Marriott Bonvoy elite-status review – Current status is being extended

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Hotel and airline rewards programs are designed to create loyalty. For frequent travelers. elite status offers tiers of perks, but before you chase the next tier, it’s good to know what you’re trying to get. Otherwise, how will you know if it’s worth it?

When Marriott unveiled its Bonvoy rewards program, it made changes to more than just the name. The occasional leisure traveler is probably still better off hunting down deals and limited-time promotions. (If you want to stay on top of the latest deals and discounts, subscribe to our newsletter.) For everyone else, here’s our definitive Marriott Bonvoy elite-status review.

Update: Marriott is extending elite status benefits and pausing the expiration of points due to the coronavirus pandemic. Read below for more details.

Elite perks like late checkout can make a hotel stay even better.

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 you’ll earn.

With any hotel loyalty program, 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, no points for you. The same goes for using elite-status benefits.

Marriott COVID-19 status and points extension

Given the current situation and travel restrictions Marriott has announced it is extending the status you earned in 2019 an extra year, so instead of expiring in February 2021 it will expire in February 2022. This is great if you already have status with Marriott, but won’t help you if you were trying to earn it for the first time this year.

Also, Marriott is pausing points expiration until February 2021, so if you have points that were about to expire you can breath a sigh of relief. However, if your account has been inactive for 24+ months as of February 2021, at that point your points will expire.

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy elite status

Marriott Bonvoy is divided into six different status levels.

You start 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 in which you’ve earned it and an additional 14 months after that. So, for example, if you earn Gold status in 2020, it will be valid into 2022.

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

  • Lifetime Silver Elite – 250 lifetime nights + five years of elite status
  • Lifetime Gold Elite – 400 lifetime nights + seven 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 (or two). 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 unless one of the cards is a personal card and the other is the business card. This is a recent change and great news for anyone looking to earn Platinum status or higher with Marriott.

Marriott confirmed this:

Starting today, anyone who has a Marriott Bonvoy small business credit card, and a Marriott Bonvoy consumer credit card is eligible to receive a maximum of 30 elite night credits per year. That means that if someone has [for example] the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card and the Marriott Bonvoy Amex business card they will get 30 elite night credits and only need twenty more nights to achieve Platinum for the following year.

Again, this is terrific news and makes it a lot easier to justify paying annual fees on both personal and business Marriott cards since you’ll earn a total of 30 elite-night credits — just 20 nights away from the 50 required annually to achieve Platinum Elite status.

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.  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.

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

Silver Elite perks

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

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 hotel brand

Platinum Elite perks

  • 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)

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

Note that the annual 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.

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 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

  • Your24 — 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 with the completion of its merger with Starwood and the transition to Marriott Bonvoy in 2018.

In  general, I think the most valuable hotel elite status perk is 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 if you have 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.

Nonetheless, Marriott points are much more useful than Hilton points because they transfer to dozens of different airlines — and some of those airline miles, like Alaska Airlines and Japan Airlines, are very valuable and hard to earn. For more information on Marriott transfers, 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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Lead image by BUNDITINAY/Shutterstock.

Meghan Hunter is a contributor to Million Mile Secrets, she covers topics on points and miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels, and general travel.

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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