HomeHotel LoyaltyMarriott BonvoyHow the Marriott Bonvoy & United Airlines partnership works

How the Marriott Bonvoy & United Airlines partnership works


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In recent weeks we have highlighted Marriott’s recently enhanced partnership with Singapore Airlines and its partnership with Emirates, so it makes sense to now cover the more major of Marriott’s airline partnerships – it’s partnership with United Airlines MileagePlus.

Introduction

The Marriott Bonvoy/United MileagePlus partnership dates back to 2014 which, coincidentally, was the year that Starwood and Emirates launched the partnership that eventually turned into the Marriott/Emirates partnership that we see today.

The Marriott/United partnership is called ‘RewardsPlus’ – a hybrid of Marriott Rewards (as it was called back then) and United MileagePlus – and it is designed to give elite members of the two programs reciprocal elite status.

The concept is simple – select Bonvoy elites can enjoy elite status in United’s MileagePlus program and select United MileagePlus elites can enjoy elite status in the Marriott Bonvoy program.

The RewardsPlus partnership also gives Marriott Bonvoy members an improved transfer rate when they convert Bonvoy points to MileagePlus miles and allows MileagePlus elites to convert miles to Bonvoy points.

Unlike the Marriott/Emirates partnership, however, the RewardsPlus partnership does not offer reciprocal redeemable currency earnings, so Bonvoy members don’t earn United miles alongside Bonvoy points on their Marriott stays, and United’s flyers don’t earn Bonvoy points alongside MileagePlus miles when they book with United.

Select MileagePlus elites get Bonvoy status

United MileagePlus members with Premier Gold status and higher can register for the RewardsPlus program (here) and automatically receive Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status without having to make any stays.

Bonvoy Gold status comes with the following benefits:

  • A 25% points bonus on all eligible stays.
  • Access to room upgrades on a space available basis.
  • A 2pm late checkout (subject to availability).
  • A welcome gift of 250 or 500 Bonvoy points on each eligible stay (varies by brand).
  • Access to enhanced (faster) internet on all eligible stays.

This Bonvoy Gold status remains live for as long as a MileagePlus member maintains Premier Gold status or higher.

Top Marriott Bonvoy elites get MileagePlus status

Marriott Bonvoy Titanium and Ambassador elites can register for the RewardsPlus program (here) and automatically receive United’s Premier Silver Elite status without having to take any flights with United and without having to earn any Premier Qualifying Dollars.

Premier Silver status comes with the following benefits:

  • A 7x multiplier for mileage earning on flights booked through United.
  • Access to complimentary Premier upgrades on the day of travel.
  • Access to Group 2 priority boarding.
  • A complimentary checked bag on all United Airlines flights when booked into Economy Class (70lb/32kg).
  • Three complimentary checked bags when booked into a premium cabin (70lb/32kg each).
  • Complimentary access to ‘Preferred’ seats at the time of booking (for status holder + up to 8 companions).
  • Complimentary access to ‘Economy Plus’ seats at check-in (for status holder + 1 companion).
  • 25% bonus United miles when flying with United’s Star Alliance partners.
  • Access to expanded award availability.
  • Avis Preferred Plus elite status.
  • Discounted CLEAR membership ($149).

This Premier Silver status remains live for as long as a Bonvoy member maintains their Titanium or Ambassador Elite status.

Bonvoy points convert to United MileagePlus miles with a boosted bonus

Marriott Bonvoy points can be converted to a wide variety of airline currencies (including United’s MileagePlus miles), and the standard conversion ratio is 3 Bonvoy points to 1 airline mile.

Ordinarily, Marriott also offers Bonvoy members a 5,000 mile bonus when they convert 60,000 Bonvoy points into most airline currencies, and that improves the transfer ratio to 2.4 Bonvoy points to 1 airline mile.

Thanks to the RewardsPlus partnership however Bonvoy members get an added 5,000 miles bonus (for a total bonus of 10,000 miles) when transferring 60,000 points across to MileagePlus, and this sees the transfer ratio improved to 2 Bonvoy Points to 1 MileagePlus mile.

As I value Bonvoy points at 0.6 cents each and United’s miles at 1.2 cents each, the option to transfer Bonvoy Points to United miles only makes sense for me when I transfer in batches of 60,000 points (this way I neither lose nor gain).

Note: Don’t forget that United MileagePlus is a Chase Ultimate Rewards partners, so for a lot of readers it may be more economical to generate MileagePlus miles by spending on select Chase cards.

MileagePlus miles can be converted to Bonvoy points

Another aspect of the RewardsPlus partnership is that it allows United’s Premier elites to convert their miles to Bonvoy points in a 1:1 ratio.

As I value Bonvoy points at 0.6 cents each and United’s miles at 1.2 cents each, this transfer option makes little sense for me if I need a significant number of Bonvoy points.

If, however, I only need to generate a small number of points to give me enough to make a specific award booking and I don’t have enough time to generate those point through the card_name (review), the card_name (review) or my Bonvoy co-branded credit cards, converting a handful of miles into Bonvoy points may be an acceptable option of last resort …but I’d have to be pretty desperate!

Quick thoughts

Eligible Bonvoy and MileagePlus elites aren’t being asked to give up anything when they participate in the RewardsPlus partnership so it would be wrong of me to be overly critical of what the partnership offers, but this isn’t a partnership to get excited about.

Neither of the elite statuses on offer will give someone benefits that justify earning those statuses the hard way (through stays, flying, and spending), but as something that’s being given away for nothing, they can be good to have.

I, for example, wouldn’t have access to any kind of benefits on United if it wasn’t for the Premier Silver status that I hold courtesy of my Bonvoy Titanium Elite status, and when I’ve occasionally had to fly with United unexpectedly, the ability to choose Preferred seats at the time of booking and Economy Plus seating at the time of check-in (without having to pay a fee) has come in very useful.

Also, as I don’t hold a United Airlines co-branded credit card, I wouldn’t have access to United’s expanded award availability without the Silver status that the RewardsPlus partnership has given me and in the past few years, that has been valuable on a number of occasions.

Similarly, someone who doesn’t stay at Marriott properties very often probably doesn’t think that they need Bonvoy status, but for those rare visits, Gold status could be the difference between getting a room with a view of the dumpsters and getting a room with a considerably more civilized view and so it can be worth having.

You’re probably not missing out on much if you don’t participate in the RewardsPlus program, but as it costs nothing to register and as the benefits it offers may one day come in useful (possibly when you least expect it), why not sign up anyway.

Bottom line

Marriott and United Airlines have a partnership that gives select Bonvoy and MileagePlus members reciprocal elite status, access to an improved ratio for transfers from Bonvoy to MileagePlus, and access to transfers from MileagePlus to Bonvoy.

On the whole, there’s nothing amazing on offer here, but as Premier Silver status can be useful for those of us who only fly with United every now and again, and as it’s better to have some kind of Bonvoy status than no status at all when staying with Marriott, anyone eligible to participate in the RewardsPlus program should sign up and make the most of the benefits that it offers when they can.

For Your Consideration

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Currently, if you successful apply for the card_name (Amex's high-end premium Marriott credit card), you can bonus_miles_full.

(Annual fee annual_fees - rates & fees).

Select Benefit Highlights (terms apply & enrollment may be required):

  • Annual free night award worth up to 85,000 points
  • Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status
  • 25 elite night credits every year (limitations apply per Marriott Bonvoy® member account).
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck
  • Priority Pass Select membership
  • Up to $25/month in dining statement credits

Click for more details on the card_name

For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card, please visit rates & fees

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