Review of Marriott Bonvoy, Marriott’s new loyalty program

Friday newsletters always feature luxury travel conteststipsseries, or news.

Today (March 22, 2018): Review of Marriott’s new loyalty program, Marriott Bonvoy.

In February 2019, Marriott launched its new loyalty program, Marriott Bonvoy. With the new program, members can earn points and exchange them for valuable rewards when they stay at one of Marriott’s 30 different hotel brands across 6800+ locations in more than 150 countries. The 30 brands are divided into the 5 categories of Luxury, Premium, Select, Longer Stays, and Collections, and within each category they’re further broken up into “classic” and “distinctive.” The luxury category comprises Ritz-CarltonSt Regis and JW Marriott in the “classic” luxury segment and Ritz-Carlton ReserveThe Luxury CollectionBVLGARIW Hotels, and Edition in the “distinctive” luxury segment. I highly recommend to subscribe to Marriott Bonvoy – which you can do for free here – as it’s the best in the travel industry.

What’s your opinion about Marriott Bonvoy? Leave a comment below.

In this overview, I explain the new Marriott Rewards program:

Marriott bonvoy

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MARRIOT BONVOY EXPLAINED: MEMBERSHIP TIERS

Marriott Rewards is a top class awards structure offering a five-tier system of awards points. Silver Elite is the first level, Gold Elite the second, Platinum Elite the third, Platinum Premier Elite the fourth, and finally Platinum Premier Elite With Ambassador is the top-level. Each level has benefits and as the member moves from Silver Elite to Premier Elite With Ambassador, they become more valuable. But even basic members without elite status enjoy some benefits, such as member only rates, mobile check-in and complimentary standard in-room WiFi as long as you book directly on Marriott.com, Marriott’s mobile app, Marriott’s call center, or through a Marriott hotel. For an overview of all elite membership levels, click here.

  • Silver Elite is reached after completing 10 eligible nights in a calendar year and comes with the following benefits:
    • 10% bonus on Marriott Rewards points
    • Late check-out (when requested and available)
    • Access to an elite reservation line to make reservations or request redemption stays and reward certificates
    • Reservation guarantee: if for some reason the hotel is unable to honor your reservation, Marriott will pay for your accommodations that night at a nearby hotel and compensate you for the inconvenience
    • Complimentary in-room internet access when you book through any of Marriott’s websites or apps
    • Access to member only rates
  • Gold Elite is reached after completing 25 eligible nights in a calendar year and comes with the following benefits:
    • 25% bonus on Marriott Rewards points
    • Guaranteed 2 p.m. late checkout, subject to availability
    • Room upgrade (based on availability at check-in)
    • Welcome gift (250 to 500 bonus points, varies by brand)
    • Access to an elite reservation line to make reservations or request redemption stays and reward certificates.
    • Reservation guarantee: if for some reason the hotel is unable to honor your reservation, Marriott will pay for your accommodations that night at a nearby hotel and compensate you for the inconvenience.
    • Complimentary in-room internet access when you book through any of Marriott’s websites or apps
    • Access to member only rates
  • Platinum Elite is reached after completing 50 eligible nights in a calendar year and comes with the following benefits:
    • 50% bonus on Marriott Rewards points
    • Guaranteed 4 p.m. late checkout, subject to availability
    • Room upgrade, including suites (based on availability at check-in)
    • Welcome gift (500 to 1000 bonus points – varies by brand – or breakfast or amenity)
    • Complimentary enhanced in-room internet access
    • At hotel brands that have lounges, you’ll have full access and complimentary breakfast
    • Annual choice benefit, with a choice between five suite night awards, give the gift of Silver Elite status, 40% off your favorite mattress, five elite night credits or a $100 USD charity donation
    • Access to a dedicated elite line to make reservations or request redemption stays and reward certificates.
    • Reservation guarantee: if for some reason the hotel is unable to honor your reservation, Marriott will pay for your accommodations that night at a nearby hotel and compensate you for the inconvenience.
  • Titanium Elite is reached after completing 75 eligible nights in a calendar year and comes with the following benefits:
    • 75% bonus on Marriott Rewards points
    • Guaranteed 4 p.m. late checkout, subject to availability
    • Room upgrade, including suites (based on availability at check-in)
    • Welcome gift (bonus points or breakfast)
    • Complimentary premium internet
    • Lounge access
    • An additional annual gift choice, with a choice between five suite night awards, a free night award, gift Gold Elite status, 40% off your favorite mattress, five elite night credits or a $100 USD charity donation
    • Guaranteed room availability when you make a reservation at least 48 hours before arrival
    • Access to a dedicated elite line to make reservations or request redemption stays and reward certificates.
    • Reservation guarantee: if for some reason the hotel is unable to honor your reservation, Marriott will pay for your accommodations that night at a nearby hotel and compensate you for the inconvenience.
  • Ambassador Elite is reached after completing 100 eligible nights and $20,000 USD of spend at Marriott properties in a calendar year. If you meet the ambassador qualifications, you’ll receive all the Platinum Premier Elite benefits, along with the following:
    • Ambassador service (your contact person to make your stays as personal and enjoyable as possible)
    • Your24: flexibility to choose your check-in and checkout time

