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How to Earn Marriott Bonvoy Lifetime Elite Status Ricky May 4, 2021

How to Earn Marriott Bonvoy Lifetime Elite Status

Marriott Bonvoy is the best hotel loyalty program for Canadians, and it also has a fairly approachable elite status structure.

I’ve written a few guides in the past on how to finesse your way to Platinum Elite status without staying 50 nights per year, as well as how much I value the perks of Platinum Elite status.

But what if you could enjoy these valuable perks forever, without having to retain your status through your stay activity every year? You’d then have the freedom of exploring other hotel brands and accommodation types, all while taking comfort in your VIP treatment anytime you do stay with a Marriott.

Indeed, Marriott Bonvoy also offers a lifetime elite status program, so in this article, let’s explore how you can optimally set yourself up to earn lifetime status with Marriott in the future.

Marriott Bonvoy Lifetime Elite Status Levels

Marriott Bonvoy has a total of five elite status tiers: Silver Elite, Gold Elite, Platinum Elite, Titanium Elite, and Ambassador Elite. Among these, only the first three are possible for current Bonvoy members to earn on a lifetime basis.

Each lifetime status level requires you to both earn a certain number of elite qualifying nights throughout the history of your loyalty account, as well as attain that status level for a certain number of years in total:

  • Lifetime Silver Elite: 250 elite qualifying nights + five years of Silver Elite
  • Lifetime Gold Elite: 400 elite qualifying nights + seven years of Gold Elite
  • Lifetime Platinum Elite: 600 elite qualifying nights + 10 years of Platinum Elite

(There are also some Marriott Bonvoy members with Lifetime Titanium Elite status, although that’s a grandfathered status level from the days of the Marriott/Starwood merger that is no longer available to be earned.)

You can find your Marriott Bonvoy lifetime status tracker on the online dashboard or the mobile app. Fill up both counters – one for elite qualifying nights and one for status years – to progress to the next tier of lifetime status.

Which Nights & Years Count Towards Marriott Lifetime Status?

All Marriott Bonvoy elite qualifying nights and status qualifications should count towards your lifetime status totals, regardless of whether you earned them through organic stay activity, credit cards, promotions, or one-time gestures from the program itself.

In terms of elite nights, the 15 nights you earn from the Canadian-issued Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card or Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card will count towards your lifetime status totals every year.

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Meanwhile, if you were to get both a personal and business US-issued Bonvoy card (such as the very attractive Amex US Bonvoy offers until May 12, 2021), you’d earn 30 elite nights every year towards your lifetime status totals.

Similarly, your lifetime elite nights also encompass any bonus nights earned from a Double Elite Nights promotion, as well as from Marriott Bonvoy generously depositing extra elite nights into members’ accounts in 2020 and 2021.

In terms of status years, it’s my understanding that what counts is the number of years in which you’ve earned status, not the number of years in which you’re enjoying the benefits of status.

Someone who earns Platinum Elite status in early 2021 will enjoy that status until February 2023, but it would only count as one year of Platinum Elite towards their lifetime total unless they retained Platinum in 2022.

However, it doesn’t matter how you actually earned that status in the first place – stay activity, credit card perks, etc.

For example, the American Express Platinum Card and the American Express Business Platinum Card both grant you instant Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status. If you were to hold either card continually, it would qualify you for Gold Elite status year after year, counting towards your Gold Elite lifetime totals.

Similarly, if you had signed up for the Amex US Bonvoy cards under the special offer in late 2020 to early 2021, your complimentary year of Platinum Elite status will count towards the 10 years you’d need to earn Lifetime Platinum Elite.

And sometimes, you don’t even need to lift a finger to earn another year towards lifetime status. Even the 2020 blanket extension of Marriott Bonvoy elite status counts as a further year towards your lifetime totals!

All Silver, Gold, and Platinum Elite members earned a free extra year towards their lifetime total in 2020.

Marriott Lifetime Status vs. Earned Status

Besides the permanent nature of lifetime status, are there any other major differences between lifetime status and regular status earned every year?

The only notable difference lies in the Annual Choice Benefit: only Marriott Bonvoy members who cross the 50- or 75-night thresholds in a calendar year are eligible to choose an Annual Choice Benefit, such as a set of five Suite Night Awards.

Even if you’re a Lifetime Platinum Elite member, you won’t receive a choice benefit unless you actually stay 50 elite nights in a year. This creates some incentive for continued loyalty after you’ve achieved lifetime status.

