Exploring The Options For A Partial Points Refund Of The Marriott Travel Packages, Which Package Should You Buy Now?

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So much digital ink has been spilled speculating about what will happen with Marriott’s lucrative travel packages after the merger with the Starwood program in August.

In my last post I laid out 4 potential options. In short, option 1 is a paltry 45K Marriott point refund. Option 2 is a point refund equal to the current value of the certificate. Option 3 is a replacement certificate valid for a certain amount of points per night, I explored option 3 at length here. Option 4 is a replacement certificate valid at comparable new categories, I explored option 4 at length here.

From what Starwood’s representative on Flyertalk is saying, it seems option 2 is a good possibility though (Click to enlarge):

 

In other words, if you have a travel package certificate and have it assigned to a specific hotel stay then it will remain valid, though it’s unclear what will happen if you want to make changes after the program merger. If you do choose a Marriott hotel that is going up from a Marriott category 5 to a category 6, clearly it will be advantageous to assign it now rather than waiting, which is why he recommends assigning that certificate now to maximize its usage.

If the travel package certificate is not assigned to a hotel stay then it will be considered a “floater certificate” and will be cancelled and converted into “equivalent points.”

Starwood Lurker says that he no information on what “equivalent points” means and that he is just passing on information from the loyalty team in charge of the merger.

I think it’s more than clear that option 1 above isn’t “equivalent points.” Marriott couldn’t sell travel packages now in good faith if they plan on cancelling everyone’s unassigned 7 night hotel certificates and refunding just 45K points. There will be lawsuits if Marriott would even think of trying to pull a fast one like that and nothing Marriott has done so far indicates they want to burn members and goodwill like that.

That would leave option 2 as the best option.

A category 1-5 package costs 270K Marriott points and the 7 night package is good for a max of 150K points. A category 9 package costs 390K Marriott points and the 7 night package is good for a max of 270K points. A tier 4-5 package costs 540K Marriott points and the 7 night package is good for a max of 420K points. Notice a pattern here? The amount spent for the airline miles part of the package is always 120K points. If Marriott refunds the hotel certificate part of the package into points that will mean you’ll pay 120K Marriott (40K SPG) for 132K United miles (1.1 miles per Marriott point or 3.3 miles per SPG point). If you choose miles with an airline like Alaska or American that would mean you’ll pay 120K Marriott (40K SPG) for 120K miles (1 miles per Marriott point or 3 miles per SPG point).

Those are amazing values for your hotel points, though it’s worth noting that it will be much harder to accumulate Marriott points once the Starwood AMEX goes from earning 3 points per dollar spent to just 2 points per dollar on on August 1st.

Could there be an even more generous option 5 though?

When the new program launches there won’t be a category 8, but there will be one in February 2019. Hotels in that category will cost between 70K-100K Marriott points per night. Even taking the standard category 8 rate of 85K Marriott points per night, a 7 night stay at a top-tier hotel would cost 510K Marriott points after the 5th night free is accounted for. The argument could be made that a Ritz tier 4-5 certificate costing 540K Marriott points ought to be refunded to 510K Marriott points if the certificate is cancelled. That would mean you would have only paid 30K Marriott points for 132K United miles (4.4 miles per Marriott point or 13.2 miles per SPG point)!

It all depends on how they decide to define equivalent points. My guess would be what I originally said would be option 2, with a refund of all points used for the travel package besides for the 120K points that will be considered used for the airline mileage transfer.

So why is this still a question?

I guess it comes down to how much you trust Starwood Lurker. This statement is much more vague:

 

And some of his information is clearly wrong, such as the following, where he misses the asterisk listed by all category 8 properties on the combined award chart, which goes to:

*An eighth category will be added in early 2019. Until then, Category 8 hotels will be available at Category 7 pricing.

 

Clearly Starwood Lurker isn’t always right. However the floater certificate information does come from higher sourses with Marriott/SPG.

At any rate though, option 2 is definitely a strong possibility.

With option 2 it won’t make a difference which travel package you buy. No matter what you’ll be getting a refund of all points used, except for 120K Marriott points (40K Starpoints). That’s a great deal for 120K-132K airline miles and it explains why Marriott isn’t announcing anything official yet. If they did announce this there would be a run on these certificates as people would convert their hotel points out to airline miles, which would cost Marriott a ton of money as they have to buy those miles from the airlines.