MARRIOTT BONVOY: EARN POINTS

There are several ways to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and boost your account:

  • You earn 10 base points for every US dollar spent on all qualifying charges with stays at the Marriott group. Points can be earned across allmost all brands on room rate and incidentals that can be charged to the room, such as dining and spa services. Some exceptions apply:
    • At Element, Residence Inn, and TownPlace Suites you earn 5 base points per dollar.
    • At BVLGARI Hotels and Ritz-Carlton Reserves, you earn nothing at all as these brand do currently not participate into the Marriott Bonvoy program.
  • Marriott Rewards elite members automatically receive extra bonus points on all the base points they earn: a 10% bonus for Silver Elite status, a 25% bonus for Gold Elite, a 50% bonus for Platinum Elite, and a 75% bonus for Platinum Premier Elite.
  • You earn Marriott Bonvoy points with selected travel partners: Hertz and Cruises Only. The partner list changes regularly so check the Marriott Rewards website for the latest updates.
  • You can also buy Marriott Reward points online, up to 50,000 points per calendar year for yourself or another Marriott Rewards member.
  • You earn miles with ‘rewarding events‘, when you hold a meeting, conference, wedding or other event at a participating Marriott brand hotel. Per each qualifying event, base members can earn up to 60,000 points (2 points per $1 USD); while Platinum Premier Elite members can earn up to 105,000 points per qualifying event. If you choose to earn frequent flyer airline miles instead of points, all member tiers can earn a maximum of 20,000 miles (1 mile per $1 USD) per qualifying event. You also get 10 elite status qualifying nights when you book your first meeting — and achieve Silver Elite status automatically.
  • You earn up to 50,000 points per calendar year for referring friends. You can refer up to 5 new members each calendar year, and will earn 2,000 Marriott Rewards bonus points for each stay your referrals make beginning with their first paid stay, up to 5 stays per referral. Your friends will also earn 2,000 Marriott Rewards bonus points beginning with their first paid stay, up to 5 stays. That’s 10,000 bonus points for them, in addition to the base points they’ll earn. Plus, you’ll earn one elite qualifying night for every additional 20 room nights you book — up to 20 elite qualifying nights per contract.
  • Spent via Marriott branded credit cards is one of the fastest ways to earn Marriott Reward Points. These credit cards are only available to residents of the USA, UK, Canada, United Arab Emirates and Japan. Both American Express and Chase issue credit cards for Marriott’s new loyalty program. For example, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless credit card comes with a $95 USD annual fee and offers the following benefits:
    • 6 points for every $1 spent at 6,500+ participating hotels.
    • 2 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
    • Silver Elite status with the Marriott Bonvoy program.
    • One free night hotel stay at a property with a redemption level up to 35,000 points.
    • No foreign transaction fee. For example, if you spend $5,000 internationally, you would avoid $150 in foreign transaction fees.
    • Complimentary premium internet at Marriott hotels

MARRIOTT BONVOY: REDEEM POINTS & TRAVEL FOR FREE

The Marriott Bonvoy program offers several possibilities to redeem points:

