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6 ways Marriott can improve Ambassador Elite status

July 04, 2022
9 min read
JW Marriott Mauritius Resort
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For guests who spend $20,000 and 100 nights annually with Marriott, you would expect nothing but the very best from the Ambassador Elite program. Contrary to what you might expect, though, Ambassador Elite doesn't deliver the significant value above Titanium Elite status, the tier just below Ambassador Elite.

In fact, there are only two benefits of Ambassador Elite status that Titanium Elite doesn't provide: Your24 and the dedicated Ambassador Service team.

I've been an Ambassador Elite member since 2019. Like many of my fellow Ambassadors, I'm not impressed by the additional benefits the tier provides above Titanium Elite despite the additional TLC from the Ambassador team.

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If requested and confirmed in advance, Your24 allows you to occupy the room for 24 hours. For example, if you check in to a hotel at 8 p.m., you'd have the room until 8 p.m. the next day.

I've never used this benefit as Ambassadors have reported receiving unappealing rooms by using Your24. In fairness, it's inconvenient for hotels to have a guest occupy a room until after working hours. However, who wants a small room next to an elevator or ice machine?

Today, I'll walk you through the benefits I'd like to see from Ambassador Elite that would differentiate the program Titanium Elite, making it worth the mattress run.

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1. My Ambassador rehired

The London EDITION. (Photo by Kyle Olsen/The Points Guy)

Jason, my fantastic Ambassador, always went above and beyond. He and I developed a friendship where he knew everything I was looking for from all of my stays.

For example, he knew that I preferred additional square footage over a view, so with his help, I found myself getting suites on almost all of my Marriott stays. Also, there was almost always a local amenity from the hotel waiting in my room with Jason's signature.

Jason would send hand-picked recommendations of restaurants and sights when I was on the road — and they were always superb. On one memorable stay at The Westin Paris - Vendôme, he proactively sent me the name of an Indian restaurant to try in Paris, knowing that I love Indian food. It was a feast.

At the end of the year, I mailed him a thank you card and gift as a token of my appreciation.

In August 2020, Jason, along with all of the Marriott Ambassadors, was laid off. Jason was rehired after several months on furlough, but he's now on another project at Marriott. When I send emails his way, they now bounce back.

I can still email and call the Ambassador team. However, Marriott hasn't brought back designated Ambassadors, and I wonder if I'll ever have a designated Ambassador again.

Oh, and Marriott hasn't provided a replacement benefit or compensation specifically for the removal of this benefit.

2. 20 points per dollar

Breakfast at the Moana Surfrider. (Photo by Kyle Olsen/The Points Guy)

This one is obvious. Based on your status, you earn bonus points when staying at Marriott hotels. Here's the breakdown at most Marriott Bonvoy brands:

  • General member: 10 points per dollar.
  • Silver Elite: 11 points per dollar.
  • Gold Elite: 12.5 points per dollar.
  • Platinum Elite: 15 points per dollar.
  • Titanium Elite: 17.5 points per dollar.
  • Ambassador Elite: 17.5 points per dollar.

As you can see, every tier jump increases in the number of points per dollar you earn. Why is there no increase in point accruals from Titanium to Ambassador Elite? It stumps me.

Without hesitation, Ambassador Elite members should be earning 20 points per dollar.

Keep in mind that at Home & Villas, Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites and Element hotels, these earning figures are reduced by 50%, while at Marriott Executive Apartments, they're reduced by 75%.

Related: What is Marriott Bonvoy elite status worth in 2022?

3. Ambassador Annual choice benefits

The Palace Hotel atrium. (Photo by Kyle Olsen/The Points Guy)

When you qualify for Platinum Elite at 50 nights, you can select one of the following choice benefits:

  • Five elite night credits.
  • Five Suite Night Awards.
  • 40% off a mattress.
  • $100 charity donation.
  • Gift of Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status for a family member, friend or colleague.

When you qualify for Titanium Elite at 75 nights, you can select one of these choice benefits:

  • Five elite night credits.
  • Five Suite Night Awards.
  • Free night award worth up to 40,000 points.
  • 40% off a mattress.
  • $100 charity donation.
  • Gift of Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status for a family member, friend or colleague.

It baffles me that Marriott offers choice benefits for its third- and second-highest tiers, but its highest tier is not offered additional choice benefits.

