Going for Titanium: 6 reasons I’m striving for higher Marriott Bonvoy status this year
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The end of the year is rapidly approaching, so now is an excellent time to assess where you stand concerning your elite status goals. I’ve already hit my elite status goals with several programs, but one program where I’m not quite there yet is Marriott Bonvoy.
Until 2020, I relied on the Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status provided as a benefit of The Platinum Card® from American Express (enrollment required). But, after Marriott deposited bonus elite night credits into members’ accounts in 2020, I was able to earn Platinum Elite status by staying just seven additional nights.
Then, even before Marriott announced it would extend status through 2022, I automatically requalified for Platinum Elite status thanks to earning 30 elite night credits from Marriott cobranded credit cards and 25 bonus elite nights credits from Marriott.
- Breakfast: Complimentary breakfast at most Marriott Bonvoy brands
- Room upgrades: Upgrades, including to select suites, based on availability at check-in and as determined by each hotel
- Lounge access: Lounge access for two guests at select Marriott Bonvoy brands
- 4 p.m. late checkout: Guaranteed late checkout at most Marriott Bonvoy properties
This year, however, I’ve decided to push for reaching the next tier, Titanium Elite status — a first for me. Let’s take a closer look at why I’m shooting for the higher status tier in 2021.
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It’s easily within reach
Let’s be honest: the main reason I’m pushing for Titanium Elite status is that it’s easily within reach.
After all, I got 30 elite night credits as a perk of my two Marriott Bonvoy credit cards. And since I was a Platinum Elite in 2020, Marriott gave me 25 bonus elite nights credits this year. This means I accrued 55 elite night credits without stepping foot in a Marriott property, just 20 nights short of qualifying for Titanium Elite.
Plus, I’ve already picked up a handful of elite night credits this year:
- Five nights this spring while RVing full-time when I needed fast internet
- Five inexpensive nights at the Four Points by Sheraton Bogota this August
- Two nights using 35,000-point certificates at the JW Marriott Hotel Bogota this August
- Two nights on points at the Le Meridien Maldives Resort & Spa last month
- One night near New York’s Laguardia airport before redeeming 100,000 Southwest points on an all-inclusive trip to Mexico
After these stays, I only need five more elite nights credits this year to snag Titanium Elite status. I plan to pick these nights up organically before the end of 2021 on trips to Paris, New York City and Phoenix.
75-night annual Choice Benefit
Marriott loyalists know that Marriott provides elites annual Choice Benefits when they reach 50 and 75 eligible elite night credits in a calendar year. I’ve already earned my 50-night annual Choice Benefit and will be able to select a second when I qualify for Titanium Elite.
These are my choices:
- Five Suite Night Awards
- 40% off a Marriott bed
- $100 charity donation
- Gift Gold Elite status to a friend or family member
- Five elite night credits
- One free night award worth up to 40,000 points
For me, the decision comes down to Suite Night Awards or a free night award. If I think I’ll be able to use five more Suite Night Awards (I chose five as my 50-night annual Choice Benefit), that option may provide more value than the free night award worth up to 40,000 points. TPG’s valuations peg the value of 40,000 Marriott points at $320, but suite upgrades can be worth much more depending on the property.
United Silver status
Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Elite and Ambassador Elite members can register for complimentary United MileagePlus Premier Silver elite status. This partnership is actually one of the main reasons I’m pushing for Titanium Elite status, since it will give me the following valuable perks when I fly United:
- Preferred seating at booking for me and up to eight companions on United
- Economy Plus at check-in for me and up to one companion on United (except when flying basic economy)
- Space available upgrades to first class on domestic flights
- One complimentary checked bag of up to 70 pounds on United
- Priority check-in on United
- Additional award availability with United
This year, I’d otherwise need eight Premier-qualifying flights and 3,000 Premier-qualifying points (or 3,500 Premier-qualifying points without reaching the flight requirement) to qualify for United Silver status. That said, I don’t fly United enough to earn United status outright.
Of course, United Silver status doesn’t provide tons of perks as United’s lowest status tier. And I don’t expect to get any value from the minimal Star Alliance Silver perks. But, the extra availability on United awards, preferred seating and priority check-in should provide significant value as I travel the world.
