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Review: Is Marriott Bonvoy the best hotel loyalty scheme? (Part 1)

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This is part of our overview series of the main hotel loyalty schemes. Each scheme will be covered over two articles on different days. One will list the basic facts of the scheme – basically “How does Marriott Bonvoy work?” – and the other will be my subjective view of what is of particular merit.

The full series of articles can be found here:

Marriott Bonvoy is the loyalty scheme launched by Marriott in February 2019 following its acquisition of Starwood Hotels and Resorts. It covers over 8,000 hotels globally across 32 different brands.

These are (in alphabetical order): AC Hotels, Aloft, Autograph, Bulgari, City Express, Courtyard, Delta Hotels, Design Hotels, Edition, Element, Fairfield Inn, Four Points, Four Points Express, Gaylord, JW Marriott, Le Meridien, Marriott, Moxy, Protea, Renaissance, Residence Inn, St Regis, Sheraton, Springhill Suites, The Luxury Collection, The Ritz Carlton, Towneplace Suites, Tribute, W Hotels and Westin.

The Marriott Bonvoy home page is here.

Marriott Bonvoy overview

What is the geographic spread?

Marriott has a decent spread of UK and European properties, and the low-cost end of the market has seen the rapid growth of Moxy and the relaunch of Courtyard.  Wherever you are in the world, you probably won’t be far from a Marriott-operated hotel. That said, outside London it doesn’t have the UK coverage of Hilton or IHG.

Since the acquisition of Starwood, Marriott now has a vastly improved high-end portfolio via The St Regis and The Luxury Collection.  The Ritz Carlton has also raised its game in recent years after a period of stagnation.

The Autograph brand is ‘adopting’ interesting boutique properties such as The University Arms in Cambridge and gives Marriott a much-needed shot in the arm in term of luxury properties.  Buying Elegant Resorts to get its hands on seven Barbados hotels shows a commitment to invest in luxury expansion.

Do I use them?

I was historically a Starwood person rather than a Marriott person, although I did have the occasional stay at The Ritz Carlton. This has changed substantially since the Starwood / Marriott merger, and I have had Platinum Elite or Titanium Elite status for the last few years. I am Lifetime Gold Elite (for what it’s worth) and should hit Lifetime Platinum Elite within five years.

We have reviewed a lot of Marriott Bonvoy hotels on HfP in recent years if you search through our full hotel reviews index here.

In 2023 we reviewed The Shanghai EDITION, The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai Pudong, Hotel Imperial Vienna, The Ritz-Carlton Vienna, Westin Yilan in Taiwan, W Taipei, Hotel Alfonso XIII Seville, Renaissance London St Pancras, Mandapa (Ritz-Carlton Reserve) in Bali, The St Regis Jakarta, Fairfield Jakarta Airport, JW Marriott Venice, Domes of Corfu, Domes Aulus Zante, W Maldives, Newport (Rhode Island) Marriott, W Rome, JW Marriott Maldives, Berlin Marriott, W Mexico City, Papaya Playa Project Tulum, Westin Maldives Miriandhoo, Le Mersenne Zanzibar and JW Marriott Grosvenor House in London.

Note that these were all comped review stays except for Venice, Newport, Berlin and Seville.

Is Marriott Bonvoy the best hotel scheme?

Personal favourites from my travel in recent years include:

  • We had the 2019, 2022 and 2023 Head for Points Summer Party at the lovely Renaissance St Pancras, and are likely to return this year
Is Marriott Bonvoy the best hotel loyalty programme?

Elite membership levels in Marriott Bonvoy

If you have an American Express Platinum credit card you receive Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status for free, along with status at Hilton, Melia and Radisson.

If you have the Marriott Bonvoy American Express credit card, you receive 15 elite night credits each year. This is enough to get you Silver Elite status directly but, more importantly, puts you closer to the status which really counts – Platinum Elite.

If you don’t have either of these cards, this is what you need:

  • Silver Elite – requires 10 nights. Benefit is a 10% bonus on base points and priority late checkout (based on availability).
  • Gold Elite – requires 25 nights. Benefits are 25% bonus on base points, room upgrade, high-speed internet, 2pm late check-out (based on availability, not at resorts and conference hotels) and a welcome gift.
  • Platinum Elite – requires 50 nights. Benefits are 50% bonus on base points, room upgrade to best available room or suite, high-speed internet, lounge access (or breakfast if the lounge is closed), guaranteed late check-out until 4pm (not at resorts) as well as an annual ‘choice benefit’ from five options including 5 elite night credits or 5 suite night awards, and a welcome gift.
  • Titanium Elite – requires 75 nights. Benefits are 75% bonus on base points, an annual ‘choice benefit’ from six options as well as all the benefits enjoyed by Platinum.
  • Ambassador Elite – requires 100 nights and $23,000 spend. Benefits include all those of Titanium Elite (there is no increase in points bonus) as well as a 24/7 personal assistant service, the ability to choose the exact 24 hours of your stay.

