Now live: Marriott Bonvoy makes it easier to earn elite status and redeem points in 2021

Feb 4, 2021

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated to reflect that bonus elite-night credits are beginning to post and that registration for Marriott’s upcoming promotion is now live.

Marriott Bonvoy already announced that any status you had in 2020 would be extended through February 2022. It also gave elites a boost to reach a higher level of status faster in 2020. However, as we entered the new year, it hadn’t announced changes to earning status in 2021.

But that changed on 11 January when Marriott Bonvoy shared that it’s making it easier to earn all elite status levels this year, including top-tier Ambassador Elite status. It also announced a new opportunity to earn extra points and reducing the rates of some redemptions made this year.

As a part of this announcement, Marriott shared that it’s depositing bonus elite-night credits for current elites and launching a global promotion. These bonus nights are beginning to post and registration for the promotion is now open.

There’s a lot to uncover, so let’s jump right in.

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Earning Marriott Bonvoy elite status in 2021

First things first: Marriott isn’t making broad adjustments to its qualification requirements. The only change is that it’s reducing the $20,000 spend threshold for attaining Ambassador Elite status by 30% for 2021 — meaning you’d need to spend just $14,000 this year.

That said, Marriott is still making it easier to earn elite status in 2021 in several ways.

Like last year, current elites will receive 50% of the elite nights needed to qualify for the elite status that they held in 2020. For example, if you were a Platinum elite in 2020 — which requires 50 nights a year — you’d get 25 elite nights as a bonus.

Here’s the breakdown:

ELITE STATUS TIER IN 2020 ANNUAL TIER REQUIREMENTS 50% ELITE NIGHT CREDITS (ENC) DEPOSIT
Ambassador Elite 100 Qualifying Nights AND $20,000 in spending ($14,000 for 2021) 50 nights
Titanium Elite 75 Qualifying Nights 38 nights
Platinum Elite 50 Qualifying Nights 25 nights
Gold Elite 25 Qualifying Nights 13 nights
Silver Elite 10 Qualifying Nights 5 nights
Member Not Applicable Not Applicable

These elite-night credits began to post on 1 February. However, not all TPG staffers received their elite-night credits yet. They are likely being done in batches, so don’t fret if yours aren’t displaying quite yet. When Marriott deposited bonus elite-night credits last year, it took several days for all elites to get their credits. Also, similar to last year, Marriott will likely send out emails to eligible members once the credits have been deposited. 

But that’s not all.

Later this month, Marriott Bonvoy will launch a new global promotion that will allow all members, including those who don’t currently have elite status, to fast-track extra elite-night credits. Members who register for the promotion will earn double the number of points and elite night credits for all stays of two nights or more. The promotion will run from 16 February through 27 April 2021, but registration is now open.

You may also be able to earn status even faster if you’re a cardmember of the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card. That’s because one of the perks of the card is 15 elite night credits.

The real sweet spot in the Bonvoy programme is Platinum Elite status, with benefits like a guaranteed 4 p.m. checkout and free breakfast at many brands. This status normally requires 50 nights, but you can get it for as little as 18 nights this year by taking advantage of Marriott’s global promotion and having a cobranded card — or just 10 nights if you have both a personal and business version.

That requirement might be even lower if you held elite status last year.

Besides fast-tracking elite status, the bonus elite night credits for these promotions will help you earn your annual choice benefits faster. These are normally earned after reaching 50 and 75 elite nights in a calendar year and include options like status gifting and Suite Night Awards.

The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas
A room at The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas. (Photo by Jane Frye/The Points Guy)

Finally, these nights will also count toward Marriott Bonvoy lifetime elite status. And if they push you to Gold or above, that’ll also count as another year of elite status in satisfying the lifetime qualification requirements.

Reduced redemption rates

In addition to the promotion for double points and elite-night credits, Marriott Bonvoy is reducing off-peak redemption rates globally by 10%. The discount is available for reservations through 30 September 2021, booked by 21 February.

Here’s how the reduced off-peak redemption rates break down:

  • Category 1: 4,500 points (normally 5,000)
  • Category 2: 9,000 points (normally 10,000)
  • Category 3: 13,500 points (normally 15,000)
  • Category 4: 18,000 points (normally 20,000)
  • Category 5: 27,000 points (normally 30,000)
  • Category 6: 36,0000 points (normally 40,000)
  • Category 7: 45,000 points (normally 50,000)
  • Category 8: 63,000 points (normally 70,000)
Book an off-peak night at The Ritz-Carlton South Beach for 63,000 points. (Photo by Nick Ellis/The Points Guy)

Bottom line

Unlike chains like Hilton, Hyatt and Wyndham, Marriott Bonvoy didn’t reduce elite status qualifications outright. However, it is still making it easier to earn elite status this year. While those who currently hold Marriott status will benefit from this announcement the most, general members will still be able to earn status quicker this year.

In addition to this news, Marriott Bonvoy has previously paused the expiration of points until 1 August 2021, extended free-night certificates originally set to expire in 2020 through 1 August 2021 and extended the expiration of Suite Night Awards through 31 December 2021. Marriott says that it plans to reveal more programme updates to add value for members throughout the year.

Featured image of the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa courtesy of the resort.

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