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The award traveler’s guide to Marriott Bonvoy

Oct. 04, 2022
26 min read
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Marriott Bonvoy is a popular hotel loyalty program, especially among U.S. travelers. The program has changed significantly over the years, including Marriott’s removal of award charts in early 2022. But, there’s still plenty of value in the Marriott Bonvoy program.

Whether you’re a long-term Marriott loyalist or new to the program, you should know how to get the most value from your Marriott Bonvoy redemptions. In this guide, I’ll arm you with all the necessary information.

Elite status


Before we get into earning and redeeming points, let’s start by looking at Marriott’s elite status benefits.

Marriott offers five published levels of elite status: Silver Elite, Gold Elite, Platinum Elite, Titanium Elite and Ambassador Elite. You’ll typically reach each level by completing qualifying nights. But select Marriott credit cards provide automatic status and elite night credits that you can use toward meeting the qualifying night requirements for each status. In particular, you can earn up to 30 elite nights per year with Marriott credit cards.

Note that you'll get access to these benefits when you book directly with Marriott. In most cases, you'll miss out on elite status benefits if you book through Expedia, or another online travel agency, even if you add your Marriott Bonvoy number to your reservation.

You can get a complete breakdown of the benefits of each status level in TPG’s valuation of Marriott Bonvoy’s elite status, but I’ll provide a high-level overview below.


By signing up and becoming a Marriott Bonvoy Member, you’ll get free standard Wi-Fi, access to member rates and mobile check-in. You’ll earn points that you can redeem for free nights or other redemptions. So, even if you don’t think you will earn Marriott elite status, you’ll at least want to sign up for the Bonvoy program.

Silver Elite

You’ll earn Marriott Silver Elite status after completing 10 qualifying nights in a calendar year. Silver Elite benefits include a 10% point bonus on stays and late checkout, based on availability.

You’ll automatically get Silver Elite status as a cardholder of the following cobranded Marriott credit cards:

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You can earn Lifetime Silver Elite by accumulating 250 lifetime nights and earning Marriott Silver Elite status or higher for at least five years.

Gold Elite

Le Roch Hotel and Spa in Paris, France. ANDREW KUNESH/THE POINTS GUY

You’ll earn Marriott Gold Elite after completing 25 qualifying nights in a calendar year.

In addition to Silver Elite perks, Gold Elites receive enhanced internet access, a 25% point bonus on stays, 2 p.m. late checkout based on availability, upgrades to an “enhanced room” (excluding suites) based on availability and a welcome gift of points each time you stay.

Cardholders of the following cards get Marriott Gold Elite status as a perk of their card (enrollment is required for some):

The information for the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card and Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful Card have been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Members will achieve Lifetime Gold Elite status once they earn 400 lifetime nights and have held Gold Elite status or higher for seven years.

Related: Free nights and easy status: Here’s why I have 4 Marriott Bonvoy credit cards

Platinum Elite

After completing 50 qualifying nights in a calendar year, you'll earn Marriott Platinum Elite status.

In addition to Gold Elite benefits, Platinum Elite members receive a 50% point bonus on stays, space-available room upgrades (including select suites), lounge access, guaranteed 4 p.m. checkout (subject to availability at resort and convention hotels) and a welcome gift choice each time you stay.

Welcome gift choices vary by brand but generally include a choice of points, an amenity or breakfast. For Platinum Elites, breakfast is included or available as a welcome gift at most brands. Breakfast is usually offered in the lounge or on-site restaurant, although some properties offer a room service credit instead.

From experience, I recommend bookmarking TPG’s complete guide to Marriott elite breakfast benefits so you can refer to it before check-in.

Platinum Elite members can choose from one Annual Gift Choice after earning 50 nights: five Suite Night Awards, the opportunity to gift Silver Elite status, 40% off a mattress, five Elite Night Credits or a $100 charitable donation. Unless you end the year with 70-74 nights or need a new mattress, I recommend choosing the Suite Night Awards.

You'll have Platinum Elite status if you have the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card. Alternatively, cardholders of The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card (no longer open to new applicants) and Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card can spend $125,000 on purchases during their account anniversary year to get a status upgrade from Gold Elite to Platinum Elite.