The full table of elite benefits is here.

Protea and Four Points Express only offer 1 elite night credit for every TWO nights you stay. This is a recent policy change. Whilst Marriott Executive Apartments only give one elite night per THREE nights stayed, the clue is in the name – this brand offers apartments for long term stays.

Free internet is given to all guests as long as they book direct. Members with Gold Elite or above receive high-speed internet for free.

In North America, it is common for executive lounges to be closed at weekends.

Marriott Bonvoy has a joint venture with United Airlines whereby Marriott Titanium Elite and Ambassador members receive Silver status in the United programme. United members who are Gold or higher receive Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status.  There is a similar Marriott Bonvoy joint venture with Emirates and a new one with Singapore Airlines.

Reward nights DO count for status.

Marriott Bonvoy offers lifetime status at Silver Elite, Gold Elite and Platinum Elite level. You need to achieve targets for both nights stayed and points earned. Details can be found here.

Is Marriott Bonvoy the best hotel loyalty programme?

How do you earn Marriott Bonvoy points?

Marriott Bonvoy gives you 10 points per $1 spent, plus any elite status bonus. The only exceptions are Residence Inn, Towneplace Suites, Protea, Four Points Express and element which offer 5 points per $1 and Marriott Executive Apartments and ExecuStay where you earn 2.5 per $1. The full breakdown per chain is here.

At most brands, you will receive points on all of your in-hotel spending.

Marriott runs regular promotions although they are often less aggressive than those from IHG One Rewards or Hilton Honors. These tend to run back-to-back so there will usually be some offer worth signing up for.  Details of the current promotion can be found on our ‘Hotel Offers‘ page.

What are Marriott Bonvoy points worth?

We have an article dedicated to working out what Marriott Bonvoy points are worth which you can find here.

Our mid-point valuation is 0.5p per point although you can easily beat this.

How do you spend Marriott Bonvoy points?

I used to link to a redemption chart at this point, but Marriott Bonvoy got rid of them.

Redemption rates are now linked to cash rates, although it is certainly not a linear relationship. Each property seems to retain an unpublished points cap which gives you some protection on peak dates in key cities.

All members receive ‘five nights for the price of four’ when redeeming.  The ‘free’ night is the cheapest – in points terms – of the five nights in your itinerary.

A 5-star 60,000 point redemption would typically require a Silver member to spend $5,500.  In reality this figure will be lower due to points earned from promotions, although these have less of an impact with Marriott Bonvoy than at other chains.

Marriott offers ‘instant redemption’ for in-hotel benefits. At selected hotels, these lets you redeem points for a cash credit against incidental charges on your room bill. 2,500 points is worth $10 through to 125,000 points being worth $500.

Marriott has an excellent ‘experiences’ programme called Marriott Moments which allows you to use points for cultural and sporting events. The company has a permanent suite at the O2 Arena in London and a suite at Manchester United’s Old Trafford ground in Manchester, allowing for a steady stream of good redemption options. The current London events are listed here.

You can use Marriott Bonvoy points to book cash flights with any airline as this article shows. It isn’t as bad a deal as you may expect and, as Marriott is buying you a cash ticket, it would earn miles and tier points back.

Is Marriott Bonvoy the best hotel loyalty programme?

Do Marriott Bonvoy points expire?

According to the programme rules, if you do not earn or spend points during a 24 month period then your points will be removed (see clause 1.6).

I wrote a full article here on different ways to stop your Marriott Bonvoy points from expiring.

Can you upgrade using points?

Not from a cash booking, no.

Some properties allow you to book upgraded rooms, including suites, for an additional co-pay on top of the standard redemption cost. 

We have used this feature at JW Marriott Venice to get a junior suite, sleeping four, for the same number of points as a standard room. My Berlin Marriott reward night for the ITB travel fair last year was upgraded for €60 per night. For families this is a very useful option where offered.

Marriott Bonvoy also allows you, at selected hotels, to book larger or upgraded rooms entirely with points.

Are ‘cash and points’ redemptions available?

Yes. Some hotels allow to book reward nights using a mix of cash and points. This is usually 50% of the standard number of points plus roughly 50% of the cash rate.

Can you transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to airline miles?

