Marriott Answers Several Travel Package Questions, But Refuses To Answer The Biggest Question

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In my last post on the fascinating ongoing travel package saga I said that there were many unknowns.

Starwood’s official representative to Flyertalk, Starwood Lurker, has gone missing. But another official representative, Starwood Lurker IV, reached out to Marriott and came back with some answers.

I’ve rephrased some of the questions below for clarity and added my own commentary after each answer as well.

Q: What happens if my travel package expires during the month-long blackout period from August 18-September 17?

A: Travel package certificates expiring during the blackout period may be extended upon request.

Dan’s commentary: Certificates can currently be extended for a year, so presumably this means they can be extended for a 2nd time as well if they expire in this transitional period. We still have no idea if Marriott will continue to extend the validity of certificates after the merger, but we can hope that will remain unchanged.

Q: How will the travel certificates map to the new categories?

A: We will convert existing certificates to similarly valued categories after 8/18. Members who know their travel plans should make reservations prior to 8/18. You will not be able to modify your certificate for an existing reservation or attach it to a new one 8/18-9/18.

Dan’s commentary: Once again this is a cop-out non-answer. Marriott refuses to show their hand until after it’s too late to buy travel packages. However it affirms that Marriott will convert existing certificates to similarly valued packages, so people who think that current mid-tier category 8 certificates will work at future category 8 top-tier hotels are likely to be disappointed and I’m surprised that bloggers are advising that course of action. More likely scenarios can be found here.

Q: Will you still be able to cancel a travel package hotel certificate for a points refund post-merger?

A: Members will be able to cancel and get points back at a reduced amount.

Dan’s commentary: Currently you can cancel the hotel night certificate and get back 45K points. Presumably this means that policy will stay intact. That means you can get 120K-132K airline miles for just 225K Marriott points (75K Starpoints), which is an amazing value should you decide not to use your hotel certificate. Higher level certificates get an additional refund based on how much more you paid over the base category 1-5 certificate. If you decide to forgo the free nights that means you’ll still get a value of 1.76 United miles per Starpoint or 0.59 United miles per Marriott point. Not a bad consolation prize!

Q: Will it be possible to upgrade/downgrade these legacy hotel certificates, similar to how we can today?

A: After 8/18, certificates cannot be upgraded or downgraded, regardless of when they were purchased.

Dan’s commentary: Ouch! Currently you can upgrade or downgrade between categories freely. However on 8/18 the travel packages will skyrocket in cost and I questioned several times if Marriott would allow upgrades or downgrades to the old certificates after that date.

This answer means that Marriott will get to decide what category or points level you will get and you will have no recourse, other than to cancel the hotel certificate for a small points refund. That’s a real shame and depending on how Marriott handles the conversion this may turn into outrage, but it still won’t stop me from rolling the dice on some travel packages.

Q: When can you use the certificates on SPG properties?

A: If you have an existing Travel Package and would like to use for a SPG hotel, you will need to wait until after 9/18. Or, you can redeem points for a new Travel Package under the new program starting 8/18, including SPG hotels.

Dan’s commentary: Some agents were telling people that they would not be able to use certificates for SPG properties. This answer confirms that is false, though as we already knew, you will need to wait until 9/18 to book SPG properties with these certificates.

Q: Will I be able to cancel an reservation with an attached certificate between Aug 18 and Sept 18?

A: Between 8/18 and 9/18, you can cancel a Travel Package reservation, but you will not be able to rebook until after 9/18.

Dan’s commentary: It’s good that Marriott will at least allow cancellations during the month-long blackout period.

Which travel packages have you bought in anticipation of using them after the merger?

Short on Starpoints/Marriott points?

Related Marriott Travel Packages posts:

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47 Comments On "Marriott Answers Several Travel Package Questions, But Refuses To Answer The Biggest Question"

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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Dov

I tried to downgrade a Ritz tier 4 5
to Marriott 1 5 and was told it can not be done.
only to Ritz 1 3.
sound correct?
ty

teweetr

dan are there any dp of undoing a 7 night category certificate and turning it into a 5 night certificate? and getting 35k points back i have2 7 night certificates and i am probably going to only use 5 anyway

Al

I asked if I could buy a 5 nighter & was told I wasn’t an owner, so it wasn’t possible.

Itsy

You are not supposed to be able to buy a five night certificate if you are not a MVC owner, You are not entitled to it. Some poorly trained CSRs are mistakenly selling them. Prepare to have your account audited. Some people see nothing immoral in committing a fraud and will HUACA until they get a poorly trained CSR to sell them one, even though they know they are not entitled. Take the high ground.

flitox

This is travel hacking, there is no high ground. Do rewards program give reasonable notices before devaluations. Did Marriott take the high ground by withholding information about how certificates are going to be converted in the new program ?

