Is Marriott Bonvoy Ambassador Elite Status Worth It?

Is Marriott Bonvoy Ambassador Elite Status Worth It?

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In 2019 the Marriott Bonvoy program was launched, following the merger between Marriott and Starwood. The Bonvoy program replaced the Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest programs, to form a unified loyalty program for the world’s largest hotel group.

One positive aspect of Starwood Preferred Guest that Marriott maintained is the Ambassador program, which is a top tier status that offers additional perks. However, qualifying for it is significantly more difficult than qualifying for other Marriott Bonvoy status, given that it’s the only status to have a minimum spending requirement.

Readers often ask if I think this status is worthwhile, so I wanted to share my thoughts, and then welcome others to share their experiences.

Marriott Bonvoy Platinum, Titanium, and Ambassador requirements

In the Marriott Bonvoy program, here are the requirements over the course of a calendar year to qualify for Platinum, Titanium, and Ambassador status:

  • Platinum requires 50 elite qualifying nights
  • Titanium requires 75 elite qualifying night
  • Ambassador requires 100 elite qualifying nights plus $23,000 of qualifying spending

It’s worth noting that “qualifying” spending is based on the purchases on your folios that are eligible for points accrual. This doesn’t include taxes or service charges, and typically doesn’t include spa treatments, tours booked through the hotel, etc. Rather it just includes room rate, select incidentals, and most dining and beverage purchases, though I find it really varies by hotel.

The point is, expect that you’ll be spending a lot more than $23,000 per year at Marriotts to actually meet that $23,000 spending requirement.

Best for Marriott perks Get platinum status for being a cardholder
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card
Best for business travelers Earn up to 2 free night awards every year
Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card

The real cost of Marriott Bonvoy Ambassador status

As you can see above, there’s a $23,000 spending requirement to earn Ambassador status. Spread across 100 elite qualifying nights, that’s like paying an average of $230 per night, before any taxes and fees. That’s not low, but not outrageous either.

The catch is that:

  • Marriott co-brand credit cards offer up to 40 elite nights per year toward status annually, so if you spread the $23,000 revenue requirement across 60 nights, that’s an average of ~$383 per night
  • This assumes you never redeem points, and a lot of us redeem a lot of points, making it even harder to earn Ambassador status

Personally I finally lost Ambassador status in 2019, because I redeemed a lot of points that year. It’s almost like you’re on a spending hamster wheel to maintain Ambassador status, since redeeming your hard earned points doesn’t help you much toward the status.

What are the benefits of Marriott Bonvoy Titanium status?

Beyond the traditional Platinum benefits (suite upgrades subject to availability, 4PM check-out, breakfast at some brands, etc.), what are the incremental benefits of Marriott Bonvoy Titanium status?

  • Titanium members get a 75% points bonus, while Platinum members get a 50% points bonus
  • Titanium members get space available suite upgrades at Ritz-Carltons, while Platinum members don’t
  • Titanium members get United MileagePlus Silver status through the Rewards Plus partnership
Titanium members may receive Ritz-Carlton suite upgrades

What are the benefits of Marriott Bonvoy Ambassador status?

Above and beyond the Platinum and Titanium benefits, what are the incremental perks of Ambassador status?

  • Access to personalized Ambassador service, whereby you’re assigned a single point of contact who can help you with any Marriott related needs; you also get access to a special shared Ambassador phone number and email address
  • Your24, which gives you a flexible 24 hour stay at a hotel, where you can check-in at any time, and get the room for 24 hours, though this is offered at the hotel’s discretion (for example, this can come in handy in the Middle East, where flights often arrive and depart in the middle of the night, so it’s awesome to be able to check-in at midnight, and check-out at midnight the following day)
Your24 is theoretically a valuable perk

My experience with Marriott Ambassador status

The above are the published differences between Marriott Bonvoy’s top elite tiers, but what should you actually expect from the status? Below are my thoughts on the program, in no particular order.

Ambassador status offers more personalized service

Like most things in life, your experience will vary greatly based on who you’re dealing with. When I had Ambassador status, I had the same Ambassador, Mike, for years. His service was always spectacular — simply put, he exemplified what the program should be, and in my opinion he should be running the Ambassador program.

He just “gets it.” He always responded to my emails shockingly quickly, when I had a nuanced question he always got me an answer, and when I did have issues, he got them resolved quickly. He’s a superstar, and he really added value to my experiences with Marriott.

However, I’d note that not everyone has the same experience with their Ambassador. I’ve seen plenty of reports from people who weren’t impressed by their dedicated Ambassador, and found that they did the absolute minimum required.

