Marriott Bonvoy Complete Guide

Marriott Bonvoy is the all-in-one rewards program which replaced Marriott Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest, and Ritz-Carlton Rewards.  Compared to other programs, in my opinion, Marriott Bonvoy offers better than average rewards for paid stays, a strong elite program (but not best overall), best-in-class options for point transfers to airline miles, a huge selection of hotels that run from very low end to ultra-luxury, and credit cards that offer good value for their annual free nights but relatively poor value for credit card spend.  This post is designed to include everything you need to know.

Table of Contents

Marriott Bonvoy overview

Bonvoy shares traits that are common to most hotel rewards programs:

  • Earn points from paid stays (but not when stays are booked through online travel agencies such as Expedia).
  • Use points to book free night awards.
  • The cost, in points, for free nights depends upon each hotel’s category assignment. Category 1 hotels cost far less than top-tier category 8 hotels.
  • Those who spend many nights at Marriott hotels booked either as free nights or paid stays (but not those booked through online travel agencies) earn elite status.
  • Elite status levels range from Silver to top-tier Ambassador.  The higher your status, the more perks you get.
  • Branded credit cards can be used to earn points and to help earn elite status.

Bonvoy also has a few traits that are unique:

  • Ability to transfer points to airline miles at a reasonable rate (not a great rate, but reasonable).
  • Marriott’s partnership with United Airlines means that high tier Marriott elites can get free United elite status, and vice-versa
  • Marriott allows many of their hotels to be exempt from offering certain elite benefits. This can be extremely frustrating for those expecting free breakfast or other perks.
  • Marriott allows members to book awards even if they don’t yet have enough points in their account. This feature is called “Points Advance”

Marriott Bonvoy award chart

Marriott charges different point prices depending upon which category the hotel is assigned to.  In most cases, you should look at the column titled “Points” to find the right price.

Award chart things to know:

  • All prices shown above are for standard rooms (each hotel defines “standard” differently).  Higher level rooms may show up in award searches, but either at a higher award price or with a required cash co-pay for the upgrade.
  • Category 8 pricing begins sometime in March 2019.  Until then, top tier hotels are priced as category 7 hotels.
  • Peak and Off-Peak pricing begins sometime in “early 2019“.  Until then, only standard pricing applies.
  • Cash + Points rates are not always available — you need to search for free night awards and check online award prices to see if cash + points rates are available.
  • Cash + Points prices are not great, but if you need extra points for an award, it often makes sense to use this option.  Never use this option with Category 1 hotels.  With category 1 hotels, it’s actually cheaper to buy the points you need at 1.25 cents each and to book a standard award (see this post for more details).
  • PointSavers rates are available only with select hotels during set dates. To find which hotels are participating, go to the Marriott PointSavers page, scroll down to “Participating Hotels with Available Dates” and click USA or Worldwide.

5th Night Free Awards

Awards booked for 5 nights or longer are automatically priced with the 5th night(s) free.  For example, standard pricing for a category 4 hotel is 25,000 points per night.  Four nights, therefore, cost 100,000 points.  And, thanks to 5th Nigh Free pricing, five nights also costs 100,000 points.  This works with longer bookings too.  For example, a 10 night stay at a 25K per night property would price at 200,000 points.

Note: 5th Night Free Awards do not apply to Cash + Points bookings.

Points Advance

If you don’t have enough points in your account to book an award, you can still book the award via Marriott’s Points Advance feature.  When you find an award stay online, there are two ways to invoke Points Advance:

Automatic Points Advance

If you don’t have enough points in your account and/or you don’t have enough free night certificates, Marriott will default to Points Advance: 

Optional Points Advance

If you do have enough points in your account, or if you have free night certificates that can cover the stay, Marriott will default to using your free nights and points.  However, on the booking screen you can easily switch to Points Advance:

Securing your Points Advance reservation

Once you have enough points for your stay, you can log into your account and “View/Modify” your stay details and “Deduct your points now”.

If you don’t apply your points within 14 days of your stay, you may lose the reservation.

Elite status

Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel Junior Suite.  Thanks to my Platinum status at the time, I was upgraded at check-in to this suite from a base level room booked with a free night certificate.

Elite status things to know:

  • Prior to Feb 13 2019, Titanium Elite and Ambassador Elite were named Platinum Premier Elite and Platinum Premier Elite with Ambassador.  There is no difference in benefits.
  • Lifetime Platinum status does not include Choice Benefits.  You must earn 50 elite nights within a calendar year to receive Choice Benefits.
  • Elite nights are earned with either cash or award stays.  When booking a four night award, it makes sense to book 5 nights instead (thanks to 5th Night Free pricing) just so that you can get an extra elite night. Make sure not to check out after the fourth night.
  • Elite nights are not earned with online travel agency bookings.  For example, if you book through Expedia, you will not earn elite night credit (or points) for your stay.  You also might not receive elite benefits during your stay, but some hotels have been known to offer them anyway as long as you add your Bonvoy membership number to the reservation.
  • Via Marriott’s partnership with United Airlines, RewardsPlus, high level Marriott elites can get United elite status, and high level United elite members can get free Marriott elite status.
  • In addition to actual stays, elite nights can also be earned from credit cards, hosting meetings, and more (jump to shortcuts to elite status for more info)
  • Other shortcuts to elite status include: credit card spend, status challenge, timeshare ownership, etc.
  • Inconsistent benefits.  Marriott does a spectacularly poor job of enforcing consistent benefits across their hotels.
  • Guaranteed benefits. Elite members may collect points or cash compensation when certain elite benefits are not met.  See this post for details.

Elite perks: What and where?

There is a great deal of inconsistency in the delivery of perks across Marriott hotels:

  • Hotel brands are often exempt from offering certain elite perks.  For example, the following brands are not required to provide free breakfast to Platinum members: Design Hotels, EDITION, Gaylord, Ritz-Carlton, Marriott Executive Apartments, Marriott Vacation Club.
  • Hotels are often exempt from offering certain elite perks.  The best way to find out is to browse to Marriott Bonvoy Terms & Conditions and use your browser’s “find in page” feature to search for the hotel you plan to visit.
  • Hotels sometimes opt out of providing perks even if the terms & conditions indicate that they are supposed to provide those perks.  I don’t know of any good way to find this out.

