Marriott Bonvoy Launched and Replaced Marriott Rewards

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This week, Marriott’s new loyalty program launched – Marriott Bonvoy. Rumors about the new program were going around already weeks before the official launch. Then finally, just about a month ago, Marriott officially announced the new rewards program and the starting date.

To launch their new program, Marriott decided to do it on a Wednesday the 13th. It’s not Friday the 13th, but with all the hiccups Marriott had in the past while acquiring Starwood and merging the rewards programs, you would think they would choose a different date “number-wise”. Just in case if you are superstitious.

The fallout of the merger of the rewards program late last year still can be felt today. I was working hard to get my lifetime Marriott Rewards Platinum Premier Elite status. I called the Marriott hotlines with many questions about reaching that status, as their website was not very clear how you would achieve it.

Supposedly, if you have reached the status, Marriott put on their website, that affected members will be contacted via email in January. Well, that never happened. They finally converted their members silently to the new lifetime elite status just a few weeks before the launch of Marriott Bonvoy.

I am not very happy with the name (Bonvoy). Of course, the name doesn’t matter really, it’s more the benefits you receive. Platinum Premiere Elite with Marriott Rewards just sounds so much better than with Titanium with Marriott Bonvoy. “Bad-name-rebranding” for rewards programs seems to be the future. Hyatt started it by changing their name from “Hyatt Gold Passport” to “World of Hyatt“. Which rewards program is the next rebranding itself with a “bad name”?

One good thing about the new Marriott Bonvoy program is the renaming of the elite tiers.

Marriott Rewards (Combined Programs)
  1. Member
  2. Silver Elite
  3. Gold Elite
  4. Platinum Elite
  5. Platinum Premier Elite
  6. Platinum Premier Elite with Ambassador
Marriott Bonvoy
  1. Member
  2. Silver Elite
  3. Gold Elite
  4. Platinum Elite
  5. Titanium Elite
  6. Ambassador Elite

The renaming of the loyalty tier levels makes absolute sense. Under the old program, there were three levels with “Platinum” in the name. Now it’s way more obvious and easier to differentiate.

Lifetime Status

Marriott Bonvoy still offers lifetime status. You will receive the same benefits as your corresponding tier level. A list with detailed information about the benefits for each level can be found on their website.

Lifetime Silver Elite
250 Lifetime Nights + 5 Years Elite Status
Lifetime Gold Elite
400 Lifetime Nights + 7 Years Gold Elite Status or Higher
Lifetime Platinum Elite
600 Lifetime Nights + 10 Years Platinum Elite Status or Higher

There will be no Lifetime Titanium Elite. However, you could have been grandfathered in if you reached 750 Qualifying Nights and 10 Years as Platinum Elite. It could be either on Marriott Rewards, SPG or your combined account. You had to reach the threshold by the end of 2018 to be grandfathered in and I made it. A great lifetime achievement I haven’t even thought off in the past.

If you were able to get grandfathered into Platinum Premier Elite, your lifetime status got converted to Lifetime Platinum Elite.

Award Nights

There will be a new awards category, which won’t take effect until March 5, 2019. Later on this year, Marriott will also roll out peak and off-peak pricing. This means you will need more points if you try to book a stay during the busy season of the property and less in the rest of the year. This will be from hotel to hotel different and depends on location and hotel.

Get a fifth night free with every award stay. If you book four nights with points (not points+cash) you get an additional fifth night for free. The free night will be reflected already when you book online and this works across all 29 brands of Marriott.

Another great feature is Points Advance. This feature is unique and you can book award stays even when you don’t have enough points for the stay. You will have until 14 days before your stay to earn the remaining points for this award stay. This is a great way to login stays at hotels before the go up in categories or if you are not sure there are award spaces available when you finally have enough points. If you don’t have enough points by 14 days before your check-in your reservation might be canceled or converted to a best-available cash rate. Depending on the hotel and situation. I would certainly make sure, to have enough points by then and check the cancellation policy of the hotel.

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