Dav

Dan Over all you can say that so far it looks like we can say we are disappointed how Marriott handles all that?

Al

I’ve got a 1-5 TP but with no firm plans. Do you think there is any risk attaching it to Calgary Airport? Of course I have no intention staying there and I don’t want to risk not being able to change it post 8/18

Dani

I just bought a Cat 6 package with the intention of using them on a SPG property that will remain a Cat 6 for January travel.

So my guess is that this is just a waiting game now?

Azar

Hi Dan, thank you for update.
I got x2 1-5 7 nights Certificates + 132k United, and if I will get 2 years to use them, I should be fine.
I have 44k Starwood leftovers, any advice should I utilize them or just let them get converted to x3 Marriott?

N

I got the category 8 certificate and attached it to Marriott Beach resort in Maui since I’m going to be there for seven nights BH.
now I hope that I’ll be able to change it over to the Sheraton or the Westin which would be the same cost as the Marriott Beach resort after the upcoming change BH.

mg

‘so people who think that current mid-tier category 8 certificates will work at future category 8 top-tier hotels are likely to be disappointed’

I called Marriott to book a 7-night stay and this was confirmed on the phone as well as in writing when I contacted them via email! Should I still be worried?

Andrew

Can you please forward that email to me at amullek@yahoo.com. Thanks

kabukijuul

I was told the same thing by Marriott on the phone. Not that I am counting on it being true…

Baruch

I can confirm this. I went through each step piece by piece w/ a manager yesterday and said if i buy a category 8 right now how can i use it for a category 8 that requires 85k points? The manager said yes it is a very big arbitrage of points but again dont take it at face

Sam

What email address did you send it to?

BG

If they map existing Marriott hotels to new categories, won’t the existing certificates need to at least be able to be used for all hotels that they were able to be used for before 8/18? Otherwise wouldn’t people with existing certificates have the right to sue?

Benji

Dan – Are you attaching your certificates to hotels that are moving up in category, or are you leaving unattached?

Josh

Is it safe to assume that with these updates and not allowing future upgrades/downgrades than they will not be downgrading certificates to lower categories and refunding the point differential?

Dave

Someone on FT was able to use his TP cert to book a property higher in category. He didn’t mention that he’ll have to pay the difference in points prior to the stay. I didn’t know this could be done.

Shmiel

If I currently have a 1-5 cert, and I have enough points to upgrade to the top tier, is there any risk to upgrade? Should I upgrade?

yankel

random Q can u PLEASE help me i had accident while in israel s/o bashed into me and filed claim with amex just got response paying for damages but not the taxes “We do not pay sales tax as outlined by the policy, unless required by law” what do i do & how do i know if required by law which law usa or israeli ? thanx for your help

Mark

I’m unable to transfer any spg to marriott. It seems they’ve locked the transfers down.

zow

Dan, kol hacavod for staying up late and answering all the questions below. We all appreciate your guidance.

Sam

@Dan- Are there any Category 9 hotels that will be Category 8 except for Domes of Elounda? Thanks!

J

Just bought a 1-5 certificate, given that we can’t upgrade post 8/18, is it worth it to purchase marriot points for $12.50 per 1K to upgrade to category 6? Currently attached to Calgary per your suggestion

yankel

thank you so much studying in israel
so i got a student visa – damages was 3500 shekel then another 595 shekel taxes on the damages thats the reg 17% vat [tax in israel] (in israel e/t gets taxed)
thank you so much again for e/t

gram

Safe to assume that Le Westin Tremblant will require more than a current cat 6 TP cert to book after 9/18? Minimum current cat 8 to feel “safe”?

Sam

How do you attach a certificate to a hotel? Do you need to provide the dates you will be staying at that hotel? So what if I don’t know my dates?

Doug

Well, no big loss on my “gamble” of buying a second 1-5 7 nighter w/ United miles. I have one expiring in 10/2018 (already extended a year) so I’ll see if I can extend again due to all of the confusion now + the one month blackout. I think they’ll allow it… Then I have a second one that is brand new fro 08/2018.

If I end up having to trade them both in to get 90K points back, it was still worth the airline miles, so it’s all good I think. Not as good as it could’ve been, but what are you gonna do…

M

Just purchased a tier 1-3 certificate and assigned it to a hotel. The rep told me that if I would like to cancel the reservation after the 18th I will be allowed to rebook at any hotel in the new category of the hotel I booked. When I started questioning the rep kinda backed off from giving me more information. From what the rep says it seems like they might be going with that option.

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