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In years past, hotel or airline elite status was something unattainable for me. It was also something I didn’t particularly desire. For someone who prefers to stay at a cheap hostel rather than a five-star hotel, it just wasn’t a priority.

However, everything changed in 2020 when the thought of staying in a multi-person dorm while traveling made me want to sanitize every door knob I’d touched that day.

In 2020, I earned Marriott Platinum Elite status without much effort, and in 2021, I became Marriott Titanium Elite (to my own surprise). Here’s how it happened.

How I Earned the First 30 Nights

Elite night credits: 30

My first 30 elite nights for status requalification were posted in January. That’s right, 10 days into the year I had 30 elite night credits in my Bonvoy account.

The nights were deposited as a benefit of holding two co-branded Marriott credit cards: the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card (not open to new applicants) and the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card.

Fifteen nights posted because I hold a personal Marriott card, and another 15 nights posted because I hold a business Marriott card. So, that’s 30 elite night credits simply for being a cardholder of two credit cards.

How I Earned the Next 25 Nights

Elite night credits: 25

The second set of elite night credits came when Marriott made it easier to requalify for status as part of a response to the ongoing pandemic.

The number of elite nights varied based on the elite status tier you held the previous year, and Marriott deposited 50% of those required to qualify into members’ loyalty accounts. In my case, I was a Platinum Elite member last year. Normally, it takes 50 nights to reach Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite, so I received 25 elite night credits to help me requalify in 2021.

If you’re counting, by mid-February I had requalified for Platinum Elite status without having to stay at a Marriott property even once.

How I Earned the Remaining Elite Night Credits to Qualify for Marriott Titanium Elite

Cairo and Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt

Elite night credits: seven

In February, Marriott launched a global Better Two-gether promotion, which offered double Marriott Bonvoy points and elite night credits on paid stays of at least two nights. I registered for the promo without having any travel plans, but it didn’t last long.

Later that month, my friend and I traveled to Egypt on a short-notice where I booked a couple of inexpensive Marriott stays. We stayed one night at Le Méredien Cairo Airport and three nights at Renaissance Sharm El Sheikh Golden View Beach Resort.

 Renaissance Sharm El Sheikh Golden View Beach Resort | Photo by Anya Kartashova

 Although the first stay resulted in one elite night credit because it was only a single night and didn’t qualify for the promo, an additional six elite nights posted to my Bonvoy account after the three-night stay in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.

Cancun, Mexico

Elite night credits: 10

My third Marriott stay of the year happened to be in Cancun, Mexico, where I redeemed four free night certificates to relax at Marriott Cancun Resort in March.

Marriott Cancun Resort | Photo by Anya Kartashova

My husband and I chose to extend the stay to five nights, so we paid cash for one night and booked the whole stay as part of one reservation by selecting a mix of award certificates and cash on the website.

The Better Two-gether promo excluded award nights from earning double night credits, unless a multi-night reservation included at least one paid night. Because we redeemed four 35,000-point certificates and paid cash for one night, our whole stay qualified for twice the elite nights, which yielded another 10 credits for status qualification.

I also used my five Suite Night Awards on this stay that I earned last year, and it was a good way to use them as we got an oceanfront room with the most amazing view.

View from the Marriott Cancun Resort | Photo by Anya Kartashova

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Elite night credits: eight

With only three nights away from Titanium Elite, I booked four nights at a Marriott property when I traveled to Brazil in April.

Although I didn’t need a stay that long to reach Titanium, especially because the Better Two-gether promo was still going on, my friend and I wanted to spend a few full days in Rio de Janeiro, so we combined business with pleasure and booked a room at the JW Marriott Hotel Rio de Janeiro.

JW Marriott Hotel Rio de Janeiro | Photo by Anya Kartashova

The room cost us about $105 per night, split two ways. In other words, I didn’t have to pay an arm and a leg to finish qualifying for Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Elite status, which requires banking 75 elite nights per calendar year, and I ended up with 80 after this particular stay.

Marriott Titanium Elite Status Benefits I’m Looking Forward To

“You shoot me down, but I won’t fall

I am Titaaaniiiuuum”

Love that song by David Guetta, by the way.

Anyway, as a newly minted Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Elite, I’m excited for the following perks:

  • Enhanced room upgrades (based on availability)
  • A choice of breakfast, welcome points or amenity at check-in
  • 4 p.m. late checkout
  • Lounge access at hotel brands that have a lounge
  • United MileagePlus Premier Silver status
  • 75% bonus points on stays
  • Two Annual Choice Benefits

I never had status with any airline before, so I’m curious to see what being a United MileagePlus Premier Silver member is like. I fly United Airlines on occasion when I redeem MileagePlus miles for international flights, so this could be useful to me simply for the fact that I get to check a bag for free even when booking basic economy fares.

As a Platinum member, I received an Annual Choice Benefit that I could select from the following items:

  • Five additional elite night credits
  • A 40% Marriott bed discount
  • Gift Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status to a friend
  • A $100 donation to a charity
  • Five Suite Night Awards

As a Titanium member, I got to select an additional benefit from the list of all of the above choices plus a choice of a free night award valued up to 40,000 Bonvoy points per night.

For my two Annual Choice Benefits, I went with five Suite Night Upgrades and the free night award, which I’ve already redeemed for a special stay. (Stay tuned to find out where exactly I used the 40,000-point Marriott certificate.)

Will I Go for Marriott Bonvoy Ambassador Elite?

Believe it or not, Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Elite status isn’t the highest status tier. The most dedicated Bonvoy guests can qualify for Marriott Bonvoy Ambassador Elite by staying 100 nights and $20,000 in qualifying spend with the brand.

Although the spending requirement was lowered to $14,000 in 2021, it’s still out of reach for me personally, especially since the goal is to spend points and not cash for rooms at more expensive properties.

The two perks the Ambassadors get that the Titanium Elites don’t have are access to an ambassador service and the Your24 benefit, which lets you choose your 24-hour time frame instead of dealing with the usual 3 p.m. to 11 a.m. window.

Although being able to select your check-in and checkout times sounds amazing, it’s not worth spending $20,000 per year at Marriott hotels. Same goes for ambassador service—it sounds great to deal with someone on a personal level instead of dealing with a faceless company, but again, the spending threshold is just too much for me.

Final Thoughts

In all honesty, had it not been for the 25 promotional nights putting me on a fast track to high-tier elite life, I wouldn’t have reached Titanium this year. Luckily, I’ll stay at this level through the end of next calendar year, so I have plenty of time to take advantage of all the perks.

I’ll continue to book rooms at Marriott properties as long as the price of a room is comparable to alternative accommodations, but I’m not willing to overpay for a stay just to use the benefits.

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