The rules governing what you should get and where are so complicated that we created a lookup table to help.  Please visit this page before you travel in order to find out what perks you are entitled to:

–> Which Marriott elite benefits apply? <–

Free Breakfast / Lounge Access

The following chart shows our current understanding of who gets free breakfast and at which properties:

Free Breakfast? Participating Hotels
No free breakfast Design Hotels, EDITION, Gaylord, Ritz-Carlton, Marriott Executive Apartments, Marriott Vacation Club
Free breakfast for all* Element, Fairfield, Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites
Platinum Elite Welcome Gift Option: Daily $10 Food & Beverage Credit for Member plus 1 Guest (e.g. $20 per day) AC, Courtyard without a lounge, Moxy

Platinum Elite Benefit:

Hotels: Free daily breakfast for 2 in lounge. Free daily breakfast for 2 in restaurant when lounge is closed or doesn’t exist.

Legacy Starwood Resorts: Free daily breakfast for 2 in lounge. Free daily breakfast for 2 in restaurant when lounge is closed or doesn’t exist.

Legacy Marriott Resorts: Free daily breakfast for 2 in restaurant. No lounge access.

Aloft, Autograph Collection, Courtyard with lounge, Delta, Four Points, JW Marriott, Le Méridien, Marriott, Protea, Renaissance, Sheraton, St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, Tribute Portfolio, W, Westin

* A few of these properties don’t offer free breakfast despite the fact that their brand advertises free breakfast for all.

Elite benefits guarantee

Some elite benefits are backed up with guarantees.  If these benefits are not fulfilled, you may be entitled to compensation in the form of points, cash back, or both:

Silver Elite (and higher):

  • Ultimate Reservation Guarantee: “If for some reason we’re unable to honor your reservation, we’ll pay for your accommodations that night at a nearby hotel and compensate you for the inconvenience. To be eligible, you must provide your member number when making a reservation. Compensation varies by hotel brand.”

Platinum Elite (and higher):

  • Guaranteed Platinum Elite/Platinum Premier Elite Welcome Gift: “Get more when you check in. As a Platinum or Platinum Premier Elite member, you’ll receive a special gift upon arrival at all participating hotels, offering you a choice of an amenity gift or points. If guarantee is not met, guest compensation applies.”
  • Guaranteed Room Type: “When making a reservation, be sure to note both your Member number and room/bed preferences. At locations throughout the U.S. and Canada, we’ll always honor your bed type request. Outside U.S. and Canada, smoking/non-smoking preferences are honored based on availability; exact bed sizes may vary, and only Platinum Premier Elite members will have guaranteed priority for their requested type of bed and room. If guarantee is not met, guest compensation applies.”
  • Guaranteed Lounge Access: “Access to lounge for member plus one guest. This benefit only applies to the one guest room in which the Platinum Elite/Platinum Premier Elite member is staying.”

Note: the quoted text above was copied from Marriott’s website before they changed the name of Platinum Premier 75 to Titanium and Platinum Premier 100 to Ambassador.

Titanium Elite and Ambassador Elite:

  • 48-Hour Guaranteed Availability: “Traveling on short notice? We guarantee you’ll always have a room for any paid stay. Just make your reservation 48 hours before arrival at any of our participating hotels, excluding Resorts, Marriott Vacation Club, participating Vistana properties, and Design Hotels.  48-Hour Guaranteed Availability: Limited to Platinum Premier Elite Member’s personal guestroom. Guaranteed room availability for reservations booked at least 48 hours prior to arrival. 48-Hour Guaranteed Availability may not be available on certain limited dates (e.g., special events). Benefit cannot be used in conjunction with award usage or any type of promotional or discounted rates. For Residence Inn and TownePlace Suites, 48-Hour Guaranteed Availability applies to studio rooms only.”Greg’s explanation: If you want to stay at a particular Marriott hotel, but it is sold out for your desired stay, they’ll let you book the stay anyway, but at standard rack rates.  This benefit doesn’t include compensation if it is not met.

Note: the quoted text above was copied from Marriott’s website before they changed the name of Platinum Premier 75 to Titanium and Platinum Premier 100 to Ambassador.

More details about Marriott’s elite benefit guarantees can be found here.

Shortcuts to elite status

There are two types of shortcuts to elite status.  One type of shortcut offers a way to get elite nights more quickly or easily.  Elite night shortcuts are stackable.  That is, you can mix and match these shortcuts in order to earn whatever level of status you want. The other shortcuts are not stackable. Each offers a way to get to a specific level of status, but if you want to go for a higher level of status, these generally won’t help.

Elite Night Shortcuts

The following shortcuts are stackable.  You can earn elite nights from one or more of these options in order to add them up to the 50 nights you need.

  1. Credit Card 15 elite nights.  This is by far the simplest option. Almost all Marriott, SPG, and Ritz credit cards offer 15 elite nights per year simply by being a card member.  You can find a complete list of cards here. Please note that holding multiple credit cards will not give you more than 15 elite nights.
  2. 1 Elite Night Per $3K Spend.  Three legacy Marriott cards offer 1 elite night per $3K spend (you can find a complete list of cards here, along with a chart showing which cards offer elite nights for spend).  Of the three legacy cards that have this feature, readers are most likely to have the Chase Bonvoy Premier Credit Card, but only if they turned down the offer to get bonus points by upgrading to the Plus version of this card.  Unfortunately each of the cards that offer this feature only give cardholders 1 point per dollar spent (except in certain categories of spend), whereas all other Marriott cards offer a minimum of 2 points per dollar.  This means that this spend is costly in that you lose the ability to earn more points for your spend.  It’s especially costly if you consider that you can earn far more than the value of 2X Marriott points for that same spend.  See: Best Rewards for Everyday Spend.
  3. Host a Meeting: If you host a meeting at a Marriott property, you can get 10 elite nights per calendar year, plus 1 elite night for every 20 rooms booked and actualized.  Important: Make sure the elite night benefit is listed in your meeting contract.
  4. Book award nights.  Marriott hotels are available for as little as 7,500 points per night (6,000 points per night when point saver awards are available).
  5. Book 5th night free awards (even if staying 4 nights).  Best deal for mattress running: Book a category 1 hotel for 5 nights.  For 30,000 points, you’ll get 5 elite nights.  Note that you do have to check into the hotel to get credit.
  6. Choice Benefit: 5 Elite Night Credits.  This is a weird one.  You won’t have access to this Choice Benefit until you’ve earned 50 elite nights, and the 5 elite nights can only be applied to the same calendar year in which you earned the Choice Benefit selection.  Therefore, the only good use of this option is to help you get to Titanium Elite or Ambassador Elite status.  Also note that these 5 elite nights do not count towards lifetime status.  Learn more about Choice Benefits here.
  7. Birthday Elite Night Credit: Make sure your birthday is on your Marriott account and that you are opted in to promotional mailings.  If you don’t get an email on your birthday offering you a free elite night, contact Marriott to request it.  Hat Tip: TPG reader Soheil.

