Wow: Positive 2021 Marriott Bonvoy Changes

Filed Under: Marriott
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Marriott Bonvoy has just announced a series of positive changes, including details on how status will be easier to earn in 2021, the details of the next global promotion, and much more (this is in addition to elite guarantees being restored). In no particular order, here’s what we can expect from Marriott Bonvoy in the near future:

Marriott depositing 50% elite night credits for 2021

All Marriott Bonvoy members with status will have elite nights deposited into their account equal to 50% of their 2020 elite tier. Marriott extended status from 2019 to 2020, so this would be based on that extended status, unless you qualified for a higher tier.

In other words, you can expect the following number of elite nights to be deposited into your account based on your 2020 status:

  • Silver members will get five additional elite nights
  • Gold members will get 13 additional elite nights
  • Platinum members will get 25 additional elite nights
  • Titanium members will get 38 additional elite nights
  • Ambassador members will get 50 additional elite nights

This is in addition to the up to 30 elite nights you can earn with co-branded Marriott credit cards.

As a Titanium member who has both the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card (review) and Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card (review), I’ll be starting 2021 off with 68 elite nights, without even having made a stay. That already earns me my first set of 2021 Choice Benefits.

Bonvoy elite members automatically receive 50% elite nights for 2021

Marriott Ambassador spending threshold being reduced

Historically Marriott Ambassador status requires 100 elite nights plus $20,000 in qualifying spending in a calendar year. For 2021, that spending requirement is being reduced by 30%, to $14,000.

It makes perfect sense that this would be lowered, and I’m surprised something similar wasn’t done for 2020. At the same time, the lowering of the spending requirement isn’t proportional to the lowering of how much easier it will be to earn elite nights.

The spending requirement for Ambassador status is being reduced

Next Bonvoy promo: double points & double elite nights

The details have been revealed of Marriott Bonvoy’s next global promotion:

  • It will be valid for stays between February 16 and April 27, 2021; registration will open in early February
  • Members will be able to earn double Bonvoy points plus double elite nights for stays of two nights or more, starting with the first stay
  • Only paid stays will qualify towards this, and not award stays

This is one of the best Bonvoy promotions we’ve seen in quite a while, so it’s great to finally see the program introduce another promotion. With the exception of select limited service properties, Bonvoy members earn 10x points per dollar spent, meaning this promotion will also offer 10x bonus points per dollar spent, plus the bonus elite nights.

Bonvoy members will be able to earn double points

Bonvoy Off-peak redemption rates being lowered

Marriott Bonvoy will be reducing off-peak redemption rates globally by 10%:

  • This applies for reservations made between January 11 and February 21, 2021
  • This applies for stays through September 30, 2021

As a reminder, here’s the Marriott Bonvoy award chart, before the 10% discount:

Only off-peak redemption rates will be lowered, and not standard or peak redemptions.

Off-peak Bonvoy awards will be cheaper in 2021

My take on these Marriott Bonvoy changes

While Marriott waited a surprising amount of time to announce 2021 elite requirements, I think it was worth the wait. These are some fantastic initiatives, which should make it quite easy to earn status in 2021. Not only that, but the first major Bonvoy promotion of 2021 will be pretty generous as well.

As a Bonvoy Titanium member with two co-branded credit cards I’ll already be at 68 elite nights for 2021, meaning I’ll only need seven more elite nights to requalify for Titanium status. During the upcoming promotion, that translates to a four night stay.

In theory Ambassador status is also more within reach than ever before, but the $14,000 spending requirement is still on the high side, given how few stays would actually be required to get to 100 elite nights. Too bad the upcoming promotion doesn’t offer double spending credit towards Ambassador.

Bonvoy status should be quite easy to earn in 2021

Bottom line

We now know how Marriott Bonvoy will make it easier to earn status in 2021. The program will give members elite nights equal to 50% of their 2020 status, and will also offer double elite nights in an upcoming promotion.

On top of that, the upcoming Bonvoy promotion will offer double points on stays of two nights or more, which is the most generous Marriott promotion we’ve seen in a long time.

What do you make of these developments from Marriott Bonvoy?

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Comments
  1. Lucky – I’ve always wondered why Bonvoy only counts room night prices into the Ambassador calculation. Things like renting a conference space or buying banquet food does not count ($0 counts – not even a fraction). Any insights into why?

  2. Wait – so if I was Platinum last year and have both a business and personal Marriott credit card, then now I’ll be Platinum until Feb of 2022 without even staying at a Marriott this year?

  3. Just curious, do the nights also count towards Lifetime Status?
    I would love to read the press release, but couldn’t find it.

  4. Tell me if I am wrong here (and I won’t be doing this because I can probably find a 4 night stay for less than $300s during the Double Elite Night promo period) but assuming you were Titanium in 2020, couldn’t you select the 5 Elite Nights as your Platinum benefit and be at 73 nights requiring only 1 stay to get to Titanium again in 2021 (and hold it through Feb 2023)?

  5. @ tim — You’d be Platinum until February 2023, and you could select Choice Benefits. That’s 30 elite nights plus 25 elite nights, for 55 elite nights total.

