Guide to the Marriott Bonvoy program
The merger of Marriott International and Starwood Hotels & Resorts created one of the largest hotel brands in the world. It also created a new hotel loyalty program: Marriott Bonvoy.
Bonvoy not only brings together the former Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest programs under a single umbrella but it folds in The Ritz-Carlton Rewards as well. The result is a hotel loyalty program that covers more than 6,900 properties across 30 hotel brands. These range from luxury names such as The Ritz-Carlton and St. Regis to lower priced select properties like Fairfield and Springhill Suites.
For travelers, Marriott Bonvoy offers several benefits like:
- Complimentary fifth night when redeeming points for four nights.
- Opportunity to transfer points to more than 40 airline partners.
- Multiple redemption options that include free nights, gift cards and entertainment experiences.
However, there are also some drawbacks to Bonvoy such as:
- Elite status can only be earned through hotel stays.
- Award nights during peak travel periods may require more points.
- Elite nights are typically not earned on reservations made through third party travel sites such as Expedia.
HOW IS THE MARRIOTT BONVOY PROGRAM STRUCTURED?
Like most travel loyalty programs, Marriott Bonvoy lets people earn points and redeem them for hotel stays and other benefits. However, a significant value of the Bonvoy program can be found in its elite status tiers. Depending on how many nights you've stayed at Marriott properties, you can earn all sorts of perks including free breakfast, bonus point gifts, discounted rates, and room upgrades.
Here's how Marriott assigns elite status and what travelers receive at each level:
Member (awarded to those staying 0-9 nights per year)
- Free in-room internet access
- Member rates on hotel stays
- Mobile check-in and mobile key option
- No blackout dates
Silver Elite (awarded to those staying 10-24 nights per year)
Includes Member benefits, plus:
- Earn 10% more bonus points on stays and eligible Marriott purchases
- Ultimate Reservation Guarantee which promises compensation or alternative accommodations if a reservation cannot be honored
- Receive priority late checkout
- Access to a dedicated elite reservation line
Gold Elite (awarded to those staying 25-49 nights per year)
Includes Member and Silver Elite benefits, plus:
- Earn 25% more bonus points on stays and eligible Marriott purchases
- Free enhanced in-room internet access
- 2:00 p.m. late checkout based upon availability
- Welcome gift of 250 or 500 bonus points (varies by brand) when you arrive for your stay
- Room upgrades based upon availability
Platinum Elite (awarded to those staying 50-74 nights per year)
Includes Member, Silver Elite and Gold Elite benefits, plus:
- Earn 50% more bonus points on stays and eligible Marriott purchases
- 4:00 p.m. late checkout
- Welcome gift of points, breakfast or other amenity – varies by brand
- Room upgrades including select suites, based upon availability
- Lounge access
- Guaranteed room type
- Annual gift from the following: five Suite Night Awards™, give the gift of Silver Elite status, 40% off your favorite mattress, five Elite Night Credits, or a $100 charity donation
Titanium Elite (awarded to those staying 75-99 nights per year)
Includes Member, Silver Elite, Gold Elite and Platinum Elite benefits, plus:
- Earn 75% more bonus points on stays and eligible Marriott purchases
- Enhanced room upgrades
- Additional annual gift from the following: five Suite Night Awards™, give the gift of Silver Elite status, 40% off your favorite mattress, five Elite Night Credits, or a $100 charity donation
- 48-hour guaranteed room availability
Ambassador Elite (awarded to those staying 100+ nights per year and spending at least $20,000)
Includes Member, Silver Elite, Gold Elite, Platinum Elite and Titanium Elite benefits, plus:
- Ambassador Service offering personalized assistance with stays
- Your24 which offers travelers the flexibility to choose their 24-hour check-in and checkout time
There is also the option to earn lifetime elite status in the following ways:
- Lifetime Silver Elite - awarded after 250 lifetime nights + five years of Elite status
- Lifetime Gold Elite - awarded after 400 lifetime nights + seven years of Gold Elite status or higher
- Lifetime Platinum Elite - awarded after 600 lifetime stays + ten years of Platinum status or higher
Those with Marriott Rewards, SPG or Ritz-Carlton Rewards accounts should have been automatically transferred to the Bonvoy program and awarded the appropriate elite status. However, if you had more than one account - for instance, you were both a Marriott Rewards and a SPG member - you'll need to send a request to Bonvoy to have the accounts merged.
