Marriott wants you to know you’re a valued member (according to their email) and as such, they’re going to start imposing expiration dates on your hard earned points. Starting February 1, 2016 Marriott and Ritz Carlton Rewards members with no account activity in the previous 24 months will lose their points. At least they’re giving you a head start. Following this week’s massive category changes which saw 986 hotels moving up in category, they’re really not giving us much incentive to keep accruing points, so maybe it makes sense that they’re going to start taking them away.
If you’re wondering what counts as “qualifying activity” on your account, Marriott outlines the following:
- Make a paid (or redemption) stay at any of Marriott’s 3,800+ participating hotels worldwide.
- Redeem points
- Make a purchase using a Marriott Rewards credit card
- Earn points with program partners
- Purchase points
- Hold a qualifying meeting or event, including earning points through the Rewarding Events Program.
- Earning points or miles on incidental charges at qualifying brands.
- Marriott Vacation Club owners exchanging their weeks or MVC points for Marriott Rewards points.
- Converting points to airline miles or airline miles to points.
Transferring, gifting, or earning points through “social media programs” like #MRPoints (am I the only one hearing about this for the first time?) do not qualify as qualifying account activities. At least not when it comes to keeping your points from expiring. Marriott Lifetime Silver, Gold, and Platinum members are the only members exempt from this new point expiration policy.
Your best bet for keeping your Marriott points from expiring is to pick up a Marriott Rewards credit card. Or transfer Ultimate Rewards points from time to time. While point transfers don’t fall into the qualifying activity bucket, Ultimate Rewards do. No word yet on whether Marriott wants to piss off their members further and disqualify Ultimate Rewards transfers as a method of keeping accounts active.
If you don’t see much use for a Marriott or Ultimate Rewards-earning credit card, you can always just use Marriott’s Shop My Way portal for online purchases instead. You’ll earn at least 1 Marriott point per $1 spent and keep your points from expiring.
I actually don’t think Marriott’s new point expiration policy is that terrible, since ideally you shouldn’t hold onto an account balance for that long without earning or redeem part of it anyway. This new policy really just affects hoarders and those people who have orphan points from a random Marriott stay (guilty).