Reverse Bonvoyed? How & Why Marriott Extended 2 Free Night Certificates

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Customer Service Gave Me 2x Marriott Free Night Certificate Extension

Customer Service Gave Me 2x Marriott Free Night Certificate Extension

In a surprise move, Bonvoy customer service gave me 2x Marriott free night certificate extension. While I’m happy to brag about this surprise gesture, I think there’s a lesson here that could help others. Here’s a look at what started it and the ensuing discussion with Marriott. I’ll end with how you might be able to use this for a Marriott free night certificate extension, if you need it.

The Problem I Had

Long story short: like many people, my wife and I are sitting on a wealth of free night awards. We have 6 Marriott free night certificates expiring in August. We decided to use up 4 of these on a trip to Disney World and Universal Orlando in June.

Near Universal, I found a property (Residence Inn) listed at 30,000 points per night. These certificates are worth 35,000 points per night, so I always try to maximize them. On the last page of the reservation, it would not let me choose my certificates. I could only apply points to the reservation.

After multiple tries, clearing my internet history, using my wife’s computer…still the same problem.

Phone Call To Marriott

I called Marriott reservations, figuring they could make the booking for me. After providing the hotel name, dates, and my info, the employee got the same error I had. It would not allow him to apply my certificates. His only option was points or cash.

The whole reason for the booking was to use the free night certificates expiring August 1. I didn’t want to pay some other way, as it wouldn’t address the problem I wanted to solve.

He put me on hold and came back later to explain that the hotel doesn’t actually cost 30,000 points per night. That’s the reason we couldn’t use the certificates. During peak season, it costs 40,000 points per night. This was simply an IT problem of some sort.

In short: the website showed me and showed him a wrong price. My first thought was “I expect the price I saw to be honored.” The phone rep was ahead of me and said he was creating a ticket for someone to look into this. He requested that they honor the price I saw online (2 x 30,000 points per night, using my 2 certificates expiring August 1, 2021). Expect an answer within 3 days of whether they will honor the price.

Emails With Customer Service

Marriott customer service emailed me confirming that the correct price for the Residence Inn is supposed to be 40,000 points per night. The rep asked me for proof that I saw a price of 30,000 points. I replied that the phone agent created the ticket after he also saw this 30,000 points price, so they could confirm with him as proof, since I didn’t have a screen shot.

After confirming internally, they admitted that I saw 30,000 points and offered to honor the rate from their guarantee.

This created a new problem

Because my certificates are worth 35,000 points, there is no way to apply them against a reservation that costs 40,000 points. And there’s no way for the customer service rep to make the price different.

His solution

On night 1, I could pay with a 40,000 point certificate (expiring in December 2021) I got from my Titanium Elite choice benefit. I could pay for the 2nd night with 40,000 points. Then, he would credit 20,000 points back to me, making the price 60,000 points effectively.

Why I balked at first

While that gets me to the price I saw, it doesn’t really address the thing I wanted to resolve: my certificates. Going to the Residence Inn isn’t the thing I wanted to accomplish. I explained to the Marriott rep that my chief concern is a booking where I can use these before their expiry, and that I chose this property because it was close to the value of my certificates & in the right location. ‘Book this hotel’ was not my goal. ‘Use the certificates’ was my goal.

Customer Service Gave Me 2x Marriott Free Night Certificate Extension
Previous view – 2 certificates expiring August 1

Marriott offers a compromise

As a compromise, Marriott offered a free night certificate extension. I was surprised they offered this without me even suggesting it. This accomplishes my goal of not losing the certificates to expiration, which I told him was my main concern. He offered to extend the certificates by a year from his first email, so April next year.

It also allows Marriott to honor their rate guarantee.

Customer Service Gave Me 2x Marriott Free Night Certificate Extension
Updated – certificates no longer expire this year

Lessons Learned On Marriott Free Night Certificate Extension

For the astute reader, I think you know where I’m going with this. Now that my certificates are extended, do I really have any emotional attachment to the Residence Inn near Universal Orlando? Nope. If I need to change hotels, I could move to something cheaper. I can have my cake & eat it too in this situation.

The lesson learned is that Marriott can easily extend your certificates if it helps them accomplish a goal at hand. I didn’t ask for it, but it’s handy to know that you could ask for this if you wind up in a situation where it’s relevant to addressing a problem. “My certificates won’t work because your website showed the wrong price” is relevant to your certificates.

Final Thoughts

I’m surprised this is how Marriott chose to honor their rate guarantee. I figured they would find a way to apply my free night certificates to the reservation, rather than offer an extension or some other solution. However, this is an interesting solution that I’m happy with because both Marriott and I got something we wanted.

Ryan S
Travel hacker in 2-player mode, intent on visiting every country in the world, and can say "hello" or "how much does this cost?" in a bunch of different languages.

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10 COMMENTS

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10 COMMENTS

  1. I’m glad to hear they made you whole for the pricing glitch by crediting you the 20k points. One thing I’ve learned from experience with every single points booking: take screenshots (with date stamp) for the quote page AND booking confirm page even though you’ll receive the email confirmation. I’ve had to use them countless times with Bonvoy, but also with Hilton and Hyatt. While I believe it’s pretty easy typically to extend free night certs with Bonvoy from my past experience (HUCA of course if no luck with first agent you talk to), it’s generally recommended to wait until the last minute to call to extend them and have a good excuse (or several) ready for why you can’t use them. This would have yielded a later expiration date rather than a year from the date of your call in your case (but not the extra 20k points!).

    One other comment: I was very fortunate last year with a similar experience. I tried booking the Ritz Carlton LA, but due to a similar reservation glitch wasn’t able to apply my 50k points certs which were also expiring. Due to the system glitch, the Bonvoy agent referred me to a manager which much to my surprise offered to simply cancel my (2) 50k point certs, and credit 100k points to my account so I could proceed with the booking, which I happily did! This took place Feb 20, right before covid was getting big so we unfortunately had to cancel our trip but I kept the points in lieu of my 50k certs. Win win!

    • Yes, I’d ALWAYS rather have points than certs. 50k points could be 3-4 nights at another property rather than 1 night at this place.

    • Nice! I know some people still have these sitting around. Were you able to get the value out of it you originally thought when signing up for the package?

    • Anthony – we still have my wife’s certs that are expiring and need used, but my account is going that route 🙂

      • I had a similar thing happen to me with Hilton in 2019, I went through the horrible experience of calling to use my FNC, they applied it for the wrong night. I had another 2 night stay elsewhere and wanted to checkout and stay at a nicer Hilton. They ended up giving me 60,000 points and booked it for me. Eventually I cancelled it and made other plans and still have the 60k and a little later discovered I still have the cert too.

  2. I had a similar situation where I ended up getting billed 150,000 points and not even using it for a 5th free night and the hotel not even using one of my free night ecerts. I called and emailed multiple times, and no one would help me. One rep finally gave me 25,000 points and extended some of my ecerts. The night before Easter, I gave my long sad story to another rep trying to get him to extend another cert. Not only did he extend it, he GAVE ME TWO MORE ECERTS! So I actually had 9 35,000 ecerts to use up, 2 that expired by November 31, 2021, and the rest that expired by February 28,2022. Fortunately, I managed to use them all up.

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