Yesterday when I read this thread Points Advance Rate Change , I learned that all points used for Points Advance bookings must be redeemed in full by March 5 in order to lock in the current rate. I have one such booking at a hotel that will be changing from category 7 to category 8. If I don't have the points in hand on March 5, I expect that I will need to redeem significantly more points or pay cash to make it happen. I'm guessing that many others may have found themselves in a similar situation. So as I scramble to gather the points I need, I thought I'd share how I got them.
With the merging of the Starwood and Marriott loyalty programs back on August 18, 2018, I had cashed in all but a handful of my points for a travel package. However, I was later awarded two 60K e-certificates as part of a sign-up bonus and thought I'd like to use those, along with 120K points to plan a second vacation. Wrongly thinking that I could get a 5th night free, I had not familiarized myself with the terms & conditions or I would have known that my plan was doomed from the very beginning. You can read about my mistake here: My Points Redemption Goof (don't try this at home) Still, I was looking to gather about 100K points in a short period of time. Fortunately with a handful of points already on hand and a few paid hotel stays, my starting balance was not exactly zero. Points Balance: about 34K
As a holder of the Marriott Rewards Premier credit card, Chase offered me 50K points if I upgraded to the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus and made a purchase with the upgraded card by December 31, 2018. I took the offer and used the card to make some purchases. Points Balance: 86K
As a holder of the SPG credit card, American Express offered me 50K points if I upgraded to the SPG Luxury credit card. I took this offer as well, used the card to make some purchases, and paid in advance for some hotel reservations. A nice thing about the upgraded Amex card was that it provided a $300 statement credit for my prepaid Marriott hotel charges. Points Balance: 139K
Having learned that my previous strategy to fulfill my Points Advance booking was flawed, I needed to make a few adjustments to the plan. At the beginning of this month, I had been awarded two 35K e-certificates as a benefit of the credit cards I hold. I also had a 2 night hotel reservation for which I redeemed 65K points. A little light bulb went off in my head! I called customer service and asked the associate to apply these certificates to my reservation instead and place the previously allotted points back into my account balance. It worked. Points Balance: 204K
As of Today
Marriott has the right to change the terms & conditions of their loyalty program whenever they choose - and that they did. The recent unannounced change to Points Advance bookings means that I now need to accumulate another 100K points before March 5!
It is time to adapt my strategy yet again.
Points from credit card referrals have the potential to earn up to 100K per year. While I'm not in the habit of promoting credit cards to folks, I did send a referral link to my spouse for the SPG credit card which added another 20K points after she was approved. Points Balance: 224K
Points from planned stays later this month should get me an additional 9K, leaving me to come up with just another 7K before the March 5 deadline. This is where flexible point transfers come in handy. I can transfer Ultimate Rewards points from my Chase account or transfer Membership Rewards from my American Express account. I would have preferred to not use these flexible points at all, but the shortened timeline leaves me few alternatives.
So if you need points in a hurry like I did, the key is to keep a flexible mindset and be willing to adapt your strategy as the inevitable changes pop up. Here are a few things you can do that will get you Marriott Bonvoy points in a hurry:
- Pay for your hotel stays instead of redeeming points for them.
- If you have a points reservation, pay by another means to get those points back.
- Take the upgrade offers on your Marriott credit cards.
- If you don't have a Marriott credit card, get one and earn a hefty amount of bonus points.
- Get your spouse involved and share a nice referral bonus.
- If your spouse is already a member, you can transfer up to 100K points per year.
- If you have any credit cards that offer transferable points, you can always send some of those into your Marriott account.
Hope this helps those of you looking to score some quick Marriott Bonvoy points. Please feel free to add your own methods to this thread if you'd like to help other Insiders gather the points they need in a hurry.
Edited to correct a math error.