a potentially useful feature being eliminated with little of value being added to improve the program.
Yep, loyalty programs in general are going downhill across the board, including my “favourite” AC Aeroplan….
I just booked a reservation for December 2023 and was told that I had to have my points in my account 60 days from the booking date – rather than 14 days prior to the date of the reservation. I was also told that I could lock into the points plus cash option and then switch back to points only when I had the points I needed (within the next 60 days).