  • You can use your Marriott Bonvoy points to book a free or discounted standard room at any of the Marriott Group hotels and resorts worldwide (except for BVULGARI and Ritz-Carlton Reserve Hotels), with no blackout dates.
    • You can redeem free nights without black dates, starting at just 5000 Marriott Bonvoy points for a night at a category 1 hotel to a minimum of 70,000 Marriott Bonvoy points at a category 8 hotel (cf table below or this link). Properties are grouped into categories, depending on the hotel brand, location and type. You can acces a list of all Marriott hotels – and the points you need to stay at them for free – here.
    • You can stretch your Marriott Rewards points with Cash + Points Rewards, and book a seriously discounted hotel room using a combination of Marriott Rewards points and cash. The exact value of this varies from hotel to hotel, but you can stay for as little as $55 USD and 3,500 points.
    • Awards at PointSavers hotels are charged at one category lower level (up to 33% fewer points) and category 1 hotels at 20% off. The properties that participate in PointSavers changes every few months, however you can find the current list on their site.
    • When you redeem 4 nights at select hotels and resorts, then your 5th consecutive night is free.
    • You can also use your Marriott Bonvoy points to upgrade to a higher room category. Upgrades start as low as 5,000 points depending on the view or room type.

 

  • The Marriott Bonvoy program let you redeem points instantly at any participating Marriott. That’s on anything that can be charged to your guest room, such as dinners, cocktails, massages, or golf. Each $1 USD is valued at 250 points. So if you would like a spa treatment worth US$50, you would redeem 12,500 points.
  • The Marriott Bonvoy airline transfer program allows you to convert Marriott Bonvoy points to frequent flyer miles on more than 40 airlines, including United, Delta, Emirates, Lufthansa, China Eastern and more. The transfer ratio is three points for one mile. You can transfer as few as 3,000 points and up to 240,000 points per day — and any amount in between. As a bonus, you get 15,000 points extra for every 60,000 points you transfer to airline miles, for a total of 25,000 miles in the airline program of your choice.
  • The Marriott Bonvoy program also allows you to exchange your points for so called ‘travel packages‘, which include a week of hotel accommodations with airline miles included (which is a better deal than using points of hotel and flight booking separately).
    • Click here for the tables with the point requirements.
    • You’ll receive 10% more MileagePlus miles when you redeem for a Marriott Rewards Hotel + Air Package on United Airlines (up to 12,000 more miles).
  • You can directly redeem your Marriott Rewards points for an airline ticket on virtually any airline. You will need more points to book a flight as compared to transferring them to an airlines’ frequent flyer program and book a flight from there, but you will not face the standard restrictions that limit most frequent-flyer awards. Plus, you can search for airline tickets whenever you choose, even during peak periods such as holidays. Click here for more info.
  • You can redeem your Marriott Rewards points for a car rental virtually everywhere world. Click here for more info.
  • You can use Marriott Reward points for shopping in Marriott’s Exclusively Yours online shopping mall, a virtual shopping paradise of top designers and brands, including merchandise from Apple, Tiffany & Co., Michel Kors, Prada, Nikon, Canon and many more.
  • You can also redeem points for ‘Mariott Bonvoy Moments‘, which are exclusive events with artists, musicians, chefs, or athletes. From walking the red carpet to ziplining through the rain forest to going backstage with your favorite band, make the most out of every exclusive moment.
  • You can transfer 1,000 points or more – up to a maximum of 50,000 points per year – to friends and family for a transaction fee of just $10 USD. Gold Elite, Platinum Elite, Titanium Elite and Ambassador Elite members transfer for free.