  6. @ Lars — They posted towards lifetime status last year, and I’d assume the same will be the case this year.

  7. Great for Americans, not so great for most other countries. We don’t have credit cards that hand out elite nights. That’s really a shame and one of the reasons I prefer Hilton.

  8. @ T — It’s a good question, there are always quirks and inconsistencies in terms of what qualifies towards status and what doesn’t. I think in general loyalty programs prioritize different activities in different ways. In the same way that meetings earn points at a lower rate than regular hotel spending, I’d guess the explanation here is similar.

    I guess Marriott doesn’t want to dilute Ambassador status too much, and the program knows that there are a lot of meetings planned (at least pre-COVID), and if all that spending counted towards Ambassador status, there would be a lot more members.

  9. @Tim – Yes
    @Titanium – Yes. If you have the personal and business Marriott cards for 30 EQNs and get another 38 EQNs from Titanium status, you can use your 50 Night Choice Benefit selection this year on the 5 EQNs to make it 73 EQNs.

  10. @ Betty — Point taken, but to be clear, Hilton literally hands out Diamond status with a US credit card, so I’m not sure that argument holds up?

  11. This sounds great but it is worthless because they are giving away platinum status with credit cards. The tangible difference in on-property benefits between platinum and ambassador is minimum when club lounges are closed, most hotels aren’t providing housekeeping, and many hotel restaurants closed for breakfast. And once resume to semi-normal or normal the club lounges and restaurants are going to be overcrowded with everyone who achieved platinum status through credit cards, status matches and free night giveaways.

    I also don’t understand the incentive for me to stay with Marriott once I presumably re-qualify for ambassador status by early spring.

    This is a big, big problem.

  12. The line about the elite nights deposited links to an article from last July. Is this actually the deposit from last year, or can we expect a second deposit soon?

  13. Credit card loyalty is getting out of hand. It’s become pretty clear that Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, etc… care more about the customer who puts a lot of spend on their co-branded credit card than the customers who actually stay in their hotels. So much for us road-warriors who earn status the old-fashion way.

  14. Of course I finished last year on 49 nights, with no travel since March, and Marriott unwilling to bump me to Platinum. Oh well!

  15. How do you get 30 nights from credit cards? I thought the max you can get is 15 nights. I have the Marriott Brilliant card from Amex, and the Marriott Ritz card from Chase, and always only get 15 nights per year.

  16. @Jannis: +1, wondering about this, too.

    @Jon: You have to hold a consumer card AND the AmEx business card; consumer cards don’t stack.

  17. If I apply for the Amex Marriott business card today before the 1/13 deadline to automatically get platinum via that card, will that be soon enough to take advantage of being platinum for the purposes of this promotion?

  18. @ Loren M — Nope, it’s based on your 2020 status. So if you’re talking about getting 25 bonus elite nights, that would have to be based on the status you had in the 2020 program year, rather than the 2021 program year.

  19. @ Jannis — There’s a second deposit, I was just linking to how it worked last year. Sorry for any confusion.

  20. Not happy. I had 71 nights in Nov and decided not to chase Titanium in Dec given limited additional benefit. Now I will get 13 elite nights less…

  21. @ CSP — I would assume so, since virtually all elite nights count towards lifetime status (including those earned through credit cards).

  22. @Zac
    I am right there with you. I had 73 nights in 2020 with 4 nights in NYC from 12/28-1/1 but cancelled because I didnt see the need to get Titantium. welp.. ill can probably get Titanium this year with a promo like this

  23. All of this would mean something if Marriott Bonvoy elite status was worth achieving.

    I’m a lifetime titanium member, and I’ve given up on Marriott completely. I now enjoy elite status with Hilton and Hyatt; both who which value my patronage more than Marriott ever did.

  24. This is actually a brilliant strategy because so many customers will have platinum, titanium and ambassador elite statues. These are customers who wouldn’t otherwise have that tier of status.

    As a result, nobody will get their elite status benefits and the cost to hotel owners and Marriott International will decrease.

    Don’t forget. Decreasing costs was one of the big reasons behind Bonvoy, according to public statements at the time by Marriott executives Arne Sorenson and David Flueck.

    What difference does it make if there are 100,000 platinum elite status customers or 200,000? Especially when it’s very likely that club lounges in domestic (North America) properties will remain closed for most or all of 2021. Similarly, we’re likely to see breakfast benefits — when returned chain-wide — to be watered down to grab-and-go sandwiches and the like. Don’t forget that some properties pre-coronavirus were already claiming a stale muffin or bagel with coffee was breakfast.

    I would not be surprised if some medium-sized properties by mid-2021 and certainly early 2022 will have 100-plus platinum, titanium or ambassador elite guests on a busy night.

    I know back in 2017 the front office manager at the J.W. Marriott Essex House (around 450 rooms) in New York City told me they averaged 75 platinums per week night. At the time, platinum was the highest published elite status in legacy Marriott. Pre-coronavirus, New York City hotels averaged 86% nightly occupancy. So, that’s 387 occupied rooms on average per night at the J.W. Marriott. Of that, nearly 20% of rooms were occupied by platinums.

