How I earned Marriott Titanium status while only staying in 3 hotels this year

Oct 16, 2020

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There’s a lot about 2020 that I didn’t expect.

Looking back, none of us would have predicted months of lockdowns, travel restrictions and, well, everything else that has come with the pandemic.

But somehow in the madness of it all, I reached one of the top loyalty milestones with Marriott: Titanium Elite status. And I’ve only stayed at three Marriott hotels this year.

Last year, I struggled to hit the 50 nights to reach Platinum Elite, but just eked it out. This year, I’ve racked up the 75 nights needed for Titanium.

Shocking, right?

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How I earned the 75 elite-qualifying nights

I spent four nights in Marriott hotels this year. The first was one night at The Notary Hotel in Philadelphia, which led me to write about how the Autograph Collection finally won me over. There were two nights at a TownePlace Suites near TPG’s parent company’s headquarters in South Carolina. And then I had one final hotel night, right at the start of the pandemic in New York, at the Renaissance Chelsea for a review.

Related: The complete guide to Marriott Bonvoy elite status

(Photo by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy)

Marriott credit cardholders used to be limited to just 15 elite-qualifying nights. However, at some point in the past year that changed. If you hold a personal and a small business card, you can get 30 nights toward status. I used to have both the personal and business Starwood credit cards. At the start of 2020, I only had the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card. But once I learned about getting 30 elite nights, I decided to add the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card to my portfolio of 19 credit cards.

Related: Which Marriott Bonvoy credit card is right for you?

Here’s where it gets interesting. Marriott, like most other travel companies, extended 2020 status into 2021 because of the pandemic. So I was going to be set with my Platinum Elite status without any other hotel stays. But then Marriott decided to give members extra elite-qualifying nights, based on the status they earned in the prior year. It equaled 50% of the nights needed for that status. So I got an extra 25 nights, which also counted toward my lifetime status. TPG’s Katie Genter has a nice chart outlining the bonuses in her story about aiming for Platinum in 2020.

For those keeping score, that brought me to 59 of the necessary 75 nights.

Like many other families, this year, we decided to rent some homes and do work and school remotely. In June, and then again in August, we rented a home on Cape Cod via Marriott Homes & Villas. I earned some Bonvoy points for the stays but also one elite-qualifying night for each night we stayed. Between the two stays, I earned another 16 nights, just enough to hit Titanium. It just happened to work out that way. If I was short a few nights, I would have selected five elite nights as my Platinum Choice Benefit.

Even if you have no Marriott stays on the books for this year, achieving high-tier status is easier than ever. Right now, the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card is offering a welcome bonus of 75,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first three months and the card has a $125 annual fee (see rates and fees).

What does Titanium Elite get me?

Platinum Elite is a pretty nice status. In fact, I am hoping to reach lifetime Platinum Elite status in a few years.

That said, while the jump from Platinum to Titanium isn’t spectacular, it is better.

The big highlights for me are getting a 75% point bonus on stays, rather than 50%, having higher priority for suite upgrades, an extra Choice Benefit and free United Premier Silver status.

You’ll have a better chance of scoring an upgrade with Titanium Elite status. (Photo by Nick Ellis / The Points Guy)

My priority phone line, free breakfast or lounge access and welcome gift will remain the same.

Bottom line

I actually managed to upgrade my status this year. That was not something I imagined at the start of the pandemic and not something I would necessarily encourage others to do. Now, I just hope I can actually enjoy all the benefits.

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

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