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Rundown of Marriott Bonvoy for Canadians (updated February 27, 2019)

Best Western and Marriott Bonvoy are the only two hotel chains that have a co-branded credit card in Canada (unless you count Hilton as an AMEX transfer partner). Not coincidentally, along with Marriott is another one of my favourite hotel chains. Marriott has gone through many changes in the past few years, namely buying out The Ritz-Carlton and Starwood Preferred Guest. You may still see the names of these two brands still floating around, but they are mostly merged under Marriott now.

Let’s give a rundown of what are the most relevant highlights of Bonvoy for Canadians.

Expiry Policy / Blackout dates

Points do not expiry so long as there is an activity once every 24 months. Note that not all activity counts towards keeping your account active (namely: gifting, transferring, and social media promotions). That being said, I like the 24 month policy, this to me should be considered the industry standard. Anyway less than 24 months I find very harsh. Anyone more than 24 months is very generous.

Elite Status

Bonvoy has 5 levels of elite status, after the regular members. Below are some of the highlights of each level.

Member

  • Basic membership (just need to sign up, from 0-9 nights)
  • Earn 5 points for every $1 USD spent at Element, Residence Inn and TownePlace Suites hotels
  • Earn 10 points for every $1 USD spent at all other Marriott properties
  • Receive complimentary in-room Wi-Fi Access
  • Redeem points with no blackout dates

Silver

  • Need 10 nights to qualify
  • Receive all Member benefits
  • Earn 10% more points than a member for every $1 USD spent at Marriott properties
  • Receive priority late checkout
  • Receive access to dedicated elite reservation line

Gold

  • Need 25 nights to qualify
  • Earn 25% more points than a member for every $1 USD spent at Marriott properties
  • Receive all the benefits of Silver status
  • Receive 250 or 500 welcome bonus points at check-in
  • Receive room upgrade (based on availability at check-in)
  • Receive 2:00pm late checkout
  • Receive complimentary enhanced in-room Wi-Fi Access

Platinum

  • Need 50 nights to qualify
  • Earn 50% more points than a member for every $1 USD spent at Marriott properties
  • Receive all the benefits of Gold status
  • Receive welcome gift of choice upon arrival (e.g. bonus points, free breakfast, etc.)
  • Receive choice of 1 gift (5 Suite Night Awards, give the gift of Silver Elite status, 40% off your favourite mattress, 5 Elite Night Credits or a $100 charity donation)
  • Receive lounge access and complimentary breakfast
  • Receive 4:00pm late checkout

Titanium

  • Need 75 nights to qualify
  • Earn 75% more points than a member for every $1 USD spent at Marriott properties
  • Receive all the benefits of Platinum status
  • Receive choice of 1 gift (in additional to Platinum gift) (5 Suite Night Awards, give the gift of Silver Elite status, 40% off your favourite mattress, 5 Elite Night Credits or a $100 charity donation)
  • Receive 48 hour room guarantee
  • Receive complimentary United MileagePlus Premier Silver Status
  • Receive 10% more miles when transferring to United MileagePlus

Ambassador

  • Need 100 nights and spend $20,000 in a calendar year to qualify
  • Receive all the benefits of Platinum status
  • Receive Ambassador service
  • Receive choice of 24-hour check-in and checkout time

Earn Points

In addition to earning points through hotel stays, you can also earn points with the two following methods:

  • Hertz – earn up to 2,000 points per car rental
  • Cruises – earn 3 points for every $1 USD spent when booking through Marriott’s CruiseOnly

Lifetime Status

Lifetime status means that you will forever be a certain elite status member, regardless of the qualification requirements. Marriott offers 3 ways to qualify for lifetime elite status, they are as follows:

  • Lifetime Silver Elite – 250 nights and 5 years elite status
  • Lifetime Gold Elite – 400 nights and 7 years Gold Elite status
  • Lifetime Platinum Elite – 600 nights and 10 years Platinum Elite status

Co-Branded Credit Card

There are currently two co-branded credit cards (business and personal versions) that earn you Marriott points. Note that they are still listed under the Starwood banner at the moment (in Canada), but I suspect that it will change over time. Below are the highlights of the two cards.