Here are some of the choice benefits I'd like to see from Ambassador Elite status:

Having a generous third set of Ambassador Elite choice benefits would increase the value of the program and subsequently help justify the high qualification thresholds of the program.

Related: Final day to select your Marriott annual Choice Benefit for 2022

4. United Premier Gold status match

United Express E175 at RDM. (Photo by Kyle Olsen/The Points Guy)

Titanium and Ambassador members are offered a status match to United's Premier Silver tier. TPG values United's Premier Silver status at $495, so this is a nice perk of upper-tier Marriott status.

Shouldn't Ambassador Elite go above and beyond what Titanium Elite offers, though?

That's why I'd like to see Ambassador Elites receiving a status match to United's Premier Gold tier, the next MileagePlus status just above Premier Silver.

Premier Gold offers a number of benefits that Premier Silver doesn't provide. Some of the most notable benefits of Premier Gold status include access to Economy Plus seating on any United flight at the time of booking (for yourself and one companion), two free checked bags, Group 1 boarding and waitlisted Complimentary Premier Upgrades on eligible short and medium-haul flights.

Premier Gold members also receive Star Alliance Gold, giving you access to almost all Star Alliance lounges worldwide (except when flying domestically within the United States).

Related: Current airline elite status match and challenge options you should know about

5. Club access at Ritz-Carlton properties

The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua. (Photo by Kyle Olsen/The Points Guy)

At almost all Ritz-Carlton properties, there's an ultra-exclusive club level. Ritz-Carlton clubs offer a full breakfast, complimentary drinks (alcohol is included), afternoon snacks and evening hors d'oeuvres (think salads, two hot entrees and a side — enough for dinner).

While club access is granted to Marriott Platinum Elite and higher members are several Marriott brands, the Ritz-Carlton club level is exempt from this benefit. The only way to access Ritz-Carlton clubs is to pay for them. That means either paying outright for club access or reserving a rate that includes it.

The only exception to this rule is for invite-only Cobalt Elite members, who automatically receive access to Ritz-Carlton clubs.

Seldom, but occasionally, I'll be offered club access as an Ambassador Elite when checking in at a Ritz-Carlton hotel. Out of dozens of stays at Ritz-Carlton hotels, this has only happened twice to me: once at The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans and once at The Ritz-Carlton, Istanbul. On both occasions, the clubs were nearly empty and completely overstaffed with uneaten food going to waste.

I'd like to see the Ritz-Carlton club level benefit extended from just Cobalt Elite members to Ambassador Elite members as well, particularly given that many Ritz-Carlton clubs are almost always empty.

Again, this would differentiate the program from Titanium Elite, making it worth more in my view.

Related: A Ritz reborn: A review of the newly reopened Ritz-Carlton, South Beach

6. Two welcome gift selections at check-in

St. Regis Bora Bora. (Photo by Kyle Olsen/The Points Guy)

If you hold Gold Elite status or higher, you receive a welcome gift when checking into a Marriott hotel. While the welcome gift depends on your status and the brand you're staying at, it's common to be offered a continental breakfast or 1,000 points.

During a recent stay at the JW Marriott Mauritius, where breakfast was already included, the welcome gift options were 1,000 points, a $10 food and beverage credit or a bottle of Mauritian rum.

Wouldn't it be nice if Ambassador Elite members could select from two welcome gifts? Continued business and loyalty should be generously rewarded.

Related: How I’m spending over 5 million Marriott Bonvoy points

Bottom line

Titanium Elite requires 75 elite nights per year, while Amabassdor Elite requires 100 elite nights per year and $20,000 of qualifying spending.

So what's the incentive to spend 25 additional nights and hit $20,000 in annual spending? As of now, not much.

Incidentally, I received an email the other day from Marriott Bonvoy requesting my candid feedback on the Ambassador Elite program.

(Screenshot from gmail.com)

After filling out the survey, an Ambassador agent reached out to me and requested to schedule a phone call to hear my thoughts on the program. I accepted this offer to have a phone call about the program. However, I haven't yet heard back from the Ambassador team about moving forward with a conversation.

Still, it makes me think that we could be seeing changes in the Ambassador Elite program for the 2023 membership year.

From additional point-earning opportunities to enhanced benefits, these are the six ways I'd like the Marriott Ambassador Elite program to be improved.

Featured image by JW Marriott Mauritius Resort (Photo by Kyle Olsen/The Points Guy)
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.

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  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
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  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

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  • Annual Fee

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The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases