Your Guide to Marriott Bonvoy Lifetime Elite Status

Mar 29, 2019

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While many Marriott Bonvoy elites are looking to jump ship after some questionable decisions surrounding the recent merger with SPG, I’m running in the opposite direction (and I’m not the only one). Tech problems and customer service aside, Marriott has treated me well, and I continue to find an incredible amount of value in the program. I currently hold Bonvoy Titanium Elite status, and while my short-term goal is to requalify for that level this year, I’m also keeping an eye on my progress towards Marriott lifetime elite status.

If you’re in a similar boat, keep reading! Today we’ll take a look at this program that rewards long-term loyalty and discuss how you can lock in Marriott elite status for life.

Requirements For Lifetime Elite Status

Merging SPG and Marriott Rewards into the single, unified Marriott Bonvoy program required Marriott to also accommodate two different lifetime schemes. If you had lifetime elite status before the August merger, hopefully your status has been correctly mapped over to the new program. Here’s what this should’ve looked like for legacy Marriott lifetime elites (note that Platinum Premier has since been renamed Titanium Elite):

Meanwhile, lifetime elites from the legacy SPG program had their status mapped to the new program as follows:

In addition, legacy SPG Lifetime Platinums who completed 750 nights were also grandfathered into Lifetime Platinum Premier (now Lifetime Titanium Elite). However, that lifetime tier was temporary; it’s now only possible to earn Silver, Gold or Platinum elite status for life. The requirements to do so are shown below, and are based on a combination of total number of lifetime nights and number of years of elite status.

Both of these metrics look at combined numbers from the legacy programs. For example, if you had 80 Marriott nights in 2017 and 50 SPG nights, you would’ve earned a total of 130 nights towards Bonvoy lifetime elite status and would’ve earned two years of Platinum status credit (even though it was a single calendar year).

Once you earn lifetime status, you’ll enjoy all the benefits of that tier for the rest of your life. You can check out TPG Editor Nick Ewen’s analysis of Marriott Bonvoy elite status here, but here are a few of the highlights:

  • Silver Elite: 10% points bonus, late checkout
  • Gold Elite: 25% points bonus, upgrade to enhanced rooms, welcome amenity
  • Platinum Elite: 50% points bonus, room upgrade (including suites), welcome amenity, lounge access (where applicable)

However, it’s worth pointing out one of the standard benefits that is not granted to lifetime elite members. If you qualify for Platinum Elite status in a given year by earning 50 qualifying nights, you’ll enjoy the ability to select a Choice Benefit, including a free night certificate or Suite Night Awards. You can then select another for reaching 75 nights and qualifying for Titanium Elite status.

However, these Choice Benefits only apply when you reach the applicable qualification thresholds; they’re not granted to lifetime elites.

Marriott makes it easy to check your lifetime nights tally online, but if you want the full picture, including number of years with elite status, you’re better off looking on the Marriott app. If you swipe right on your year-to-date elite qualifying activity, you’ll see your progress towards the next tier of elite status.

If you click the little arrow next to “nights” you can see a more detailed breakdown, including how many years you have at each level of status:

While 600 nights and 10 years of Platinum status is an absolute journey in our fast-paced world of travel rewards, I think that these requirements are very fair and manageable. If you’re loyal enough to Marriott to qualify for lifetime elite status, odds are you have at least one Marriott Bonvoy credit card. In this case, you’ll get 15 elite night credits a year which do count towards your lifetime tally (note that Hilton and Hyatt don’t offer anything similar). If you’re gunning for Lifetime Platinum and want to do so in the exact ten-year window it requires, 150 of your 600 nights (25% of the total) could be earned just by holding a credit card like the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Credit Card. This means you’d only need to average 45 actual nights in a Marriott hotel every year over that decade to lock in lifetime status.

Another way to look at these requirements is this: “If I earn Gold status for seven years, how many more nights would I need in that period to earn Lifetime Gold status?” In this case, we see that the premium is actually steeper for lower tiers. Lifetime Platinum requires you to average 60 nights a year for ten years instead of the 50-night baseline just to qualify for Platinum status for that year. For Lifetime Gold, one would need to average ~58 nights a year over seven years vs. 25 nights to qualify for Gold in a given year. At this point, you’d be earning Platinum status every year and thus be well on your way to Lifetime Platinum.

Lifetime Silver is even worse, as you’d need to average 50 nights a year over the five years, instead of just 15 to earn the status for a single year

In practice, this isn’t too much of a drawback, as Marriott Silver or Gold status isn’t especially rewarding in the new program. You can also easily earn them through other methods (like holding the right credit card). Remember too that a year of status earned through a credit card, like Marriott Gold for carrying The Platinum Card® from American Express in your wallet, does count towards the above requirements.

Bottom Line

W Santiago's E WOW Suite. (Photo courtesy of Marriott)
Lifetime status may help you score suite upgrades at properties like the W Santiago, but you won’t get Choice Benefits without qualifying the “hard” way. (Photo courtesy of Marriott)

Lifetime status with Marriott is a marathon, not a sprint. At the rate I’m going, I hope to hit Lifetime Platinum in seven or eight years (assuming nothing major changes). At the end of the day though, the biggest perk of lifetime status with Marriott Bonvoy is not having to requalify every year. The actual benefits of the status aren’t enhanced in any way, and you’ll also miss out on Choice Benefits that Platinum and Titanium Elites get for qualifying the hard way. As a result, you should consider this a reward for your hard work as opposed to membership in a new exclusive club.

Featured photo by the author.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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