With a new year comes new opportunities. There will always be the opportunity to earn new points, but today we want to share some new (and some soon to be gone) updates to the Marriott Bonvoy program.

Most of these changes relate to your ability to earn status. Marriott status can be worthwhile if you find yourself staying in Marriott properties often.

If you’re like me, Marriott elite status doesn’t start to be worth it until you’ve earned Platinum Elite. That’s when you’ll get free breakfast and are eligible for suite upgrades. With some of these new and existing promos, earning Platinum Elite status is easier than ever before.

Marriott Elite Qualification Update

For starters, Marriott has automatically extended whatever status you had in 2020 through 2021. If you were already Platinum, Titanium, or Ambassador Elite you’ll retain the same status level through the rest of the year.

If you want to retain your status through all of 2022, Marriott’s recently announced promos will help make it easier than before.

To begin, Marriott is giving you half of the elite nights needed to requalify your current status. In February, you will see the following number of elite night credits added to your Marriott account depending on the elite status you currently hold:

  • Ambassador – 50 elite night credits
  • Titanium – 38 elite night credits
  • Platinum – 25 elite night credits
  • Gold – 13 elite night credits
  • Silver – 5 elite night credits

If you’re looking to requalify, just double the amount of nights here and that’s how many nights you’ll need to stay. Remember, award nights count towards elite qualification for Marriott, so any stay booked on points will get you closer as well.

Double Points & Double Elite Nights Promo

To help further entice you to stay at a Marriott hotel, Marriott has released details about their first quarter promotion. For stays between February 16, 2021 and April 27, 2021 you’ll earn double points and double elite nights for all stays of two or more nights. 

Although some hotels don’t participate, it is mostly very small brands. All major Marriott brands worldwide are eligible to earn double points and double elite nights promo. If the hotel doesn’t participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program, such as BVLGARI or Ritz-Carlton Reserve hotels, then you won’t earn double points & double elite nights.

The promo does apply to reward stays as well, with a twist. Of course, you aren’t earning points on a redemption stay unless you’re spending additional money at the property. You are, however, earning elite nights. 

What’s the catch? Well, you’ll only earn double points and double elite night credits on a redemption as long as one night is a paid stay.

“Only if a redemption stay includes at least one paid night, it will count toward the promotion offer of double points and double Elite Night Credits.”

If you already had status from last year, stacking with this promotion can truly help accelerate your way to elite status that will be good through February 2023.

Off Peak Redemption Reduction

When it comes to spending points, we all want to spend as little as possible. Marriott is reducing off-peak redemption rates by 10% for stays through September 30, 2021 that are booked between January 11 and February 21, 2021.

Standard and peak rates aren’t affected, but if you find off peak availability, this can easily help you stretch your points farther. Take a look at how many points you’ll really need if you can find off peak availability.

CategoryOriginal points per night 10% DiscountStacked with 5th night free
15,0004,5003,600
210,0009,0007,200
315,00013,50010,800
420,00018,00014,400
530,00027,00021,600
640,00036,00028,800
750,00045,00036,000
870,00063,00050,400

Compared to peak pricing, you’re saving approximately half on your hotel stays. 

The downside? The booking window is tiny. And although you can make a reservation using points advance without having the points in your account now, this doesn’t lock in your rate. 

You could lock in five nights at an off peak rate, only for all nights to switch to peak pricing later. 

I wouldn’t transfer points to book this speculatively, but if you already have some Marriott Bonvoy points in your account, this is a great opportunity to lock in some potential discounts. 

Stacking These Promos with Cards to Get Easy Status

If you’re really wanting to maximize all of these promotions, you can stack them with credit cards to get some great travel perks for the next few years. If you didn’t have status last year, it becomes a little bit more challenging, but you should find it relatively easy to get there. Even if you’re starting from zero, it will be easier to get than Hyatt’s Globalist promotion.

To recap, if you’re starting from zero, you’ll need the following amount of elite nights to qualify for each status tier:

  • Ambassador – 100 elite nights + $14,000 in spend
  • Titanium – 75 elite nights
  • Platinum – 50 elite nights
  • Gold – 25 elite nights
  • Silver – 10 elite nights

Ambassador level typically requires 100 elite nights plus $20,000 in spend, but for 2020 they lowered it to $14,000. 

If you started with zero, here’s a few ways to help you get to your next status level. 

Marriott Co-Branded Credit Cards

The first thing you should consider are the Marriott co-branded credit cards. Every Marriott credit card, both personal and business, comes with 15 elite qualifying nights. You should know, however, that you can only get 15 elite qualifying nights once for a personal and once for a business card. To be clear, opening two personal cards will land you with just 15 elite nights. 

