What is Marriott Bonvoy elite status worth in 2020?
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If you currently hold (or plan to earn) elite status in Marriott’s Bonvoy programme, you can expect a number of perks across the various brands that fall under the Marriott umbrella. Remember, you can also earn complimentary gold elite status in the programme just for holding the Platinum Card from American Express U.K.
Before going any further, let me start with my usual disclaimer: The calculations that follow represent just one way to estimate the value of elite status in the Marriott Bonvoy programme. You may not be a big breakfast eater and thus don’t care about that benefit, or you could travel for work and not value getting an upgrade to a larger room at check-in.
Please feel free to adjust the numbers based on your own personal travel patterns and how much value you’d enjoy from each applicable benefit.
In addition, these numbers are all based on the value of benefits you’d get after achieving the given status and continuing to qualify each year thereafter. If you’re starting from scratch, you won’t enjoy the benefits from day one.
Finally, I want to highlight the key assumptions I’m making to arrive at final values for each level of Bonvoy elite status:
- You complete 20% more nights than the minimum required for the given level.
- You spend an average of £110 per night.
- Your average stay is two nights.
I’ll also use a similar assumption for Bonvoy that I used in earlier analyses:
- Your stays are split evenly between full-service properties (like Westin and Renaissance) and limited-service properties (like Fairfield or Springhill).
As always, be sure to adjust these numbers based on your individual travel patterns.
Two final reminders for the sake of this analysis, I’m basing the value of any bonus points earned on TPG U.K.’s most recent valuations, which peg Marriott Bonvoy points at 0.7p apiece. I’m also rounding valuations up to the nearest £5 to make the numbers a bit simpler.
So given all of that information, where do the levels of the Bonvoy programme fall on the value spectrum?
Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite (£35)
The lowest tier in the Bonvoy programme is Silver Elite status, which is typically earned after 10 nights.
For this analysis, I’ll assume that you complete six stays covering 12 nights, split evenly between full-service and limited-service Marriott properties.
- 10% point bonus (£10): Silver members in the Bonvoy programme will earn 10% more points than regular members. This is an extra 1 point per dollar spent at the majority of properties (though only 0.5 extra points at Element, Residence Inn and Towneplace Suites locations).
- Late checkout (£15): As a Silver member, you’re also able to request a late checkout by calling the front desk on the day of departure and letting the agent know your planned departure time. Unfortunately it’s subject to availability and doesn’t have a published time, so I’ll peg this at a conservative £15.
- Elite reservation line (£10): You also have access to an elite member reservation line as a Silver member. However, I’ve rarely needed to call any hotel elite member lines in my years of travel, so I’ll peg this at just £10.
Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite (£650)
The second tier in the Marriott programme is Gold Elite status, which is typically earned after 25 nights, or complimentary with the Platinum Card from American Express U.K.
For this analysis I’ll assume that you complete 15 stays covering 30 nights, split evenly between full-service and limited-service Marriott properties.
- 25% point bonus (£70): As a Gold Elite member in the new programme, you’ll earn 25% more points than a regular member, which works out to 2.5 additional points per dollar equivalent spent at most hotels.
- Priority late checkout (£40): Gold members also enjoy a priority late checkout of up to 2 p.m., though it is subject to availability. Since there’s a stated time (in contrast to the aforementioned Silver perk), I’ll bump the value up slightly.
- Elite phone line (£20): Same benefit, slightly more frequent utilization.
- Complimentary enhanced internet (£30): Even though all members enjoy free internet when booking through a Marriott channel, Gold members can take advantage of faster speeds with complimentary enhanced internet access. I typically find that hotel Wi-Fi is decently fast, though if you like to stream videos or engage in other high-bandwidth activities online, the faster speed can make a difference. I’ll use the same value for this perk from previous posts: £1 per night.
- Upgrades to enhanced rooms (£450): Gold members are also eligible for space-available upgrades to enhanced rooms at check-in. This may include rooms on higher floors, rooms with special amenities or rooms on the Executive Floor, but it explicitly excludes suites (per the terms & conditions). Since this perk is similar to what Hilton Gold members receive, I’ll use the same valuation of £15 per night.
- Welcome gift (£40): If you’re a Gold Elite member, you’ll receive a welcome gift of extra Marriott points at check-in, either 250 points for limited-service properties or 500 points for full-service locations. Given the assumed split above, you’d earn an average of 375 points (worth ~£2.60) for each of your 15 stays.
Unfortunately unlike in the Hilton Honors programme, Gold Elite members of Marriott Bonvoy’s programme don’t receive free breakfasts.
Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite (£2,290)
The third tier in the Bonvoy programme is Platinum Elite, which normally requires 50 nights.
For this analysis I’ll assume that you complete 30 stays covering 60 nights, split evenly between full-service and limited-service Marriott properties.
- 50% point bonus (£280): As a Platinum Elite member, you’ll earn 50% more points on your paid stays than a regular member would at most brands, and this would result in 5 additional points per dollar spent.
