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Marriott is perhaps one of the best known hotel chains in the U.S., and it has thousands of properties in its portfolio around the world. If you stay at a Marriott property every once in a while, you might be curious about its loyalty program and whether it's worth it to join.
We've rounded up some of the main things you should know that makes the Marriott Bonvoy program different from the rest, including its rewarding elite status program and the number of ways to earn and redeem points. Here are seven things to know before joining Marriott Bonvoy.
1. Joining Marriott Bonvoy is free
Do you have to pay to be a Marriott Bonvoy member? No. It’s free. As a member, you earn points that can be redeemed for hotel stays, hotel perks (when you earn elite status), gifts or experiences.
Redeeming points for a free night at Marriott is simple. Marriott Bonvoy uses dynamic award pricing that links award rates to demand.
At various times of the year, Marriott Bonvoy also has sales on stays at many of its properties through the PointSavers program, which takes up to 20% off the redemption rate.
Editors’ note: Marriott Bonvoy discontinued its award chart as of April 1, 2022. We have yet to see what will happen to the program’s PointSavers rate in light of these changes. PointSaver details are still available on its site despite PointSaver rates being unavailable on for bookings through 2022. We will update the article as information becomes available to us.
There’s also Marriott Bonvoy Moments, which lets members use points to bid on or buy unusual experiences. This can include, for example, VIP access to sporting events like the U.S. Grand Prix or tickets for luxury seats at a concert.
» Learn more: Marriott Bonvoy Program: The complete guide
2. There are over 8,000 Marriott Bonvoy hotels
With more than 8,000 Marriott Bonvoy hotels, there is bound to be a hotel for every taste. Marriott Bonvoy is the loyalty program for 30 brands as well as Homes & Villas by Marriott International. Whether you are looking for a comfortable night’s sleep at a Fairfield Inn & Suites or want a luxurious vacation at The Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis, Marriott Bonvoy points can take you around the world.
Other Marriott Bonvoy brands include:
3. Paying for hotel nights isn’t the only way to earn rewards
Marriott Bonvoy members have plenty of ways to keep earning points for future free nights. The more ways of points earning you use, the faster you’ll earn award stays.
Complete a paid stay at a Marriott property.
Reserve a corporate meeting or an event at a Marriott property.
Use a co-branded Marriott Bonvoy credit card.
Book rental cars with Hertz.
Book an eligible cruise.
Dine at restaurants that participate in the Eat Around Town program.
Order rides or meals with Uber and Uber Eats.
Purchases at ShopMarriott.com, which stocks the products used at Marriott properties, including pillows, linens, blankets and furniture.
If you're a new member who doesn't have enough Marriott Bonvoy points but wants to make a big redemption, you can transfer points into Marriott from American Express Membership Rewards or Chase Ultimate Rewards® at a 1:1 ratio.
» Learn more: Your guide to hotel bonus point promotions
Remember that you must book a stay directly with Marriott to earn Bonvoy points and elite night credits. Rooms booked with an online travel agency, such as Orbitz or Expedia, don’t earn points or elite nights.
4. Marriott points expire after 24 months
Marriott points expire after 24 months of inactivity. As long as you have an eligible activity at least once within two years since you earned points last, your whole balance will be extended to another 24 months.
To keep your Marriott points from expiring, you must perform at least one of the following eligible activities:
Complete a paid or an award stay.
Credit non-stay hotel spending to your account.
Use a co-branded Marriott Bonvoy credit card to make a purchase.
Transfer points from a flexible rewards program.
Buy Marriott Bonvoy points.
Convert Marriott points to airline miles.
Plan a meeting or an event at an eligible property.
Shop with Marriott retail and travel partners.
5. When you stay a certain number of nights per year, you'll earn elite status
Once you earn enough points to qualify for Marriott Bonvoy elite status, the perks will start pouring in on future stays. Marriott Bonvoy rewards its most frequent guests with different status levels: Silver Elite, Gold Elite, Platinum Elite, Titanium Elite and Ambassador Elite. The perks improve with each level of status you attain. The more you stay, the more perks you earn. For example, Gold Elite and higher members earn the possibility to receive a free room upgrade (based on availability), while Platinum Elite and higher members earn access to club lounges where breakfast and refreshments are available.
You also earn more points per dollar spent based on your elite level. Depending on the hotel, you can earn as many as 10x points per dollar spent. Silver Elite members get a 10% bonus on top of that, while Titanium Elite and top-level Ambassador Elite members earn a 75% bonus.
Other elite status benefits include things like free breakfast, a welcome amenity, late checkout and faster Wi-Fi speeds (depending on your level of status). For example, with Platinum Elite status or higher, you can choose to receive free breakfast at Aloft properties, which serves up trendy menu items including a plant-based sandwich featuring Beyond Meat’s signature breakfast sausage, Funfetti and maple-glazed cinnamon rolls, and Nutella waffles.
Marriott’s special partnership with United Airlines means that United MileagePlus members with Premier Gold status or higher automatically receive Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status. Eligible members can link their accounts for instant status.
» Learn more: The best ways to rack up Marriott Bonvoy points
6. You can earn points and elite status faster with a Marriott Bonvoy-affiliated card
Now that you know all about points and elite status, there is a fast track to getting there via Marriott Bonvoy-affiliated cards. Getting approved for these cards can deliver instant elite status and bonus points for meeting certain spending thresholds.
The Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card gives you Silver Elite status. Since the card has no annual fee, this is the fastest and cheapest way to instant elite status with Marriott Bonvoy.
For a $95 annual fee, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card also gives you Silver Elite status as well as a free night award (valued at up to 35,000 points) every year after your card renewal month.
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card offers Platinum Elite status, plus up to $300 in statement credits per calendar year (up to $25 per month) for eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide. Including other perks, like a Free Night Award (valued at up to 85,000 points) each year after the card’s account anniversary, the $650 annual fee can be worth it. Terms apply.
The Platinum Card® from American Express also offers instant Gold Elite status among other benefits. Enrollment required. Terms apply.
Even if you don’t have immediate plans to stay in a hotel, you can start earning Marriott Bonvoy points now. A Marriott Bonvoy-affiliated card is one quick way to do that.
» Learn more: The best hotel credit cards right now
There's no reason not to join if you stay at Marriott hotels
Some good things in life are indeed free, and joining Marriott Bonvoy is one of them. There’s no harm in enrolling, crediting your stays to Marriott and earning rewards. Remember to book your stay directly with Marriott to earn points and elite night credits to work your way up the elite status ladder.
As long as you earn Marriott points via one of the eligible points-earning methods at least once every 24 months, your points balance won’t expire and you can keep accumulating points toward a free stay at your preferred pace.
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