We’re just over 260 days into 2022, and a member of the Marriott Bonvoy Insiders Facebook group has already accrued 357 elite night credits.
Impossible? Far from it. Improbable for most of us? Definitely.
Marriott offers loads of easy ways to pick up bonus elite night credits each year. With a shrewd Marriott credit card strategy paired with some aggressive use of Marriott promotions, even an infrequent traveler could be sitting on 60-plus elite night credits this year.
Admittedly, having 357 elite night credits is bonkers — and would require borderline living in hotels along with the above tricks. However, such a staggering number is a good reminder that there are some cost-effective ways to level up your Marriott elite status before the end of the year.
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Automatic elite night credits from credit cards
All Marriott credit cards — including the no-annual-fee Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card — grant you 15 automatic elite night credits each calendar year.
Even better, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card now includes 25 elite nights every year and automatic Platinum Elite status. That’s an enormous help when trying to reach top-tier elite status quickly, and you’ll get benefits right out of the gate.
One caveat: The elite night credits you earn from Marriott personal cards don’t stack. So if you’ve got two personal cards that include 15 nights, you’ll still only receive 15 elite night credits (instead of 30).
However, you can stack the credits you earn from a personal card with the 15 credits you’ll earn from the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card. Pair this card with the Bonvoy Brilliant, and you’ll have a whopping 40 elite nights in your account without stepping foot in a Marriott property.
Credit card spending
Turn your everyday spending into elite night credits. SRDJANNS74/GETTY IMAGES
If you’re a big spender, you could hypothetically spend your way to prestigious elite status without ever stepping foot in a hotel.
The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card from Chase has a special superpower that no other Marriott credit card has: For every $5,000 you spend, you’ll earn 1 elite night credit.
Here’s what that means for you: If the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless is your only Marriott card, you could earn:
Platinum status after spending $175,000 in a calendar year.
Titanium status after spending $300,000 in a calendar year.
If you have the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless and the Marriott Bonvoy Business cards (30 automatic elite nights per year), you could earn:
Platinum status after spending $100,000 in a calendar year.
Titanium status after spending $225,000 in a calendar year.
This is not the path of least resistance for most of us — but even two or three extra elite night credits might be all the difference between making and missing status. Many cardholders could potentially benefit from funneling expenses through the card.
Related: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless review
Book award stays
You’ll earn Marriott elite nights when you book award stays. ANDREW KUNESH/THE POINTS GUY
When you book an award stay with Marriott points, you’ll earn elite night credits. If you’re close to elite status but you need just a few extra nights, it could be worth:
Using your points to book a fun award stay that you wouldn’t otherwise have booked (the ideal option).
Using your points to book a super-cheap award stay near your house for a staycation (the less-than-ideal option).
That second point might sound crazy. Who would sacrifice perfectly good points for a boring low-rent hotel that you don’t necessarily want to stay at? If it’ll elevate your status from Gold to Platinum, it’s almost certainly worthwhile. After all, you can book a night at many hotels, like the Fairfield Inn & Suites Abilene, for as little as 6,000 points per night.
Another note: Marriott offers the fifth night free when you book at least five consecutive award nights. Even if your travel plans include an award stay of four nights, you may as well take the fifth free night and effectively gift yourself a free elite night credit.
Double elite night promotions
For a couple of years now, Marriott has published a promotion allowing you to earn double elite night credits.
The previous promotion ended May 4, so we’re not expecting to see another one until 2023. Still, you can prepare your upcoming travels to take advantage when this promo likely pops up again.
Here’s how quickly you can earn elite status with this deal:
Gold status: 13 nights.
Platinum status: 25 nights.
Titanium status: 38 nights.
Ambassador status: 50 nights (but the $20,000 in qualifying spending is still required).
Of course, the requirements drop significantly if you also hold Marriott Bonvoy credit cards.
Book meetings and events
This is a long shot for most of us. However, if you’re an event planner, you can make out like a bandit.
Marriott allows you to earn elite night credits for booking events at a Marriott hotel.
You’ll earn 1 elite night credit for every 20 room nights you book. Your earnings will be capped at 20 elite nights per booking — meaning you’ll have to book at least 400 rooms to max out your earning potential.
If you’re not in the points and miles hobby, you might assume the only way to earn elite status is by paying thousands and thousands of dollars for hotel stays each year.
The truth is, you have to spend hardly anything. Between award nights, automatic elite nights from Marriott credit cards, elite night credits earned from credit card spending, etc., you can economically upgrade your Marriott status level before the end of the year.