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I struggle to think of programme elements where Marriott Rewards offers an obvious improvement on Starwood Preferred Guest. Some of you might be thinking… stop crying… and get used to the new reality… But Marriott Rewards has long had one interesting feature, called Points Advance. And now that all former SPG hotels have migrated over to Marriott’s systems, you can even use Points Advance at former SPG brands such as Westin, Sheraton or St Regis.
What is Points Advance?
Points Advance allows you to make confirmed award reservations, without having earned the required number of points. You can even choose to use Points Advance even when you have enough points on hand. You should see options that look like this:
Perhaps you don’t have quite enough points, in which case you’ll see this:
If you need far more points than you are allowed to purchase, Points Advance might look like this:
Depending on the hotel, you must stump up the needed number of points at least 7-14 days in advance of arrival. This is usually called “order a reward (e-)certificate”.
Why Use Points Advance?
The advantages of Points Advance are fairly obvious, at least for those organised enough to keep track of future hotel reservations. But some of the more interesting uses are:
- Confirming a reward stay for the future, knowing that you’ll earn points from your credit card / hotel stays in the interim.
- Booking multiple possible holidays – for example when your dates aren’t fully confirmed. This might be important at popular resorts, to avoid missing out on reward inventory. Just remember to cancel the bookings you don’t actually need!
- Reserving a seven-night stay for a travel package. Like me, you might prefer to book everything online and avoid any potential human errors when reserving over the phone. You can book using “Points Advance” and then call Marriott to “attach a travel package hotel certificate to a pre-existing reservation”.
For nearly five months, Marriott members trying to book certain ex-SPG brands online have been re-directed to an SPG website. Until the hotel had been migrated from SPG’s IT systems to Marriott’s, you couldn’t use Points Advance (or a Marriott travel certificate for that matter), even when calling Marriott Rewards.
As of 11 December, 2018, ALL former SPG brands have finally been migrated onto Marriott’s IT platform, meaning that Points Advance is finally available for all hotels in the combined Marriott portfolio. As a result, this is one positive “enhancement” resulting from Marriott’s purchase of Starwood Preferred Guest.
Have you ever used Points Advance? Or forgot to cancel a reservation because the points weren’t attached?