HOW DO YOU EARN MARRIOTT BONVOY POINTS?
Next up in this Marriott Bonvoy review is how to earn points. There are three main options:
- Stays at Marriott Bonvoy properties
- Travel with Marriott Bonvoy partners
- Purchases made with Marriott Bonvoy credit cards
At most properties, Bonvoy members will earn 10 points per dollar spent plus bonus points based on their elite status. However, earnings drop to 5 base points per dollar at Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites and Element brand hotels. If you stay at Marriott Executive Apartments or ExecuStay, only 2.5 base points per dollar are awarded, and those points are only for the room rate and not for any additional purchases.
Points can also be earned through special promotions offered by Marriott or by booking travel through partners such Hertz or CruisesOnly. If you would rather earn miles instead of points, you can credit your stays toward the loyalty programs of more than 40 airline partners.
HOW MUCH ARE MARRIOTT BONVOY POINTS WORTH?
Travel websites typically peg the value of Marriott Bonvoy points around 0.7 cent to 1 cent apiece, depending on how they are redeemed. At Marriott properties, Bonvoy points can be redeemed in the following ways:
- Free nights: There are eight hotel categories within the Bonvoy program. You'll need 7,500 points to redeem for one free night at a budget, category one hotel. The standard rate for the top-tier category eight hotels and resorts is 85,000 points per night. Bonvoy is expected to introduce peak and off-peak rewards in the near future. At that time, redemptions will range from 5,000 points for an off-peak category one hotel to 100,000 points for a category eight property at peak times. Some properties are designated as PointSavers where free nights can be redeemed for less.
- Cash + Points: This award option lets you pay less for hotel stays by using a combination of cash and Bonvoy points. Standard rates for the Cash + Points option run from $55 and 3,500 points for a category one hotel night to $440 and 42,500 points for a category eight property. When peak and off-peak pricing is introduced, redemptions will start at $50 and 2,500 points for off-peak category one stays and go to $635 and 50,000 points for peak periods at category eight hotels.
- Instant redemption: While staying at a Marriott property, you can use your Bonvoy points to pay for meals, drinks, spa treatments and golf. The current rate for instant redemption is 250 points per dollar.
- Room upgrades: At some properties, you can use points to upgrade to a bigger and better room at no out-of-pocket cost. Redemption requirements for this option vary.
Marriott Bonvoy points can also be used to book travel packages that include airfare and hotel accommodations. Expect to pay anywhere from 255,000 points for a seven night stay at a budget property to 750,000 points at a category eight resort. Other travel redemptions include using points to rent cars, book airfare or schedule a cruise.
Some of the best redemption value might come from transferring points to a partnering airline. Through RewardsPlus, Bonvoy members get a 10% bonus on points transferred to the United MileagePlus program.
Other redemption options include gift cards, merchandise and Marriott Moments. The latter allows Bonvoy members to use their points for exclusive experiences such as VIP access to concerts, meet and greets with celebrities and special entertainment packages.
CREDIT CARDS THAT EARN MARRIOTT BONVOY POINTS
Before we wrap up this Marriott Bonvoy program guide, we need to talk about one of the easiest ways to rack up points. Using a Marriott Bonvoy credit card not only earns you points on purchases but can also come with perks such as complimentary elite status. Let's compare the benefits of two options:
- New cardholders can earn 75,000 points once spending $3,000 in the first three months after opening an account
- Earn six points for every dollar spent at Marriott Bonvoy properties
- Earn two points for every dollar spent on other purchases
- Automatic Silver Elite status
- Credit for 15 Elite Nights each year
- Path to Gold Elite status when you spend $35,000 on purchases each account year
- Free night award every year after the account's anniversary
- $95 annual fee
- No foreign transaction fees
- New cardholders can earn 75,000 points once spending $3,000 in the first three months after opening an account. (Terms apply) (American Express is a CardRatings advertiser)
- Earn six points for every dollar spent at Marriott Bonvoy properties (Terms apply).