Once you earn elite status this year, your status will be good for the rest of this year, all of the next, and through February of the year after that.

Advantages to elite night shortcuts:

  • You’ll earn Choice Benefits when you reach 50 elite nights in a calendar year, and again at 75 nights.
  • Elite nights earned with these shortcuts count towards lifetime status elite nights as well (One exception: choosing 5 elite nights as a Choice Benefit does not add 5 nights to your lifetime total).

Other Shortcuts

The following shortcuts will get you to a specific elite level, but you can’t stack them with elite nights to get higher status.

  1. Credit card Gold status.  The SPG Luxury Card and the Ritz-Carlton Card (no longer available to new applicants) both offer automatic Marriott Gold status.  Similarly Amex Platinum and Business Platinum cards offer free Gold status (you must enroll).
  2. Spend $75K for Platinum. The SPG Luxury Card and the Ritz-Carlton Card (no longer available to new applicants) offer Platinum Elite status with $75K spend.  With the SPG card, the spend must be within a calendar year whereas the Ritz card spend must be within your membership year.
  3. Marriott Platinum Elite Challenge. Earn Platinum status by completing 16 paid nights at Marriott properties within 90 days of enrolling in the challenge.  Please note that award nights do not count.  Call Marriott Bonvoy to enroll.  You cannot enroll in the Platinum challenge if you already have Platinum status or higher.
  4. Timeshare Ownership: Marriott Vacation Club and Vistana are timeshare ownership programs affiliated with Marriott, and each offers elite status under certain conditions.

Disadvantages to “other” shortcuts:

  • Earning one level of status doesn’t help you get to the next. For example, if your Amex Platinum credit card gives you Gold status, you’re just as far from earning Platinum status as someone with no status at all.
  • You won’t earn Choice Benefits.
  • You won’t make progress towards lifetime status elite nights (but you will add lifetime elite years).

Point earnings from stays

The chart above shows point earnings for stays.  The middle column shows the number of points earned per dollar at most brands.  The next column shows the points earned per dollar at specific brands that inexplicably don’t follow the same formula: Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites, and Element.

Points are not earned with online travel agency bookings.  For example, if you book through Expedia, you will not earn points for your room charge.  You also might not receive elite benefits during your stay, but some hotels have been known to offer them anyway as long as you add your Bonvoy membership number to the reservation.

Point transfers to airline miles

Marriott Bonvoy points are transferable to a huge selection of airline partners. In most cases the transfer ratio is 3 Marriott points to 1 airline mile. However, if you transfer 60,000 points, you’ll get 25,000 miles instead of 20,000. That makes the transfer ratio 3 to 1.25. Additionally, when you transfer to United Airlines miles, you get a 10% bonus. 60,000 rewards points converts into 27,500 United miles (a 3 to 1.375 transfer ratio).

–> Link to Marriott’s point transfer page <–

Below you’ll find a complete list of Marriott transfer partners as well as quick tips for best uses.

Tips for transferring Marriott Bonvoy points to airline miles

Transfer in 60K increments, up to 240K per day: When transferring points to airline programs, you’ll get the most value by transferring multiples of 60,000 points. When you transfer 60,000 points, Marriott automatically adds 15,000 bonus points to the transfer, and those 15,000 bonus points typically convert to 5,000 miles. For example, 60,000 points transferred to Alaska Airlines becomes 25,000 Alaska miles. By transferring in this way, you get a 3 to 1.25 transfer ratio to airline programs. You are limited to 240K points in transfers per day (which typically equals 100K miles), so if you want to transfer more you should spread out your transfers over multiple days.

Don’t transfer yet: Don’t transfer points until high value awards are available and you are ready to book them. Transfers are one-way only. Marriott Bonvoy points are valuable for their flexibility and for hotel stays. Once you transfer, you are locked into a single program that may or may not have awards available.

Don’t forget that rewards points can be valuable when used directly: Marriott offers many ways to use rewards points: Free night awards, 5th night free awards, experiences, etc.

Use rewards points to exactly top off an account: Most other transferable points programs require transfers in 1,000 point chunks. This can make it difficult to exactly top off an account when you need an odd number of miles. Marriott lets you transfer exact mile amounts over 1,000. For example, if you need 1,001 airline miles, you can get exactly that by transferring 3,003 points.

Watch for hotel to airline transfer bonuses: Airlines occasionally offer bonuses when you transfer points from hotel programs. Since Marriott/SPG is a hotel program it usually qualifies.

