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Elite members in the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program enjoy perks like free room upgrades, late checkout, bonus points and sometimes, free breakfast. But how do you become an elite member? Staying several nights in hotels to earn “elite night credits” — the most common way to earn status — isn’t an option for less-frequent travelers.
You don’t have to be a road warrior to earn status in Marriott Bonvoy. That’s because booking hotel rooms isn’t the only way to earn elite night credits. For instance, you can earn elite night credits by using a qualifying credit card, among other activities.
Here’s what you need to know about elite night credits and qualifying for elite status with Marriott.
An overview of Marriott elite night credits
Elite night credits qualify you to become an elite member in the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program at one of the different tier levels, and can be earned by staying at participating properties. For example, if you stay one night at a participating Marriott hotel, you'll earn one elite night credit.
Earn 10 elite night credits and you become a Silver Elite member of the Bonvoy program. Stays paid for with points or cash earn elite night credits.
How many elite night credits do I need to earn status?
Marriott Bonvoy members can qualify (or requalify) for elite status by staying a certain number of nights per year (from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31) at Marriott family properties.
Silver Elite: 10 nights per year.
Gold Elite: 25 nights per year.
Platinum Elite: 50 nights per year.
Titanium Elite: 75 nights per year.
Ambassador Elite: 100 nights per year + $20,000 in qualifying spend.
The higher your elite status, the bigger the benefits. For example, Gold Elite members get a 25% bonus on the number of Marriott Bonvoy points they earn on paid stays. But Titanium Elite members get a 75% bonus.
Elite night credits also help you qualify for Bonvoy Lifetime Elite status, which means the Bonvoy points you earn never expire and you keep your elite status forever without having to requalify every year.
Here are the milestones for reaching Lifetime Elite status:
Lifetime Silver Elite: 250 lifetime nights + five years as Silver Elite status or higher.
Lifetime Gold Elite: 400 lifetime nights + seven years as Gold Elite status or higher.
Lifetime Platinum Elite: 600 lifetime nights + 10 years as Platinum Elite status or higher.
In 2020 and in 2021, in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Marriott helped its existing elite members requalify for status by depositing elite night credits into their Bonvoy accounts. Members automatically got 50% of the credits they needed to maintain their previous year’s elite status. The spending threshold required for reaching Ambassador Elite status has been reduced to $14,000 in 2021 as well.
» Learn more: Marriott Bonvoy elite levels: The complete guide
How to earn Marriott elite night credits
Besides staying at Marriott family hotels, there are several ways you can earn Marriott elite night credits.
Hold a co-branded credit card — or two
One of the easiest ways to earn Marriott elite night credits is by holding one or two of its co-branded credit cards, issued by American Express and Chase. Terms apply.
Marriott Bonvoy American Express® Card (not available to new applicants).
Marriott Bonvoy Premier Plus Business Visa Signature (not available to new applicants).
All but one of these Marriott co-branded credit cards come with 15 elite night credits that are deposited to your account at the beginning of every calendar year automatically (the premium Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card card comes with 25).
Better yet, if you hold one personal credit card and one business card, you can get elite night credits from each card and earn up to 40 elite night credits total — enough to qualify out-right for Marriott Gold Elite status. Terms apply.
If you hold two personal Marriott co-branded cards or two business cards, the elite night credits don’t combine.
If you have a Marriott credit card, keep an eye out for promos that award you with elite night credits based on how much you spend. If you’re a few nights away from the next tier, this is a great way to earn some elite night credits.
» Learn more: The best hotel credit cards right now
Stay during promotions
Another great way to earn Marriott elite nights is by enrolling in the loyalty program’s promotions. For example, the company recently offered a promotion called Better Two-gether (it ended earlier this year). This promotion awarded double elite night credits, plus double redeemable Bonvoy points, on paid Marriott stays of two or more nights.
So if you stayed five nights at a Marriott property during the promotion period, you earned 10 elite night credits — five elite night credits from the stay and another five from the promo.
Booking stays strategically during these promotions can get you to the next elite status tier much quicker.
Plan group events or meetings
Marriott guests who plan corporate meetings or family reunions can earn one elite night credit for every 20 room nights booked for an event at a Marriott property (limited to 20 elite night credits per event).
A note: Birthday elite night credits are on pause
In the past, Marriott loyalty program members received a complimentary elite night credit on their birthday. To qualify, members needed to have their birthdate listed under “Personal Info” in their Bonvoy account and have their email communication preferences set to receive all offers.
The benefit has been paused, and it’s not clear whether it’ll be back in the future.
If you’re collecting Marriott elite night credits
What are Marriott elite night credits good for? They can qualify you for elite status with the Marriott Bonvoy program. You can earn these credits by staying at participating hotels and resorts whether you book with cash or points. Holding the right credit cards, hosting events and participating in global promotions can accelerate your climb to elite status.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card