Guide to the Marriott Bonvoy program

Written by
Geoff Williams
Terms apply; see the online credit card application for full terms and conditions of offers and rewards. Please note: Any balance transfer savings vary depending upon account usage and payment behavior.

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 7,000 properties across 30 hotel brands in 131 countries. 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 (in other words, Marriott wants you to book through their websites and apps, and not other travel sites)
  • Mobile check-in and mobile key option (you can use the app to check in and out, and your smartphone can be your door key, which is… well, pretty cool).
  • 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 that could be charged to your room, like dining or a spa visit
  • 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. In other words, if you check in at 9 p.m., and want to stay 24 hours and check out the next day at 9 p.m., you can do that.

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 Silver Elite status or higher
  • 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

Recent changes (late 2021) to the Marriott Bonvoy program?

There were eight hotel categories and redemption rates classified as Off-Peak, Peak or Standard. Since that no longer exists, there’s really no point in doing a deep explanation of what you used to get with Marriott Bonvoy.

Now, Marriott Bonvoy has something called Flexible Point Redemption Rates.

As Marriott Bonvoy’s website explains it, “This means the amount of Marriott Bonvoy Points needed to redeem a stay will be more flexible and more closely align with hotel rates – based on availability, seasonality, etc. If you’re traveling somewhere with a lot of availability, you can expect to use fewer Marriott Bonvoy Points. And if the destination you love is busier during your preferred dates, the redemption amount may increase.”

In other words, Marriott Bonvoy has switched to what’s known as dynamic pricing. That means when it’s a really popular time of year, and the location is really popular, you’re going to pay more.

Is that an improvement for the Marriott Bonvoy Program? Well, it depends on your point of view. If you’re staying somewhere really cool and amazing, like Hawaii, New York City or near the Grand Canyon, your points are not going to go as far, and that stinks. On the other hand, if you’re more of an “off- the-beaten-path-during-off-season” type of traveler, you’ll likely be using fewer points to get a free night, which means your points will go further, and that’s great.

Regardless, it does make it more challenging to predict how much you can redeem your points for, and so that’s a negative for the guest.

How much are Marriott Bonvoy points worth?

Travel websites typically peg the value of Marriott Bonvoy points around 0.7 cents to 1 cent apiece, depending on how they are redeemed. At Marriott properties, Bonvoy points can be redeemed in the following ways:

  • Free nights: Basically, if you use the Marriott Bonvoy website or app, you’ll search for a hotel and find out how many points each night is worth. Some hotels may cost 66,000 points a night. Others might be more like 27,000 points. If you’re staying in New York City, expect those rooms to cost far more points than a room in a town just about anywhere else. But if you’re going to stay at a hotel for five or more nights, that’s when the value of these points become exciting because you’ll be able to redeem the points from those first four nights and get the fifth one for free.
  • Cash + Points: This award option lets you pay less for hotel stays by using a combination of cash and Bonvoy points. If you like to stretch your points and not use them all up at once and pay cheaper hotel nights, this can be a helpful strategy.
  • 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. So if you have 125,000 points stored up, you could redeem that for $500 worth of drinks and spa treatments.
  • 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.
  • Flights or car rentals. 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. 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.
  • Shopping. 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.

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, when you book a room, Bonvoy members will earn 10 points per dollar spent.

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.

But, remember, you also get bonus points based on your elite status (i.e., silver, gold).

So let’s say that you’re a Titanium member, and you spend $200 for a night at a Ritz-Carlton (put aside the fact that you probably won’t find a night any Ritz-Carlton for $200). If you spent that much, you’d earn 2,000 base points ($200 multiplied by 10), but you’d also receive 1,000 bonus points (those 2,000 base points multiplied by 50%). Grand total, that adds up to 3,000 points.

“Holy cow,” you might think. “I’ve got 3,000 points. This is the happiest day of my life!”

Well, dial back your emotions a bit. Because you will then take those 3,000 points and consider how much they’re actually worth. If the points are worth 0.7 cents, and they may be worth a little less or a little more, like a penny, your 3,000 points will be worth $21. That’s not nothing, though. It’s maybe not as much of a reward as you’d like for doing all that math, but you can see how if you have a week or two-long vacation at a Marriott Bonvoy, where you’ll be staying at their properties for a week or two, compiling a slew of points a night, you could really clean up.