To lock in Lifetime Platinum Elite status, you’ll need to accumulate 600 lifetime nights and 10 or more years as a Platinum Elite or higher.

Related: The secret to getting the discontinued Ritz-Carlton credit card — and 4 reasons you need it

Titanium Elite


You’ll earn Titanium Elite status after completing 75 qualifying nights in a calendar year.

Titanium Elite benefits are similar to Platinum Elite benefits, with a few additions: a 75% point bonus on stays, 48-hour guaranteed availability and United MileagePlus Silver status through Marriott's RewardsPlus partnership with United.

Titanium Elite members are also eligible for a second Annual Choice Benefit after completing 75 nights in a year. In addition to the options Platinum elites receive, Titanium members can choose a free night award worth up to 40,000 points or gift Gold Elite status. This free night award or five Suite Night Awards are my top choices.

Related: The case for burning 80,000 points to earn Marriott Titanium status

Ambassador Elite

Marriott’s top published elite status tier is Ambassador Elite. Effectively an enhanced version of Titanium Elite, Ambassador Elite status is earned after accumulating 100 qualifying nights in a calendar year and reaching $20,000 in qualifying Marriott spending.

As with Titanium Elite, Ambassador Elite members enjoy complimentary United Silver Silver status through RewardsPlus.

Ambassador Elite members get all Titanium Elite benefits, plus Ambassador service to help you out with booking and managing stays. You also get access to the Your24 benefit that lets you choose your 24-hour check-in and checkout time. So if you arrive on a late 10 p.m. flight for a one-night stay, you could check out the following night at 10 p.m.

Related: What purchases count toward earning Marriott Ambassador elite status?

Cobalt program

You won’t find any mentions of “Cobalt” in any official Marriott Bonvoy promotional material. But TPG received leaked information in Aug. 2019 about this secret invitation-only Marriott status. This elite level is so exclusive that it’s only available through an invitation from Marriott International’s president and CEO.

The benefits are largely that of Marriott Ambassador Elite, but with additional touches such as a personalized note from the General Manager, a meeting with the GM and a “distinctive experience on-property” at luxury brands.

Related: VIP treatment: Your guide to invitation-only airline and hotel elite status

Guaranteed benefits

A great aspect of Marriott Bonvoy is that many of the benefits are guaranteed. For example, the “Ultimate Reservation Guarantee” promises elite members up to $200 and 90,000 Marriott points — plus accommodation at a nearby hotel — for being “walked” from a Marriott hotel.


Marriott has charts listing your compensation if you don’t receive what you’re entitled to.

Related: Walked from a hotel? Here’s how much compensation you’re owed

Ways to earn Marriott points

There are several ways to earn Marriott Bonvoy points, from staying at Marriott properties to spending on credit cards. For the full scoop, check out our guide on the best ways to earn Marriott points, but here’s a summary.

Hotel stays


Marriott Members earn 10 points per dollar spent on qualifying charges for stays at most Marriott hotel brands.

There are a few exceptions to that general rule, though. For example, you’ll earn five Marriott points per dollar on qualifying charges at Element, Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites and Homes & Villas by Marriott. Meanwhile, you’ll earn 2.5 Marriott points per dollar spent on qualifying room rates at Marriott Executive Apartments.

Elite status and current hotel promotions can boost your earning rates too. For example, during a three-night stay as a Platinum Elite, I once earned 16,375 Marriott points — worth $131 at TPG valuations — on a $270 Four Points stay:

  • 2,250 points from base earnings ($225 qualifying spend x 10 points per dollar spent).
  • 1,125 points as an elite bonus (50% bonus as a Platinum Elite).
  • 500 points as a welcome gift.
  • 12,000 points as a bonus for completing five stays through the now-expired Unlock More promotion.
  • 500 points for declining housekeeping for two days.

However, you’ll need to book directly with Marriott to earn points for a stay. Stays that don’t earn points include rooms booked through online travel agencies (like Expedia, and Priceline), as part of an event, through a tour operator or as a comped stay.

