One of the benefits of hotel credit cards is that they can help you earn elite status. Some hotel credit cards outright offer elite status, while others offer a certain number of elite nights toward a status tier.
In this post I wanted to share a guide to earning elite nights in the Marriott Bonvoy program using co-branded Marriott credit cards. Hopefully this is useful with it being a new year, as people start to consider their elite status strategy for 2023. Marriott credit card elite nights have already posted for the year, so if you’re like me, you’re already starting the year with 40 elite nights.
In this post:
Earn up to 40 Marriott Bonvoy elite nights with credit cards
Let’s talk about everything you need to know to earn Marriott Bonvoy elite nights using Marriott’s credit cards. Long story short, if you have the right credit cards, not only could you have Platinum status, but you’d be well on your way to Titanium status each year without spending a dime on the cards.
What are Marriott elite nights?
For those who haven’t historically pursued hotel status, it’s perhaps worth clarifying what I’m talking about when I say “elite night.” An elite night doesn’t get you a free night in a hotel, or get you a free night in a hotel with elite benefits.
Rather hotel loyalty programs have certain minimum requirements to earn status with them (this could be 50, 75, or 100 nights per year, depending on the benefits). Status gets you benefits like room upgrades, late check-out, free breakfast, etc.
When I use the term “elite night,” I mean you’re getting credit that qualifies toward earning status in the program. If a credit card gets you 15 elite nights, that doesn’t get you any free nights in hotels, but rather it gets you closer to earning status with a program, since it’s the equivalent of having spent 15 nights in a hotel when it comes to the progress toward elite status.
Which Marriott credit cards offer 15 elite nights?
Marriott has credit cards issued by both American Express and Chase, and several of them offer 15 elite nights toward status annually just for having the card. The following Marriott credit cards each earn 15 elite nights per year (five are open to new applicants, while four are older cards that are no longer open to new applicants):
- Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express® Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card (review)
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card (review)
- Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful™ Credit Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card (review)
- Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card (no longer open to new applicants)
- Marriott Bonvoy Business Credit Card (no longer open to new applicants)
- Marriott Rewards Premier Card (no longer open to new applicants)
- The Ritz-Carlton Credit Card (no longer open to new applicants)
Which Marriott credit cards offer 25 elite nights?
In addition to the nine cards that offer 15 nights, there is a single card that offers 25 elite nights (in addition to Platinum status in the Bonvoy program):
Earn up to 40 Bonvoy elite nights per year with credit cards
As you can see, there are potentially up to nine Marriott Bonvoy credit cards each offering 15 elite nights, and one offering 25 nights. Does that mean if you get three credit cards, you can start the year with 45-55 elite nights? No, unfortunately not.
You can earn a maximum of 40 Bonvoy elite nights per year through co-branded credit cards:
- You can earn at most 15 (or 25 with the Bonvoy Brilliant) elite nights per year through personal Marriott Bonvoy credit cards
- You can earn at most 15 elite nights per year through business Marriott Bonvoy credit cards
- There’s only one business credit card that’s open to new applicants, so if you want to earn up to 40 elite nights per year with credit cards, you’ll need to have the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card plus the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card (here’s a guide to Marriott credit card eligibility)
When do Marriott credit card elite nights post?
The ability to earn Marriott Bonvoy elite nights with credit cards is an ongoing perk:
- In other words, you don’t just get the elite nights your first year, but you also get them in subsequent years
- You also get these elite nights even if you open your credit card in the middle of the year, so there’s no requirement that the account has to be open at the beginning of the year
When should you expect Marriott Bonvoy elite nights to post?
- If your Marriott Bonvoy credit card is open at the beginning of the year, your elite night credits will post by March 1; however, in practice, they typically post much faster, often within the first week of January
- If you open your Marriott Bonvoy credit card during the year, your elite night credits will post within 60 days of account opening; if you open the card toward the end of the year, don’t worry, the nights will be backdated, even if they post in the subsequent year
In 2023, it looks like elite nights have already posted by January 2. For example, my account is already showing 40 elite nights for the year, which is pretty awesome.
Do elite nights earned through Marriott credit cards count toward lifetime status?
