I’m Not Going To Play Chicken With Marriott Bonvoy

by joeheg

If there’s one thing you need to know when you start to collect hotel points, it’s not to tangle with Marriott unless you want to risk getting Bonvoyed.

You don’t have to do anything wrong to get caught up in the Marriott Bonvoy whirlwind. A combination of Marriott’s buggy IT infrastructure, customer service representatives who have little ability to help, and affiliate hotels who make up their own rules with no fear of being held accountable leads to an environment ripe for problems. It’s become where any grump with Marriott, even the slightest inconvenience, leads people to claim they’ve been Bonvoyed.

I bought this shirt for Sharon, which she’s dying to wear to a Marriott hotel. (It’s still available.)

a black t-shirt with white text

When dealing with Marriott, I keep a low profile and don’t book reservations with a high chance of things going wrong. For instance, I paid $20 extra to use a free night certificate instead of booking multiple reservations because you can’t combine AAA rate and free night stays.

I’m trying to use up the free night certificates we accumulated during the pandemic. I did a good job getting value out of them, but I was holding onto some, hoping for that perfect opportunity.

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card by American Express provides a free night certificate good at any Marriott Bonvoy hotel bookable for 50,000 points or less. This is the most valuable free night from a Marriott co-brand credit card and one reason the Bonvoy Brilliant card is a great value despite the $450 annual fee.

Since the card has a $300 yearly credit for stays at Marriott hotels, you only need to use the certificate at a hotel costing $150 to break even. However, it’s possible to do much better than that under normal circumstances.

2020 and 2021 have not been normal and we’ve been spending more time at Airbnbs than hotels. We definitely haven’t been staying at Marriott Bonvoy properties costing 50K points a night and Sharon has two 50K certs sitting in her account.

While Marriott has been extending the free nights earned through co-brand credit cards, they apparently have reached their limit.  From the Marriott Covid webpage:

a white background with black text

Free Night Awards: Members who had a Free Night Award (FNA) that had an original expiration date in 2020, or which will expire before January 2, 2022, as part of their Cobrand Credit Card Benefit, Annual Choice Benefit, promotions or travel package will now be able to redeem it through January 3, 2022. Free Night Awards with an original expiration date prior to 2020 will not be eligible for the additional extension

All free nights due to expire before 2022 have been extended until 1/2/22 but will not be extended any longer. I needed to use the 50K free night expiring in 2 months, even if it wasn’t the best redemption.

Sharon was planning another fishing trip from Cape Canaveral and I looked for rooms at the nearby Residence Inn. She’s stayed there before and it’s a perfect location. When I checked, the AAA rate was $255 a night.

a screenshot of a web page

When looking at award stays, a free night is 30,000 points.

a screenshot of a computer

Was it worth it to book a free night using a 50K certificate for a room that only cost 30K points? Given the circumstances, you bet it was.

a screenshot of a hotel reservation

It’s better to use the free night award for a room that would otherwise cost 30K points or $255. Since Sharon’s a Platinum member, she was able to attach an SNA and got this upgraded view from her balcony.

a palm trees on a balcony

Does getting a view of the palm trees outside your room when using an SNA count as being Bonvoyed?

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


JohnB October 21, 2021 - 2:25 pm

I have the original SPG Amex card ($75AF). That free night is only for 35K hotel awards. In the beginning of 2021, I had 2 nights which were expiring around August 3 or something. So I used one at a Residence Inn because the nightly cost all in was $150. I wasn’t sure that the other free night would get extended so I used it in Sept. at the W in Chicago. But at least Marriott has graciously extended them the nights multiple times.

I also have free nights from my Chase IHG CC. IHG has not extended any of them. One of them I lost, because IHG does not email about when they get put in or expire, etc. Matter of fact I am arguing with IHG that my spouse on his IHG Premier CC gets 18 months on his nights, but I get only 12 months on mine. So what is the term for when IHG screws you?

Fathiss October 21, 2021 - 6:28 pm

@JohnB: you’ve been Indigoed! Yeah, lame, but that’s a tough one.


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