Related: How much value does Marriott status provide when you book direct?

Credit card bonuses and spending

There are several cards you can use to earn Marriott Bonvoy points, but six are available to new applicants — three from American Express and three from Chase:

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card is one of the more appealing personal Marriott cobranded cards available through Amex. This card currently offers a welcome bonus of 95,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new card to make $5,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership.

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex has a hefty $650 annual fee (see rates and fees) but comes packed with benefits — perhaps most notably an annual 85,000-point certificate. Plus, you’ll earn 6 points per dollar spent on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program, 3 points per dollar spent at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines and 2 points per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases.

Related: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card review

Business owners can apply for the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card, which currently offers a welcome bonus of 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new card to make $3,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership. This card has a $125 annual fee (see rates and fees), but it makes up for that fee with an up to 35,000-point certificate awarded each year after your card renewal month.

Plus, you’ll earn 6 points per dollar spent at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program, 4 points per dollar spent at U.S. restaurants, gas stations, shipping providers and wireless phone services purchased directly from service providers and 2 points per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases.

Related: Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex credit card review

The Marriott Bonvoy Bevy Amex card is the newest addition to Marriott's suite of cobranded credit cards; however, with a $250 annual fee (see rates and fees), we would have liked to have seen some more generous benefits. As with the two previously mentioned Amex cards, you'll earn 6 points per dollar on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program. You also earn 4 points per dollar at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery in the U.S. and U.S. Supermarkets (on up to $15,000 in combined purchases at restaurants and supermarkets, then 2 points per dollar) and 2 points per dollar spent on all other purchases.

Bevy card members also receive 1,000 bonus points for each Marriott stay booked directly with Marriott Bonvoy. Unfortunately, the 50,000-point annual free night certificate only kicks in once you spend $15,000 on the card within a calendar year. The Bevy card has a welcome offer of 85,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership.

Related: Marriott Bonvoy Bevy American Express credit card review


Chase’s Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card is currently offering 3 Free Night Awards (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after spending $3,000 on purchases in your first three months of account opening. This card comes with perks like automatic Silver Elite status and the ability to earn one elite night credit for every $5,000 you spend.

The Bonvoy Boundless Card also earns 6 points per dollar spent at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy, 3 points per dollar on the first $6,000 spent in combined purchases each year on gas stations, grocery stores and dining and 2 points per dollar on all other purchases. You’ll also get one free night award every year after your account anniversary, valid for a one-night hotel stay at a property with a redemption value of up to 35,000 points.

Related: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless credit card review


Chase offers the Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card for those looking for a no-annual-fee credit card. Despite the card not having an annual fee, you’ll earn 30,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in your first three months from account opening. This card also offers 15 elite night credits each year.

But, you’ll only earn 3 points per dollar spent at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy (half the rate of other Bonvoy credit cards), 2 points per dollar spent on other travel purchases and 1 point per dollar spent on everything else.

Related: Marriott Bonvoy Bold credit card review

Organizing events

Event planners will earn two points per dollar spent for any qualifying event held at a Marriott property, with a maximum base earning of 60,000 points per event. However, Marriott elite members get a bonus on these base earnings and have a higher maximum number of points they can earn per event.


You’ll earn an additional elite night credit for every 20 rooms you book as part of your event, up to 20 elite night credits per event.

Related: Maximizing points and miles when planning your wedding and honeymoon

Refer friends

Marriott Bonvoy will reward you for referring friends to the program. You can refer up to five new members each calendar year and earn 2,000 points for up to five of their paid stays.


If all five of your referred friends complete at least five stays, you’ll earn 50,000 bonus points a year. The friends you refer will earn 2,000 bonus points for each of their first five paid stays for a maximum of 10,000 bonus points.

Related: How to refer friends and earn points, miles or cash credits

Eating out

In Oct. 2019, Marriott launched a new way of earning points: eating. The “Eat Around Town” program offers Marriott elites 6 Marriott points per dollar spent and nonelite Marriott members 4 Marriott points per dollar spent. To earn, you must connect your credit card to the program and use your card to eat at participating restaurants.


