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.
One of the cool things about Marriott Bonvoy, besides its delightful name, is that elite perks are pretty good for a hotel chain of its size. Here’s a summary of Marriott’s elite perks:
The sweet spot elite status, in my opinion, is Platinum Elite. This will get you the vast majority of the best benefits: 4pm late checkout, 50% point bonus, welcome gift, free breakfast at most properties, and lounge access. And, when you earn 50 elite nights you also get a Choice Benefit, such as 5 Suite Night Awards.
Of course, you might not have the opportunity to actually stay 50 nights at Marriott properties. But all hope is not lost. There are quite a few shortcuts to status that you can pursue instead…
Two Distinct Shortcut Paths: Elite Nights vs. Other Shortcuts
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.
- 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.
- 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 Marriott Rewards 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 as well (One exception: choosing 5 elite nights as a Choice Benefit does not add 5 nights to your lifetime total).
The following shortcuts will get you to a specific elite level, but you can’t stack them with elite nights to get higher status.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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 Rewards (soon to be “Bonvoy”) to enroll. You cannot enroll in the Platinum challenge if you already have Platinum status or higher.
- 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).
If you have plans to spend 16 nights in hotels within a 90 day period, then go for the Platinum Elite Challenge. Ideally you would do this early in the calendar year so that you’ll earn status for the rest of this calendar year, all of the next, and through February of the year after that.
Last updated on January 29th, 2019