With almost every loyalty rewards program out there, you need to have the necessary number of points in your account to book an award flight or hotel stay. This can make preparing for future trips difficult if you’re still in the process of accumulating the points needed for your desired reward.

For instance, you might find an award flight at a great rate that you’d like to book. Unfortunately, you can’t afford it because you’re still waiting for a sign-up bonus on your new travel rewards credit card to post. If only there were a way to get those points in advance so that you could buy that award flight.

The Marriott Bonvoy program offers its members a unique option to redeem points that they haven’t yet earned with Points Advance. And, while that may sound like an enticing option, there are some downsides to using Points Advance. For one, it doesn’t lock in the award rate. It only ensures that you’ll get the room you reserved.

Let’s take a look at everything that you need to know about Marriott Points Advance, the best times to use it, when to stay away and why you need to keep an eye on your reservations once you use the Points Advance.

Marriott Points Advance Overview & Rules

Similar to a cash advance on a credit card, Marriott Points Advance is sort of like a short-term loan, only with points. Marriott will let you use points that you haven’t yet earned to book an award reservation, but you’ll have a fixed time period to earn the necessary points.

Whether you’re 1 point or 100,000 points short of the amount you need to make your desired award reservation, Marriott Points Advance allows you to book that award reservation anyway and then earn the points that you owe within 60 days after booking or up to 14 days before the arrival date, whichever comes sooner.

If you fail to earn enough points for your Points Advance redemption reservation by the time they come due, your reservation will be canceled.

Still, in the interest of not screwing up your travel plans, we recommend you make sure that you’ll be able to earn enough points within the 60-day period or at least 14 days before your arrival before booking an award reservation with Marriott Points Advance.

There are some other conditions to booking stays with Points Advance to be aware of. These include:

  • Your arrival date must be 30 days or more after the booking date.
  • You can use Points Advance only for award redemption stays, including Cash + Points awards, free night awards, PointSavers awards and upgrade awards.
  • You can’t make a reservation with Points Advance if you have enough points for the stay.
  • You can’t make more than three Points Advance reservations at a time.

Using Points Advance is just like booking any other award reservation through Marriott Bonvoy. You just have to log in to the Marriott website and then search for award bookings like you normally would.

Marriott also has co-branded credit cards that can help you rack up Marriott Bonvoy points fast.

How to book a stay with Marriott Points Advance

Then, once you find the room you want to reserve, the website will display the number of points you need for the award. From there, complete the reservation and Marriott will give you a confirmation number.

The Award Rate Is Not Locked In

The one major drawback to using Points Advance is that the award rate that you book at will be subject to change up until you actually redeem the points. Before 2019, if the award rate changed between the time that you booked and the time that you redeemed your points, you’d be grandfathered in and allowed to pay the old award rate. Unfortunately, in 2019, that policy was done away with.

Now, for instance, if you book an award reservation for 100,000 Bonvoy points with Points Advance and the award rate goes up to 120,000 points before you redeem your points, you’ll be required to pay that additional 20,000 points.

Therefore, there’s no point in trying to make reservations with Points Advance on speculation that award rates are going to increase and that you’ll be locking in a lower rate. You’ll have to pay the same award rate either way.

If the award rate decreases between the time you make the booking and the time you make the actual redemption, Marriott will allow you to pay the lower rate.

Myrtle Beach Marriott Resort & Spa at Grande Dunes

When You Should Use Points Advance

Despite the fact that Points Advance can no longer be used to take advantage of rising award rates, there are times when Points Advance can be helpful. Namely, booking with Points Advance can be a great way to book award reservations during busy travel times.

If you want to use points to make an award booking around Thanksgiving or Fourth of July, for example, Points Advance is a great way to get those bookings before they sell out, even if you don’t have enough points to book them.

Once again, just because you have the booking doesn’t mean that the award rate won’t change. This is why you need to keep an eye on your Points Advance redemption reservations.

If the rate in points goes up and you decide that you don’t want to pay the higher rate, you should make sure to cancel your reservation before the penalty-free cancellation window is up. The penalty-free cancellation window is different depending on what property you book at, so you need to pay attention to that, too.

How to Earn More Marriott Bonvoy Points

If you make a reservation with Points Advance and you’re worried that you won’t be able to earn enough points to make your redemption within the 60-day period, there are several ways to boost your Marriott Bonvoy points balance.

First of all, staying at Marriott locations is the most straightforward way to earn Marriott Bonvoy points. So, if you need to travel anyway, you might want to prioritize staying at Marriott locations if they’re reasonably priced.

You can also transfer points from Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership Rewards at a 1:1 ratio.

Marriott also has co-branded credit cards that can help you rack up Marriott Bonvoy points fast. These include:

  • Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card (not available to new applicants)
  • Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card
  • Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card
  • Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card
  • Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card

Finally, Marriott Bonvoy allows transferring up to 100,000 points per calendar year between two accounts that have been open for 60 days or longer free of charge. So, if you have a friend or family member who’s willing to gift you or loan you some points to make your redemption, that’s a quick and easy solution.

The Bottom Line

Although Marriott Points Advance was a far more lucrative option before the chain closed several loopholes in 2019, it’s still a great way to make advance award bookings during peak travel times when you’re short on points.

However, since the award rate is subject to change up until you actually redeem the points for the award reservation, you could end up paying a different rate than you originally saw when you were making the booking. And, more often than not, rates have a tendency to increase rather than decrease.