Loyalty programs have been around for years and years today. I'll take you through my journey of earning elite status with Marriott Bonvoy and how my experience has been thus far.
Loyalty programs are businesses that offer rewards, discounts, and other special incentives to attract and retain customers. They are designed to encourage repeat business, offering people a reward for brand loyalty. The more you spend/visit, the greater the rewards.
My introduction to Marriott Bonvoy status came with the Amex Platinum. One of the benefits is Bonvoy Gold Elite Status.
Bonvoy Gold is pretty good in Europe. I've been upgraded plenty of times and even given breakfast the majority of the time. In the US, Gold Status means nothing. I've been upgraded 1 time out of at least 20 stays, never given water or barely acknowledged.
Bonvoy Gold elite status benefits:
25% Points bonus
2 pm Late check-out
Elite phone line
Complimentary enhanced internet
Upgraded rooms (no suites)
Welcome Gift (250-500 pts)
Why Platinum Elite Status?!
After a few consecutive visits at the Sheraton MXP, I was told I didn't qualify for breakfast because my status wasn't high enough (where I've gotten breakfast every time previously). I researched all the Bonvoy loyalty benefits. I figured out that I was tricked. Either way, it made me think breakfast was included with Bonvoy Gold, but I was wrong.
After doing some research, I read that Platinum status unlocks the main benefits of the Marriott Bonvoy program. I made the goal of achieving it after figuring this out.
It was an easy adjustment for my wife and me. We usually stay in hotels 20 to 30 nights throughout the year, not including an extended vacation. We simply had to shift our hotel stays to Marriott properties instead of using other sites that we usually would like www.booking.com.
It was an excellent year to start our goal of reaching Platinum status with Marriott Bonvoy because they gifted elite nights to all elite members because of covid. Gold members received a 13 elite night boost.
We also planned a three-week stay at a Marriott property in Atlanta before our Platinum status plan. We booked through www.Booking.com for this stay with free cancellation, so we just canceled and rebooked through the Marriott portal.
The 13 elite night Covid bonus, plus 15 elite nights from my Bonvoy Boundless Card (now product changed to the Ritz Rewards Card), made the 50 elite nights reachable, which is needed to earn Platinum status.
Platinum Status Reached
We went from Bonvoy Gold to Platinum status while staying at the same hotel for three weeks. Our first ten days got us to Platinum status, but because we were already checked in as Gold, the benefits can't kick in until we check out.
We had a weekend getaway planned to Las Vegas after staying 13 nights. We checked out (left our things at the hotel) two days later before checking into the same hotel in Atlanta, my Platinum status to kick in!
During Check-in, this time around, we were upgraded to a suite! After not getting an upgrade to a suite in the same place as Gold elite member.
Two weeks prior, during our first time checking in, the manager said, "yes, I see that suites are available for these dates. Unfortunately, we cannot upgrade you because our system will not clear it." In other words, your status does not qualify for suite upgrades. We were happy to see that our Platinum status got us an upgrade to a suite the first day holding the status.
Gold to Platinum difference:
50% Bonus points on stays (18x w/ CC)
Upgrades to Suites
4 pm Late Check Out
Annual Gift from 50 stays:
Five elite night credits
Five Suite Night Awards (SNA's)
Gift of Silver elite status to a friend or family member
$100 donation to UNICEF
40% off the price of a Marriott-branded bed
Titanium Status, why not?!
Our goal for Platinum elite status was reached. Now, Titanium status was next in line. We were at 66 elite nights after our final stay in Atlanta, which was the end of July. That means we had 5 months to reach Titanium status by staying at Marriott properties 9 more nights to a total of 75 elite nights.
Titanium wasn't the plan, but after more research over time, I realized Titanium status was more worth it than I previously thought. Especially being only nine nights away with 5 months in the year remaining, Titanium became a no-brainer. Titanium status gives you all the benefits of Platinum plus a few key additions.
Titanium Elite Status benefits:
75% Bonus points on stays
United Premier Silver
Additional Annual Gift from 75 stays:
5 Suite Night Awards (SNA's)
$100 charity donation
Gift Gold Elite Status to a friend or family member
Five elite night credits
One free night award worth up to 40k points
40% off a Marriott bed
Top Two Additional Benefits
Elite Status Gifts
Most blogs will tell you to choose the SNA's for both of your elite status gifts. I didn't choose it because I've been upgraded so often, so I don't see the point of using a credit.
I chose to get the 5 elite nights for my Platinum gift and the 40k FNC for my Titanium gift. I chose the five elite nights because I wanted to get the Titanium benefits sooner than later.
