Marriott Bonvoy is the arguably the hotel loyalty program for Canadians, and it also has a fairly approachable elite status structure.
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.
As it turns out, Marriott Bonvoy also has a lifetime elite status program, which gives you elite-level perks during stays for the rest of your life.
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.
Meanwhile, if you were to get both a personal and business US-issued Bonvoy card, you’d earn 30 elite nights every year towards your lifetime status totals. You can increase this number to 40 if you hold the Amex US Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card and the Amex US Marriott Bonvoy Business Card, since the former card comes with 25 elite nights and the latter with 15.
Similarly, your lifetime elite nights also encompass any bonus nights earned from a Double Elite Nights promotion, which typically comes around once a year.
In terms of status years, 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 2023 will enjoy that status until February 2025, but it would only count as one year of Platinum Elite towards their lifetime total unless they retained Platinum in 2024.
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 hold the Amex US Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card, your complimentary Platinum Elite status will count towards the 10 years you’d need to earn Lifetime Platinum Elite.
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, there shouldn’t be any difference between a Platinum Elite and a Lifetime Platinum Elite member in terms of how they’re treated at a hotel.
It’s not quite clear whether or not 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.
Remember, you can earn 30–40 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 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 10–20 nights to retain Platinum Elite status organically every year, or a further 20–30 nights if you wanted to reach the 60-night average to reach Lifetime Platinum Elite status in 10 years’ time. While the complimentary Platinum status on the Amex US Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card is by far the easiest path to status, you’ll still need to earn the 600 nights for lifetime status.
Between organic travel activity and the possibility of mattress-running at cheaper 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 preferred partner programs as much as you’d like, knowing that you’ll always be welcomed as a valued elite member whenever you book with Marriott.
Marriott Bonvoy offers a fairly approachable lifetime elite status program to complement its regular elite structure, and 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.
By leveraging promotions that offer double elite qualifying nights, you can boost your numbers and reach the night thresholds must faster.