Ambassador status comes with personalized service

Ambassador members may get better upgrades

This isn’t a published benefit one way or another, though many hotels prioritize upgrades for Ambassador members over Titanium or Platinum members.

While all Platinum members and above are eligible for suite upgrades, it seems pretty logical that if hotels are going to pre-block suites for guests, they’d do so by status or other considerations (booking through Marriott STARS, repeat guest, etc.).

Certainly not all hotels do that, but on balance I’d expect to get more good upgrades as an Ambassador member than a Platinum member, for example. I’d expect this to reflect the trends we see in regions when it comes to guest recognition. In other words, in Asia I’d expect Ambassador upgrades to be prioritized more, while in the United States many hotels can’t be bothered.

Ambassador status likely won’t help you much at hotels that don’t particularly value elite members.

I do well with suite upgrades, especially outside the US

Your24 isn’t quite as good as it sounds

Your24 sounds like a cool concept, though I’d note there’s a huge catch. It’s entirely at the hotel’s discretion whether or not to confirm it, and hotels only do so two days before arrival.

So it’s not just subject to availability, but even if a hotel has room, they don’t have to grant Your24. For example, this has worked great in a hotel in Abu Dhabi that maybe had 10% occupancy, but I’d almost expect this to never work at a hotel in Europe, if you’re trying to check-in early after a transatlantic flight (at least under normal circumstances).

I used Your24 at the EDITION Abu Dhabi

So I’d say this sounds better than it actually is.

What a good Ambassador may do

Okay, let’s be more concrete. Like I said, the Ambassador that I had for years was awesome, so what did he do for me?

For one, he surprised me out of nowhere and sent me cute notes that made me smile every so often.

Mike sometimes leaves notes that make me smile

He also often arranged a special welcome amenity. It didn’t happen every stay, but Ambassadors will typically be asked what they like in terms of food & drinks, and then maybe every few stays you may find a customized welcome amenity waiting for you.

I receive welcome amenities quite often

Beyond that:

  • If a stay didn’t post correctly, Mike always helped get it fixed right away
  • He also often proactively checked with me before stays to see if there’s anything he could do for me
  • While it’s rare that I asked for anything special, if I did, he’d typically be able to make it happen (within reason, of course)

Basically, my Ambassador made me feel like I was dealing with a really awesome human, rather than a large, faceless company. There’s big value to that.

Is Marriott Ambassador status worth it?

Obviously there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. It depends on:

  • How many special requests you have
  • How good the Ambassador representatives you deal with are
  • How much you’d stay with Marriott otherwise, and/or how much travel you have to switch around to make it happen

If you’re a frequent Marriott guest and if you end up with a good Ambassador, then there’s potentially significant value to the service. However, there’s also the risk you don’t get a great Ambassador, and I also wouldn’t greatly increase my business with Marriott just to earn Ambassador status.

I wish I had an Ambassador for my Aegon Mykonos stay

I’m also lifetime Platinum member with Marriott, and the truth is that most of my stays are in cities where I’d probably do well with upgrades even as a Platinum. For example, I’m generally finding myself staying at Marriott properties in regions with fewer elite members and/or at hotels that care about elite members, rather than in places like New York and London.

Bottom line

Ambassador is Marriott Bonvoy’s top tier status, which requires 100 elite nights and $23,000 per year in eligible spending. The status offers more personalized service, flexible check-in and check-out, and sometimes better upgrades.

I enjoyed my time as an Ambassador member, but I just don’t find it worthwhile to stay extra nights at Marriott to earn it, unless you’d otherwise be really close. I find that I’m treated better as a World of Hyatt Globalist member, so that’s where most of my nights go (and fortunately I now have lifetime Globalist status).

If you’re a Marriott Ambassador member, what has your experience been like?

Conversations (11)
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  1. Bill mack Guest

    Was going to use my Marriott club level upgrade but was told in no uncertain terms that it was only good at Ritz-Carlton.

  2. David Breed Guest

    Great review. 11 years as AE. Does Mike's last name start with a "D"? Pre-COVID I had Mike D and he was exceptional!

  3. Fabio Guest

    I have been at the Ambassador level for 7/8 years and I am a Lifetime Platinum member.

    I agree that in Europe this is more valuable than in the US.

    I am quite satisfied with the help of my "Ambassador". On the other hand I seldom have special request. In 2023, she wrote me on the occasion of my birthday (which I was spending in a Bonvoy hotel) to enquire weather I needed...

    I have been at the Ambassador level for 7/8 years and I am a Lifetime Platinum member.

    I agree that in Europe this is more valuable than in the US.