In terms of the actual hotel experience, I wouldn’t expect there to be any difference between a Platinum Elite and a Lifetime Platinum Elite member in terms of how they’re treated at a hotel.

I’m not even sure if hotels can see that you’re a lifetime status member, and even if they could, there’s nothing in the terms and conditions that entitles lifetime status members to anything more than regular earned status members.

At the very least, though, lifetime status can be some additional weight to throw around when trying to “suite-talk” your way to a nicer suite upgrade.

Is It Worth Pursuing Marriott Lifetime Status?

Since Platinum Elite status is where you get the most meaningful benefits like free breakfast and suite upgrades, it would make sense to pursue Lifetime Platinum Elite status as something of a long-term objective in your Miles & Points journey.

(Like their underlying status levels, Lifetime Silver Elite and Lifetime Gold Elite status don’t really bring you too many benefits, so they’re best viewed as mere stepping stones along the way to Lifetime Platinum Elite.)

To meet the nights and years requirements, you’d need to achieve and retain Platinum Elite status for a decade, all while earning an average of 60 elite qualifying nights per year. Given the current structure of the elite program, that should be eminently feasible for most avid travellers in Canada.

If you stay 20–30 nights a year at hotels, you can reach Lifetime Platinum Elite status after about 10 years’ time. 

Remember, you can earn 30 elite qualifying nights per year simply by setting yourself up with US credit cards and holding both a personal and business US-issued Marriott Bonvoy credit card. While these cards do have annual fees, they essentially pay for themselves every year with their anniversary Free Night Awards.

That means you’d only need to stay a further 20 nights to retain Platinum Elite status every year, or a further 30 nights if you wanted to reach the 60-night average to reach Lifetime Platinum Elite status in 10 years’ time.

Between organic travel activity and the possibility of mattress-running at Category 1 hotels and under generous promotions, it’s easy to see how Lifetime Platinum Elite is something that most of Marriott Bonvoy’s more engaged members can work towards as the years go by.

Once you’ve earned lifetime status, you can then enjoy a much wider range of flexibility when choosing your accommodations without feeling “bound” to Marriott hotels because you need to retain your status.

You can dabble with other chains and third-party booking services as much as you’d like, knowing that you’ll always be welcomed as a valued elite member whenever you do book with Marriott.

My Progress with Marriott Lifetime Status

Personally, I had first earned Silver Elite in 2014, Gold Elite in 2015, and Platinum Elite in 2018, so my lifetime elite years are sitting at 7, 6, and 3, respectively.

Since I’ve also retained Titanium Elite in 2021 thanks to Marriott’s generous elite nights boost, these numbers should rise to 8, 7, and 4, respectively, once the they’re updated for 2021. And since I’ve earned 487 elite qualifying nights to date, that’d bring me over the hump for Lifetime Gold Elite status (not that it means a whole lot).

Instead, my sights would continue to be set on achieving Lifetime Platinum Elite status by 2027.

I’d need to retain Platinum Elite status annually until then, which shouldn’t be too difficult with the twin US-issued Bonvoy cards and a fairly active travel itinerary every year. If I do that, I’d also easily reach the 600 elite qualifying nights required; indeed I’d overshoot that amount by a fair bit.

I’m on track to hit Lifetime Platinum Elite status in 2027.

Of course, I also place a decent amount of value on enjoying even better treatment as a Titanium Elite member rather than a Platinum Elite member. If I want to stay Titanium, I’ll have to organically earn it on an annual basis, even if I do reach Lifetime Platinum Elite.

And given Marriott’s extensive global footprint, I could see myself hitting the incremental 45 nights per year with Marriott (in addition to the 30 elite nights from credit cards) to stay on the Titanium treadmill.

Alas, one of my greatest regrets in Miles & Points is failing to act on the ability to earn Lifetime Titanium Elite status during the days of the Marriott/Starwood merger, even though I had known about the backdoor method to earn it through the “meetings trick”.

Conclusion

Marriott Bonvoy offers a fairly approachable lifetime elite status program to complement its regular elite structure, and I think Lifetime Platinum Elite status would be a worthy goal for anyone who’s serious about leveraging rewards points to raise their travel game in the long run.

With the right credit card setup in place, many travellers wouldn’t need to go too far out of their way to reach Lifetime Platinum Elite. As long as you intend to retain Platinum Elite status year after year, you’ll get there eventually after a decade or so. 

Personally, I’m very much looking forward to hitting Lifetime Platinum Elite in 2027, having received a major boost to my lifetime totals thanks to Marriott’s generous disbursements of bonus elite nights during the pandemic years. 

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