Whine Wednesdays: Marriott Gift Cards

Did you purchase Marriott electronic gift cards during the last two sales (20% and 15% off), and if yes, were there any issues using them?

Back in May, I purchased five $1,000 Marriott gift cards for $4,000 (essentially 20% off). There were some issues getting them delivered in the time frame promised (the deadline was extended several times), but I was in no hurry, as I didn’t expect to start using them before August.

READ MORE: Marriott Bonvoy Rate & Bonus Points Promotions

Let me start saying that these gift cards are a (insert your favorite swear word) PITA to use at international properties.

You end up wasting hours of your time, ensuring that they are processed and applied towards folio expenses.

Here are some of the excuses that I was told:

  • We don’t take them
  • I don’t know how to redeem
  • I don’t have a password to redeem
  • Our password has expired.
  • I have never seen one before
  • Only the supervisor can redeem
  • You cannot use them towards the room rate, only incidentals

On a positive side:

  • Every hotel has, in the end, been able to redeem them correctly
  • The exchange rate used is live, so you don’t lose anything when the card and folio are in a different currency

Conclusion

As is the often case with most Marriott related IT solutions, these gift cards are redeemed on a third party system with property and employee-specific usernames and passwords. Way too complicated when most of the hotels outside of the United States will rarely see one.

If you want to redeem Marriott gift cards, whether physical or electronic, the best course of action is to stop at the front desk the night before checking out and let them know that you will use one to fully or partially to settle your stay. The front desk employee likely writes down the card number or asks you to email it.

You can see in realtime when the hotel withdraws the funds from the card and what the value is in billing currency. As I pointed above, I had no issues with the exchange rate used.

I wish that Marriott would make it easier for hotels to redeem these gift cards. The current procedures are too cumbersome for hotel employees to master.