Points can also be earned through special promotions offered by Marriott Bonvoy or by booking travel through partners such Hertz. If you would rather earn miles instead of points, you can credit your stays toward the loyalty programs of more than 40 airline partners. Generally, three Marriott Bonvoy Points are converted into one frequent flyer mile, and it’s worth noting that you can transfer your Marriott Bonvoy Points into miles, but you can’t transfer miles into Marriott Bonvoy Points.

Marriott Bonvoy credit cards

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 three options:

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  • Limited time offer: Earn 100,000 points when you spend $3,000 in the first three months.
  • Earn 3X total points per $1 spent on up to $6,000 in combined purchases at gas stations, restaurants and grocery stores every year.
  • Earn up to 17 points for every $1 spent at Marriott Bonvoy properties
  • Earn two points for every $1 spent on other purchases
  • Automatic Silver Elite status
  • Credit for 15 Elite Nights each year, plus one elite night credit each time you spend $5,000 on your card.
  • 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 (up to 35,000 point value)
  • AnnualFees annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Terms apply
  • Read our full CardName

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  • Limited time offer: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 in the first three months.
  • Earn up to 14 Bonvoy points for every $1 spent at participating Marriott Bonvoy properties
  • Earn two Bonvoy points per $1 spent on travel purchases such as airfare, taxis, trains, car rentals, hotels and more
  • Earn one point per $1 on your other purchases
  • Enjoy 15 Elite Night Credits annually
  • Automatic Silver Elite status
  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Terms apply
  • Read our full CardName

CardName

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  • For a limited time, earn 100,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after making $4,000 in purchases on your new card within the first three months.(American Express is a CardRatings advertiser)
  • Earn six points for every dollar spent at Marriott Bonvoy properties
  • Earn four points for every dollar spent at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers, and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • Earn two points for every dollar spent on all other eligible purchases.
  • Credit for 15 Elite Nights each year.
  • Gold Elite status is complimentary for cardholders.
  • Free night award every year after your card renewal month.
  • Enjoy a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at Marriott Bonvoy participating hotels when you book directly. Terms and conditions apply
  • Second free award night after spending $60,000 in a calendar year.
  • AnnualFees annual fee.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Terms apply
  • Read our full CardName.

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  • Earn 150,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first three months.
  • Each card renewal year, get up to $300 in statement credits per calendar year (up to $25 per month) for eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide.
  • Earn six Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy Hotels; three points at restaurants worldwide and on flights booked directly with airlines; and two points on other eligible purchases.
  • Receive one Free Night Award every year after your card renewal month. Award can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 85,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy unlimited airport lounge visits when you enroll in Priority Pass Select membership.
  • AnnualFees annual fee.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Terms apply
  • Read our full CardName.

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, if 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:

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  • Earn 5X total points on all travel purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal; 3X points on dining, including eligible delivery services and takeout; 3X points on online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs); 3X points on select streaming services; 2X points on travel purchases; and 1X point 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.
  • AnnualFees annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees
EDITOR’S NOTE:

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 CardName discontinued and/or CardNamediscontinued. CardName offers cardholders 5% back on up to $1,500 spent in categories that rotate each quarter (then, 1%) when you activate, plus 5% cash back on travel purchased with Chase, 3% cash back on dining, 3% cash back at drugstores and 1% on all other purchases and CardName offers 1.5% back on all purchases as well as 5% on travel with Chase, 3% on dining at restaurants, 3% at drugstores. All of your points can then be pooled under your Sapphire Preferred® card in order to redeem them for 25% more value for travel redemption through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

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  • 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 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within three months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Annual fee of AnnualFees
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®

For additional options, see our top picks for best travel rewards credit cards. 

To see the rates and fees for the American Express cards mentioned in this post, please visit the following links: CardName (See Rates and Fees); CardName (See Rates and Fees).

Disclaimer:

The information in this article is believed to be accurate as of the date it was written. Please keep in mind that credit card offers change frequently. Therefore, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information in this article. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. See the online credit card application for full terms and conditions on offers and rewards. Please verify all terms and conditions of any credit card prior to applying.

This content is not provided by any company mentioned in this article. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed here are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any such company. CardRatings.com does not review every company or every offer available on the market.

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