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Marriott makes some underwhelming and odd Bonvoy tweaks – but you might save a few points

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Marriott Bonvoy made a couple of announcements today which sound like a big deal but actually aren’t. 

I’m not entirely sure what they are thinking.  There is a good idea hiding here somewhere, but the execution is bodged.  No-one is losing out, but not many people are going to benefit either.

There were three parts to the announcement:

July redemption bookings will be off-peak, except when they are not

Marriott Bonvoy has switched the majority of its hotels to off-peak pricing for July stays booked with Marriott Bonvoy points.

On the face of it, I like this idea.  However:

you’re unlikely to be doing many July hotel stays anyway – it would have been better if it had run into August

only 5,500 of the 7,000+ Marriott hotels are showing off-peak reward pricing in July, and many of the most attractive will be amongst the 1,500 which are still at standard rates – it should have been compulsory for ALL hotels

you have to book before 30th June, which gives you no flexibility for booking a last minute break if restrictions are lifted – I would have allowed it for last minute bookings too

hotel pricing will be at rock bottom for a few months, so even at off-peak pricing it may be a better deal to use cash

Here is Marriott Bonvoy reward price chart by category, for reference:

Marriott Bonvoy reward pricing chart

The new St Regis in Venice, pictured below, IS on the list of hotels included.  The same goes for the Hotels Arts Barcelona pictured below.

You could save an average of 30% if you booked a stay at the off-peak rate which would usually have been at peak rates.  However, many hotels are not included in this offer, hotels may be offering reduced facilities and amenities and prices will be low anyway.

St Regis Venice

You are getting additional elite night credits

The second part of the announcement relates to elite night credits.

All Marriott Bonvoy members are getting elite night credits equivalent to 50% of the status they earned in 2019.

This means that if you were Platinum Elite in 2019 but only did enough nights to earn Gold Elite for 2020, you will receive 13 elite night credits.

The full list is (this is based on the status you earned in 2019 for 2020):

  • Ambassador Elite – 50 elite night credits
  • Titanium Elite – 38 elite night credits
  • Platinum Elite – 25 elite night credits
  • Gold Elite – 13 elite night credits
  • Silver Elite – 5 elite night credits

The things is ….. Marriott has already extended your elite status by 12 months.  For most people, these these additional nights don’t get you anything!

This is only useful if you were planning to aim for a higher tier for 2021 than you have in 2020.  For example, a Platinum Elite member in 2020 is guaranteed Platinum Elite status for 2021 regardless.  However, with 25 elite night credits in the bag, the member may now decide to push for Titanium Elite instead.

It will also help some people trigger the additional benefits unlocked for hitting 50 and 75 nights in a year.  At 50 nights, for example, you can choose from either five Suite Night Awards, five elite night credits, free Silver Elite status for a friend or a $100 UNICEF donation.

To the extent that the offer may encourage some Bonvoy members to move business to Marriott, when the guaranteed extension may be encouraging them to shift stays elsewhere for the rest of 2020, it is not a bad idea.  For the majority of Marriott Bonvoy members, however, it doesn’t get them anything.

The additional elite night credits will be deposited by the end of July.

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

Remember that the Marriott Bonvoy Amex comes with 15 elite night credits

If these additional nights have got you thinking that you MIGHT want to push for a higher status level for next year, don’t forget the Marriott Bonvoy American Express credit card.

If you get the card, you will receive 15 free elite night credits each year.

Add these 15 credits to the additional credits that Marriott is about to give you and there may be an opportunity to push for higher status.

Let’s assume that you were Gold Elite last year and earned it again for 2020.  You have already been rolled over to Gold for 2021. However …. Marriott is now giving you 13 elite night credits.  If you got the Marriott Bonvoy American Express, you’d receive a further 15 nights.  This gets you to 28.  Platinum Elite only requires 50 nights and this may not be out of reach depending on your travel schedule for the Autumn.

