How to earn Marriott elite status with credit cards
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There are six Marriott Bonvoy elite status levels. You start off at the Member level when you sign up, which gets you access to member-only rates, mobile check-in and free Wi-Fi.
To earn higher elite status you’ll need to meet the following requirements in a calendar year:
- Silver Elite – Stay 10 nights
- Gold Elite – Stay 25 nights
- Platinum Elite – Stay 50 nights
- Titanium Elite – Stay 75 nights
- Ambassador Elite – Stay 100 nights and make $20,000+ in qualifying purchases
Some of these look downright unattainable if you’re not traveling for work every other week. They can, however, become dramatically easier to achieve by opening a credit card or two. For example, with the right cards, you can reduce your stay requirement by 30 nights!
I’ll show you how to easily earn Marriott elite status with credit cards.
Automatic elite status
Most Marriott credit cards offer some form of Marriott elite status, meager as the status level might be. You can earn Marriott Silver status just by owning either of the following cards:
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card (Silver elite status is technically not a card perk, but it comes with 15 elite night credits, which qualifies you for Silver elite)
Silver elite status comes with:
- 10% bonus points on eligible hotel purchases
- Priority late checkout (when available)
- Dedicated elite reservation line
You can earn Marriott Gold elite status with the following cards:
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
- The Platinum Card® from American Express
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
Gold elite status comes with:
- 25% bonus points on eligible hotel purchases
- Free enhanced internet
- 2 p.m. late checkout (when available)
- Upgrade to enhanced rooms (when available)
- Welcome gift of 250 or 500 Marriott points, depending on the hotel brand
If you’re not satisfied with the complimentary elite status your Marriott credit card affords, most cards offer a status boost incentive for spending a certain amount on your card each year. You can earn Marriott Gold elite status after spending $35,000+ on eligible purchases in a calendar year with:
- Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card
You’ll earn complimentary Marriott Platinum elite status with: Platinum status is the real deal. It comes with:
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card – Offer ends 1/13/2021
- 50% bonus points on eligible hotel purchases
- 4 p.m. late checkout (when available)
- Welcome gift of points, breakfast or an amenity, depending on the hotel
- Lounge access (if there is one)
- Room upgrade, including suites (when available)
Elite night credits
All Marriott credit cards come with 15 elite night credits every year you hold the card. This means, for example, that if you hold the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless, you’d only need to stay 10 nights with Marriott hotel to earn Gold elite status (earned after 25 nights in a calendar year) or 35 nights with Marriott to earn Platinum elite status (earned after 50 nights in a calendar year).
The elite nights earned from Marriott personal credit cards do not “stack.” In other words, if you have two Marriott personal credit cards, you won’t receive 30 elite nights, but instead just 15.
HOWEVER, if you’ve got a Marriott personal card and the Amex Marriott Bonvoy Business Card, you will receive the 15 nights from your personal card and the 15 nights from the business card, for a total of 30 nights! This automatically qualifies you for Gold elite status, and puts you just 20 nights away from earning Platinum elite status!
Once you’ve earned 50 elite night credits in a calendar year, in addition to the Platinum elite status benefits listed previously, you’ll receive an annual gift of one of the following:
- 5 Suite Night Awards
- 5 elite night credits
- $100 charity donation
- 40% off a Marriott mattress purchase
- The ability to gift Silver elite status to someone else
Your results may vary, but Platinum status can be a big deal. I’ve got Platinum status, and I’m given complimentary upgrades quite often when checking into Marriott hotels.
When you spend an award night at a Marriott hotel, you earn an elite night credit. In other words, if you have enough points, you could earn Marriott elite status for free just by booking award nights.
Here’s an example. Currently, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card comes with a welcome bonus of up to 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Plus, earn up to $200 in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. Restaurants within the first six months of card membership.
The lowest category hotels on the Marriott award chart (Category 1) cost:
- 7,500 points per night for a standard rate
- 5,000 points per night for an off-peak rate
- 4,000 points per night for an off-peak PointSavers rate (rare but totally possible)
4,000 Marriott points per night is unbelievable — but it gets better. With Marriott, you’ll receive the fifth award night free when you book five consecutive award nights. That means you can effectively book a stay at Marriott for as little as 3,200 points per night. If the stars align, you could potentially book 33 nights with Marriott for 110,000 points.
And remember, Marriott cards also provide 15 elite night credits each year. That brings your total up to 47 nights — just three nights away from Platinum status.
Plus, the Amex Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant also comes with a $300 annual Marriott credit, which can be redeemed toward room rate. Reserve a few nights with that credit, and you’ve achieved Platinum status!
Let me explicitly state two things:
- You will almost certainly not be able to find off-peak PointSavers rates for 33 nights. You can read our post on how to earn Marriott points to bolster your stash
- We do not recommend burning your points just to earn elite status. We estimate that Marriott points are worth 0.9 cents each, meaning this 100,000 point bonus is worth $900 in Marriott stays (though it can certainly be much higher if you know the best ways to use Marriott points).
If you do happen upon a slew of off-peak PointSavers near you, and if you value Platinum status over 110,000 points, go for it!
There are a few different ways to achieve the varying levels of Marriott status via credit cards. Some are no-brainers for big spenders. Some are earned simply by holding a credit card. Some can be earned (or nearly earned) by stacking elite night credits with a strategic credit card combo.
I’ve got Platinum status and I have to say I love it. I get free upgrades quite often, I earn loads of bonus points for my stays, and I even saved $700 on breakfast when staying in the Maldives. If you’ve got plans to stay at Marriott’s aspirational properties, elite status is worth the investment.
Let us know your secrets to achieving Marriott status — and subscribe to our newsletter for more credit card strategies to upgrade your travels.
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