Would you like to become an elite member of the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program to enjoy perks like late checkout, bonus Marriott rewards points on paid stays and maybe even free breakfast?
This could be your year. With travel at a near standstill for much of 2020, hotel companies like Marriott are eager to welcome guests and loyalists back to their properties when it’s safe to do so. This means we’re likely to continue to see promotions that lure travelers back, including easier requirements for earning elite status in hotel loyalty programs.
Here’s what you should consider when deciding whether to pursue Marriott elite status in 2021.
» Learn more: Marriott Bonvoy program: The complete guide
How Marriott ranks
NerdWallet recently ranked Marriott at No. 4 among hotel loyalty programs (IHG Rewards earned the No. 1 slot). When using points for free hotel nights, each Marriott Bonvoy point is worth about 0.7 cent.
This is a higher value than similar loyalty programs at hotels like Hilton and Radisson.
Top perks of the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program
Plentiful properties to choose from
Marriott is one of the largest hotel chains in the world, with 30 brands and more than 8,000 properties in 131 countries and territories.
Thanks to partnerships with Chase Ultimate Rewards® and American Express Membership Rewards, you can turn other points currencies into Marriott points — a useful perk if you have a specific high-value Bonvoy redemption in mind.
» Learn more: The best hotel credit cards right now
Marriott Bonvoy rewards levels
Elite status in the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program can get you perks like free breakfast and room upgrades.
Marriott Bonvoy has five elite status tiers:
Here’s a summary of the nights and spending requirements for each elite status tier in 2021.
Nights to Earn
100 + $14k spend
Marriott extended elite status for those who earned it 2019. Normally you enjoy Marriott elite status through the end of the calendar year in which you qualified and also all through the following calendar year. But due to the unique circumstance of 2020, Marriott extended elite status to Feb. 1, 2022, for members who earned it in 2019.
Marriott has also given members an Elite Night Credit boost, which will help you earn status faster if you were an elite member in 2020.
» Learn more: Marriott Bonvoy elite levels: The complete guide
Earn Marriott elite status with a credit card
Several Marriott co-branded cards and premium cards provide complimentary Marriott elite status. Terms apply.
Here’s a breakdown of the status that comes with each card:
Additionally, it’s possible for cardholders to achieve a higher tier of elite status upon meeting a spending requirement with your card. For example, with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card, you’ll earn Gold Elite status when you spend $35,000 on purchases each account year. That’s a hefty spending requirement, so it’s worth considering if you’ll make the most of the elite status benefits before directing all of your spending to the card.
Are Marriott Bonvoy elite status perks worth it?
The benefits of Marriott elite status increase greatly as you move up the tier ladder, but their value is different for every traveler. For example, the free breakfast you get with Platinum elite status can be significantly more valuable for a family than for a solo traveler.
Similarly, 2 p.m. late checkout, which comes with Gold status, or 4 p.m. checkout, which comes with Platinum and higher statuses, is valuable only to travelers who can take advantage of the benefit. If you’re on a beach vacation, late check-out means you can enjoy significantly more time at the resort versus waking up and checking out soon after breakfast.
The COVID-19 pandemic also means certain elite status benefits may be scaled back or eliminated, depending on your travel destination. For example, hotel VIP lounges could be closed or offer less in the way of food and drinks. Room upgrades can be limited subject to availability and occupancy. Before booking, it’s a good idea to inquire with the hotel to avoid disappointments.
» Learn more: The best hotel elite status programs
The bottom line
Chasing Marriott Bonvoy elite status in 2021 by booking hotel stays for new members will be challenging because Marriott hasn't reduced the nightly stay requirements. This means you would have to stay 50 qualifying nights to earn Marriott Bonvoy Platinum elite status. However, if you had status in 2020, your Elite Night Credit boost makes 2021 a prime opportunity to reach the next level of Bonvoy to enjoy throughout 2022.
Signing up for a credit card could make it easier to unlock elite status if you're starting from scratch. Additionally, based on the promotions we saw last year, we would expect to see Marriott offer incentives in 2021 to attract travelers and loyalists back to Marriott hotels.
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 2021, 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