Marriott gifting elite night credit & dropping many redemption rates

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Today Marriott has announced a huge boost for members interested in qualifying/re-qualifying for elite status this year. They have also reduced redemption rates at many properties for those who travel by July 31st by charging only off-peak rates in some markets for those who reserve stays for next month by the end of June 2020. While elite status had already been extended until 2022, this should make it much easier to pick up a new set of elite choice benefits this year to stack with those which have already been extended.

The St. Regis Bora Bora is available for the off-peak price of 70K points per night…..for exactly 1 night in July.

Elite status boost

Marriott has announced that they will give all members elite night credit for 50% of the number of nights required to reach the elite tier they earned in 2019. This is on top of up to 30 elite nights from credit cards and any you may have already earned and these extra nights count toward lifetime status. Here is a look at how many nights members can expect:

Status earned in 2019 Regular requirement 50% elite night credits deposited in late July
Ambassador 100 nights + $20K spend 50 nights
Titanium 75 nights 38 nights
Platinum 50 nights 25 nights
Gold 25 nights 13 nights
Silver 10 nights 5 nights
General Member None None

That’s a pretty incredible boost, especially when you consider the fact that having a single Marriott credit card gives you an additional 15 elite night credits. Those who have both a Marriott consumer and a business Bonvoy card earn a total of 30 elite night credits from credit cards. That means that someone who qualified as Platinum last year and has both forms of credit card will already be at 55 nights this year without having stepped in a hotel — qualifying for an annual choice benefit like 5 Suite Night Awards.

For a full rundown of Marriott elite benefits, see our Marriott Bonvoy Complete Guide.

Those who qualified as Titanium last year and have the credits from both types of credit card will be at 68 total nights this year without having stepped in a hotel — just a stone’s throw from two choice benefits.

And perhaps making out the best in this is those Gold members who have both types of credit card, who will get 13 extra nights with this boost. Take that on top of the 30 they could get from both forms of credit card and they will be just 7 nights shy of Platinum status. That is a very big upgrade over Gold as it includes free breakfast and/or lounge access at most brands, 4pm late checkout at most brands, and an annual choice benefit (See: Which Marriott elite benefits apply? for a full run-down of elite benefits by brand). Picking up all of that with as few as 7 nights spent in hotels this year would look pretty good. My wife is in this boat and even though I have Titanium status, I may look to get her those 7 nights in order to ensure Platinum benefits on her free night certificates moving forward for next year. Granted, we currently have no travel plans, so I’m not positive that we’ll pursue this — but I’ll be keeping it in mind.

The only “loser” in this announcement (and I use that term here loosely) is an Ambassador member. While Ambassador status typically requires 100 nights and $20K spend, and Marriott is giving those members credit for 50 nights (and thus an easy choice benefit), there was no mention of a reduced spending requirement for Ambassador status in 2020. I’m only marginally surprised about this: since status has been extended until February 2022, anyone who earned Ambassador status with $20K spend last year is keeping that status until February of 2022 and only needs to worry about re-qualifying with $20K spend next year — this year’s qualification is really about choice benefits. My guess is that Marriott isn’t looking to expand cost in terms of offering Ambassador status to people who only previously earned Titanium and weren’t close to the spending threshold on Ambassador, so I’m not surprised that they aren’t making the tier easier to achieve. I should note that Marriott will also allow Ambassador members to “gift” Platinum elite status to one other member, which is a nice touch.

While 2020 travel has been remarkably disrupted, this elite night credit boost should prove very advantageous for those who also have Marriott credit cards and end up spending at least a few nights in hotels this year.

Note that Marriott reports that these extra elite night credits will be deposited into your account sometime in late July. As noted above, these bonus elite night credits will count toward lifetime status requirements.

Reduced redemptions at 5,500 hotels

For those looking to travel by the end of next month, Marriott has also announced that they will be offering off-peak pricing only at about 5,500 hotels worldwide and no hotel that participates in Marriott Bonvoy will be at peak pricing through the end of July. Both of those things apply to bookings made from June 15-30th for stays through July 31, 2020.

As a reminder, here is the full Marriott Bonvoy award chart:

Marriott did not provide a complete list of properties available at off-peak only, but they indicated that this will be determined by market. In other words, in markets where only off-peak pricing applies through the end of July, all hotels in that market will be off-peak only.

To illustrate what this means, here is a list of example properties that Marriott gave us (along with their category and normal points pricing).

  • The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, Puerto Rico (Category 8. Standard = 85K, off-peak= 70K)
  • Cadillac Hotel & Beach Club, Autograph Collection (Category 6. Standard = 50K, off-peak = 40K)
  • The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel (Category 7. Standard = 70K, off-peak = 50K)
  • The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay (Category 7. Standard = 70K, off-peak = 50K)

At the very least, we know that the other hotels in the same market as those above should be off-peak through the end of July as long as you reserve by 6/30 (and find award availability).

For example, the Cadillac Hotel & Beach Club is in Miami Beach. That tells me that all hotels in the Miami Beach market (likely within the greater Miami area) will be off-peak when available for redemption. The story checks out on that, with hotels like the Aloft Miami-Brickell (Cat 4, ordinarily 25K standard) and the W Miami (Cat 6, ordinarily 50K standard) pricing at off-peak rates for a random day in July:

That means that the W Miami should be bookable with a Titanium 40K choice benefit free night certificate.

In some cases, I noticed that hotels were not only off-peak, but also available at PointSavers rates. For example, I saw the Cadillac Hotel noted above, a Category 6 hotel that would ordinarily be 50K at standard pricing is actually available for 35K as an off-peak PointSaver rate. That means it should be bookable with a 35K credit card free night certificate.

That was not the only Category 6 property available for 35K in the Miami market:

Of course, with Florida showing increased cases of COVID-19 in recent days, Miami is likely not as popular a destination as it normally would be (and cash prices certainly reflect that right now). The above is meant to illustrate how this is working. Note that if you see a mix of properties showing off-peak and regular rates, that means nights at any hotel within that market may vary.

This could make for an opportunity for a relatively low number of points. For example, a Category 6 property with standard pricing would ordinarily be 50K points per night. If you’re able to find 5 nights of off-peak availability, you would pay just 140K points for five nights given the 5th night free on award stays (an average of 28K points per night).

Another interesting opportunity will be for those with a free night certificate from the Ritz-Carlton credit card. With Category 7 properties pricing off-peak (like those in California listed above), one could get a pretty solid deal with a 50K certificate.

Of course, the major wrinkle here is that these lower rates are only available through the end of July. Personally, I don’t think I’ll be ready to relax and enjoy a multi-night vacation by the end of next month, so I doubt this promo will come in handy for me. On the other hand, I’m sure that some folks are ready to head out and with restrictions lifted in much of the country, Marriott is making a safe bet that some people will be willing to begin traveling again. With a pregnant wife at home, I’m not in a rush to be the test case that proves whether or not it is safe, so I’ll likely sit this out.

Bottom line

Overall, this announcement is pretty good news for Marriott Bonvoy members. The additional elite night credits will be very useful for many readers, especially those with Marriott Bonvoy credit cards. It should be very easy to earn an extra set of Marriott elite choice benefits this year. Reduced redemptions for near-term travel certainly makes sense to try to entice customers to bring some business to Marriott and though I’m not personally in a hurry to travel just yet, there will be some savings available for those who are.

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