- Earn four points for every dollar spent at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers, and on U.S. purchases for shipping. (Terms apply)
- Earn two points for every dollar spent on other purchases. (Terms apply)
- Automatic Silver Elite status
- Credit for 15 Elite Nights each year. (Terms apply)
- Earn Gold Elite status after making $35,000 in eligible purchases on your card in a calendar year. (Terms apply)
- Free night award every year after the account's anniversary. (Terms apply)
- Second free award night after spending $60,000 in a calendar year. (Terms apply)
- $125 annual fee. (Terms apply)
- No foreign transaction fees. (Terms apply)
There is also the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card that comes with even greater perks such as complimentary Gold Elite status and a $300 Marriott Bonvoy statement credit. However, it also comes with a hefty $450 annual fee.
These branded cards have their place for those truly loyal to the Marriott brand, however, if you want a bit more flexibility with your travel, while still having the opportunity to earn points, you might consider a general travel rewards card that offers rewards earning at lots of places and allows you to redeem your rewards with any brand hotel or airline or, possibly better still, allows you to transfer your rewards to a loyalty program.
ADDITIONAL TRAVEL REWARDS CREDIT CARD OPTIONS
When you want to travel, but you don't always want to stay at a Marriott Bonvoy property, a general travel rewards card that allows you to redeem rewards for hotel stays anywhere might be a better option. Furthermore, a number of top travel rewards cards allow you to transfer your card rewards into hotel and airline loyalty programs if that turns out to be a more valuable option than redeeming your rewards through your credit card. For instance, Chase Ultimate Rewards® points can be transferred to the Marriott Bonvoy program but can also be redeemed for hotel stays through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal.
Consider, too, that a general travel rewards card allows you "double dip" when it comes to redeeming rewards. What we mean is that redeeming loyalty points for a stay means that you won't earn rewards for that particular stay; however, if you redeem, say, Chase Ultimate Rewards® points for a stay at a Marriott property, you'll still earn Marriott Bonvoy points for that stay.
Check out a couple of these general travel rewards cards options:
- Earn two points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide and one point per dollar spent on all other purchases
- Option for 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs, including Marriott Bonvoy
- Points are worth 25% more when redeemed for travel (including hotel stays) through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Earn 60,000 bonus points (worth $750 when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®) after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of opening an account
- $95 annual fee
- No foreign transaction fees
If you truly want to maximize earning of Chase Ultimate Rewards® points, consider combining the card above with one or two no-annual-fee Chase cards, specifically Chase Freedom® and/or Chase Freedom Unlimited®. Chase Freedom® offers cardholders 5% back on up to $1,500 spent in categories that rotate each quarter (then, 1%) when you activate, and Chase Freedom Unlimited® offers 3% back on all purchases up to $20,000 spent during your first year as a cardholder and then 1.5% on everything. All your points can then be pooled under your Sapphire card in order to redeem them for 25% more value for travel redemption through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
- With two miles earned on every purchase made you'll earn miles whether you're spending money at Marriott properties or not
- Redeem rewards for flights or hotel stays with any brand, including Marriott, or transfer miles to a number of loyalty programs
- Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles (equal to $500 in travel) once you spend $3,000 on purchases within three months of opening an account
- Earn 10x miles on thousands of hotels when booking at hotels.com/venture
- Annual fee of $0 intro for first year; $95 after that
- No foreign transaction fees
- Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®
For additional options, see our top picks for best travel rewards credit cards.
To see the rates and fees for the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card, please visit the following link: See Rates and Fees.
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