The Beginner’s Guide to the Marriott Bonvoy Program

Check out this comprehensive guide with everything you might ever want to know about the Marriott Bonvoy program.
Last updated Nov 16, 2019 | By Dan Miller
A family staying in a hotel

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When Marriott International purchased the Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide back in 2016 to become the world’s largest hotel program, speculation was rampant as to how it would integrate the various loyalty programs now under one owner.

Marriott was already running two separate (but similar) loyalty programs — the Marriott Rewards program as well as the Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and adding a third program seemed like it could get complicated.

In 2018, Marriott and Starwood officially integrated their loyalty programs, allowing Marriott members to earn and redeem at Starwood hotels while allowing Starwood elites the ability to earn and redeem points at Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels. Members with Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) points could transfer their points to Marriott Rewards points at a rate of 1:3.

In January 2019, the new Marriott Bonvoy program was announced, and with it came the introduction of one single loyalty program and points currency.

What is the Marriott Bonvoy program?

Marriott Bonvoy is the new name of Marriott’s combined rewards program, which allows you to earn and redeem points at more than 7,000 hotels under Marriott’s brand.

You can earn 10 points per dollar spent at 25 of its brands, including Ritz-Carlton, Sheraton, Westin, and Aloft properties. You’ll earn just five points per dollar at Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites, and Element hotels, and 2.5 points per dollar at Marriott Executive Apartments and Execustay.

You can also earn points through other Marriott partners, such as Hertz. Of course, one of the fastest and easiest ways to earn additional Marriott Bonvoy points is by using one of its co-branded Chase credit cards.

The main way to redeem Marriott points is for free or discounted hotel stays, though you can also trade in points for airline miles, vacation packages, or even a TSA PreCheck application fee.

Each hotel in the Marriott Bonvoy program is categorized from 1 through 8, and the tier of hotel you book dictates how many points a room will cost. A standard room in a category 1 hotel costs 7,500 points a night, while a category 8 room costs 85,000 points per night.

Note that you do get the fifth night free on award stays with Marriott.

Marriott Bonvoy tiers, explained

The new Marriott Bonvoy program has six membership tiers, each with its own requirements for earning that status as well as different perks and rewards. For a full list of amenities, check out Marriott Bonvoy’s membership site. Here’s what to expect at each membership tier.

Member (0 to 9 nights stayed per year)

This is the status that you’re automatically granted when you sign up for the Marriott Bonvoy program, which you can do for free. You don’t get much by just being a Marriott Bonvoy member, but you’ll enjoy complimentary internet as well as access to members-only rates when booking hotels.

Silver Elite (10 to 24 nights stayed per year)

When you stay 10 or more nights at a Marriott property, you’ll earn Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status. This tier offers a 10% bonus on the points you earn, late checkout (subject to availability), and a dedicated reservation line.

Silver is also the first status that provides access to Marriott’s Ultimate Reservation Guarantee, which provides compensation (cash, points, or both) and a free night at a nearby hotel if a Marriott property isn’t able to honor your reservation.

Gold Elite (25 to 49 nights stayed per year)

Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status is where you start to get some truly significant benefits. You’ll get a 25% bonus on the points you earn, a 2 p.m. late checkout, 250 to 500 bonus points as a welcome amenity, and room upgrades.

Unfortunately, though, unlike many other chains (most notably Hilton), Gold Elite status won’t get you complimentary breakfast at most hotels. For that, you’ll need Platinum status or higher.

Platinum Elite (50 to 74 nights stayed per year)

As mentioned, Platinum Elite status will get you complimentary breakfast at most Marriott hotels, along with a 50% bonus on the points you earn.

You’ll also get access to the hotel’s executive lounge or club (which gives a quiet place to relax or work, as well as complimentary snacks), a 4 p.m. late checkout, and room upgrades, including Select Suites.

With 50 nights stayed, you also earn an annual choice benefit, which allows you to select from five Suite Night Awards, giving the gift of Silver Elite status, 40% off your favorite mattress, five Elite Night Credits, or a $100 charity donation.

Titanium Elite (75 to 99 nights stayed per year)

Titanium Elite members earn a 75% bonus on points earned along with all the benefits of the lower tiers. Customers in this tier get a 4 p.m. late checkout, as well as a 48-hour room guarantee and higher priority for room and suite upgrades. At 75 nights, Marriott guests will receive another annual choice benefit, similar to the one earned at 50 nights stayed.