In other words if option 2 comes to fruition, you should buy the category 1-5 package for 270K Marriott points as that would have the lowest number of points locked up until Marriott refunds the 150K points for the hotel portion of the package.

It’s no surprise that they will be massively devaluing new travel packages in August.

 

Then again, there is what to be said for splurging on the Tier 4-5 option for 540K Marriott points. If Marriott decides to go with option 2 you would still get a refund of 420K points. However if Marriott decides to honor these packages for use at hotels, you should be able to use these at any Marriott or SPG hotel systemwide. And if Marriott goes with option 5 and decides to refund the cost of what these hotels are in the new program, you would get back a refund of 510K points!

 

Another blogger wrote that he think Marriott will keep certificates for category 5 valid for new category 5, category 6 for new category 6, category 7 for new category 7, and category 8 for new category 8. I find this scenario extremely unlikely to happen. Everything Marriott has done is to convert current values to new values. That’s why SPG Gold remains Gold while Marriott Gold becomes Platinum as they will retain their night threshold and benefits. It would also anger everyone who bought category 9, tier 1-3, and tier 4-5 certificates. I don’t see any possible way this will be the outcome.

 

Want to buy a travel package before they are discontinued? Which category will you buy?

Short on Starpoints/Marriott points?

Here are Marriott’s top miles+nights travel packages for 7 nights in a hotel and United miles. With these you can get up to 132K miles and it’s always worth getting the 132K miles package if you can afford it. Prices are in Marriott points (divide by 3 for the price in Starpoints):

Here are Marriott’s 2nd best miles+nights packages for 7 nights in a hotel and Aeromexico, Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, British Airways, Copa Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, GOL/Varig, Hawaiian Airlines, Iberia Airlines, Southwest, or Virgin Atlantic miles. With these you can get up to 120K miles and it’s always worth getting the 120K miles package if you can afford it. Prices are in Marriott points (divide by 3 for the price in Starpoints):

  • You must call Marriott at 800-321-7396 if you want to book a miles+nights travel package. They can’t be booked online.
  • The miles will post within a few days of the transfer, regardless of when or if you use the 7 night certificate. You may also be able to pay to expedite the mileage posting.
  • The 7 night electronic hotel certificate expires in 1 year, though Marriott currently will extend them for 1 additional year if you contact them.
  • You don’t need to choose the hotel at the time of a nights+miles redemption.
  • The certificate must be used at one property for 7 consecutive nights.
  • You can have the certificate issued in anyone’s name.
  • You can currently upgrade your hotel certificate by paying the difference in points later on.

Will you buy a travel package before they are devalued next month?

Related Marriott-SPG merger posts:

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60 Comments On "Exploring The Options For A Partial Points Refund Of The Marriott Travel Packages, Which Package Should You Buy Now?"

All opinions expressed below are user generated and the opinions aren’t provided, reviewed or endorsed by any advertiser or DansDeals.

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Mahyar

This is fascinating! Bought a category 6 and will prob pull the trigger on a category 1-5 also

aa

to good to be true…..

Sasha

Thanks Dan great work trying to make sense of this all!

Cap

It took four phone calls to the 800# on the Marriott Travel Pkg site until I got an agent that could process my request for a pkg…seemed Marriott wasn’t making the redemption process any easier as conversion date approaches.

Dav

Question Is if option 2 woukd be be the outcome, if it would paid off putting out of pocket $682 for additional 30k starpints for those who only had 60k in there account ?

Azar

It would, but it’s $1050 now

ABC

Dan, what will you be doing?

Dav

So is it not confirmed yet that the s. Regis occaan view room would be possible to book with 20k starpoints?

Yudig

So on an RC Tier 1-3 there is a potential for a refund of 300K?

David

I don’t see why they can’t simply say whatever cost in points of the hotel category you buy is the cost in points of the hotel category you can buy after the program merges. They don’t refund the points they just assign 7-night certificates with per-night point value equal to what the point-night point value is now. You still have to use 7 nights at once and you can use peak off-peak or whatever as long as it falls within the point value of the certificate

Vet&Banker

Having done strategy work for a major (non-hospitality) corporation:

1. All the current values for certs do not match up to the future values.

2. There is very little chance Marriott builds in the peak/off-peak in August when it doesn’t start until 2019 and there’s a very high possibility that they haven’t even set dates yet.

