Roughly two years ago, I wrote that Marriott Bonvoy should just get rid of its “Points Advance” feature. Marriott is finally taking my advice and ending the “Points Advance” feature on March 28, 2023.
What is Points Advance?
Points Advance allows members to book an award stay without having the points in their account yet. Members have 60 days from booking or up to 14 days prior to arrival (whichever comes first) to earn enough points to cover an existing Points Advance reservation.
At first glance, this is a useful feature. If you’ve booked an award stay several months in advance, you are more inclined to earn or buy the points needed to pay for that award stay. 60 days is probably long enough to allow you to wait for the next “buy points” promotion to come around… And you probably only used Points Advance at high-demand, low award space hotels in popular locations.
What was Wrong with Points Advance?
Points Advance never guaranteed the price of the room. With dynamic pricing, this could vary substantially – leaving you without a clear idea of the number of points you needed to pick up within that 60-day window.
The feature was also unpopular with hotels. Points Advance bookings would regularly clog up room inventory, only to be cancelled 14 days before arrival – making it difficult for the hotels to resell the rooms.
Points Advance also could lead to disappointment. YOU might have the points in your account and want to book a popular hotel, but you would be unable to book it using points because somebody else had already Points Advance-d it. But you’d have likely already made alternative arrangements before the 14-day pre-arrival deadline.
Points Advance was a feature that made sense a decade ago, before “dynamic award pricing” or even “peak / off-peak award pricing”. You could reserve a room and collect the points (or certificates) before your stay. But since Points Advance had lost much of its usefulness, it’s time for it to go…