Marriott Bonvoy points can be transferred to a large number of airlines including British Airways / Avios.  For most airlines, it is a direct 3:1 transfer ratio.

For every 60,000 points you transfer you get a 5,000 miles bonus so it is worth transferring in chunks of 60,000 points if you can.

The full list of airline partners is here. A handful no longer offer the bonus 5,000 miles when transferring 60,000 points.

Marriott Bonvoy is the ONLY hotel programme where the maths makes sense if you are considering transferring into airline miles.

Can you earn Avios directly without collecting points?

Yes, see here. You can earn Avios by showing your British Airways Executive Club or card at check-in. The amount will depend on which brand you are staying with, but is usually 2 Avios per $1.

You will not earn any Marriott Bonvoy points. However, you must still be a member of Marriott Bonvoy in order to do this.

Mariott Bonvoy American Express credit card

Marriott Bonvoy UK credit card partnerships

Can you get elite status with a UK credit card?  Yes. Amex Platinum gives you Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status for as long as you hold the card.

The 40,000 Membership Rewards points sign-up bonus on American Express Platinum converts into 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.

The Marriott Bonvoy credit card, issued by American Express, was launched in 2020.  The Marriott Bonvoy Amex gives triple Bonvoy points (6 points per £1) when used at a Marriott property and 2 points per £1 elsewhere.  You also receive 15 elite night credits per year, which would trigger Silver Elite status, for as long as you hold the card.

It is also possible to earn Gold Elite status via the Marriott Bonvoy American Express card.  This requires £15,000 of annual spend, however, and is not an exceptionally generous return.

You receive a sign-up bonus of 20,000 Marriott Bonvoy points with the Marriott Bonvoy American Express card.

Is Marriott Bonvoy an Amex Membership Rewards partner?  Yes. You can transfer Membership Rewards points to Marriott Bonvoy points at a rate of 2:3.

Purchasing and transferring points

You can buy Marriott Bonvoy points for $12.50 per 1,000 via this link.

You can transfer your Marriott points to anyone up to a cap of 100,000 points per year. This is free to all members and can now be done online.

What is my personal opinion of Marriott Bonvoy?

Click here for Part 2 of our Marriott Bonvoy review which will give you my personal opinion of the programme.

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

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards (July 2024)

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 points for signing up and 15 elite night credits each year 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

40,000 bonus points AND (to 27th August) £400 to spend at Amex Travel 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 (32)

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

  • PlaneSpeaking says:

    Which is better – exchange the Bonvoy points to Avios after the stay or request Avios when checking in? Also, is Grosvenor House Dubai 2 Avios per $? Many thanks in advance.

  • Flier33 says:

    They’ve added the ITC hotels in India not long ago, a great chain of hotels in most major cities.

  • polly says:

    Have to say the W Sentosa really appreciate status. We are back to Gold, both of us, but they always offer us breakfast and evening lounge access. It’s a lovely bonus, even tho we don’t qualify. They’re so used to city people coming for staycation of 1 n 2 d, and seem amazed we are actually there for 5 n. And whitecliffe Marriott in Bournemouth were very good to us post illness in Nov, saw that we had had to cancel our W visit that month. So we will stick with them, keeping the annual Bonvoy card going.
    So looking forward to our W visit later this month before flying back from SIN. Currently in HKT, and can’t believe we actually made our trip. Just so great being back in Asia.

    • Track says:

      I find Marriott hotels in Singapore do go above and beyond.

      Which is not the same as in Europe — try for a suite upgrade in Spain or Portugal.

      Even if they have unoccupied suites!

  • Track says:

    Bonvoy is remnants of was SPG program was.

    SPG was run around the loyalty program, not the other way around: bunch of business hotels generating cash from business, and loyalty program attached to the side.

  • Yorkshire rich says:

    I’ve just booked 4 rooms at Sheraton Fiji. With the new terms and conditions, I will get points for 3 rooms.

    Think that is a great perk myself.

  • Art_Czar says:

    As a lifetime Platinum Elite (from SPG), I’d say the Bonvoy program is dismal. Currently a Globalist with Hyatt and its miles ahead of Marriott.

  • Jay Frank says:

    Has anyone had success in extending SNA certs beyond the deadline, or having them transferred to a spouse’s higher-tier account?

  • Ravi says:

    I am a lifetime Platinum and I have found Marriott properties the best as far as privileges are concerned. Most times we have been upgraded to Suites. Whenever we go with our children ( now adults) , almost 90% of the times we get upgraded to two connecting rooms at the cost of one room ( points) Lately it doesn’t happen automatically at the Reception but a brief talk with the Duty Manager helps to get elevated.

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

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