    I am quite satisfied with the help of my "Ambassador". On the other hand I seldom have special request. In 2023, she wrote me on the occasion of my birthday (which I was spending in a Bonvoy hotel) to enquire weather I needed something special to celebrate the occasion.

    I had an issue in Reykjavik in 2019 and my Ambassador (at the time I had a different one) solved the problem overnight.

    I frequently get upgrades. This is probably the most important perk of being an "Ambassador".

  4. iamhere Guest

    As you have correctly said in other posts, the benefits really matter at platinum for Marriott. Anything above that is not enough difference to be worthwhile. I can understand the extra choice benefit at Titanium, but the value of that is not worth the difference.

  5. AD Diamond

    Reserving judgment until I get a bit more time but my Ambassador doesn't seem to understand the program rules at all and hasn't asked me about my food and drink preferences. So, my expectations are not high.

  6. Chuck Guest

    i am lifetime titanium and a many-year ambassador.

    The program is basically useless. I stay where i want to and don't chase the status any more. For me, many of my go-to hotels are Bonvoy so it's not that hard for me to qualify

    The your 24 benefit is a joke since it is up to the individual hotel to accept the request and the staff at many of the hotels don't even know what...

    i am lifetime titanium and a many-year ambassador.

    The program is basically useless. I stay where i want to and don't chase the status any more. For me, many of my go-to hotels are Bonvoy so it's not that hard for me to qualify

    The your 24 benefit is a joke since it is up to the individual hotel to accept the request and the staff at many of the hotels don't even know what the program is.

    other than the obligatory "thank you for....." it's totally useless for most US properties

    The "personal ambassador" is OK - mine will be put to the test in the next few weeks when i have a complicated trip with many requests -stay tuned

    if Marriott really wants customers to "chase" status, they have to add meaningful benefits to the program. Things like offsets for resort and other fees, preferred seating when the restaurant, breakfast rooms, and clubs are backed up...

    1. C Y Guest

      The Your24 was for SPG Platinum 100 and at that time I got 100% success rate in using it whenever I need to

      Good o days…

  7. Lee Guest

    I had been a multi-year Ambassador & multi-year Titanium. Based on my own experience & comments from readers over the years, inside the US, don't expect ANY benefit other than points. Outside the US, there's a good chance you will. My advice to readers: look at tier status as a points game, nothing more. Does the value of a tier status' higher point multiple exceed the cost to attain that tier status? That applies to any loyalty program.

  8. Scott Guest

    It’s also important to point out that one only receives credit for the dollars for which you pay personally. I easily reach the 100 night threshold, but I often stay for business on behalf of a corporate client. If they prearrange payment for the room, which they often prefer as opposed to my getting reimbursed, I receive credit for the night but no credit for the price of the room. This differs from other loyalty...

    It’s also important to point out that one only receives credit for the dollars for which you pay personally. I easily reach the 100 night threshold, but I often stay for business on behalf of a corporate client. If they prearrange payment for the room, which they often prefer as opposed to my getting reimbursed, I receive credit for the night but no credit for the price of the room. This differs from other loyalty programs. For example, one receives loyalty points from American Airlines based on the price of the ticket regardless of who paid for it.

  9. Leo Guest

    Ambassador level is only beneficial to me when I’m in Europe. 100% suite upgrades for 4 years as an Ambassador when staying at full service properties in Greece, Italy and UK. Not in the US.

    I have a very good Ambassador and have had the same person for 4 years. Proactive and great to work with.

    I don’t think the extra effort to spend $23k is worth it over Titanium. If Marriott offered another opportunity...

    Ambassador level is only beneficial to me when I’m in Europe. 100% suite upgrades for 4 years as an Ambassador when staying at full service properties in Greece, Italy and UK. Not in the US.

    I have a very good Ambassador and have had the same person for 4 years. Proactive and great to work with.

    I don’t think the extra effort to spend $23k is worth it over Titanium. If Marriott offered another opportunity for additional Choice Benefits upon reaching Ambassador and getting 100% bonus points then I could see real value.

  10. ErikOJ Guest

    Just another example of Marriott's core philosophy that offering the world's largest global footprint allows it to get away with offering the world's shittiest loyalty program

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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Bill mack Guest

Was going to use my Marriott club level upgrade but was told in no uncertain terms that it was only good at Ritz-Carlton.

0
David Breed Guest

Great review. 11 years as AE. Does Mike's last name start with a "D"? Pre-COVID I had Mike D and he was exceptional!

0
C Y Guest

The Your24 was for SPG Platinum 100 and at that time I got 100% success rate in using it whenever I need to Good o days…

0
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