Current transfer bonuses

If there are any current transfer bonuses from hotel programs, details will appear here:

Transfer Bonus DetailsEnd Date Sortable

Best Marriott airline transfer partners

The following airline transfer partners represent the best potential value in my opinion:

Rewards ProgramMarriott Transfer RatioBest Uses
Air Canada Aeroplan60K to 25KRedeem for Star Alliance flights. Multiple stopovers allowed on international flights. Reasonable award prices to Europe for business and first class.
Alaska MileagePlan60K to 25KAlaska Airlines has a number of great partners and offers reasonable award prices for most of them. Unlike most other programs, Alaska allows stop-overs one one-way awards. This makes it possible to stretch award value much further. Travel Codex offers an excellent overview to booking Alaska Airlines awards here.
ANA Mileage Club60K to 25KRedeem for Star Alliance flights. Multiple stopovers allowed. Very good award prices for round-the-world travel. See also: How To Find Business Class Awards To Europe For 88,000 Miles Or Points.
Asiana60K to 25KRedeem only 50K miles for one-way first class Star Alliance awards between US and Europe! Beware very high fuel surcharges when flying airlines such as Lufthansa.
Avianca LifeMiles60K to 25KAvianca LifeMiles can be great for Star Alliance awards. They offer reasonable award prices and no fuel surcharges on awards. They also offer shorthaul awards within the US (for flying United, for example) for as few as 7,500 miles one-way. Best of all, their mixed-cabin pricing can lead to fantastic first-class award prices. See this post for details.
Etihad Guest60K to 25KEtihad has a very competitive award chart for American Airlines flights, among others.  For example, they charge only 50,000 miles one-way for business class flights from North America to Europe. Partner awards must be booked over the phone.
JAL (Japan Airlines) Mileage Bank60K to 25KJAL has a distance based partner award chart. Depending upon the length of the flights, this can lead to great award prices on partners such as Emirates and Korean Air.
Korean Airlines60K to 25KKorean Air is known for having top notch business and first class on their international flights. Plus, first class tends to be wide open for awards. Korean is also a fantastic program for booking certain partner awards. For example, it is possible to book Delta flights from the US mainland to Hawaii for only 25,000 points round trip in coach or 45,000 points in first class.
United MileagePlus60K to 27.5KEven though Singapore Airlines miles have a number of advantages over United miles for booking Star Alliance flights, United has advantages too. For one, it is possible to book most Star Alliance awards online at United.com. Additionally, United awards sometimes cost fewer miles with United than with Singapore (especially premium awards on United’s own flights). And, most importantly, United never charges fuel surcharges for awards. In some cases, United is far cheaper than Singapore Airlines for this reason alone.

Useful Marriott airline transfer partners

The following airline transfer partners can offer great value under certain circumstances:

Rewards ProgramMarriott Transfer RatioBest Uses
Air France KLM Flying Blue60K to 25KMonthly Air France Promo Awards often represent very good value. Air France miles can be used to book Sky Team awards, including Delta awards.
American AAdvantage60K to 25KBest for partner awards such as Cathay Pacific business class
Avios60K to 25KWhile flights on British Airways itself often incur outrageously high fuel surcharges, many BA partners charge low or no fuel surcharges. Great value can be had in redeeming BA points for short distance flights. Iberia offers very low award prices on their own flights. Round trip partner awards can offer good value under some circumstances as well. Fuel surcharges are often lower than when booking through British Airways. Aer Lingus shares the "Avios" currency with British Airways and Iberia. In most cases it is best to move points to one of those programs in order to book awards for less.
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles60K to 25KCathay Pacific has a fairly generous distance based award chart and allows multiple stopovers. Fuel surcharges can be very high on certain routes. Cathay Pacific Asia Miles can be a good option for booking American Airlines flights with a distance based award chart, especially if other OneWorld Alliance miles aren't available.
Delta SkyMiles60K to 25KAward flights to Canada are often a great deal. Partner awards often have terrific availability, but you may pay more miles than with other programs.
Miles & More60K to 25KGreat for booking United business class awards
Qantas Frequent Flyer60K to 25KBest use is probably for flights on El Al with no fuel surcharges. Qantas offers distance based award charts similar to Cathay Pacific. Both are OneWorld Alliance members. I recommend comparing award prices across both programs before transferring to either. Qantas offers round the world business class awards for only 280,000 points (but with many restrictions)
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer60K to 25KUse to book Singapore Airlines First Class awards (generally reserved for their own members) or for Star Alliance awards. Low change fees and no close-in booking fees make this a very good program for booking United Airlines flights.
Southwest Rapid Rewards60K to 25KAward flights are fully refundable. Point values vary due to certain taxes not being charged on awards, but tend to average around 1.5 cents per point.
Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles60K to 25KMiles & Smiles offers a number of fantastic sweet spot awards. The main catch: if you want to fly any airline other than Turkish itself, you have to go in-person to a Turkish Airlines sales office to ticket the award.
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club60K to 25KVirgin Atlantic miles can be usefully thought of as a way to get a discount off Virgin Atlantic flights (high fuel surcharges make the flights far from free), but there are some better uses. Use miles to upgrade paid flights or to fly partner airlines. A fantastic use is to fly ANA in business or first class thanks to Virgin’s generous ANA partner award chart. Or, if you can find saver level Delta awards for nonstop international travel, you can often book through Virgin Atlantic far cheaper than with Delta directly.