Note that points earned through the Eat Around Town program are in addition to the points you’d otherwise earn from the dining purchase, such as credit card rewards or rewards from the restaurant’s loyalty program.

Related: 10 of the most generous airline and hotel dining rewards programs

Travel partners

You can earn up to 2,000 Marriott points per Hertz car rental by booking through Marriott’s Tours & Activities page through the end of 2022.

And you can earn bonus Marriott points when you book a cruise through Marriott Cruise With Points.

Buying a mattress

Bonvoy members can earn 10,000 Marriott points by buying a mattress from any of Marriott International’s retail stores online: Shop EDITION, The Ritz-Carlton Shops, The Luxury Collection Store, St. Regis Boutique, W Hotels The Store, Curated by JW, Shop Marriott, Sheraton Store, Westin Store, Shop Le Méridien, Collect Renaissance, Gaylord Hotels The Store, Shop Courtyard, Fairfield Store and Shop Four Points.

Transferring points from other programs

You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards (39-hour transfer time) and American Express Membership Rewards (instant transfer) points to Marriott Bonvoy at a 1:1 transfer ratio. While it’s not the best use of more-valuable points, it can make sense to transfer in points to top off your Marriott Bonvoy account for a valuable redemption.

Combining points with other members


A fantastic aspect of Marriott Bonvoy is combining your points with another Marriott Bonvoy member. Each member can transfer up to 100,000 points to another account per year. And each member can receive up to 500,000 points per year.

Unlike in other programs, these member-to-member transfers are completely free. Note that there are restrictions on new members, and you need to call Marriott to complete the transfer.

Related: Your ultimate guide to family points pooling

Buy points

You can buy up to 100,000 points each year. The purchase rate is generally $12.50 per 1,000 points, but Marriott will periodically run promotions that lower the price.

Related: When does it make sense to buy points and miles?

Earn miles instead of points

It’s also worth noting that you can earn airline miles with select airline loyalty programs instead of Marriott points on your hotel stays. Generally, you’ll earn two miles per dollar spent on all qualifying charges at most Marriott brands. But, you’ll earn less at some brands and may earn differently with select airline loyalty programs.

Related: We tested earning American Airlines miles for 3 different hotel stays — here’s what we found

How to redeem Marriott points

There are many options for using your Marriott Bonvoy points. TPG values Marriott points at 0.8 cents each, so that’s the minimum value you’ll want to get when redeeming Marriott points.

When redeeming for hotel stays or transferring to airline loyalty programs, you’ll typically get the most value from your Marriott points. However, this section will overview various ways to redeem Marriott points.

Award nights

Marriott no longer uses an award chart. However, award nights at 97% of Marriott properties will still fall within the previous off-peak to peak award prices for stays through the end of 2022. You can see Marriott’s previous award chart below:

Marriott award chart before dynamic pricing. MARRIOTT.COM

Now Marriott uses dynamic pricing, with award rates based on paid hotel rates and occupancy levels (among other factors). As such, you won’t know until you go to book exactly how much your award stay will cost.

As I mentioned above, 97% of Marriott properties are still bound by the previous award chart’s peak and off-peak pricing rates for stays through 2022. But, your award stay could cost any amount for the other 3% of properties and stays in 2023 and beyond. And that’s why some believe this is a serious devaluation of Marriott Bonvoy points.

You can redeem Marriott points for upgraded rooms. This option isn’t available at every property, so you’ll need to search for award nights at your property and see if upgraded rooms are bookable via redemption with cash upgrade or redemption with points upgrade.


You’ll receive the lowest-priced night for free if you redeem points for five or more consecutive nights in a standard room, thanks to Marriott’s “Stay for 5, Pay for 4” perk. Marriott also allows you to reserve nights with Cash + Points when booking a standard room.


You can use the program’s Points Advance functionality to reserve an award stay when you’re short on points — which is a great way to confirm a room at a property before you earn enough points to cover the stay.

However, it’s important to note that you aren’t locking in a rate using Points Advance. Points Advance merely confirms award space for you. So if the award stay becomes more expensive before you’ve earned the points and paid for the room with points, you’ll have to redeem more points.

