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Marriott news: has your status surprisingly dropped?, 50% bonus buying Bonvoy points

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If you have Marriott Bonvoy status, you should take a quick look online and see what it shows.

During Sunday, Marriott Bonvoy dropped the status of a lot of people – including myself – who thought that they had been rolled over.

More annoyingly, Marriott did NOT impose a soft landing despite giving the impression on social media and elsewhere that they would.

In my case, this means that I have dropped from Titanium Elite to Gold Elite, which doesn’t get you too far.

I had received various emails from Marriott saying that I was still Titanium Elite and the Bonvoy website was saying ‘Congratulations on remaining Titanium Elite.  You need xx more nights to retain this for 2021’.

For total clarity, I should have been downgraded – I am not saying otherwise – but the hotel chains will often keep you at your previous status as a goodwill gesture.

It is also fair to say that the Marriott Bonvoy rules do not promise a soft landing.  However, Marriott Rewards did offer this and many people thought that the old Marriott Rewards policy would continue.  An official Marriott spokesperson on Flyertalk had posted various times that he expected soft landings to occur.

In the old days (ie 2017 and prior) Marriott Rewards went one step further and let you pay to keep your old status via a programme called Elite Buy Back:

  • 7,500 Marriott Rewards points let you keep Silver Elite status for another year
  • 25,000 Marriott Rewards points let you keep Gold Elite status for another year
  • 40,000 Marriott Rewards points let you keep Platinum Elite status for another year

I accept that Marriott Rewards was a far weaker programme than Marriott Bonvoy, so you can’t make a direct comparison about the buy-back pricing.   If it still existed, I’m sure it would be a lot more expensive.

It does seem like terrible timing to drop many customers from the top tiers to virtually nothing, with no soft landing and no way to buy back their status.  It puts Marriott Bonvoy in a difficult position when travel does start to pick up.

Even without coronavirus, this would not have been a smart move.  22nd March – with a quarter of the year gone – is not the best time to tell someone that, erm, they have not actually retained their status after all and need to start from scratch.  Even if we are back to some sort of normality in September it will be too late to requalify.

Does Marriott Bonvoy have a soft landing?

Last day to get a 50% bonus buying Marriott Bonvoy points

Marriott Bonvoy is currently running another deal when you buy their hotel points – but it ends tonight.

Via this page of the website, you will get a 50% bonus on all points purchases until Wednesday 25th March (ie today).

Booking hotels is, I admit, probably not top of your ‘to do’ list at the moment.  However this is the most generous deal that Marriott has run in the last couple of years and you may want to stock up for a holiday later in the year.

The annual purchase cap of 50,000 points has been doubled to 100,000 points, although the maximum you can buy in one go remains 50,000 points.  With the bonus, this means that you could pick up 150,000 Bonvoy points across two transactions.

At the top end you are paying $625 (£485) for 75,000 points under this offer.

My rule of thumb is that a Marriott Bonvoy point is worth 0.5p so this offer is not great at 0.65p per point.

However, you might find it worthwhile if:

you are topping off your account before making a points booking, or

you are close to 60,000 Bonvoy points and want to make a transfer into airline miles (you get a bonus of 5,000 airline miles when you transfer 60,000 Bonvoy points into 20,000 airline miles), or

you are planning a stay at a property where you know you will get outsized value

The snag with Marriott Bonvoy is that the annual points buying cap is too low to allow you to exploit the deal.  The St Regis New York, for example, can easily run to $1,300 per night including taxes, which makes 85,000 Marriott Bonvoy points (on a ‘Standard Reward’ day) a great deal.  The problem is getting enough points.

However …. you CAN transfer up to 100,000 Bonvoy points per year from one member to another.  You need to ring up to do this, which is a bit annoying, but that is the only restriction.  This is one way around the limit on points purchases.

Because you can buy 60,000 points in one go, it is also a way of picking up 25,000 airline miles in programmes where you can rarely buy them cheaply.

Do NOT do this with Avios, because there are regular offers to buy Avios for 1p – 1.1p.  However, it might make sense for other airlines.

Buying 60,000 Bonvoy points under this offer will cost exactly $500 (£388).  If you turned this into 25,000 airline miles, you are paying 1.55p per mile.  With SOME airline schemes, you might find this valuable.  After all, there are not many easy ways to pick to Qatar Airways, Air Canada etc miles in the UK.

The link to buy Bonvoy points with a 50% bonus is here if you are interested.

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards (April 2023)

There are various ways of earning Marriott Bonvoy points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.

The official Marriott Bonvoy American Express card comes with 20,000 points for signing up, 2 points for every £1 you spend and 15 elite night credits per year.

You can apply here.

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

20,000 bonus points and 15 elite night credits Read our full review

You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points by converting American Express Membership Rewards points at the rate of 2:3.

Do you know that holders of The Platinum Card from American Express receive FREE Marriott Bonvoy Gold status for as long as they hold the card?  It also comes with Hilton Honors Gold, Radisson Rewards Premium and MeliaRewards Gold status.  We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here and you can apply here.

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and unbeatable travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points indirectly:

and for small business owners:

The conversion rate from American Express to Marriott Bonvoy points is 2:3.