However, you can get 15 nights from a personal card and 15 nights from a business card.

Congratulations! This gives you 30 elite nights and you’re already at Marriott Gold status. While Marriott Gold status is okay, most people don’t consider it influential in your decision to stay at a Marriott until you earn Platinum status. 

Recall, Platinum status requires 50 elite nights. You already have 30, but you need 20 more. With the double elite nights promotion, you’ll only need to stay an additional 10 nights to earn Platinums status. 

Since one night must be paid, you could redeem 36,000 points plus the cash rate of one night at a category 1 Marriott hotel to earn Platinum status. How did we get to 36,000 points? 

For starters, category 1 Marriott properties start at 5,000 points per night. But if you book during the 10% off-peak pricing time, this becomes 4,500 points per night. However, Marriott offers you the fifth night free, since you’re paying cash for one night and points for 9, you would get one night free. This means you’re only paying points for 8 nights, so you would only spend 36,000 points in total. 

If you had to open both a Marriott personal and business co-branded card, you’d easily have enough points from the sign-up bonuses to make this happen with some points leftover. 

The Platinum Card from American Express

Another route to fast-track your way to Marriott Platinum involves another Platinum: The Platinum Card® from American Express

If you had the Amex Platinum last year, hopefully you took advantage of all of the benefits that came with it.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

LEARN MORE 

One of those benefits is automatic Marriott Gold status. Trust me, there are plenty of these benefits that I’ve signed up for and forgotten about myself. 

For those cardmembers who did add the benefit, you’ll automatically receive 13 elite qualifying nights. You’d already be Gold, a benefit of having the Platinum card.

Unfortunately, earning Platinum doesn’t mean just earning the difference in nights between Gold and Platinum, because you still need the full 50 nights to earn Platinum status. 

Stack those 13 nights with 30 nights from the personal and business Marriott co-branded cards, and you’ll only need 7 more nights. At a category 1 with off peak pricing during the promotional period, you’d pay one night and only spend 22,500 points. 

If you only have one Marriott Bonvoy co-branded credit card, you’d have 15 nights from the card and 13 nights from your prior Gold status for a total of 28 nights. You’d need 22 more nights to qualify for Marriott Platinum Elite Status. With the double elite nights promo, you’d only need to stay 11 nights. If you do this in a single stay, paying for one night, you’d only need 36,000 points. That’s because you’d get 2 free nights, utilizing the Marriott 5th night free option. 

How this compares to other promos

If you’ve kept up with some of the recent hotel status promotions, you may be asking yourself which one of these, if any, to pursue. Elite status earned this year is good through early 2023, making it good for up to two years. For some, it may be worth it to have high elite status with every major hotel chain. If this is of interest to you, we will rank them in order of ease.

We’re going to assume you’re starting from the beginning. If you already have one of the Marriott co-branded cards or The World of Hyatt Credit Card then that path is certainly going to be the easier option for you. To make a level playing field, we will assume you’re starting with no co-branded cards. We’ll also assume you’re eligible to open a new co-branded card and plan to pursue status. This won’t apply to everyone, but we have to pick some criteria to compare. 

To begin, the easiest status to obtain isn’t even with a promotion. You can earn Hilton Diamond status simply by opening one credit card. The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card comes with Hilton’s top tier status every year you are a cardholder. It doesn’t come cheap, though. The card has a $450 annual fee, but if you want status with just one hotel without much effort, it won’t come easier.

When it comes to earning top tier hotel status through promotions, then the World of Hyatt promotion comes next on the effort for status list. Yes, it requires more points, but what it comes down to is you really only just need to open one card. With the bonus from one card, you’ll earn enough points to earn Hyatt Globalist status. You won’t have many points left to put the status to use, but with just one card, you can easily earn Hyatt Globalist. 

Finally, Marriott status. You need to open two cards to make it easier to get Platinum status versus just one with Hyatt. Plus, Platinum isn’t even the highest tier of status with Marriott. With the Hyatt promotion, you end up with Globalist status which is the highest level you can get. 

That doesn’t make this a worthless promotion. In fact, it can be very lucrative. I’ve had Marriott Platinum for about two years now, and it helped me get thousands of dollars in upgrades and free breakfast. If you stay in Marriott hotels with any frequency, then pursuing Marriott Platinum Elite status can definitely be a worthwhile pursuit.

Final Thoughts

As 2020 is officially over, we’re seeing many hotels offering a variety of promotional opportunities to earn elite status. Hyatt was the first to move, and now Marriott is following behind them.

While we think the Marriott promotion isn’t as good as the Hyatt one, if you find yourself frequenting Marriott hotels you may find it worthwhile to pursue Platinum status, especially if you already have a co-branded Marriott credit card.

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