Additional Marriott airline transfer partners

Rewards ProgramMarriott Transfer RatioBest Uses
Aegean Miles + Bonus60K to 25K
Aeroflot Bonus60K to 25K
Air China Phoenix Miles60K to 25K
Air New Zealand Air Points60K to 307
AeroMexico ClubPremier60K to 25KAeroMexico is a SkyTeam partner. Club Premier points can be used to book flights on AeroMexico, SkyTeam alliance members (such as Delta or Korean Air), or on select partner airlines. Award prices tend to be quite high, but if you transfer points to AeroMexico with a great multiple (such as from Membership Rewards 1 to 1.6), prices can be reasonable.
Alitalia MilleMiglia60K to 25KAlitalia is a member of the SkyTeam alliance. Unfortunately, fuel surcharges can be quite high, and partner awards cannot be booked online. Worse, after numerous devaluations, few sweetspots exist in this program.
China Eastern Airlines60K to 25K
China Southern Airlines’ Sky Pearl Club60K to 25K
Copa Airlines ConnectMiles60K to 25K
Emirates Skywards60K to 25KEmirates has different award charts for each airline partner. Sometimes they allow one-way awards, sometimes they do not. In general, award prices are fairly high.
Frontier Miles60K to 25K
Hainan Airlines60K to 25KI’m not aware of any great uses for Hainan miles
Hawaiian Miles60K to 25KHawaiian Airlines’ award prices tend to be quite high, but there are some not-terrible uses: fly to neighboring islands for 7.5K miles, fly first class round-trip from Hawaii to South Pacific islands for as few as 95K miles, fly first class round-trip from Hawaii to Australia for as few as 130K miles.
Jet Airways JetPrivilege60K to 25KJetAirways JetPrivilege miles are useful only for a few very specific cases such as certain flights to Hawaii for as low as 15K (30K business) one-way, or to the Caribbean or Central America for as low as 10K (20K business) one-way. Details can be found here.
JetBlue60K to 12.5KJetBlue points offer the most value when cheap ticket prices are available and when award taxes are high relative to the overall cost of the ticket (more details can be found here). The JetBlue Plus Card and the JetBlue Business Card offer a 10% rebate on awards, so you can get more value by holding one or both cards.
LATAM Pass60K to 25K
Multiplus60K to 25K
Qatar Privilege Club60K to 25KGiven Qatar's award chart devaluation plus the addition of award booking fees in May 2018, I'm not aware of any particularly good uses for these miles.
Saudia Airlines60K to 25K
South African Airways Voyager60K to 25K
TAP Air Portugal60K to 25K
Thai Airways International Royal Orchid Plus60K to 25KI'm not aware of any good uses for these miles
Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyer60K to 25K

Indirect transfer partners

In some cases it is possible to transfer to an airline or hotel program in order to then transfer from that program to another program. In most cases this is a bad deal, but it’s cool to think about the possibilities.

Rewards ProgramMarriott Transfer RatioIndirect Transfer Notes
Hilton60K to 37.5K*Transfer first to Virgin Atlantic. Convert Virgin Atlantic miles 1 to 1.5 to Hilton. Since Hilton points are usually worth only around .45 cents each towards free nights, this isn’t usually a good idea.
IHG60K to 25K*Transfer to Virgin Atlantic. Convert Virgin Atlantic miles 1 to 1 to IHG. Note: I do not recommend this. See: Virgin Atlantic transfers to IHG no longer count towards status
Wyndham60K to 12.5K*Transfer to Hawaiian Airlines miles, then to Caesar's Total Rewards 2 to 1, then to Wyndham 1 to 1. Details here.

Manage points

Share points with others

Marriott allows program members to move their points to another person’s account.  Here are the basic details:

  • You must call to share your points
  • Limit: you can share at most 100,000 points per calendar year (but you can receive more than that if multiple people share points with you)
  • Cost: Flat $10 fee for basic members and Silver Elite members.  Free for Gold Elite and higher.

How to keep points alive

Points expire after 24 months of inactivity.  Fortunately, almost all points activity will reset the clock.  Points remain alive and available as long as you earn or use points at least once every 24 months.

Note the following activities which do not reset the 24 month clock:

  • Gifting or transferring Points; however, converting Points to Miles or Miles to Points does count toward maintaining an active status;
  • Receiving Points as a gift or transfer; or
  • Earning Points through social media programs

Travel Packages

Marriott offers an option to redeem points for travel packages, also known as hotel + air packages.  The idea is that you can spend a fixed number of Marriott points to get two things: a bunch of airline miles and a 7 night stay certificate.  The stay certificate is only valid for one year and cannot be upgraded or downgraded by category. Also, if you cancel a stay certificate, Marriott will give you only a very small token number of points.

In most cases travel packages are a bad deal.

The only time it makes sense to purchase a travel package, in my opinion, is when you have plans to do both of these things:

  • Transfer enough Marriott points to get 50,000 or 100,000 airline miles; and
  • Book a 7 night (or longer) award stay at a Marriott property that is category 4 or higher during peak pricing

If both of the above are true, then you can save points to get both of those things.

Here’s an example showing that it’s not worth doing this with travel packages if you book a standard award:

  • Suppose you want to do the following:
    • Convert 120,000 Marriott points into 50,000 Alaska Airlines miles; and
    • Spend 300,000 Marriott points to book a 7 night award stay at a category 6 hotel during standard pricing (after 5th night free: 50K points per night x 6 nights = 300,000 points)
  • When done separately, the miles and hotel stay would cost you a combined 420,000 points, but booked as a travel package the same result would cost 435,000 points.
  • With this example, the travel package would cost you 15,000 points more plus likely extra aggravation if your plans change or if award stays are not available when you need them.

Here’s an example showing that it may be worth bothering with travel packages if you use the travel certificate to book a peak award:

  • Suppose you want to do the following:
    • Convert 120,000 Marriott points into 50,000 Alaska Airlines miles; and
    • Spend 360,000 Marriott points to book a 7 night award stay at a category 6 hotel during standard pricing (after 5th night free: 60K points per night x 6 nights = 360,000 points)
  • When done separately, the miles and hotel stay would cost you a combined 480,000 points, but booked as a travel package the same result would cost 435,000 points.
  • With this example, the travel package would save 45,000 points but at the expense of likely aggravation if your plans change or if award stays are not available when you need them.

Is it worth it to save 45K points? Personally, I wouldn’t bother.  Travel package stay certificates have serious restrictions that are not true of points:

  • Stay certificates expire after one year (but you may be able to get the certificate extended if you call)
  • You cannot split the certificate across multiple separate stays or across multiple hotels.  For example, if you wanted to spend 4 nights in one hotel and 3 nights in another, you can’t do so with one certificate.
  • Nights booked with a stay certificate must be consecutive.  For example, you can’t stay Sunday and Monday, skip Tuesday, then stay Wednesday through Monday.
  • Free night awards must be available for every night of your stay in order to apply a stay certificate.
  • You can stay less than 7 nights with a 7 night certificate, but then the certificate will be considered fully used.  You can’t use the remaining days.

5 Night Travel Packages

Marriott offers 5 Night Travel Packages only to Marriott Vacation Club owners.  I haven’t seen the award chart for these so I can’t say if they’re a good deal or not, but I suspect that the answer is no.