Increased earning on stays
As hotel rates remain depressed in many markets, I’ve been booking more cash rates with Marriott than award nights. That’s because Marriott’s award chart currently charges the same points rates regardless of cash rates — although we recently learned Marriott will switch to dynamic pricing in March 2022 — so it’s not worth redeeming a ton of points for unusually cheap stays.
If this remains the case, I expect I’ll continue to book many paid nights. So, I’ll enjoy the higher points-earning rates given to Titanium Elites on paid stays. Here’s a comparison of earning rates based on qualified spending at Marriott Bonvoy brands:
|Brand||Members||Silver Elite members||Gold Elite members||Platinum Elite members||Titanium Elite and Ambassador Elite members|
|All Marriott Brands unless otherwise noted||10x||11x||12.5x||15x||17.5x|
|Element, Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites and Homes & Villas by Marriott International||5x||5.5x||6.25x||7.5x||8.75x|
|Marriott Executive Apartments||2.5x||2.75x||3.125x||3.75x||4.375x|
Let’s assume I typically pay $80 in qualified spending when I book a paid night at a Marriott hotel. And let’s assume I book 20 paid nights each year, all at Marriott brands that don’t earn at lower rates. As a Platinum Elite, I’d earn 24,000 points, worth $192 based on TPG’s valuations. But, as a Titanium Elite, I’d earn 28,000 points, worth $224.
This boost in earning is slight. But, even considering the low rates I tend to snag in destinations where the U.S. dollar can go far, it still makes a difference. And if you stay mostly in expensive markets, you may see a much more significant boost from increased earning rates.
Of course, these earning rates are before any additional points I’ll accrue when using my Ink Business Preferred Credit Card or Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card to pay for my stay. Plus, I can leverage a shopping portal aggregator to select an online shopping portal to earn extra points, miles or cash-back rewards on my Marriott stays.
Better upgrade chances
Based on the Marriott Bonvoy terms and conditions, Platinum Elite, Titanium Elite and Ambassador Elite members all have access to enhanced room upgrades based upon availability at most brands. In particular, the terms note:
Platinum Elite Members and above receive a complimentary upgrade to the best available room, subject to availability on the day of arrival, for the entire length of stay. Complimentary upgrade includes suites, rooms with desirable views, rooms on high floors, corner rooms, rooms with special amenities or rooms on Executive Floors. At The Ritz-Carlton, suites are only included for Titanium Elite and Ambassador Elite Members and rooms with direct Club access are excluded.
Going off this text, Titanium Elites get the same upgrade benefits at Platinum Elites, except at Ritz-Carlton properties. However, the hotel determines your upgrade. In practice, I’ve noticed my Titanium Elite husband often gets better upgrades on his stays than I’ve gotten as a Platinum Elite.
Extra on-site perks at some hotels
Discretionary on-site perks are the final reason I’m excited to earn Titanium Elite status.
From a general manager’s cocktail hour reception at the Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay to a complimentary happy hour drink menu for select elites at The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa, my husband and I have gotten a variety of soft perks thanks to Marriott elite status.
Many hotels offer the same access and perks to Platinum Elite and Titanium Elite members. But, as with upgrades, I suspect some on-site perks may be slightly better for Titanium Elites. These incremental soft perks are just one more reason I’m excited about upgrading myself from Platinum Elite to Titanium Elite.
Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status is relatively easy to earn if you get 30 elite night credits each year from Marriott Bonvoy cards. Plus, it provides enough perks that I expect I’ll strive to earn at least Platinum Elite status each year as long as I continue to live and work remotely as a digital nomad.
But this year, I decided to push for Titanium Elite status. Titanium Elite status requires 75 elite night credits each year, 25 more than the 50 you’d need for Platinum Elite status. And, assuming all of my trips go as planned through the end of 2021, I won’t need to book extra trips to cross the threshold.
In the future, I’m not sure yet whether I’ll strive to requalify for Titanium Elite status in future years. But, I’m looking forward to enjoying the extra perks the status provides in 2022.
Featured image of The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa by Katie Genter/The Points Guy.
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