In an effort to maximize using my Marriott Rewards Visa, I recently prepaid (or attempted) for nine hotel rooms on a soccer trip weekend with my team. I realized the risk that if we were to not be able to use some of the rooms (illness, early checkout,etc.) it would be tricky potentially to get credited back.
I did this (after being assured by the account manager I was working with at Marriott on this trip) so that I would be able to pay off the balance before we arrived, then use the card for all travel expenses over the weekend and continue to accrue points. The hotel charge was more or less my entire credit limit. I immediately made a payment to pay off the balance after the initial charge showed up online.
However, the charge sat and sat and sat as pending on my account and when I arrived at the hotel at the end of the week it had still not cleared. I contacted Marriott customer service on the phone three separate times (for a total of about three hours) to figure out how I could get access to my line of credit as the charge just wouldn't go through. They were stumped at to why it would not go through but told me that the payment I made would not be applied to my account until the charge went through (fair enough). When it became clear it just was never going to be anything other than pending, I was told that I wouldn't have access to that payoff money until the end of my statement period (several weeks away still).
The solution they came up with: cancel the transaction. Then I would have (choose one of the following responses I was told by various credit card reps) immediate access to my credit line/access after 8 hours/access after the system updated overnight/access after 24 hours.
So, a whole weekend trying to scramble to pay expenses for the soccer trip, and not accruing any points to boot.
The Marriott charge that would never go through.. ended up being cancelled just about the time I pulled into my driveway home from the trip. Marriott at the hotel to their credit did not attempt to charge me for the rooms on the Rewards Visa upon checkout (no credit available) and agreed that it would be all sorted out once I had proof the credit was restored and I had been able to look at each hotel room bill individually,
My understanding amidst all the finger pointing from Marriott and Marriott/Chase Visa is that if you are going to prepay for your room it has to be coded in a very specific way or else it will basically just be no different than the hold they place on your card when you arrive at the front desk. Also, even if done right (and I'm not saying it was done incorrectly), there is always the chance that a transaction might just get stuck in pending purgatory and you will be stuck like i was. Then it's really anyone's guess how long it might take if you choose to try and get the charge voided. Plus, my payment on that card will not go through for weeks (they think). meaning I will still basically not have access to earning points until it does.
Just shared in case anyone else is considering prepaying for their say to try and maximize the use of their Marriott Rewards Visa..