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which can be used to earn Marriott Bonvoy points

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Comments (33)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Riku says:

    [has your status surprisingly dropped]
    For the people affected their status should have dropped – only not as much as they expected.
    If you earned enough nights to renew your status then your status IS renewed. To read these articles and headlines (not just here but other places) you would think those who did qualify to renew their status suddenly found it had dropped and this is not the case.

    • MT says:

      I agree, its not really suprising, people now have the status they are entitled to and its Marriott IT taking time to do something that should be simple. Having witnessed Marriott IT at work since the merger it really shouldn’t have surpirsed anyone that their status change was delayed.

      This article and others fail to mention how this correction to what should have been is actually fair to all those who paid the money and did the nights to earn status. The more members at a higher tier there are in the program the more it dilutes the benifits for that tier. Busier lounges, less upgrades, people earn more points so more people stay on redemption stays thus less availability etc etc.

      While poor timing this is simply another case of Marriott IT being what it always has been, crap, but at least it has made it fair on all those who actually did qualify.

      • Adam G says:

        I agree with your point however the issue I have is with the lack of a soft landing. I stayed 34 nights in the first half of last year but then suffered a family bereavement so spent the weekends for the rest of the year at the family home. It would have been fair and I fully expected to be downgraded from titanium to platinum as I had been led to believe I would.

        I emailed Marriott explaining the circumstances and received an automated response (well I hope it was or they are even more uncaring than I suspected) which offered me a status challenge….. during a lockdown lol

        Accor is the way forward for me with purchases a status match from from Hilton to fill in the gaps!

    • Rob says:

      Those who did not requalify received emails from Marriott saying ‘Congratulations on being Titanium Elite for 2020, you need xx nights to retain it for 2021’. The website said the same. Even though it seemed unlikely, Marriott had also laid expectations of a soft landing.

      Admittedly it is fairly irrelevant at the moment anyway but you would expect Marriott to roll over status into 2021 based on what you have now.

  • Vicki says:

    Just as a point of note – Marriott are offering free cancellation even on non refundable prepaid rates – BUT only if you call them and not cancel via the app. A friend and I learned this to our cost yesterday but after an exchange on twitter where they told us it WAS OK to cancel via the app they they then changed their mind. Because they gave us the wrong info, they spoke with the property directly to arrange the refund. That has since been processed quickly but don’t assume you can just cancel and get money back. You need to call.

    • Neil says:

      I have been able to cancel quite a few prepaid Marriott stays with no issues and full refunds (via the app).

      • Vicki says:

        Oh that’s interesting. Yesterday they told two of us it would be refunded, then a couple of hours later it wouldn’t be. Fast moving situation I guess! I didn’t want to call and put more pressure on the call centre. Cheers for the info!

  • jack says:

    Maybe just affecting platinum/titanium? I’m still gold 🤫🤐

  • Anna says:

    My currency calculator says $500 is currently worth £422.37 which throws the maths on buying points out a bit.
    But I’ve cancelled so many award nights now we’ve got well over 400k Bonvoy points between us and more if this all carries on into May.

    • roberto says:

      ” if this all carries on into May”……….
      You mean if this carries on until 2021?

      • Anna says:

        Ok, Roberto WHEN this carries on into May and I cancel more stays!

  • Graeme says:

    Slightly OT – I’ve been planning and waiting to book Al Maha in Dubai using Bonvoy points for next year. This year, February and March have been off-peak (between 155k and 175k points for a two night stay) and February 2021 was also 175k. Now my dates are becoming available, it’s a blanket 200k from late October to March – the peak price.

    Al Maha wasn’t part of the recent re-banding of redemptions, so I’m not sure why this is. It seems odd that it’d jump up like this – could it be an IT thing? Entire months disappear when I’m looking sometimes, so something seems to be up – I’m just hoping that the pricing is off too. Anyone have any ideas?

    Thanks all.

    • jack says:

      I think Marriott have quietly introduced some kind of dynamic pricing as I find the points required can fluctuate (and by quite a lot!) Maybe an IT thing, but I’d just keep looking… wouldn’t surprise me if the price refreshes to the better rate – when things calm down a little too might be some good deals on cash bookings anyway.

    • Harry T says:

      I think all Marriott properties are now part of dynamic pricing – you can see the redemption chart with values for off peak, on peak, normal etc. They do change the pricing from time to time – it’s not fixed.

    • Graeme says:

      Thanks chaps. That’s a real pain if so – that’s a 15% increase on what it was. Booooo!

  • Brian S says:

    I wouldn’t say I was surprised it dropped but surprised it went from Titanium to Gold and now the year is pretty much broken to requalify so probably won’t even make gold this year.

    I had 42 nights last year so was short of platinum but thought the soft landing would have occurred.

    C‘est La Vie

  • Berneslai says:

    I’ve dropped from Titanium Elite to Gold Elite. Not really surprising but I’ll be moving all my planned Marriott stays to Hilton. Titanium Elite status was pretty disappointing considering the high number of stays required to achieve it.

  • N says:

    Same here. Annoying especially since Marriott reps on FT had confirmed a soft landing to Plat. At a time the hotels should be trying to keep us sweet, I’m surprised they did this.

    Irritating, but we’ll shuffle some stays away from Marriott now.

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