PROS & THINGS I LIKE ABOUT MARRIOT BONVOY
  • Since the acquisition of Starwood, the Marriott Group’s portfolio of hotels is one of the largest in the world. With almost 7000 properties worldwide, it is quite easy from a geographical point of view to earn or redeem points at many properties across the globe.
  • Although North America is its stronghold, Marriott does have a strong worldwide presence in most major international markets and business centers, so the program appeals to travelers worldwide.
  • Marriott runs an excellent ‘Best Rate Guarantee (BRG) program, which means you will always get the best available rate at a Marriott branded hotels when you book through an official Marriott channel. If you find a lower rate for the same hotel, room type and dates within 24 hours of making your reservation, you need to submit a BRG claim form. A Marriott representative will review the claim, and if approved, Marriott will match the rate and give you an additional 25% discount on the room or 5,000 Marriott Rewards points (up to your choice). Finding a better rate is not difficult at all, as I explained in my tips for booking a luxury hotel at the cheapest price.
  • WiFi is complimentary as long as the reservation is made through Marriott.com, Marriott’s mobile app, Marriott’s call center, or through a Marriott hotel.
  • The list of Marriott Bonvoy’s airline partners is impressive and the 3:1 conversation rate of points into miles is unmachted. In addition, you receive a 5,000 mileage bonus when you convert 60,000 points into miles (resulting in 25,000 airline miles instead of 20,000).  As a consequence, one of the single best values of Marriott Bonvoy is to transfer your points in bulks of 60,000 to an airline partner and book free award tickets or upgrades.
  • Marriott Bonvoy allows you to earn miles with more than 40 airline partners instead of points. In most cases, you earn 2 airline miles per USD on all qualifying charges when staying at one of the Marriott managed hotels around the globe. All you need to do is update your profile if you prefer to earn miles for your stays with any of these frequent flyer programs.
  • Marriott Bonvoy allows to pool points among households and friends. You can move up to 50,000 points per year into the account of a friend or family member. There is no charge for Gold Elite or higher Marriott Bonvoy  members. Silver Elite and base level members must pay a flat fee of $10.
  • Unlike most loyalty hotel programs, you do receive stay (or night) credit for award stays (or nights), meaning that award stays count towards Marriott Bonvoy elite qualification
  • Marriott Bonvoy regularly launches excellent promotions to boost your account. Marriott’s global promotions are typically called “MegaBonus.” During Marriott’s MegaBonus promotion last fall, they offered a Category 1-5 free night certificate after making just two stays at any Marriott family property.
  • You can book a redemption stay even if you don’t have enough points. As long as you earn or purchase the needed points at least 14 days prior to check-in, you’re good to go.
  • Marriott Bonvoy points do not expire as long as you keep your account active by doing one of the following at least once every two years: make a paid (or redemption) stay at any of the participating hotels worldwide; redeem points; or use a Marriott branded credit card for purchases every 24 months.
  • There are no award blackout dates. As long as there is a standard room available, you can book it using your Marriott Bonvoy points.
  • Marriott Bonvoy has a number of different award types, including travel packages, airline tickets, train rides, and hotel stays.
  • There are quite a few ways (e.g. PointSavers Award, 5th night free) to save on the number of Marriott Bonvoy points required for free hotel stays.
  • The travel package award option is a very good one, but does require a high number of points. You redeem for airline miles and a 7-night hotel stay. You don’t have to spend the miles at the same time, however. They are just deposited to your chosen frequent flyer account.
  • With Your24, Marriott Bonvoy’s top elite members can choose any 24 hour period to check-in and check-out. The catch is that this is subject to availability, and the hotel will confirm this at most a couple of days in advance.
  • Marriott Bonvoy has teamed up with MileagePlus, the frequent flyer program of United Airlines:
    • Platinum Elite members enjoy complimentary United MileagePlus premier silver status. This includes access to Economy Plus at check-in for you and a companion (when available), upgrade confirmation as early as day of departure (when available), one complimentary standard checked bag (up to 50 pounds or 23 kg), premier access priority airport services (where available), and 7 award miles for every dollar you spend on United flights.
    • If you’re a member of Marriott Bonvoy and United MileagePlus, you get 10% more miles when you convert Marriott points to MileagePlus miles, and 10% more miles when you redeem Marriott points for travel packages.
  • Marriott Bonvoy has teamed up with Skywards, the frequent flyer program of Emirates:
    • Marriott Bonvoy members earn 3 points per US dollar spent on all eligible Emirates flights (on top of Skywards Miles). Plus, Platinum Elite members enjoy elite in-airport benefits, including priority check-in, priority boarding and complimentary e-gate access.
    • Emirates Skywards Silver, Gold and Platinum members earn 1 mile per US dollar (on top of hotel points) for all eligible stays at Marriott hotels and resorts worldwide. Plus, Emirates Skywards Gold and Platinum members enjoy additional benefits at Marriott hotels and resorts, including 4pm late checkout, access to the Marriott elite check-in line and complimentary in-room Internet access.
  • Elite Lifetime Status is possible within the Marriott Bonvoy program, and is determined by your total qualified nights stayed and points earned throughout the course of your membership:
    • Lifetime Silver Elite is reached after 250 nights & 5 year elite status. Lifetime Silver Elites get all Silver Elite benefits and points never expire.
    • Lifetime Gold Elite is reached after 400 nights & 7 year elite status. Lifetime Gold Elites get all Gold Elite benefits and points never expire.
    • Lifetime Platinum Elite is reached after 600 nights & 10 year elite status. Lifetime Platinum Elites get all Platinum Elite benefits and points never expire.


