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Marriott Bonvoy elite status review: Here’s what you get and when it’s worth going after

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Marriott Bonvoy elite status review: Here’s what you get and when it’s worth going after

Meghan HunterMarriott Bonvoy elite status review: Here’s what you get and when it’s worth going afterMillion Mile Secrets Team

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Hotel and airline rewards programs are designed to create loyalty and I love playing their game and achieving new levels to get new perks. Before you go chasing the next elite status tier, however, it’s good to know what you’re getting. Otherwise, how will you know if it’s worth it?

When Marriott unveiled the new Marriott Bonvoy rewards program earlier this year, it made changes to more than just the name. If you travel a lot, even small changes can make a big difference in how you’re rewarded.

The occasional leisure traveler is probably better off deal-hunting or taking advantage of limited-time promotions, rather than chasing status. For everyone else, here’s our definitive Marriott Bonvoy elite status review.

Things have changed this year, but Marriott points are still the best hotel points to transfer to airlines.

Marriott Bonvoy elite status review

All hotel rewards programs function basically the same way. You stay with the hotel and they give you points, which can be redeemed for free nights and other (usually less valuable) rewards. You can also earn elite status, and the more you stay, the higher the level of status (and perks) you’ll earn.

The biggest catch to any hotel loyalty program is that you’ll almost always need to book direct in order to earn points and elite status credit for your stay. If you book through a third-party site like Expedia or Hotels.com, then no points for you. The same goes for using those elite status benefits.

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy elite status

Marriott Bonvoy is divided into six different 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

Once you earn an elite status level, it will be valid for the rest of the calendar year you’ve earned it, and an additional 14 months after that. So, for example, if you earn Gold status in 2019, it will be valid until February 2021.

You can also earn lifetime elite status by meeting these requirements:

  • Lifetime Silver Elite — 250 lifetime nights + 5 years of elite status
  • Lifetime Gold Elite — 400 lifetime nights + 7 years of Gold elite status or higher
  • Lifetime Platinum Elite — 600 lifetime nights + 10 years of Platinum elite status

You’ll earn elite night credits for award nights and eligible cash or points + cash rates. You can also earn elite night credit for hosting meetings or events at Marriott hotels.

One way to fast-track Marriott Bonvoy elite status is by opening a Marriott credit card. For example, you’ll earn automatic status and 15 elite night credits each calendar year with these cards:

If you happen to have more than one Marriott credit card, the 15 elite night credits won’t stack. Both the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless and the Amex Marriott Bonvoy Business cards also allow you to earn Gold status after spending $35,000+ with your card on eligible purchases in a calendar year.

If you have the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card you’ll also get 15 elite night credits per calendar year and the card comes with automatic Gold status.  And you can earn Platinum status if you spend $75,000+ with the card in eligible purchases in a calendar year.

You’ll also get complimentary Marriott Gold status with these Amex cards:

Marriott Bonvoy elite status perks

At each new status level, you’ll get the same perks as the previous level plus new benefits. Remember, to get the perks you’ll need to book directly with Marriott (online, mobile or phone). Eligible hotel purchases will earn 5 to 10 Marriott points per $1 depending on the brand you’re staying with.

As a general member you’ll start off with free Wi-Fi, member-only rates and access to mobile check-in. Higher status levels get you:

Bonvoy Silver elite perks

  • 10% bonus points on eligible hotel purchases
  • Priority late checkout (when available)
  • Dedicated elite reservation line

Bonvoy Gold elite perks

  • 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 brand

Bonvoy Platinum elite perks

  • 50% bonus points on eligible hotel purchases
  • 4 p.m. late checkout (when available)
  • Welcome gift of either points, breakfast or an amenity, depending on the hotel
  • Lounge access (if there is a lounge)
  • Room upgrade, including suites (when available)

Once you’ve earned 50 elite night credits in a calendar year as a Platinum member you’ll get an Annual Choice 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

Note that the Annual Choice Gift is awarded only after you earn 50 elite night credits (which can include the 15 you get for signing up for a Marriott credit card) and is not based on status.

Bonvoy Titanium elite perks

As a Titanium Elite, you’ll get:

  • 75% bonus points on eligible hotel purchases
  • 48-hour room guarantee
  • United Premier Silver status through RewardsPlus

Once you’ve earned 75 elite night credits in a calendar year as a Titanium member, you get one of the following as a second Annual Choice Benefit:

  • 5 Suite Night Awards
  • 1 free-night award (worth up to 40,000 points)
  • 5 elite-night credits
  • The ability to gift Gold status to someone else
  • $100 charity donation
  • 40% off a Marriott mattress purchase

Ambassador elite perks

  • Choose your check-in and checkout times to cover any 24-hour period during your stay (so if you check-in at 6 p.m. you can check-out at 6 p.m.)
  • Ambassador service — get your own personal assistant

Is Marriott Bonvoy elite status worth it?

Marriott has undergone a lot of changes recently with the completion of the merger with Starwood and the transition to Marriott Bonvoy. As with any change, there are a lot of people upset that things aren’t the way they used to be and that certain perks have been devalued.

Let’s consider what we currently have.

Personally, I think the most valuable hotel elite status perks are breakfast and/or lounge access. Complimentary upgrades are great too, but getting a meaningful upgrade can be hit or miss.

Under the new Marriott Bonvoy program, you’ll need Platinum status to get lounge access or free breakfast, which means you’ll have to stay either 50 nights or put a whole lot of spending on a Marriott credit card. Getting Platinum status is a bit easier once you factor in the 15 elite night credits you get for holding a Marriott card, but you’ll still need to earn another 35 nights a year.

If you’re looking for hotel status with free breakfast, an easier route is with Hilton Gold status.

However, Marriott points are much more useful than Hilton points because they transfer to dozens of different airlines — and miles with some of those airlines, like Alaska Airlines and Japan Airlines, are valuable and hard to earn. If you’re interested in learning more about Marriott transfers, be sure to check out this post: Why Marriott points are the best hotel points to earn for award flights.

What do you think? Is Marriott status worth earning over Hilton or Hyatt status?

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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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