Our full review of the Marriott Bonvoy American Express card is here and you can apply here.

Marriott Bonvoy July off-peak

Ambassador Elite members can gift Platinum Elite to a friend

This is a genuine improvement, albeit one that only benefits a few people.

If you have Ambassador Elite status, you will now be able to make a one-off gift of Platinum Elite status to a friend.

For clarity ….

Marriott Bonvoy has done a good job so far of looking after its elite members.

We’ve seen status extensions, we’ve seen the pausing of points expiration and we’ve seen the extension of any Suite Night Awards or Free Night Awards held by top tier members.

I don’t want to knock the effort that Marriott has put in.  I just think that this latest announcement is more likely to frustrate and confuse rather than lead to increased loyalty.

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points via UK credit cards

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Marriott Bonvoy points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

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 Gold, Shangri-La Golden Circle Jade and Melia Rewards Gold status.  We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here.

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Marriott Bonvoy points.  That page is regularly updated with the latest special offers and will still be accurate even if you are reading this article months after publication.

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

Comments (51)

  • Alex W says:

    Presumably there is no rollover of elite nights to next year? Think that was ‘enhanced’ a couple of years ago.

  • Ian M says:

    I already have 2 redemption bookings in July. I’ve just checked the hotels, one has lowered the points required to off peak, the other hasn’t.

    I’m Ambassador Elite, the ability to gift Platinum status to a friend is very welcome.

    The extra free night credits will be very welcome also, means I’ll be able to bag a lot more suite night awards.

  • Stu287 says:

    I wish BA would have followed suit… marriott have been smart here by giving people a decent shot at climbing up a level which will certainly make me lean toward marriott when making new bookings. The 25% ba have adopted seems really stingy compared to this

    • Tom says:

      This is a good move by Marriott. I find HfP’s take here unnecessarily negative, particularly the criticism that this policy will “frustrate and confuse rather than lead to increased loyalty”. It’s not designed to draw in new loyalty members, it’s designed to ensure the existing ones don’t abandon the programme. In addition to allowing people to continue to move up status levels, it also helps existing elites to earn Elite Choice benefits and shows that Marriott has thought about them. I think this is the first time since COVID started Marriott have brought in a policy ahead of competitors offering similar, so this is a definite step in the right direction.

      This addresses my one remaining COVID-19 grievance with Bonvoy, namely that I would struggle to earn Elite Choice benefits this year given 4-6 months of no stays. As Ambassador, it basically means that I now automatically receive my 50 night Elite Choice benefit and am just a couple of nights away from the 75 night benefit with 6 months still left to get those last couple of nights. Benchmark this against BA who are refusing to reduce the threshold for earning Gold upgrade vouchers despite a similar 4 months of my TP collection year being completely trashed and highly likely most of the rest of the year will see reduced / restricted travel. No prizes for guessing which programme I’m definitely sticking with and which I’m considering if there are better options for me.

  • HM says:

    I have had the Bonvoy Amex for nearly 8 weeks now but still no sight of the 15 nights credits – is this to be expected or should I hassle Bonvoy/Amex?

    • E says:

      The 15 nights were deposited for this year in early April I think for the Amex card. For future years I think they’ll be deposited in January. The dates for deposit apply to everyone if they hold the cards at that point so aren’t deposited when you get the card or on your anniversary.

      • Rob says:

        …. but for new applicants, they are meant to be deposited a few weeks after getting the card (for the current year).

        • HM says:

          Yep that was my thinking too Rob – should I contact Amex or Bonvoy? (I know which one I’d rather!)

          • Rob says:

            Hard to say. If you’ve spent with the card and Marriott can see points coming in, then potentially start with Bonvoy.

          • HM says:

            Yep have had points coming through already so will go for Bonvoy. Thanks 🙂

  • Matthew says:

    Anyone willing to gift platinum status to me at all? Long shot I know but I’m willing to transfer some points in return or perhaps you could refer me for a new amex? Thanks 👍