CONS & THINGS I DO NOT LIKE ABOUT MARRIOT BONVOY
  • Marriott’s most luxurious hotel brands BVLGARI and Ritz-Carlton Reserve do not participate in Marriott Bonvoy. So, unfortunately, this means that you cannot earn nor spend points for stays at the most luxurious properties in the Marriott group.
  • The Best Rate Guarantee does not apply to Tribute Portfolio Homes, Sheraton Vacation Club, Westin Vacation Club, The Ritz-Carlton Montreal, The Ritz London, Ritz-Carlton Residences, The Ritz-Carlton Club, Marriott Vacation Club, Marriott’s Grand Residence Club, or any other properties operating under Marriott Vacations Worldwide Corporation brands, its subsidiaries and its affiliates.
  • You cannot qualify based on number of stays; only the number of nights counts.
  • Members are only be allowed to earn elite night credit for a single room at a hotel on a single night. This is especially costly for families who have to book more than 1 room to fit everyone. Now they’ll be paying for 2 or 3 rooms but only getting elite credit for 1. Members will still earn points for all the rooms they book and pay for — it’s just the elite night credit that will be limited to 1 per night.
  • Platinum Elite members get a welcome gift at each hotel. While that’s a good thing of course, things are a bit complicated as the gift varies for each brand. There are 76 (!!!) different Platinum Elite welcome amenity policies, confusing the top elite members (cf table below). Worst of all, a welcome gift is not offered at Ritz-Carlton, BVLGARI, Edition, and Design Hotels.

  • As shown in the table above, Platinum Elite members can choose breakfast as a welcome option. However, the breakfast program is disappointing and hugely confusing as Marriott has not standardized its complimentary breakfast offerings. For example, breakfast as a welcome gift is not offered at Ritz-Carlton, Design and Edition hotels, while JW Marriott, Sheraton and Westin only offer continental breakfast instead of a breakfast buffet. Of course, the trick is to always book via Virtuoso to have free breakfast included with your stay (bookings made via Virtuoso also earn Marriott Rewards points and do count towards elite status).
  • Marriott’s has now more 30 brands in its portfolio and suffers from brand confusion. Differences between Ritz-Carlton vs St Regis, and Sheraton vs Marriott hotels are not always clear. In an effort to clear up things, Marriott has grouped its brands into several categories (although I believe that some brands will disappear in the future, as they will fuse with each other):
    • Classic Luxury
      • Ritz-Carlton
      • St. Regis
      • JW Marriott
    • Distinctive Luxury
      • The Luxury Collection
      • W Hotels
      • Edition
    • Classic Premium
      • Marriott
      • Sheraton
      • Marriott Vacation Club
      • Delta Hotel
    • Distinctive Premium
      • Le Meridian
      • Westin
      • Autograph Collection Hotels
      • Design Hotels
      • Renaissance Hotels
      • Tribute Portfolio
      • Gaylord Hotels
    • Classic Select
      • Courtyard
      • Four Points
      • Springhill Suites
      • Protea Hotels
      • Fairfield
    • Distinctive Select
      • AC Hotels
      • Aloft
      • Moxie Hotels
    • Classic Select Longer Stays
      • Marriott Executive Apartments
      • Residence Inn
      • TownePlace Suites
    • Distinctive Select Longer Stays
      • Element


MY REVIEWS OF MARRIOTT‘S LUXURY HOTELS

Click the thumbnail to read my reviews of Marriott hotels around the globe:


KEY POINTS
  • Marriott Bonvoy is one the best regarded loyalty schemes in the world, so be sure to sign up to the program when you stay at a Marriott hotel.
  • Marriott has an impressive portfolio of luxury hotels, where you earn and/or redeem points.
  • Book using a Best Rate Guarantee to collect tons of free hotel points or throw in an additional 25% discount.
  • Subscribe to Marriott’s promotions to speed up your earning rate of hotel points.
  • One of the best way to spend your Marriott points is to transfer them to airline miles, followed by cash& points redemptions at Marriott properties.
  • BVLGARI Hotels and Ritz-Carlton Reserves do not participate to Marriott Bonvoy.