United partnership (RewardsPlus)

Marriott’s partnership with United Airlines is named RewardsPlus.  RewardsPlus offers benefits to United and Marriott Bonvoy members who sign up here: mrrewardsplus.com.  RewardsPlus offers the following benefits:

  • 10% more miles (convert points to miles): When you convert Marriott points to United miles.  For example, instead of converting 60K points to 25K miles as you can do with other airlines, you can convert 60K points to 27.5K United miles.
  • One to one miles to points: RewardsPlus members may convert United MileagePlus miles to Marriott points at a 1 to 1 ratio.  This is rarely a good idea in my opinion.
  • United MileagePlus Premier Silver status (Marriott Titanium Elite and Ambassador Elite members only): United Silver status offers free economy plus seats at check-in, free domestic first class upgrade on day of departure when available, one free checked bag, etc.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status (for those with MileagePlus Premier Gold or higher status): Marriott Gold status offers 2pm late checkout, 25% point bonus, welcome gift (points only), room upgrade when available, enhanced internet.

Choice benefits (including Suite Night Awards)

If you have completed 50 nights at Marriott hotels through the calendar year, then you are eligible to pick a “Choice Benefit”.  A second Choice Benefit is available for those who complete 75 nights.  Here’s the website for selecting your benefit: choice-benefit.marriott.com/en-us/marriott-rewards/benefits.

Note that if you acquired Platinum status or higher through a status challenge, credit card spend, lifetime status, etc., you won’t get to pick a Choice Benefit unless you also complete 50 nights within a calendar year.

Selection Deadline: January 14th

If you don’t make a choice by January 14th, you’ll get the “5 Suite Night Awards” choice automatically.  Note: For those with 50 or more nights in 2018, the Choice Benefit selection deadline has been extended until February 7th 2019.

50 Night Choices

  • 5 Elite Night Credits: These add to your prior year total if you wait until January to make your selection.  In other words, you can use this choice to help you get to the next level of status (75 night or 100 night, but 100 night status also requires $20K Marriott spend).  Note: These 5 nights do not count towards lifetime status.
  • 5 Suite Night Awards: Each Suite Night Award is a one-night confirmable upgrade to a standard suite or select premium room, depending on the hotel’s availability of those rooms. The number of Suite Night Awards used must match the entire length of stay; it cannot be used for part of a stay (e.g., the first two nights of a five-night stay). Once Suite Night Awards are requested to be applied to a stay, Marriott will begin checking upgrade availability 5 days in advance of your stay, up until 2pm on the day of your arrival. If your Suite Night Award request doesn’t clear, you’ll get the awards back to be used later.
  • Gift Silver Elite Status
  • $100 Charity Donation: Make a $100 (USD) donation to UNICEF.
  • 40% off a Marriott bed: Get 40% off retail prices for Westin Heavenly Beds, St. Regis beds, etc.

75 Night Choices

  • 1 Free Night Award (Up to 40K Points): “Must be redeemed for a stay that occurs no later than December 31 of the year following the year in which the additional benefit is selected (e.g. if the benefit is selected in 2019, the deadline for redemption is December 31, 2020).
  • Gift Gold Elite Status
  • The rest of the 75 night choices are the same as the 50 night choices:
    • 5 Elite Night Credits
    • 5 Suite Night Awards
    • $100 Charity Donation
    • 40% off a Marriott bed

See also: Marriott Choice Benefit Valuations. Which to pick?

Marriott Bonvoy Credit cards

Marriott Bonvoy credit cards are issued by both Chase and American Express.  If you’re interested in signing up for more than one Chase and/or Amex Marriott card, it’s important to consider the complex rules they have put in place:

Below you’ll find information about each currently available Marriott card:

Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card
100K Points
Limited time offer: 100K points after $5K spend in the first 3 months. Terms apply.
(Offer Expires 4/24/19)

No Annual Fee First Year, Then $95


Card Type: Amex Credit Card

Base
Dine
Gas
Phone
Biz
Brand

Earning rate: 6x at Marriott Bonvoy properties ⚬ 4x U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased from U.S. suppliers and on U.S. purchases for shipping ⚬ 2x everywhere else

Big spend bonus: Marriott Gold elite status with $35K annual spend

Noteworthy perks: 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary for a redemption level at or under 35K points (subject to resort fees) ⚬ Complimentary premium Internet access at Marriott/SPG properties ⚬ unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi

Note: Terms Apply. See Rates & Fees

See also: Marriott Bonvoy Complete Guide

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card
75K points
75K after $3K spend in 3 months

$95 Annual Fee


Card Type: Visa Signature

Base
Brand

Earning rate: ⚬ 6X Marriott Bonvoy ⚬ 2X everywhere else

Big spend bonus: Earn Gold status when you spend $35K each year

Noteworthy perks: ⚬ Annual free night certificate for 1 night at a hotel redemption level up to 35K ⚬ Automatic Silver status ⚬ 15 nights of elite credit each year starting in 2019

Note: This card is known to be subject to Chase's 5/24 rule. You may be able to find a better offer by logging into your Marriott Rewards account and simulating the steps of a booking. (You do not need to complete a booking.)

See also: Marriott Bonvoy Complete Guide

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
75K Points
75K points after $5K spend in the first 3 months. Terms apply.
(Offer Expires 10/31/2019)

$450 Annual Fee

Information about this card has been collected independently by Frequent Miler

Alternate offer: 100K offer expected Feb 13 through April 24 2019

Recent better offer: None. This is a new card.

FM Mini Review: Decent ultra-premium option for Marriott / SPG fans, but Hilton fans may prefer the ultra-premium Hilton Aspire card.


Card Type: Amex Credit Card

Base
Travel
Dine
Brand

Earning rate: 3X airfare charged by airline, US restaurants, 6X Starwood and Marriott Properties; 2X everywhere else

Big spend bonus: Platinum Elite status with $75K calendar year spend

Noteworthy perks: ⚬ 50K Free Night Award each year upon renewal ⚬ $300 SPG/Marriott Rewards statement credit per membership year ⚬ Gold Elite status ⚬ 15 elite nights credit ⚬ Priority Pass Select with 2 free guests ⚬ Global Entry fee credit ⚬ Free premium internet at SPG/Marriott properties ⚬ Unlimited Boingo Wifi

See also: Ultra Premium Hotel Cards: Hilton vs. SPG/Marriott

Marriott Bonvoy Moments

In addition to redeeming points for award nights or for airline miles, it is also possible to redeem points for experiences. These include things like backstage concert tickets, impossible to get sports event tickets, dining with famous chefs, etc.  Some experiences have fixed award prices, but most are setup as auctions.  In either case, you may or may not get good value depending upon circumstances.