- Priority late checkout (£95): Platinum members have a significantly more generous late checkout policy than lower-tier elites, as it’s guaranteed for 4 p.m., with just a few exceptions: It’s subject to availability at resort & convention hotels and Design hotels, and it’s not available at all when staying at Marriott Vacation Club, Marriott Grand Residence Club and participating Vistana properties. Nevertheless, it’s a nice perk to have where it’s guaranteed, so I’ll bump it up in value accordingly.
- Elite phone line (£40): Same benefit, more frequent utilization.
- Complimentary enhanced internet (£45): Same benefit, more frequent utilization.
- Upgrades to enhanced rooms, including suites (£1,000): Platinum Elite members enjoy space-available upgrades to enhanced rooms when checking in, and this includes suites (though not at Ritz-Carlton properties). However, it does exclude Marriott Vacation Club, Marriott Grand Residence Club, participating Vistana properties, Aloft hotels and Element hotels. The big difference between Marriott and Hilton’s policies is that Marriott’s terms & conditions use the verbiage “best available room subject to availability for the entire length of stay at the time of check-in” as opposed to the “may include” language that Hilton uses. As a result, I’ll bump the valuation slightly and peg this at £20/night for full-service stays though use a much lower £8/night for limited-service properties.
- Welcome gift (£450): Things get a bit tricky with how the programme handles welcome gifts for Platinum Elite travellers. It sounds simple enough on the surface (“Points, breakfast offering or amenity”) but quickly gets complicated when you look across the dozens of brands. Breakfast is included for everyone at certain brands, provided as a welcome gift for Platinum members at others and available through the lounge as a separate Platinum perk for still others (see next bullet). However, I’ll peg this gift at around £8 per night.
- Lounge access (£100): A handful of brands in the new Marriott programme include lounges, and as a Platinum Elite member, you’re guaranteed club lounge access at the following properties: JW Marriott, Marriott, Delta Hotels (not resorts), Autograph Collection, Renaissance, Sheraton, Le Meridien and Westin. For the legacy Marriott brands, if the lounge is closed or the property doesn’t have a lounge, you’re entitled to either breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant or 750 points. In all cases, lounge access is in addition to the welcome gift noted above at applicable hotels. At the time of writing, these brands make up roughly 25% of the combined programme’s portfolio, so I’ll assume a value of £8 per night for 15 of the 60 nights.
- Guaranteed room type (£80): Another nice perk of Platinum status is a room type guarantee, part of the broader Elite Benefits Guarantee that the Marriott Bonvoy programme offers. If you book a room and the hotel can’t honour your bed type request, you’re entitled to compensation of £20–£75 (depending on the brand of property). Ideally, your request would always be honoured, but it’s nice to have the insurance policy for when it isn’t.
- Annual choice benefit (£200): One of the new additions for legacy Marriott members at this level is an annual Choice Benefit selection. We detailed these at the end of July 2018, and if you reach 50 elite-qualifying nights in a calendar year, you can choose from five elite night credits, five Suite Night Awards (SNAs), a gift of Silver elite status to a friend or family member, a $100 gift to UNICEF or 40% off the price of a Marriott-branded bed. I’d recommend the SNAs, as you’ll be able to confirm a base-level suite up to five days before check-in. I’ll peg these at £40 apiece.
Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Elite (£3,990)
The next tier in the Bonvoy programme is Titanium Elite status. This level is typically earned after 75 nights. For this analysis I’ll assume that you complete 90 nights, split evenly between full-service and limited-service Marriott properties.
- 75% point bonus (£630): Titanium members earn a 75% bonus on paid stays when compared to a regular member with no status, which works out to 7.5 extra points per dollar spent at the majority of hotels in the combined portfolio.
- Priority late checkout (£135): Same benefit, more frequent utilization.
- Elite phone line (£40): Same benefit, though I can’t see Titanium members getting any more value out of it than Platinums.
- Complimentary enhanced internet (£70): Same benefit, more frequent utilization.
- Upgrades (£1,720): The room upgrade benefit for Titanium members is almost identical to that which is offered to regular Platinum members, with one exception: suites are included at Ritz-Carlton properties. As a result I’ll follow the same valuations (£27 per night at full-service properties and £8 per night at limited-service hotels) with an extra £150 for the additional possibility of suites at Ritz-Carlton hotels.
- Welcome gift (£700): Same benefit, more frequent utilization.
- Lounge access (£175): Same benefit, more frequent utilization.
- Guaranteed room type (£115): Same benefit, more frequent utilization.
- Annual choice benefits (£385): When you reach 50 elite-qualifying nights in the Marriott programme, you can select one of the above choice benefits, but reaching 75 elite-qualifying nights opens up another choice benefit. You can have the same choices as previously noted with one change and one addition: You can gift Gold elite status to a friend/family member instead of Silver, and you also have the added option of 1 free night award (valid at properties costing up to 40,000 points). Even though the free night is intriguing, I personally think the additional SNAs is the way to go, and I’ll stick with my valuation of £40 per night.