Ambassador Elite (100 nights stayed and $20,000 spent per year)

For significant road warriors, Marriott Bonvoy offers the Ambassador Elite tier. Ambassador Elite members have very similar benefits to Titanium Elites, but they also have a dedicated Marriott Ambassador; you’ll always have a Marriott representative you can call when there are problems on the road.

Like many hotel chains, the Marriott Bonvoy program also offers “lifetime” status, where you can earn permanent elite status based on how many nights you book over several years. There are three different lifetime statuses you can earn:

  • Lifetime Silver Elite: 250 Lifetime Nights (total nights stayed at Marriott hotels ever) and five years of Elite status
  • Lifetime Gold Elite: 400 Lifetime Nights and seven years of Gold Elite status or higher
  • Lifetime Platinum Elite: 600 Lifetime Nights and 10 years of Platinum Elite status or higher

A fast track to qualify for top-tier Marriott Bonvoy status

If you’re looking for Marriott Bonvoy elite benefits without having to stay 50-plus nights in a hotel, there are a few fast tracks to Marriott Bonvoy elite status.

Certain Marriott Bonvoy credit cards offer automatic elite status or free qualifying nights that can help you reach elite status faster. Plus, these credit cards offer you the chance to earn Marriott Bonvoy points with every purchase you make.

For example, the Marriott Bonvoy Bold from Chase gives you 15 Elite Night Credits each year, automatically qualifying you for Silver Elite status. And both the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless from Chase and Marriott Bonvoy Business from American Express provide complimentary Silver Elite status, along with 15 Elite Night Credits annually.

The Bonvoy Boundless and Bonvoy Business cards will also give you Gold Elite status if you spend at least $35,000 annually on the card.

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant from American Express offers Gold Elite status for having the card, as well as the 15 Elite Night Credits. You can earn Platinum Elite status with $75,000 in annual spend on the card.

Note that even though you’re given Gold Elite status with the Bonvoy Brilliant, you’re still given only 15 Elite Night Credits. If you don’t earn Platinum Elite status with the spending option, you’ll need to earn the other 35 nights (for a total of 50 nights) through in-person hotel stays to reach Platinum status.

Some common questions about Marriott Bonvoy

With me so far? If you still have questions, here are a few common queries as well as their answers.

Do Marriott Bonvoy points expire?

Marriott Bonvoy points do expire if you have no qualifying activity within a 24-month period.

Can I transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to other programs?

You can transfer Marriott points to a variety of airline partners. For most airlines, the transfer rate is three Marriott points for one airline mile, plus a 5,000 mile bonus if you transfer in blocks of 60,000 Marriott points (so 60,000 Marriott points becomes 25,000 airline miles).

Elite Marriott Bonvoy members can get a 10% bonus for transferring to United MileagePlus miles, which can be a lucrative way to use Marriott Bonvoy points.

Can I pool Marriott Bonvoy points?

Marriott Bonvoy points can be shared with or transferred to any other member — up to 100,000 points a year.

How much are Marriott Bonvoy points worth?

It’s hard to put an exact amount on how much Marriott Bonvoy points are worth, since the value varies based on how you redeem them. In general, one Marriott Bonvoy point is worth roughly 0.8 cents.

If you’re looking at a possible redemption that’s less than that, consider paying cash and saving your points for a better deal.

Can you transfer miles or points transfer to the Marriott Bonvoy program?

You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards to the Marriott Bonvoy program at a rate of 1:1.

However, before transferring credit card points to Marriott, make sure you’re actually getting a better deal. For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve allows you to book a Marriott hotel at a rate of 1.5 cents a point if you make a reservation through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. That may be a better deal than if you just book through Marriott directly.

How many points do I need for a free night?

Free nights start as low as 7,500 points all the way up to 85,000 points, depending on the type of hotel you book. Redeeming points in this fashion is a great way to stay at hotels for free.

A Great Card for Travel Rewards Beginners

Benefits

  • 75,000 point sign-up offer
  • 6X points at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy
  • One free night each year
  • No foreign transaction fee