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9 Comments

  1. Marriott Bonvoy Rewards is NOT Starwood Rewards! Marriott deliberately complicates its Rewards Program to make you think you are receiving more than you can actually receive/use. We are/were Platinum status in both programs. Starwood always treated its Platinum members far better than Marriott ever has. And of course Marriott’s best properties don’t belong to the Rewards Program…what a surprise. Just like the Bonvoy website, Marriott kept the worst of Marriott and discarded the best of Starwood.

  2. Thanks so much for this review. I enjoy all your articles and videos. I have seen the advertisements and was wondering if it was worth my time.

  3. The Marriott Bonvoy is a bit of a scam. Often they only offer one rate and that rate is non-refundable. So, if your plans change, even by a day, the hotel will not work with you to re-schedule your visit. Most hotel reservations will honor a cancellation up to 24 hours prior to the arrival date. Bonvoy will refuse to work with you, even if you have to adjust months ahead of time. The reason why they only provide one non-refundable option is that that are attempting to trap you into paying for a hotel that you can’t stay in.

    I had this happen to me. Stay away from this program. Other hotel awards packages do not try to dupe their customers in this way.

  4. I agree that Bonvoy represent a downgrade compared to the late SPG. One example: I would get a fre night award with 50 nights with SPG, now I need 75 nights and Titanium status with Bonvoy. All other frequent guests I meet at louges consistently complain if they are ex-SPG like me. I have so many disappointing stories. Still hit Titanium last year and probably this year too, but I am definitively looking for other options. Ah… the cherry on the cacke… I am approaching lifetime platinum but there is no lifetime titanium… so it is a way to tell me my loyalty is no longer needed.

  5. I have to say I have been a Gold Member for over two years now and the program is terrible. They say Gold will get upgrades but every time you stay the hotels say we have no upgrades to give you. They don’t add all your nights you stay unless you catch it and spends hours on the phone with them it doesn’t get added. I have been hung up on more times than I can count. I have stayed at there best hotels and been placed in rooms that hadn’t been cleans still having in the toilets stuff from the last guess. When there is a problem having elite status doesn’t help a bit. You will need to book through there site to get points but their site is more expensive then other sites for the same hotel. Essentially if you do the math you are buying the points that will become bonus points or earned points each time you stay with them. What’s the Benefit?

  6. “Upgraded” to the new boundless credit card, what a scam . I lost my ability to gain stay credits by doing this. when I called and complained I was hung up on and then when I talked with another person, she could have cared less. I am one year out of platinum elite lifetime. I have been loyal to Marriott for nine years but now feel betrayed . I will never get to platinum elite life time. Maybe it does not matter as the program is so much worse now .

  7. Titanium Elite member here with a laundry list of complaints about the Marriott Bonvoy program. I spend many nights away from home due to work. In the past, it has never been an issue having my wife use free nights while visiting my college age daughter. Suddenly, because I am not traveling with my wife, she cannot use the free upgrades that have been earned. Her card was charged 4 different times for a 12 hour stay. The room was not ready although mobile check in was used. 45 minute wait to check in, then a 30 minute check in process- even though mobile check in was used. If this is what Marriott has become, they lost my business. BTW I did try to contact customer service, but it seemed as though they were not interested.

  8. They have become a monopoly just like the airlines…they will never be the same…and they will NEVER reach Starwood level of service or quality! And they don’t care!

  9. I hate the new program. It is terrible. We own a timeshare in Princeville on Kauai that allowed us trade our unused weeks for Starwood Points. Now the Bonvoy conversion gives us nothing! We used to be able to trade a week for at least a week in a Starwood property. The Bonvoy conversion gives us three nights at most. And when you call, they know! Customer Service will admit that they are getting complaints from Starwood customers all teh time but they could care less. Crappy loyalty program and the hotel rates are way higher than before.

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