    Right now, the only Marriott properties I’ll stay at are Fairfield, Courtyard, Four Points and AC. I don’t see the value in paying for a Marriott, Sheraton, Westin, Renaissance, J.W. Marriott or other full-service brand if I’m not going to get a real breakfast, if there’s no housekeeping, if there’s no mini-bar, if there’s no same-day laundry, if there’s no newspaper, etc.

  25. Ben, any idea if existing Amex Platinum charge card holders (who had complimentary Gold status for 2020) will receive the 13 elite night bonus to give them a start toward higher status this year?

  26. Hey Ben – quick Bonvoy CC question before the great offer expires:

    If I am above the chase 5/24 rule and am working to get under 5/24 to get the Hyatt card, will getting the Marriott bonvoy business card push me further above the 5/24, making it even longer until I can get the Hyatt CC? (Thanks as always!)

  27. This may explain why the co-branded Marriott cards offered platinum status only for the 2021 calendar year, as opposed to immediately upon approval (which otherwise would have made more sense).

  28. Hi Ben
    I have Titanium Elite Status and have a for last since 2019 – I checked and only received my AX card nites – no bonus? When do they expect to add the 50% bonus? Your article did not mention a timeline.

    Also, always wondered if you can apply Suite nights to a reservation if they are short of the days – example: having 9 suite night and your reservation is a 10 night stay – should i book two 5 night stays instead? or will they still accept the 9 – against the 10 night stay?

  29. And still no path to higher or top tier status via spend only ala the competition. I would have thought this year would have been the PERFECT time to attract high spenders . So spenders who are non road Warriors are still much better off with Hyatt , IHG etc .

  30. @ Norman — Let me check when the 50% elite nights are supposed to post, as it hasn’t happened yet. You’re not missing anything.

    You can only apply SNAs if you have enough to cover the entire length of your stay. So in your case you’d want to book two reservations.

  31. I’m still scratching my head and figuring out what Marriott is going to do to incentivize me to stay at their properties once I re-qualify for ambassador with only 35 actual butt-in-bed nights?

    I’ll be at 8 nights in real stays by the end of next week. That means I only need 27 more nights.

    For the sake of discussion, let’s assume I hit the spend. Will they give me more suite night certificates if I do a legitimate 100 nights and a legitimate $20,000 spend? Will my excess spend rollover to 2022 for 2023 status?

    It seems like this may not have been though through terribly well.

  32. I was matched from Gold to Plat early September 2020. How does that work? Will I get 25 or 12-13 nights? I’m guessing the latter?

  33. Hey thanx for the post. Slightly off topic… what’s the best way besides huca to get my mariott 7 day certificate expiration date extended to the promised Aug 1 date ? For some reason it never got extended and its original exp date wasnt in 2019

  34. Last year I was on 41 nights but was a Plats from 2019.

    So question is, come February, will Marriott deposit 13 nights (as a Gold since I technically didnt make Plats last year by staying 50 nights) OR 25 nights since my status was Plats at year end (sorry for the confusion!!!!)

  35. @Ben
    The email I received, and the web site makes a big thing of status earned in 2020. I was comped Ambassador due to the extension of status but “only” earned titanium. If I strictly by the wording, I should only get 38 nights. Otherwise why put the word ‘earned’ in everywhere?

    Nights are supposed to post by February 5 2021, so we will know soon enough.

  36. @Ben –The email from Marriott says the 50% of Elite Night Credits will be deposited into accounts in February.

  37. It seems to me that Ambassador is going to be extremely difficult to re-qualify for this year. Assuming you only need 35 more nights after the 50 elite night credits plus 15 Bonvoy CC, that comes out to an average of $400/night in spend. It effectively makes the elite night credits worthless for Ambassadors due to the spend requirement.

  38. They could offer free hot fudge sundaes at check in, bottle service in my room, and butler service for all stays…..I would still choose Hyatt….because they actually deliver.

  39. The main excitement here that this Marriott move make a pitch for having two Bonvoy credit cards even stronger. The main problem with Marriott is that while it was somewhat better than Hilton in the past, this difference is getting smaller and smaller. Marriott is basically giving away status with credit cards and the new limited time promo with double points sucks.

  40. Seems Lucky edited article regarding double elite night promotion from
    “Only stays with at least one paid night will count towards this promotion“
    to
    “Only paid stays will qualify towards this, and not award stays”

    The before statement was confusing, since I thought a stay in app can only be all point/all cash,
    After one is clear, though sucks for people who are still trying to get Platinum in 2022.

  41. Will the nights deposited in my account be based on the status I hold right now? I held several different levels of status throughout the year of 2020, but as of now (2021) I am gold… is that what I should expect to be considered for February?

  42. I’ll be Platinum again in 2020 thanks to this promo. At 55 nights it might be worth going for Titanium.

    Do award nights count towards the qualifying nights? Last year my cash/points counted, but I’m not sure if only cash/points count or if my award night certificates will count too. anyone know?

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