The 40k FNC choice was a no-brainer for me. This free night can be worth up to $500, depending on where you use it. ***hoping this stays possible after the Marriott changes coming this year***
United Premier Silver
Eligible for Complimentary Premier Upgrades
Complimentary access to Economy Plus at check-in for you + 1 companion
1 complimentary checked bag (70 lbs./32 kg) + up to nine companions
7x miles earned on every flight
CLEAR discounted annual membership $109 (instead of $179)
United Premier Silver status is worth anywhere from $700 to $900 if you utilize the benefits (I determined these numbers from websites). I see instant value with the 70 lbs free checked bag benefit for you and up to nine companions. This would save $30 per person for every flight we take. Depending on how often we take United flights, this could be a huge benefit to utilize.
We ended the year at 96 elite nights. The next level, which is the highest, is Ambassador elite status. We could have easily stayed at more Marriott properties to reach the 100 elite nights, but we didn't care about Ambassador status for two reasons.
1) We weren't going to hit the spend requirement to reach Ambassador. The 100 elite nights would have been easy, but we were also required to spend $14k (Covid year, but regular Marriott spend is $20k). We love to leverage points and miles, so our spend was only $6k in that time frame.
2) The only additional benefits received for Ambassador status over Titanium are:
Ambassador Service - Your personal point of contact is always at your service for every stay. This has had terrible reviews because your experience depends on the staff member you receive. I've heard a couple of great reviews, but the majority are terrible. Especially since covid started.
Your24 - Get the flexibility to choose the 24 hours of your stay. Check-in at 9 pm, check-out at 9 pm — it's up to you. I don't think this is as big of a deal as they make it out to be because I've checked in early the majority of the time with no problems and stayed until the 4 pm check out. If you were allowed to have a late check-out until 9 or 10 pm no matter when you checked in, this would be a considerable upgrade from Titanium's and Platinum's late check-out benefit.
That's it! Those are literally the only differences between 75 stays (no spend) and 100 stays + $20k spend. If it came naturally to get Ambassador status, I'd let it happen for upgrades and even better acknowledgment at Marriott properties because we do really like staying with them. I'd only put spending towards a different loyalty program after Titanium elite status is reached because it would give us more flexibility with hotel choices.
Right now, we would always go for Marriott and Hilton because we have status with both. If we were to have status with another hotel chain, that would give us even more options with benefits.
This year was our trial year with Marriott. We checked to see if we like their chain enough to put most of our hotel spend on them. We also wanted to see if their commitment to top-tier loyalty customers is good enough to keep us on board. They passed with flying colors!
Platinum Status Experience
We got upgrades on every stay in the US and overseas
Out of 25 nights as a Platinum member, we've got 8-10 suite upgrades
Titanium Status Experience
We got upgrades on every stay in the US and overseas
Out of 23 nights as a Titanium member thus far, we've got 15-18 suite upgrades
From what I've compiled reading blogs, websites, and Reddit posts, Platinum Status is worth roughly $2,700 yearly (data from websites).
Titanium Status is worth roughly $4,800 yearly (data from websites). The numbers will be different for everyone. The calculations are based on the elite nights required for each status level. Your value will be on upgrades, late check out (early check-in even though it's not an added benefit), free breakfast, extra water, elite status gifts, and bonus points on Marriott spend.
***update, Marriott Bonvoy Titanium has been more than worth it! This year, the reward redemption is changing, and I've heard all bad things, but I'll wait to see. We're going for Platinum/Titanium status again!***
Marriott Titanium elite status has been great for Tash and me. We have come to love Marriott with all the benefits mentioned above, plus the VIP treatment shown throughout our stays.
The customer service has been outstanding also. The chat function on the app allows communication with customers, and the hotel front desk has been clutch! I've upgraded rooms, asked multiple questions, canceled rooms, rebooked rooms, and even was able to get a shirt that was left in my room kept until I returned weeks later! Yes, all of this without making a phone call. Just another perk that makes me love Marriott.
Short stays, weekend getaways, and business-type travel, Marriott properties have been the best out of all the available loyalty programs for us. Marriott's prices, matched with the quality of their properties, put Marriott above and beyond the competition.
Until next time, before you pack your bags, don't forget to PACK YOUR POINTS!
I am not a financial advisor and highly recommend doing your homework about the credit card you want to apply for! All of the content on my website, page, and channel are for entertainment purposes only.
If you'd like my opinion or help in forming an idea of what works, I'm here to help.
Here are REFERRAL LINKS to the credit cards mentioned in today’s post. By using them to apply, you’ll be supporting the website and channel because when approved, I’ll receive bonus points and miles as well!
*Be sure to check the public offer on the credit cards website to compare which is best for you!*
Schwab Platinum Card by Amex
Apply for an American Express Card with this link. We can both get rewarded if you're approved! http://refer.amex.us/KENNEHImXb?xl=cp105f
Platinum Card by Amex
Apply for an American Express Card with this link. We can both get rewarded if you're approved! http://refer.amex.us/NATASHkCtJ?XLINK=MYCP
Bonvoy Bold & Boundless Card by Chase
Earn 3 Free Night Awards with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card or 1 Free Night Award with the Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card. I can be rewarded too if you apply here and are approved for a card. Learn More.