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If you’ve been following the Marriott-SPG IT merger over the weekend at all, you’ll know that it went about as seamlessly as expected. That is, it was a meltdown on multiple levels.

After keeping guests in the dark over how the old travel packages would map to the new program, Marriott finally released this information over the weekend. It wasn’t pretty. A few of the certificate levels (3 in particular) were major losers. Everyone who had bet that Marriott would upgrade some certificates to higher tiers was disappointed.

But Marriott is at least starting to do some damage control. They’ve released some updates regarding travel packages, two of which are quite encouraging for those (like me) who were disappointed at first.

Certificates are useable now!

Marriott previously announced that existing 7-night travel package certificates would not be available for use until September 18. They were supposed to go into a one month limbo. This was a bit disheartening, especially if you had an upcoming stay that could be impacted.

But good news! Marriott has confirmed that as of Monday, August 20, that blackout is over. New certificates can be purchased from Marriott at the new (read awful) prices, and stays booked with old certificates can be modified or canceled.

The certificates also map to the new program certificates if they haven’t already been attached to a reservation. I’m holding a Category 8 certificate that is attached to a reservation for next summer, but I’m now contemplating how to approach this, based on Marriott’s other offer…

You can downgrade or refund your certificate for points

When Marriott released the initial chart showing how old certificates map to the new categories, many people were left wringing their hands. A good number had wagered that certain categories would see a bump, but had lost that bet. Marriott rolled out the new certificates in the “least customer-friendly way” possible. Check out the chart:

Old Package CategoryNew Package Category
Marriott 1-5Marriott 1-4
Marriott 6Marriott 1-4
Marriott 7Marriott 5
Marriott 8Marriott 5
Marriott 9Marriott 6
Ritz Tier 1-3Marriott 6
Ritz Tier 4-5Marriott 7

You can see that the Category 6, Category 8 and Tier 1-3 Ritz certificates are the biggest losers. The certificates one tier below each have the same booking power for fewer points.

However, Marriott has indicated that those holding a Category 6, 8, or Ritz Tier 1-3 certificates can ask for a one-time exchange to the lower category. This will net you the equivalent certificate in the new program, and also a refund of 30,000 Marriott points. Not too bad of a deal.

[Update: While this was communicated by Marriott, many people are noting that this isn’t being reflected by responses to requests for refunds. We are reaching out for clarification.]

You can also apparently still return your entire certificate for points. My Category 8 certificate, for example, would net me 135,000 Marriott points. Definitely not in the plans at the moment, but it is a good back-door option to have.

Conclusion

So, now that more details regarding how Marriott will handle certificate changes, does this change your plans of what to do with yours. Sure, if you bet that you’d end up with a higher category by picking a Category 6 or 8 certificate, that ship has sailed. But at least Marriott will refund the portion that was overpaid.

My biggest dilemma is having a package that is currently holding a reservation at a Category 6 hotel. I cannot change or cancel this and have another shot at that reservation. However, if I do cancel, Marriott will refund me 30,000 points since I’m sitting on a Category 8 certificate. It all really depends on how our plans develop, but right now I’m gonna sit tight.

How about you? Did you redeem any points for Marriott travel packages prior to the rollout of the new program?

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