3. Any solutions aside from the simplest ones are expensive. If this has been a 1 year process already (and it’s undoubtedly longer), Marriott is in the 7-figure+ range to create some complex answer. That’s before front line associate costs, PR, and communications cost explaining the new, difficult solution to customers, and budgeting money for legal issues. Suddenly “just give the customers their points back at some level” becomes much more attractive, and actually less expensive.

I do think we will see either a points conversion or “Cat 1-4 cert + refund extra points for higher cat” solution. I tend to think it’ll be less than the max current values that Dan expects, but I am coming around to Dan’s solution 2, given Lurker’s continued holding the line on “equivalent points” conversions. We shall see.

HE

Thanks Dan, I bought the cat 8 cert for 360,000. If option 2 wont happen what can I expect as the next option.

zow

Dan, I asked previously and you answered, but I ask you to reconsider the question:
If I purchase Tier 4-5 + 55K UA for 470K Marriott, and if Marriott refunds 420K (under your Option 2), I’m still getting 55K UA for 50K Marriott, or 1.1 UA per Marriott point. Isn’t that the same value as if I were to purchase Tier 4-5 + 132K UA for 540K Marriott?

Azar

Hi Dan, I have leftover 44k SPG after buying 2x270k Marriott package (Just wasn’t enough for 270k+420k packages). What would you advise to do with it? (I already utilized my buying SPG options)

Shmiel

right now i have a cat 1-5 do you think it makes sense to upgrade to a cat 6 to lock in a more permanent rate? by permanent i mean that a 1-5 they can always give you a mid tier value, as opposed to a cat 6 which has a set value

JustWingIt

Thanks for keeping tabs of this.

Since our 2019 vacation calendar is overbooked, we will have no use for a hotel/stay certificate for next year. A Marriott rep who processed our MRPs to Travel Package purchase recommended I booked a hotel in July 2019 and attach my hotel/stay certificate to it to ‘keep the certificate safe’, then cancel the ressie & extend the unattached certificate’s expiration date out one year and use it for another hotel ressie when we are ready.

What’s your thought about this approach? Or do you think we will get better value grin the MRPs if we simply leave the hotel/stay certificate unattached and wait for the Aug 2018 merger?

lili

This is my experience with book/cancel to reissue:

Had “Rewards Certificate 7 Night Travel Package Category 1-5 Hotels – 270,000 Points” upgraded to Cat 6 while booking a reservation. Cancelled that reservation right away, 30K upgrade rewards refunded, and the certificate refunded as 45K rewards, even though the rep assured the certificate refunds as a certificate (my guess is they have no idea themselves).

Called the CS in a fury to explain how my 150K eq. points have just been refunded as 45K points. The rep assembled back the cert. and posted the cert to an account with the new updated expiration date in 1 year from now, albeit now cert. says Rewards Certificate P870 PARTIAL PKG-CAT 6 – 75,000 Points. Does not look too good for a cert. to points conversion come August.

JustWingIt

The rep likely initiated a member-initiated cancellation of a hotel certificate (that comes as part of a Travel Package) and return of a small number of MRPs is how it works today. The big question at hand is if a member has an unattached hotel certificate after Aug 18 (newly confirmed program merger/go-live date), will Marriott CANCEL the certificate following the current member-initiated cancellation process and return tiny MRPs OR will they return/refund amount of MRPs that allows equal night of stays as specified by the certificate. OR maybe Marriott do something else?

rob

Dan-after the merger, if they dont cancel your certificates, will you still be able to upgrade your hotel category with points?

JustWingIt

Marriott had not given guidance on this, yet.

Anon

I’ve read every post I can find on this for past 90 days. We are burning our banks of *points on certs and miles.

Why not mention or link to the other blogger to which you allude?

I tend to think that Marriott will want to keep it very simple otherwise it will be a mess. A lot of people buying Cat 7 (or 8 or 9) floater certs, may be thinking they will get to use them at the new Cat 7s. Any forced point refund will need to be extremely generous.

Ergel

Would want a certificate for a stay at St. Regis Maldives next summer (or worst case a nice refund). Which category should I be getting?

David

Why wouldn’t they just stop selling the packages if they were planning to give back so many points??? I don’t see how anything but option 3 makes sense

Yochai

Thanks. I had only 197k Marriott points, but got the rep to give me 3000 for waiting on the line. So I got the 55k with the category 1-5 certificate. I asked the rep what will happen to the certificate after 8/1, and after speaking to a supervisor, said it would be valid for category 1-5 in the new combined chart.

