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In 2018, Marriott Rewards and Ritz Carlton Rewards took steps to merge with the Starwood Preferred Guest program. This merger was ambitious, as it combined several complex programs into one giant hotel program with more than 6,700 options across 29 brands in 130 different countries and territories worldwide.
Marriott Rewards made this monumental move permanent in early 2019 by changing the name of the entire combined program to Marriott Bonvoy. This new program has some strong benefits, including new elite status tiers and lucrative rewards on paid stays.
Bankrate created this guide to help you through the ins and outs of the rebranded Marriott Bonvoy program, including how to earn points, the best ways to redeem them and credit cards you can sign up for to earn more free nights.
Marriott Bonvoy membership basics
Basic loyalty members still earn 10 points for each dollar they spend at Marriott Bonvoy properties, although members with elite status earn an additional points boost based on their level of status. For example, Silver Elite members earn 10% additional points on paid stays, while top tier Platinum Premier Elite members earn 75% more points. Titanium Elite and Ambassador Elite members also earn 75% more points on paid stays.
As you get used to the new Marriott Bonvoy setup, keep in mind that the new program still has six membership levels based primarily on how many nights you stay at qualifying properties each year. When Marriott and Starwood merged their programs, the names and requirements for certain elite tiers changed.
New Marriott Bonvoy elite levels include:
|Member status:||Qualifying nights required to earn status each year:|
|Silver Elite||10-24 nights|
|Gold Elite||25-49 nights|
|Platinum Elite||50-74 nights|
|Titanium Elite||75-99 nights|
|Ambassador Elite||100+ nights per year|
Also, note that it’s still possible to earn elite status for life. Lifetime Silver Elite status requires 250 nights over your lifetime and 5+ years of status while Lifetime Gold Elite requires 400 nights over your lifetime and 7+ years of Gold Elite status or higher. To earn Lifetime Platinum Elite status, you must stay 600 nights and be a Platinum Elite member for at least 10 years.
All Marriott Bonvoy members qualify for basic perks such as complimentary in-room internet access, member rates, and mobile check-in. However, elite members receive additional benefits the higher they climb on the scale. Silver Elite members and up receive an ultimate reservation guarantee, for example, along with late checkout and a dedicated reservation line. Platinum Elite members and higher may also be eligible for a breakfast benefit and/or lounge access depending on the property they stay in.
Marriott Bonvoy points do expire after 24 months of account inactivity, but your account is safe as long as you are earning or redeeming points at least once every two years. If you have questions regarding your membership account, Marriott does have a contact form online.
How to use your points for paid hotel stays
There are numerous creative ways to redeem points with this program, but you’ll probably get the most value from redeeming points for award stays at Marriott Bonvoy properties. Generally speaking, higher category hotels are more expensive ones with more amenities. The following chart shows how many points you’ll need for a free stay in various hotel categories:
As you can see, the new Marriott Bonvoy program offers the same award chart as it did before, with two changes: the introduction of category 8 pricing and “peak” vs. “off-peak” award seasons coming later this year. This is good news for travelers who like to take vacations outside busy travel seasons in order to save.
Marriott Bonvoy will also continue offering their PointSavers program, which allows you to book discounted free nights at participating properties throughout the year. You could save up to 33 percent on certain award redemptions using the program.
Marriott Bonvoy will also let you continue booking with cash and points. While cash/point combinations vary, you can book a Category 3 property during the standard season for 8,500 points plus $80 or a Category 8 property for 35,000 points plus $325. Being able to book with points and cash may not sound like a stellar deal, but this option can help you stretch your points further if you are short on points for a specific redemption.
Transferring points to airlines
Many Marriott enthusiasts were relieved to find the transition to Marriott Bonvoy didn’t spell the end for the hotel brand’s option to transfer points to airlines. Marriott Bonvoy still lets you transfer points to more than 40 airlines. You’ll need to transfer 3 Marriott Rewards points for each airline mile in most cases, but Marriott offers up an additional 5,000 bonus points for every 60,000 points you transfer.
Participating airlines and their transfer ratios include:
|Frequent Flyer Program||Points:Miles|
|Air China Phoenix Miles||3:1|
|Air France/KLM/Flying Blue||3:1|
|Air New Zealand||200:1|
|ANA Mileage Club||3:1|
|China Eastern Airlines||3:1|
|China Southern Airlines||3:1|
|Korean Air SKYPASS||3:1|
|Qatar Privilege Club||3:1|
|South African Airways||3:1|
|Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards||3:1|
|TAP Air Portugal||3:1|
Marriott Bonvoy also maintained its highly popular Hotel + Air packages, although devaluations that occurred during the merger with SPG mean these redemption options aren’t as valuable as they were two or three years ago. Marriott Bonvoy Hotel + Air Packages vary in price depending on the hotel category you want to book and the airline of your choosing, but they typically start at 255,000 points for a package of 50,000 airline miles and seven nights in a Category 1-4 property.
You can also redeem Marriott Rewards points for Marriott Moments — specially curated events and experiences all over the globe. Other options include redeeming your points for flights or car rentals, cruises through CruisesOnly, a TSA membership, or a Priority Pass airport lounge membership. Finally, you can cash in points for merchandise or gift cards from popular retailers such as Nordstrom and Amazon.
Best credit cards to rack up points
Good or bad, the birth of the Marriott Bonvoy program brings on a new selection of co-branded credit cards. These cards intend to replace Marriott and Starwood Preferred Guest credit cards from the past and provide new ways to earn points on paid Marriott stays on all regular spending you complete with your credit card.
Marriott Bonvoy cards you should know about include:
|Welcome bonus||Earning structure||Annual fee|
|Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card from Chase||100,000 Bonus Points after you spend $5,000 in your first 3 months from account opening.||Earn 6 points for every $1 spent at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels and 2 points for every $1 spent on other purchases||$95|
|Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card||100,000 Bonus Points after you spend $5,000 in your first 3 months from account opening. Offer ends 4/24/19.||Earn 6 points for every $1 spent at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 3 points per $1 spent at U.S. restaurants or flights booked with airlines, and 2 points for every $1 spent on other purchases.||$450|
|Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card||75,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 in your first 3 months from account opening.||Earn 6 points for every $1 spent at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 4 points per $1 spent at U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, U.S. shipping, and U.S. wireless services purchased from providers, and 2 points for every $1 spent on other purchases.||$125|
In addition to hotel-branded credit cards offered in conjunction with the Marriott Bonvoy program, a handful of flexible travel credit cards also make it easy to earn points you can transfer to this program. If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve, for example, you could rack up points and transfer them to Marriott Bonvoy at a 1:1 ratio.
The bottom line
If you were worried about how the new Marriott Bonvoy program might screw up your rewards game, there’s a lot of information here for you to consider. Some hotel loyalists believe Marriott Bonvoy elite status has become harder to reach, making it tempting to turn their attention to other hotel programs like World of Hyatt or Hilton Honors. However, there’s still plenty of value to be had with Marriott Bonvoy— provided you know how to maximize the program.
Our advice? Pick up a co-branded credit card with the program or start earning flexible points with a Chase credit card you can transfer at a 1:1 ratio when you’re ready to redeem award nights. If paid stays alone aren’t getting you the free hotel nights you want each year, a hotel credit card or premier travel credit card that rewards you for your spending could help pick up the slack.
If you want to do more research, check out our other rewards and points program guides.
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