Marriott Bonvoy offers the following three tiers for lifetime status:
- Lifetime Silver status requires 250 elite nights plus five years of status
- Lifetime Gold status requires 400 elite nights plus seven years of Gold status or higher
- Lifetime Platinum status requires 600 elite nights plus 10 years of Platinum status or higher
Do elite nights earned through Marriott credit cards count toward the lifetime status night requirement? The answer is yes, they absolutely do.
What about Marriott credit cards offering status for spending?
The easiest way to earn Bonvoy Platinum status with a credit card would be simply to have the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card. This card offers Platinum status for as long as you’re a cardmember, with no spending requirement, which is an excellent deal.
However, there is one important distinction to understand about having status through being a cardmember rather than through earning elite status. When you earn status just by virtue of having a credit card, you’re not actually getting the corresponding elite nights.
To explain this in the form of an example:
- Say you have the Bonvoy Brilliant Card, and as a benefit you receive Platinum status
- You’ll have Platinum status, but won’t get the corresponding 50 elite nights; you will, however, receive 25 elite nights, since that’s an additional perk of having the card
- If you want to then go for Bonvoy Titanium status (which requires 75 elite nights), you’re not any closer to earning it, since you’re not getting the 50 elite nights usually associated with Platinum status
- You also wouldn’t qualify for Bonvoy Choice Benefits, since those are based on the elite nights you earn, rather than your status
Marriott credit cards make Platinum status attainable
Marriott Bonvoy has five elite tiers (Silver, Gold, Platinum, Titanium, and Ambassador), and I’d say status starts becoming valuable around the Platinum tier. Bonvoy Platinum members receive perks like the following:
- Unlimited suite upgrades, subject to availability
- Guaranteed 4PM check-out, except at resorts, where it’s subject to availability
- Complimentary lounge access and/or breakfast at most Marriott brands
- 50% bonus Bonvoy points on stays
- Bonvoy Choice Benefits, where you can select perks like Suite Night Awards
Now, in fairness, there are a lot of Platinum members and I do find Marriott to be quite inconsistent, so temper your expectations when it comes to the unlimited suite upgrades. 😉
Bonvoy Platinum status ordinarily requires 50 elite nights per year, so if you can get that just by having a credit card, or if you can earn 40 elite nights per year through credit cards, you’re in a pretty great spot.
Keep in mind that even award stays and redemptions of free night certificates count toward status with Marriott, potentially making it even easier to earn.
How do other hotel credit card elite status opportunities compare?
In case you’re curious about how Marriott’s policy of earning status with credit cards compares to the policies of competitors, I figured I’d talk briefly about what other hotel groups offer.
Arguably the best opportunity to earn status with a hotel credit card is available with Hilton. The Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express (review) offers Hilton Honors’ top-tier Diamond status for as long as you have the card, with no spending requirement. Best of all, the card has so many perks that make the annual fee easy to justify. This is an incredible value proposition, though admittedly Hilton doesn’t promise suite upgrades, late check-out, etc.
The information and associated card details on this page for the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected independently by OMAAT and has not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
IHG One Rewards also offers solid opportunities to earn status, as the IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card (review) and IHG One Rewards Premier Business Credit Card (review) offer IHG One Rewards Platinum status for as long as you have the card. Furthermore, spending $40,000 on either card in a calendar year would earn you IHG One Rewards Diamond status. However, many IHG elite tiers are tied to the Milestone Rewards program, which is based on earning a certain number of elite nights.
When it comes to Hyatt, World of Hyatt Globalist status is my favorite top-tier hotel status, and understandably it’s also not that easy to earn. However, the World of Hyatt Credit Card (review) and the World of Hyatt Business Credit Card (review) can help you earn elite status:
- On the personal version of the card you receive five elite nights annually just for having the card, and two more elite nights for every $5,000 spent
- On the business version of the card you receive five elite nights for every $10,000 spent in a calendar year
Marriott Bonvoy members can earn up to 40 elite nights per year using co-branded credit cards. This is potentially a great opportunity, as it gets you 80% of the way to Platinum status, or more than 50% of the way to Titanium status. Furthermore, there’s even a Marriott credit card that will outright earn you Platinum status, just for being a cardmember.
Personally I have both the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card and Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card, and that proves to be a huge help with maintaining status and all the benefits of those tiers with the program.
Do you leverage Marriott credit cards to earn Bonvoy elite status?