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A couple of weeks ago I posted about how 120,000+ Marriott Points mysteriously disappeared from my account, just weeks after I had transferred them across from SPG.
I’m pleased to report that the issue was eventually resolved and that I was given 20,000 Marriott Points on top of my original balance, which I think was a fair offer given the inconvenience caused.
So what happened?
My Marriott Points were removed due to a little-noticed quirk of the Marriott Rewards expiration policy.
The expiration policy as described on the Marriott website is as follows,
“Starting February 1, 2016, accumulated points will be removed from your account if you do not have a qualifying activity in the prior 2 years”,
but if you dig into the FAQs, it also states,
“The program reviews member activity of the previous 24 months every month“.
What this seems to mean in practice, is that if you have already gone 24 months without a qualifying activity, any Points accumulated in your account that don’t themselves count as qualifying activity, will be wiped from your account every month.
SPG Starpoint transfers to Marriott Rewards do not count as qualifying activity and do not reset the 24 month clock, so if you transfer Starpoints to a Marriott account that hasn’t had any qualifying activity in the last 24 months, Marriott Rewards is currently programmed to automatically expire those Points each month!
Before the merger, this policy was unlikely to get noticed, because to accumulate any Marriott Points in your account, you would very likely have had to have stayed at a hotel or earned Points through a Marriott partner like Hertz – which would count as qualifying activity and therefore reset the 24 months.
Now though, you can accumulate large amounts of Marriott Points without any qualifying activity by transferring Starpoints across – which potentially puts your Points at risk.
How do I ensure it doesn’t happen to me?
I spoke with a contact in the Corporate Liaison team at Marriott to try and make sure the issue doesn’t impact other members, who might not monitor their account balances as closely as I do.
The good news is that senior management are now aware of the problem and are actively looking into it. If you have already had Points removed due to the above, get in touch with Marriott Rewards and they will return your Points (if you have any trouble, feel free to let me know at email@example.com and I’ll make sure your case gets in front of someone who can help).
The bad news, is that for the time being at least, you could still end up with your Points being (temporarily) removed!
There are two main ways to protect your Points in the meantime:
Store Points in your SPG account and only transfer across to Marriott when you have an immediate use for the Points. Transferring Points between SPG and Marriott Rewards is free and instant, so it’s not a huge hassle.
Make sure you have some sort of qualifying activity on your Marriott account every 24 months:
- Make a paid or redemption stay (note that booking isn’t sufficient, you actually need the stay to have taken place before it counts as a qualifying activity).
- Redeem Points for something else.
- Earn points with one of Marriott’s partners (earning through social media apps doesn’t count)
- Purchase points.
- Hold a qualifying meeting or event, including earning points through the Rewarding Events Program.
Having 120,000 Points unexpectedly disappear from my account wasn’t ideal, and resolving the issue was considerably more difficult and time-consuming than it needed to be.
Marriott Rewards got everything sorted out in the end, but I would strongly recommend taking action yourself now if you think your Points might be at risk – a couple of minutes could potentially save you hours of hassle!