Glushtygiz

Dan how many certs r YOU buying

Phil

Being that getting category 1 to 5 is the best bet is there a list of category 5 hotels that will be going up to category 6 that I could attach my certificate to now?

Phil

And thank you so much Dan for being so on top of the situation

jew

Dan always mentions calling to ask them to extend for another year. I haven’t been succesfull in the past with this. Who exactly (phone number?) do we call for this? I am assuming can’t be done while on phone with them and buying it originally?

Vet&Banker

They extend a year from the date you call. So extending when buying doesn’t work by definition. You’d just call Marriott Rewards to extend or the TP number.

Brian

I’m looking to go to Grand Cayman and I have a valid certificate that I could upgrade to a Category 9. This will get me into the Marriott Grand Cayman Resort, but I would much rather stay at the Westin Grand Cayman. Any strategies for making my certificate valid for the Westin instead?

Steven

Wouldn’t one be better off, if they have 540K, to buy two certificates for 270K, so that, under option 2, one would get back 300K as opposed to a high end 540K certificate and only getting 150K back?

billy

without a doubt your proposal is better. more airline miles converted at the super cheap rate.

Steven

do you think it will make a difference whether I make reservations, only to cancel them in the future for the points or should I not bother making reservations?

Joshua Flyer

I currently have a 5 night award stay on nights that are now sold out. If I book the next 2 nights with points will Marriott swap out my points for a 7 night cert?

Vet&Banker

Probably not.

Mark

Dan, I have already redeemed two 1-5 and put the 240,000 K into Alaska. I’m sitting on around 500,000 Marriott Points and 700,000 Starwood Points. Would you redeem another cat 1-5, and, if so, where would you put the miles? I’ve got around 950,000 UA, 1,450,000 AA, 88,000 BA, 190,000 DL and with the prior redemptions, around 220,000 AS Miles. I have a spattering of other curriencies (Asiana, Avianca, Aeroplan) but probably won’t put them there. Any good advice for me? Thanks so very much for your kind reply!

Best,
Mark

Eric

Would it be correct to say that if I aspire to stay at an SPG property, then I cannot purchase the certificate now and assign it, rather, I could buy now, and when they merge assign it if they allow it at the time

Doug

I have a 7 night certificate that expires in October. Does all of this mean that if I just leave it as is, it’ll get converted to some amount of points and deposited into my Marriott account? I hope so, because there’s nowhere I can use it and I already deferred it last year.

BigAl

Dan,

What are your thoughts on transferring Marriot point to Quantas as another option?

Nati

Is it possible to downgrade a exist certificate and get a refund?

Joseph

Dan, i know the 270k 7 night to miles and more is a bad deal of course but according to this theory if i buy the 270k 7 nights package with transfer of 85k to miles and more. According to this theory will i get refunded 185K Marriott points? Is it worth the risk ? (The reason i am asking is i am hugely overloaded with other mileage currencies and i find myself needing miles and more all the time lately)

Shaul

I think either the certs will be cancelled and refunded at the level of points under the new program, or the certs will align to whatever the new category is under the old program.

Personally, I wouldn’t book one of these without taking into account that they might keep the cert intact and not refund points – that is probably the “cheaper” option due to the numerous restrictions the 7 day cert has.

Shraga

So should I quickly buy a bunch of Miles and nights united packages?

JustWingIt

Depends on what airlines you fly .

Shraga

I fly United. Should I go ahead and by 5 packages?

Curtis

You should definitely buy at least 9 packages.

BigAl

Dan

Thanks again for all your help and insights. What would you recommend for someone that has 850k SPG points and 150k Marriott points do at this time. The United miles doesn’t light a fire under me due to their poor availability to Israel in coach. Israel and Europe would be good destinations but flight only. Thanks

Curtis

Ooohhhh the temptation to keep buying more travel packages. Cannot wait for 8/1 to get here.

Joe P.

What about 7 Day packages that included a SWA Companion Pass vs other airline miles? Thanks.

Lou M

Any advice appreciated. Have 7 night Cat 1-5 package (came w/ SWA companion pass). Want to use at Springhill Suites Zion National Park (currently Cat 7, but will go to Cat 6 in August). Should I use SPG points now to upgrade to Cat 7 and then lock in the package, or wait until it drops to Cat 6?

Also, if I use SPG points to upgrade to Cat 7 now, will I get points refunded in late August? Thank you.

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