Related: How to maximize longer hotel stays by using a free night benefit

Marriott Bonvoy Moments

If you’re looking for a different type of redemption, consider exploring the Marriott Bonvoy Moments program. This allows you to cash in your points for unique experiences like concert tickets, culinary events or seats to see your favorite sports team.

Check out the current options here. The packages change regularly, and while some are handled as auctions, others offer fixed-price redemptions. It’s hard to peg a value on these, as many aren’t easily replicable using cash.

Instant redemption

You can use points toward hotel credit against your total room bill. This option only offers a redemption rate of 0.4 cents per point, so I recommend avoiding this option.

Gift cards

You can also redeem Marriott points for gift cards. But, you’ll get 0.4 cents per point or less, so I recommend avoiding this redemption option.

Related: How to use points and miles to give gifts with $0 out-of-pocket cost

Travel redemptions and airline transfers

There are quite a few options for getting free travel with your Marriott Bonvoy points.

You can transfer your Marriott points into airline miles with more than 40 airlines. Most of these airlines have a transfer ratio of 3:1. The exceptions to this rule are Air New Zealand Airpoints (200:1) and United MileagePlus (3:1.1).

Marriott also offers 5,000 bonus miles for every 60,000 points you transfer. You will get 25,000 airline miles for transferring 60,000 points to most airline partners. Keep in mind that transfer times vary based on the airline.

You can book air travel and rental cars with your points through Marriott’s Air and Car program, but you’ll get less than 0.4 cents per point in value toward these redemptions.


You can also redeem points toward a free cruise with Marriott Cruise With Points, but you’ll only receive about 0.4 cents per point in value.

Award booking process

You can start your award booking process right on Marriott’s homepage. Just click the “Use Points/Certificates” box on the main search, and results will appear with the required points shown.


Click the “Find Hotels” button, and you’ll be presented with a view of all the hotels that match your destination and their respective pricing.


Click “View Rates” to see which room types are available at these prices and your booking options.


Then, click “Select” next to the room type you want to book to proceed with the booking process.

Related: Check your award bookings: Marriott’s switch to dynamic pricing might let you reclaim points

Leveraging Marriott Bonvoy

Here are some strategies to get the most value out of your Marriott experience.

Best rate guarantee


Marriott’s version of the best rate guarantee will match the rate found on another website if you submit a claim within 24 hours of making your reservation on Marriott’s website. Plus, Marriott will give you an additional 25% discount on that rate or a 5,000-point bonus.

Get at least one Marriott Bonvoy card

You can snag 15 elite night credits annually on a personal Marriott credit card and 15 elite night credits on a business card. So, you can earn up to 30 elite night credits by having two Marriott Bonvoy credit cards. These elite night credits can easily put Platinum Elite or Titanium Elite status in reach for many travelers.

You can maximize this benefit even further if you have a Bonvoy Brilliant card. Paired with the Bonvoy Business card, you can earn 40 elite nights per year by just keeping these two cards open. This puts you just 35 nights away from Titanium Elite status.

Related: Why I’m keeping my Marriott Bonvoy Boundless for the long term

Fifth night free

All Marriott Bonvoy members get a free night on five-night award stays or longer. While some travelers might not want to spend five or more nights in one place while on a trip, this benefit is a great way to save points on longer stays.

Related: Do fifth-night free awards apply to suites or only to standard rooms?

Bottom line

Through stays, partners, credit cards and promotions, it’s not too difficult to earn Marriott points. And now, with dynamic pricing, it’s never been easier to spend those points quickly.

There’s no denying that free nights can cost a lot of points, but there’s still plenty of value to be had in the program.

With solid elite benefits and plenty of good-valued options for redemptions, I’m a fan of Marriott Bonvoy despite its devaluations. After earning Titanium Elite status for the first time in 2019, I’ve continued to collect Marriott points and get solid value on my redemptions.

For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card, click here.

For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Business card, click here.

For rates and fees of the Marriot Bonvoy Bevy card, click here.

Additional reporting by Katie Genter, Richard Kerr, Andrew Kunesh and Kyle Olsen.

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.