American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card

  • $120 annual fee
  • No annual fee for a supplementary cardholders
  • Earn 50,000 sign up bonus points (after spending $1,500 in the first 3 months)
  • Earn 5 points for every $1 spent at participating Marriot and SPG hotels
  • Earn 2 points for every $1 spent on all purchases
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after the first anniversary year (redemption of up to 35,000 points)
  • Receive complimentary Silver Elite with Marriott Bonvoy status
  • Receive Gold Elite status with Marriott Bonvoy (after spending $30,000 in a calendar year)

American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card

  • $150 annual fee
  • Earn 50,000 sign up bonus points after spending $1,500 in the first 3 months
  • Earn 5 points for every $1 spent at participating Marriot and SPG hotels
  • Earn 3 points for every $1 spent on gas, dining and travel
  • Earn 2 point for every $1 spent on all purchases
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after the Card account anniversary (redemption of up to 35,000 points)
  • Receive complimentary Silver Elite status with your Card
  • Earn Gold Elite status after spending $30,000 in a calendar year

Transfer Partners

You can convert your American Express Membership Rewards points to Marriott Bonvoy at a 5:6 transfer ratio. I value Membership Reward points at 1.9 cents a piece, while Marriott points are 0.9 cents per point, so this is a pretty dismal transfer option. That being said, I would only transfer my American Express points if I had a specific reward option in mind that needs to be topped up in a hurry. Just keep in mind that you need to transfer a minimum of 1,000 American Express points, which would give you 1,200 Marriott points.

Transfer Points

Marriott points are currently transferable to 43 airline partners. They are converted at a rate of 3:1. But for every 60,000 points you transfer, you can get 5,000 bonus miles. Which means, 60,000 Marriott points nets you 25,000 airline miles. You can only transfer between 3,000 and 240,000 Marriott points per day.

  • Aegean Airlines
  • Aeroflot Bonus
  • AeroMexico ClubPremier
  • Air Canada Aeroplan
  • Air China Phoenix Miles
  • Air France/KLM Flying Blue
  • Air New Zealand Airpoints
  • Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
  • Alitalia MilleMiglia
  • ANA Mileage Club
  • American Airlines
  • Asia Miles
  • Asiana Airlines Asiana Club
  • Avianca LifeMiles
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • China Eastern Airlines Eastern Miles
  • China Southern Airlines
  • Copa Airlines ConnectMiles
  • Delta SkyMiles
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Etihad Guest
  • Frontier Airlines
  • Hainan Airlines
  • Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles
  • Iberia Plus
  • Japan Airlines JAL Mileage Bank
  • Jet Airways JetPrivilege
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Korean Air SKYPASS
  • LATAM Airlines LATAMPASS
  • Lufthansa Miles & More
  • Multiplus
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • Qatar Privilege Club
  • Saudia Airlines
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • South African Airways Voyager
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
  • TAP Air Portugal
  • Thai Airways
  • Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles
  • United MileagePlus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Going Forward

Marriott essentially has monopoly in the Canadian credit card market. If they have such a strong hold of the market, mine as well take it a step further. I would still like to see two new credit cards added to the Canadian market. A no annual fee version and a higher premium version. I would even like two credit card companies offer a co-branded Marriott card to create some competition.

I personally find that Marriott is dominating the industry. At first, I was not a fan of the Ritz-Carlton and Starwood merger. But over time, I actually like it. Even if some feel that the loyalty program has devalued somewhat (especially with the high category redemptions), I think that Marriott suits the masses. By having more hotels in their portfolio, it would encourage people more to consolidate their points into one program.

Therefore, I hope that this will push other hotel chains to step up their game to compete. Maybe other hotel chains can start by offering a co-branded credit card in Canada?

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Pointshogger aims to provide analysis and updates on earning loyalty reward points and maximizing the value of your points. We hope to inspire our readers to experience the joy of travel and make the most out of what they've already got!

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