- 48-hour guaranteed availability (£20): Another way that Titanium membership differs from the regular Platinum level is the guaranteed availability policy, allowing you to book a room at just about any property with 48 hours of notice. However, these last-minute rooms are often quite pricey, and the programme allows exceptions for “limited dates or special events.” It also has the same exclusions for late checkout (resorts, Vacation Club, Residence Club, Design Hotels and Vistana properties) so you probably won’t feel the need to use this regularly, if at all.
Marriott Bonvoy Ambassador Elite (£5,675)
The top tier in the Marriott programme is Bonvoy Ambassador Elite. In order to qualify for this tier, you must reach 100 elite-qualifying nights and a huge $20,000 (£15,500) in qualifying spend. For this analysis, I’ll assume that you complete 120 nights, again split evenly between full-service and limited-service properties, but in order to reach the $20,000 mark, I’ll bump your nightly rate up to $175 (£135).
- 75% point bonus (£1,100): Same benefit, but with 120 nights and an average rate of £135 per night, you’ll earn an additional 157,500 points.
- Priority late checkout (£175): Same benefit, more frequent utilization.
- Elite phone line (£40): Same benefit.
- Complimentary enhanced internet (£70): Same benefit, more frequent utilization.
- Upgrades (£2,320): Same benefit, more frequent utilization.
- Welcome gift (£930): Same benefit, more frequent utilization.
- Lounge access (£230): Same benefit, more frequent utilization.
- Guaranteed room type (£155): Same benefit, more frequent utilization.
- Annual choice benefits (£390): You won’t get any additional choice benefits for surpassing 100 nights, so I’ll keep this at the same valuation.
- 48-hour guaranteed availability (£40): Same benefit, though I don’t see it being used more frequently at this level.
- Ambassador service (£150): The first unique benefit for reaching this top tier is ambassador service. The thought behind this perk is to provide the programme’s most loyal members with a single point-of-contact to handle anything, from reservations to special occasions to off-the-wall requests. Some may use their ambassador frequently, while others may be unimpressed, so I’ll peg this at a conservative value of £150.
- Your24 (£75): The second (and final) unique benefit for Ambassador Elites is the Your24 benefit, which allows you to choose your check-in and check-out time. That being said, the flexibility it provides is subject to availability, and many reports indicate that it’s hit-or-miss, so I’ll peg it at just £75.
What If I’m Starting From Scratch?
Of course, as I mentioned earlier, all of the numbers above represent values for those of you who have already earned these status levels. However, many of you may be starting from scratch without any status at all in the Bonvoy programme. If this is the case, you won’t enjoy any benefits until you have spent 10 nights and earned Silver Elite status. After that, you won’t enjoy additional benefits until you hit 25 nights to earn Gold Elite status. How can you quantify this climb up the ranks?
I have attempted to answer this by converting the above calculations into a value per night, as follows:
- Marriott Bonvoy Silver: £35/ 12 nights = £2.92 per night
- Marriott Bonvoy Gold: £650 / 30 nights = £21.66 per night
- Marriott Bonvoy Platinum: £2,290 / 60 nights = £38.16 per night
- Marriott Bonvoy Titanium: £3,990 / 90 nights = £44.33 per night
- Marriott Bonvoy Ambassador: £5,675 / 120 nights = £47.29 per night
Is It Worth It?
So given these values, is it worth pursuing elite status (or the next tier of elite status) with the Bonvoy programme? Just like with any analysis we undertake here at TPG, there isn’t an easy answer to this, as it depends entirely on your individual situation. However, here are a few over-arching questions that can help you arrive at a decision:
- How much will you travel in the future? When you’re pursuing elite status, it’s critical to think about how much you’ll be travelling in the future. If you push hard to earn Platinum, for example, the valuable perks outlined above only apply when you actually travel.
- What’s the incremental value of one tier over another? Many of you may wind up within striking distance of the next tier, so be sure to consider whether the benefits are worth pushing for it. There’s no sense in going out of your way for perks that don’t matter to you.
- How well does Marriott’s geographical coverage match your typical travel patterns? There’s really no point in pursuing elite status with a hotel chain if you can’t feasibly stay at one (or more) of its properties on a regular basis. Be sure to consider Marriott’s various hotels in and around your common destinations.
- How sensitive are you to price and convenience? There are many tradeoffs in this hobby, and one of the most common is deciding whether to use your preferred airline or hotel chain when it’s not the most convenient or cheapest. Would you stay at a hotel under the Marriott umbrella if there was another brand that was cheaper and/or more convenient to where you need to be? If the answer is no, it may not be worth going out of your way to earn elite status with the Bonvoy programme (or elite status with any hotel chain, for that matter).
These questions are also not easy to answer, as there are many different factors that come into play with each of them. Nevertheless, it’s a worthwhile exercise to evaluate your own situation as you determine whether or not new Marriott elite status is for you!
Earning and then maintaining hotel elite status can be quite valuable, and with the Marriott Bonvoy programme, you now have another massive worldwide chain at which to do so. While it isn’t easy to quantify the value of the benefits that these statuses offer, I hope that this post has given you a framework to help decide if it’s worth devoting yourself to the dozens of brands under the Marriott umbrella.
Additional reporting by Ben Smithson.
Featured photo by Shutterstock.com.