At the time of this writing, Marriott and SPG offer separate experiences (AKA “Moments”), but the experiences should soon be combined into one website…

SPG Moments (click here to visit website)

  • Search by: location, category, date range, keyword, points range
  • Fixed Price & Auction
  • When to start looking: Events start to appear ~3 months in advance. 2 months seems to be the sweet spot.

Marriott Moments (click here to visit website)

  • Search by: location, category, date range, keyword, points range
  • Fixed Price & Auction
  • When to start looking: Events start to appear ~3 months in advance. 2 months seems to be the sweet spot.

Bonvoy pros & cons

Pros (where Marriott Bonvoy is better than average):

  • 5th night free awards (Hilton offers this too)
  • Points Advance: Ability to book awards even if you don’t yet have enough points in your account
  • Marriott offers good point earnings on paid stays for elites
  • Points to miles transfer ratio offers reasonably good value (most competing hotel programs offer poor value when converting points to miles)
  • Marriott offers elite benefit guarantees (I don’t think any other major brand does the same)
  • Marriott has a huge number of hotels that run from bottom-tier to ultra-luxury

Cons (where Marriott Bonvoy is worse than average):

  • Marriott charges resort fees on award stays (Hilton and Hyatt do not)
  • Elite benefits are extremely inconsistent from brand to brand
  • Marriott phone representatives are very poorly trained in the complexities of the rewards program. As a result, they often give incorrect information over the phone.
  • Marriott credit cards don’t offer great value for spend, but may be worth keeping for their annual free nights.

Q & A (Questions and Answers)

Q: Can I get the 5th Night Free if I pay for some of the nights with cash, free night certificates, or cash + points?

A: No.  To get the 5th Night Free, you must book entirely with points.  Important: Marriott’s website may try to apply your free night certificates automatically to your booking and this may remove your 5th Night Free if it brings the total number of nights booked with points under 5.

Last updated on February 13th, 2019

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

More articles by Greg The Frequent Miler »

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Rusty
Guest
Rusty

Great write up thanks!

I’m currently a Platinum Premier and won’t requalify. Do you know if they will soft land us to Platinum Elite next year?

J.K.
Guest
J.K.

What is “soft land”? I’m also currently a Platinum Premier and won’t re-qualify. I was hoping to get them to extend my current level since I’m finally going to take a decent vacation this year and could use the upgrade.

Marie
Guest
Marie

That 5th night free is only when you pay with points?

Frank
Guest
Frank

My god! I feel like I am studying for an exam or something .

Abi
Guest
Abi

For getting the 5th night free, can we mix up free night certificates and points ? Thanks!

David
Guest
David

Watering down the lifetime statuses. Looks like Lifetime Platinum Premier won’t translate to United Silver status anymore.
Wish they’d grandfather those who got the status via 1000+ BIB into the Titanium level. Am I missing something?

Dan
Guest
Dan

Another great post thanks! I’m Platinum elite and looking to book two rooms for one night in Paris as an award, one using the Ritz Carlton credit card free night and the second straight up points. I understand benefits are inconsistent, but by the terms if I book two rooms would both rooms get free breakfast for two if the brand otherwise allows it? (I’m looking at the Prince de Galles which is Luxury Collection). I did see that:

Guaranteed Lounge Access: “Access to lounge for member plus one guest. This benefit only applies to the one guest room in which the Platinum Elite/Platinum Premier Elite member is staying.”

but I’m unclear if lounge access is distinct from breakfast benefit – I don’t think there’s a lounge at the Prince de Galles.

Oh and if anyone recommends a Marriott property in Paris for a special occasion (wife’s birthday) please chime in!

Thanks Greg!

Alan
Guest
Alan

When will the 15 elite nights from credit cards be given?

FlyingNinja
Guest
FlyingNinja

Will lifetime platinum premier elite become lifetime titanium elite?

Rick
Guest
Rick

Great write up. I wish Marriott would be so descriptive!
Have been having interesting conversations with my longtime SPG Ambassador. She indicated that effective 1/1/19 all award as well as cash&poinys nights would NOT qualify for elite level night requirements. Hmmm. You had stated that Elite nights are earned with either cash or award stays. Better check on this.

Also she said she was 99%sure that if one qualifies for the special grandfathered platinum premier elite lifetime status in 2018 it WILL be Titanium Lifetime status. Apparently these elite lifetime status were announced to take effect in late January 2019, when they were first announced in August.

I can’t believe that Marriott is allowing properties to make up their own rules when it comes to elite benefits. SPG never allowed this and it was part of the branding contracts. Sad.

tro
Guest
tro

Amazing, especially some of the charts.

Additional info that would be great to have: point expiry (& options to avoid), point pooling

Ricardo
Guest
Ricardo

Great write up Greg. Question: how do you transfer points between people? Only same households or anybody? Is there a link to do this? (There was with SPG). And finally, I think with Marriott in the past at least a long time ago, you could combine points from people in the same household (without transferring them to either account) into one award. Is this still posible?

Roger Anderson
Guest
Roger Anderson

Hilton is charging me resort fee on award stay coming up in Kauai at their HGI. Check your sources.

CaveDweller
Guest
CaveDweller

Roger
Call them then post I never paid any on a award stay .Put the Screws to them and make Sure the matter is solved before u go or book another hotel. .
CHEERS

BigMac
Guest
BigMac

FYI here are the points conversions for an MVC 5 night package.

CAT 50,000miles 100,000miles

1-4 195,000pts 270,000pts
5 235,000pts 310,000pts
6 315,000pts 390,000pts
7 355,000pts 430.000pts
8 475,000pts 550,000pts

It wasn’t clear whether the United 10% bonus applied to these awards.

