Good news: Marriott extending free night certificates and points


If you’re sitting on Marriott free night certificates that are set to expire on August 1st, there is good news for you this morning: Marriott has announced that they are extending Free Night Awards and travel package certificates that had an original expiration date in 2020 or which are set to expire before January 2, 2022. Those certificates will now be valid through January 3, 2022. That’s great news for many readers who have been hoping for another extension. It is worth nothing that certificates originally set to expire before 2020 will not be extended again according to the announcement, though we’ll see what happens in practice. This is nice win for many members.

Free nights extended to our surprise and delight

You may remember that in October Marriott had extended free night certificates expiring late last year or during the first half of 2021 to August 1, 2021.

If you tuned in to our Youtube Live Ask Us Anything just two days ago, you know that we have maintained our reps as the world’s worst fortune tellers because less than 48 hours ago we said that we didn’t think another extension would happen (guess we should hold off on adding a “Frequent Miler predicts” segment on the podcast). In our conversation, I mentioned that a comment from the Marriott rep in Marriott’s Facebook group could have been interpreted as foreshadowing an announcement but I said that it was just as likely that it was merely an attempt at positive-sounding spin and that we shouldn’t read into it. If only I had taken the theory up and run with it perhaps we could sell a Frequent Miler-themed crystal ball. Alas, no such luck.

The potential downside here is that Marriott says that free night awards with an original expiration date before 2020 will not be extended again according to what we are told. I have a 50K certificate in my account that was originally issued around the cutoff — I couldn’t immediately remember whether it was originally scheduled to expire in late December 2019 or early January 2020 (I had called prior to expiration and gotten a 1-year extension). That cert is now scheduled to expire on August 1, 2021 and because I didn’t recall when it was originally issued, I didn’t know whether or not it would be extended. Based on the wording of the announcement, I would expect that if it was originally scheduled to expire in December of 2019, it would still expire on August 1st. If it was originally scheduled to expire in January of 2020, it should be extended to January 3, 2022. I don’t see a way to easily know when it was originally scheduled to expire (and in practice, I wonder whether they will truly base the extension on the original expiration date or whether it will be based on the expiration date from when it was reissued).

That said, I would expect to know the new expiration date soon: Marriott says that their system will automatically update the expiration dates of certificates on May 6, 2021. Therefore, I would know in a week whether that Ritz certificate above will still expire on August 1st or is extended until January 3, 2022. As it turns out, I wrote about that specific certificate in my post about the extension to August 1st, so I can see that my certificate was originally scheduled to expire on January 3, 2020. I should therefore end up getting the new January 3, 2022 expiration. My wife and I also have several other certificates that should be extended and I am glad for the extensions.

Point expiration paused until March 31, 2022

Those who have been completely disconnected from travel and points for the past year are in luck in that points expiration will be extended once again until March 31, 2022. This means that if you have not had activity in your Marriott account within the past 24 months, your points will not expire before March 31, 2022. This should give most members plenty of time to find some qualifying activity — like purchasing points, earning points via credit card, transferring from Amex or Chase, or earning from stay activity. Just don’t forget to pick up some type of activity within the next 11 months to keep your points alive for another two years.

Bottom line

This is great news and I’m glad to see it come out sooner rather than later. Many members were stressed about where and whether to use their free night certificates or if they should instead wait in hopes of another extension. I would have loved to have seen certificates extended through the end of 2022, but truthfully didn’t think it was likely that we would see any extension at all. The ability to use certs through the entire summer, fall, and holiday season will likely satisfy a lot of members and make it much easier to find the right redemption rather than settling for a use that is far less than optimal.

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