The Marriott Bonvoy program is a culmination of the Starwood Preferred Guest, Ritz Carlton Rewards and Marriott Rewards programs, officially reuniting in early 2019.
With the merger comes a number of changes to earning and redeeming points, which we will cover in-depth in a series of guides.
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Here is a snapshot of the new Marriott Bonvoy program, including all the changes you need to know with the basics of earning and redeeming points and status tiers.
Earning and buying points
The new exchange rate is 3 Membership Rewards points for 2 Marriott points, and you need a minimum of 600 MR points to swap for 400 Marriott points.
Of course, staying at hotels is the main way to earn Marriott Bonvoy points. With more than 6,700 hotels in 130 countries, there is bound to be a Marriott property wherever you go.
Marriott is also retaining its ties with car hire companies. Eligible rental with Hertz will earn 500 points for 1 day and increases to 2,000 for 2 days or more, while SIXT offers 750 points for every car hire, 1,000 points for limousine transfer and 3 points per 1 USD spent on SIXT ‘mydriver’.
You can also buy points direct from Marriott at the standard rate of $12.50 USD ($17.65 AUD) per 1,000 point increments, up to a maximum of 50,000 points a year. New accounts with a qualifying stay can buy points after 30 days, while new accounts without activity can only purchase points after 90 days.
Here are the ways in which you can use your Marriott points (links will be updated when new guides get published):
- Hotel stays and upgrades
- Transfer to frequent flyer partners
- Hotel + Air travel packages
- Flights and car hire
- Exclusive events and experiences
Hotel stays: You can still use Marriott Bonvoy points to redeem free night rewards at most participating hotels, but with a new Category 8 and peak/off-peak pricing being introduced, the redemption rates will be higher than ever before in most cases.
Transfer to frequent flyer partners: You can convert your points to over 40 different frequent flyer programs, including Qantas, Virgin Australia Velocity, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer and Cathay Pacific Asia Miles. The full list of programs is available here.
The exchange rate is 3 points to 1 mile for most programs. Some notable exceptions are 200 Marriott points for 1 AirNZ Airpoint and a 10% bonus for United MileagePlus giving a 3 to 1.1 rate.
The Starwood bonus for airline mile transfers continues. For every 60,000 Marriott Points you transfer out (equivalent to 20,000 frequent flyer miles), they will throw in another 5,000 frequent flyer miles.
Hotel + Air packages: The popular 7-night packages are here to stay, starting from 315,000 Marriott Points for a Category 5 hotel and 55,000 frequent flyer points, up to 750,000 Marriott Points for a Category 8 hotel and 110,000 frequent flyer points.
All the airline partners mentioned above to participate, including Qantas and Virgin Australia Velocity.
Other uses: You can directly use your Marriott points to book commercial flights and pay for car hire, but this is rarely good value compared to using them for reward nights.
Likewise, using points for experiences or shopping also will be bad value overall unless it is a money-can’t-buy-experience you really want or you have really no other use for your points.
Marriott Bonvoy status
There are now six membership tiers, starting from the base-level Member, then Silver Elite, Gold Elite, Platinum Elite, Titanium Elite and Ambassador Elite.
Platinum Elite is the new sweet-spot, offering lounge access, annual rewards including suite upgrades, 4pm check-out, and a greater range of welcome amenities.
Lifetime Silver Elite, Gold Elite and Platinum Elite status are also on offer for those who stay at least 250 nights and have elite status for a minimum of 5 years.
Members from the old programs will see their existing status reflected in Marriott Bonvoy, except for current Platinum Elites who have been upgraded to Titanium Elite, and those previously with Ambassador status now officially Ambassador Elite.
While the changes are invariably negative compared to the old Marriott and SPG programs that we used to love, we hope Marriott Bonvoy can overcome its teething problems and continue to offer travellers a decent loyalty program with good value redemptions for hotels and flights.