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Now live: Marriott Bonvoy makes it easier to earn elite status and redeem points in 2021

Feb. 02, 2021
8 min read
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated to reflect that bonus elite-night credits are beginning to post and that registration for Marriott's upcoming promotion is now live.

Marriott Bonvoy already announced that any status you had in 2020 would be extended through February 2022. It also gave elites a boost to reach a higher level of status faster in 2020. However, as we entered the new year, it hadn't announced changes to earning status in 2021.

But that changed on Jan. 11 when Marriott Bonvoy shared that it's making it easier to earn all elite status levels this year, including top-tier Ambassador Elite status. It also announced a new opportunity to earn extra points and reducing the rates of some redemptions made this year.

As a part of this announcement, Marriott shared that it's depositing bonus elite-night credits for current elites and launching a global promotion. These bonus nights are beginning to post and registration for the promotion is now open.

There's a lot to uncover, so let's jump right in.

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Earning Marriott Bonvoy elite status in 2021

First things first: Marriott isn't making broad adjustments to its qualification requirements. The only change is that it's reducing the $20,000 spend threshold for attaining Ambassador Elite status by 30% for 2021 — meaning you'd need to spend just $14,000 this year.

That said, Marriott is still making it easier to earn elite status in 2021 in several ways.

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Like last year, current elites will receive 50% of the elite nights needed to qualify for the elite status that they held in 2020. For example, if you were a Platinum elite in 2020 — which requires 50 nights a year — you’d get 25 elite nights as a bonus.

Here’s the breakdown:

Ambassador Elite100 Qualifying Nights AND $20,000 in spending ($14,000 for 2021)50 nights
Titanium Elite75 Qualifying Nights38 nights
Platinum Elite50 Qualifying Nights25 nights
Gold Elite25 Qualifying Nights13 nights
Silver Elite10 Qualifying Nights5 nights
MemberNot ApplicableNot Applicable

Related: All of the elite qualification changes you need to know about for 2021

These elite-night credits began to post on Feb. 1. However, not all TPG staffers received their elite-night credits yet. They are likely being done in batches, so don't fret if yours aren't displaying quite yet. When Marriott deposited bonus elite-night credits last year, it took several days for all elites to get their credits. Also, similar to last year, Marriott will likely send out emails to eligible members once the credits have been deposited.

Related: Marriott bonus elite night credits are posting

But that's not all.

Later this month, Marriott Bonvoy will launch a new global promotion that will allow all members, including those who don't currently have elite status, to fast-track extra elite-night credits. Members who register for the promotion will earn double the number of points and elite night credits for all stays of two nights or more. The promotion will run from Feb. 16 through April 27, 2021, but registration is now open.

You may also be able to earn status even faster if you’re a cardmember of select Marriott Bonvoy credit cards. That’s because one of the perks of several Marriott cards is 15 elite night credits.

You’ll find this 15 elite night benefit as a perk of the following cards:

In the past, this was capped at 15 nights, regardless of how many Marriott cards you have. However, as of March 2020, you can now earn a total of 30 nights by having both a personal and business card — which puts you 60% of the way to Platinum status without a single night in an actual Marriott property.

The real sweet spot in the Bonvoy program is Platinum Elite status, with benefits like a guaranteed 4 p.m. checkout and free breakfast at many brands. This status normally requires 50 nights, but you can get it for as little as 18 nights this year by taking advantage of Marriott's global promotion and having a cobranded card — or just 10 nights if you have both a personal and business version.

That requirement might be even lower if you held elite status last year (reminder: many Marriott cards come with automatic elite status).

Related: What is Marriott Bonvoy elite status worth?

Besides fast-tracking elite status, the bonus elite night credits for these promotions will help you earn your annual choice benefits faster. These are normally earned after reaching 50 and 75 elite nights in a calendar year and include options like status gifting and Suite Night Awards.

A room at The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas. (Photo by Jane Frye/The Points Guy)

Finally, these nights will also count toward Marriott Bonvoy lifetime elite status. And if they push you to Gold or above, that'll also count as another year of elite status in satisfying the lifetime qualification requirements.

Reduced redemption rates

In addition to the promotion for double points and elite-night credits, Marriott Bonvoy is reducing off-peak redemption rates globally by 10%. The discount is available for reservations through Sept. 30, 2021, booked by Feb. 21.

Here's how the reduced off-peak redemption rates break down:

  • Category 1: 4,500 points (normally 5,000)
  • Category 2: 9,000 points (normally 10,000)
  • Category 3: 13,500 points (normally 15,000)
  • Category 4: 18,000 points (normally 20,000)
  • Category 5: 27,000 points (normally 30,000)
  • Category 6: 36,0000 points (normally 40,000)
  • Category 7: 45,000 points (normally 50,000)
  • Category 8: 63,000 points (normally 70,000)

Related: How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points for free nights

Book an off-peak night at The Ritz-Carlton South Beach for 63,000 points. (Photo by Nick Ellis/The Points Guy)

Bottom line

Unlike chains like Hilton, Hyatt and Wyndham, Marriott Bonvoy didn't reduce elite status qualifications outright. However, it is still making it easier to earn elite status this year. While those who currently hold Marriott status will benefit from this announcement the most, general members will still be able to earn status quicker this year.

In addition to this news, Marriott Bonvoy has previously paused the expiration of points until Aug. 1, 2021, extended free-night certificates originally set to expire in 2020 through Aug. 1, 2021 and extended the expiration of Suite Night Awards through Dec. 31, 2021. Marriott says that it plans to reveal more program updates to add value for members throughout the year.

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

Featured image by JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa (Photo courtesy of the resort)
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.