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Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status: Everything You Need to Know

Oct. 30, 2019
Loyalty Programs, Travel
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The Marriott Bonvoy umbrella covers 30 brands and over 7,000 hotels, making it one of the largest and most well-recognized rewards programs in the world. After a merger with SPG and Ritz-Carlton, many frequent travelers wondered how Marriott’s new elite status program would work.

Here we lay out (nearly) everything there is to know about the Bonvoy elite status program. Whether you’re a die-hard business traveler looking to earn lifetime status or an infrequent traveler curious about the status earned from one of the branded Bonvoy credit cards, we’ve got you covered.

How to earn status

The Bonvoy program features five tiers of elite status, each with its own benefits. In ascending order they are: Silver, Gold, Platinum, Titanium, Ambassador.

There are two ways to earn Bonvoy status: by actually staying at Marriott properties and collecting enough eligible nights, or through a credit card.

Earn status through eligible nights

You can earn the first four tiers (Silver through Titanium) by staying enough qualifying nights per calendar year. It doesn’t matter if you stay at high-end Ritz-Carlton hotels or long-term Residence Inns — all nights count the same. However, the highest tier (Ambassador) requires a minimum $20,000 annual spend.

Here’s the breakdown.

Elite TierNights to Earn
Ambassador100 + $20k spend

Important: “Qualifying Nights” are those booked directly through or most corporate travel services. They do not include stays booked through third-party online travel agencies like Expedia or Orbitz. This is true of most hotel loyalty programs, but it can trip up travelers who are unaware.

Earn status through credit cards

Does spending a quarter of the year in hotels sound daunting? There’s an easier way. Several credit cards, including Bonvoy’s own branded cards, provide complimentary elite status. This status is identical to what you’d get if you earned it the hard way. You’ll still be thanked for being a loyal Bonvoy customer when you check in and get all the associated perks (even if it’s your first stay).

Here’s a breakdown of what status comes with each card:

Silver status

Gold status

» Learn more: Which Marriott Bonvoy card should I choose?

Status tiers and benefits

Before we get into discussing the specifics of each benefit, here’s a guide to what you’ll get at each tier:

Points earning bonus
Late checkout
When available (time unspecified)2 p.m. (when available)4 p.m. (guaranteed)4 p.m. (guaranteed)4 p.m. (guaranteed)
Room upgrades
NoneWhen available, no suitesWhen available, including suitesWhen available, including suitesWhen available, including suites
Check-in gift
NonePointsPoints, breakfast, or welcome amenityPoints, breakfast, or welcome amenity Points, breakfast, or welcome amenity
Lounge access
Annual choice benefit
NoneNoneAt 50 staysAt 50 stays and 75 staysAt 50 stays and 75 stays
Ambassador service + Your24

Points earning bonus

These are the extra points you’ll earn for each stay once you’ve achieved that status tier. For example, if you have Gold status and earn 1,000 points from a stay, you’ll earn an extra 50%, for 1,500 total.

Annual choice benefit

This benefit is a little confusing, especially as Marriott presents it on its website. Basically, Platinum elites earn a choose-your-own adventure benefit when they reach 50 stays. Titanium and Ambassador elites earn that benefit at 50 stays, as well as an additional benefit at 75 stays.

The first (50-night) benefit is your choice of:

  • Five Suite Night Awards.
  • 40% off a Marriott bed (from their store).
  • Silver status for a friend or family member.
  • US $100 donation to UNICEF.
  • Five elite night credits.

The second (75-night) benefit is your choice of:

  • Five Suite Night Awards.
  • 40% off a Marriott bed (from their store).
  • Gold status for a friend or family member.
  • US $100 donation to UNICEF.
  • Five elite night credits.
  • One free award night (up to 40,000 points).

Lifetime status

Super-dedicated travelers (and extreme Bonvoy loyalists) can earn lifetime status, too. Here’s how it works: You must collect a minimum number of both qualifying nights and years of elite status. For example, to earn lifetime Gold status, you need 400 total nights and seven years of Gold status.

One extra perk of lifetime status: Your Bonvoy points will never expire.

» Learn more: Why I love the Marriott Bonvoy program

Lesser-known perks explained

Marriott throws a ton of extra perks into each status tier. Some (like mobile check-in) are basically fluff, while others are highly valuable. Here are some helpful explanations of the latter.

Welcome gift 

Not to be confused with the “Annual Choice Benefit,” this is an in-hotel gift offered when checking in. Gold members receive points at check in. Most properties offer 500 points, but these brands only offer 250: Courtyard, Four Points, SpringHill Suites, Protea Hotels, Fairfield, AC Hotels, Aloft, Moxy, Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites and Element hotels.

Platinum, Titanium and Ambassador members receive a choice of:

  1. Points (at the same rate as Gold member).
  2. Complimentary breakfast when available.
  3. An “amenity” that differs by brand (but sometimes includes food and beverage).

Ambassador Service + Your24

At Bonvoy’s highest tier, Ambassador elites receive two valuable perks.

The first, Ambassador Service, provides “personalized service” for each stay. This is essentially a personal travel concierge who can help plan your stay and organize activities.

The second, Your24, is an interesting one. It gives you a flexible 24-hour check-in and check-out window, which lets you avoid the hassle of arriving too early. That is, if your flight arrives at 6 a.m., you can check into your room immediately instead of waiting until the afternoon. Marriott also gives a more extreme example of staying “from midnight to midnight” (thought we’re not sure why you’d want to).

» Learn more: How to get more flexible hotel check-in/out times

Is Bonvoy elite status worth it?

Deciding whether it’s worth shooting for Bonvoy status depends entirely on your travel preferences and goals. If you’re a frequent business traveler considering Ambassador status, you’ll want to compare it to other high-end hotel elite tiers. If you’re an infrequent traveler, you might wonder whether it’s worth earning any hotel elite status at all.

For example, Bonvoy Silver status offers almost no tangible benefits. The only real benefit is the bonus points earning benefit, which is still paltry at 10%. So we definitely wouldn’t suggest shifting your travel plans just to earn that 10th night.

Gold status offers a bit more, including late checkout and room upgrades. But remember it can be obtained hassle-free via getting a credit card instead of spending nearly a month in Marriott hotels.

As expected, Platinum, Titanium and Ambassador status offer the more meaty perks, including the flexible annual choice benefits and check-in gifts. But they also require a lot of Marriott loyalty (and spending) to earn, of course.

All information about the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card has been collected independently by NerdWallet. The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card is no longer available through NerdWallet.

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 2020, including those best for:

Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:
Find the best hotel credit card for you
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Earn more points and miles with these 6 strategies

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