Ricardo
Guest
Ricardo

Another question Greg:
I had dinner at one of the restaurants at the Ritz Carlton in Cancun. I was staying at the JW Marriott Cancun. When I paid the bill I gave my Marriott rewards number to the waitress so my points could be added to my account (10 basic plus 7.5 per $ as I am a Platinum Premier). They said that if I was not staying at the hotel, I could not get the points. With SPG this was not only possible but encouraged and I was wondering if you know anything about this.

Mark
Guest
Mark

You are flat out crushing it of late Greg with these mega posts.

Am hoping to make the trip to San Diego.

Zac
Guest
Zac

Free breakfast for all* – SpringHill Suites?

trackback

[…] welcome gift with each stay, room upgrades when available, 2pm late checkout, and other perks (details here). Go to benefit page, find the Starwood Preferred Guest Gold benefit, and click “Enroll […]

Paul
Guest
Paul

This article is very well-written. You’ve taken a ton of information and made it very clear and concise. The credit cards will be re-branded to Marriott Bonvoy – I wonder if the Ritz Carlton Visa will remain specific to Ritz Carlton with the club level certificates. It’s already gone through big changes last August. Any ideas as to what may happen?

GatorLitigator
Guest
GatorLitigator

Springhill also offers free breakfast for all.

trackback

[…] Marriott Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest, and Ritz-Carlton Rewards are now one program with multiple names.  Starting February 13th, however, they’ll also share one name: Marriott Bonvoy.  You can find everything you need to know about Marriott Bonvoy in our complete guide. […]

trackback

[…] Marriott Bonvoy Complete Guide by Frequent Miler. I know how much of a pain keeping these types of resource pages updated can be, let’s hope we can give this enough love so keeping it updated is worth the effort involved. […]

trackback

[…] Marriott Bonvoy Complete Guide by Frequent Miler. I know how much of a pain keeping these types of resource pages updated can be, let’s hope we can give this enough love so keeping it updated is worth the effort involved. […]

Stan
Guest
Stan

So now that we no longer earn an elite night credit for every $3K spent, is the only way to spend yourself to an elite level with lounge access the SPG Luxury card and spend $75K a year?

Stan
Guest
Stan

and a follow-up — If I have the Marriott Premier Plus card and spend $35K a year, that puts me at gold elite (equivalent to 25 elite nights.) Does the 15 elite nights annual bonus get added on top of the gold status putting me at 40 elite nights — well on my way to platinum at 50 nights?

trackback

[…] today to unveil near term plans for converting their SPG and Marriott Rewards cards to the new all-in-one Marriott Bonvoy program.  Here’s a summary of the changes, organized by the currently existing credit card names […]

Tyler
Guest
Tyler

Regarding the 5 Suite Night Awards. Does anyone know when they expire? If I don’t use them this year do they carry over to next year? I read through the terms and it doesn’t say. Hyatt’s suite upgrades are valid through 2/28 of the next year, and that was after the negative change

trackback

[…] the merger of Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) into a single Marriott Bonvoy program, there are now a boatload of cards that earn the same type of rewards.  Whether you already have […]

Claude
Guest
Claude

I have the Lifetime Gold card from SPG (actually Lifetime Gold Elite in the joint program), what will be the status of this card in the new programe?

trackback

[…] think Bon Voyage. As in, see ya later! Okay, lets come down. Frequent Miler has promised to keep a Marriott Bonvoy Complete Guide updated. I think it is excellent and perhaps you should bookmark it. If you are into […]

trackback

[…] of writing about Marriott all day, everyday, but things happen.  On Monday, I published my Marriott Bonvoy Complete Guide and figured that would be enough about Marriott for a while.  But then I realized that it was past […]

Michael
Guest
Michael

Hi Greg. Does the credit card elite nights (15) count towards lifetime elite nights? Thank you

Alison
Guest
Alison

I have a hotel reservation that I made in July 2018 part of a 7-night category 1-5 miles+nights certificate package. It is a category 5 property.

I need to cancel the reservation because I could not find a good deal on airfare. Is it better to cancel now and get a partial certificate refunded (hotel only, I already transferred the miles to my Alaska air account) back to my account? Or do you think there may be a benefit to cancelling when the program is called “Bonvoy.”

Thank you.

trackback

[…] Marriott Bonvoy Complete Guide […]

Ken
Guest
Ken

Evidently with the new Bonvoy program, a point transfer from Chase UR will reset the 24 month clock. The old Marriott Rewards didn’t allow this transfer as a qualifying activity. This was confirmed by the new Bonvoy app in my account. Do you have any truth knowledge about this change? Thanks.

Gwen
Guest
Gwen

I have the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus card, I took an upgrade offer a few months ago from the older Marriott card. Now I would like to get the SPG business card. According to your chart I am not able to get the bonus if I got an upgrade offer in the past 24 months.

When looked at the terms and conditions it seems like an upgrade does not disqualify you from getting the bonus on the spg business card if you have the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus card. The terms say “received a new Card Member bonus offer in the last 24 months on the Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card from Chase or the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card from Chase.” No mention of an upgrade.

When I look at the SPG luxury terms and conditions they specifically mention you are not eligible for the bonus with an upgrade. The terms say “iii) received a welcome or upgrade offer for The Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card from Chase, The Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card from Chase, or The Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Business Credit Card from Chase in the last 24 months”

The rules are so confusing! I plan on applying for the SPG Business Amex (or Marriott Bonvoy Business) when the 100k offer comes out and I will try to report back if I get the bonus or not.

Jules
Guest
Jules

Greg, appreciate the comprehensive guide. Is there a sortable list for the upcoming Mar 2 category changes? I’ve seen a pdf version only. Thanks!

trackback

[…] price: 50K per night standard. Category 6 hotel (50K standard, 40K off-peak, 60K peak).  Book 5 nights for the price of […]

Roy Wilhellm
Guest
Roy Wilhellm

When your Marriott Rewards card expires is it automatically replaced with a Marriott Bonvoy, or do we apply?

Roy Wilhellm
Guest
Roy Wilhellm

When our Marriott Rewards card expires will we automatically receive a Marriott Bonvoy or do we have to apply?