Pursuing Platinum @ Marriott

Update: Marriott now only awards elite status after the challenge has been successfully completed.

It’s amazingly easy to get high level elite status with Marriott, temporarily.  If you call and ask, they will likely offer you a Gold or Platinum status challenge.  Unless you start the challenge on the first of the month, it lasts to the end of the current month, and three months after that.  During that entire time, you will have Gold or Platinum elite status with Marriott.  If you complete the challenge, you will keep the newly earned status for about a year (depending on when you start the challenge, you can keep the status longer or shorter).  The challenge requires completing a set number of nights or stays at Marriott properties.  If you don’t complete the challenge, you can try again a year later.  In my mind, this is an awesome way to get high level elite status for a few months each year!

I called to see what kind of challenge I would be offered.  They suggested the Platinum challenge.  I could meet the challenge by completing 9 stays.  Hmmm.  I wasn’t planning to try to meet the challenge…  I was just going to use it for temporary status, but it might be fun to go all in.  What if I take advantage of the current “Stay 2, Get 1” summer promotion that I’ve registered for?  Could I buy my way to Platinum status and earn enough free nights to make it worthwhile?  What other Marriott promotions are on their way?

New Marriott Promotion

I logged into my Marriott account and found a new Megabonus promotion just like the current one.  Between September 15 and January 15 2013, every two paid stays will earn 1 free night in a category 1-4 hotel.  Sweet!  I clicked the “register” button and now I’m good to go.

Frequent Miler’s Plan

By starting the Platinum Challenge mid-August, I will have the rest of August and all of September, October, and November to finish 9  stays in order to complete the challenge.  During that time, I will get full Platinum benefits.  I only have one known stay during that time, so I may need to “manufacture” as many as 8 stays…  Here’s my plan:

  1. Find the cheapest local Marriott and book 8 separate 1 night stays.  After a quick look, I’m sure I can book nights for $80 or less.  Let’s assume $80 per stay for now…
  2. Book 3 stays before August 31 (the deadline for the first promotion).  Thanks to 1 stay already planned, I’ll earn 2 free nights from the total of four stays.
  3. Book 6 stays between September 15 and the end of November (when the challenge ends).  If I have any real need for stays before then, I’ll cancel booked stays as needed.  From these 6 stays, I’ll earn 3 free nights.
  4. Pay for all stays with gift cards.  I have Marriott gift cards that I bought for 20% off during the Daily Getaways earlier in the year.
  5. Earn extra points as a Platinum member.  Platinum members earn 15 points per dollar for stays rather than 10 points per dollar usually earned.

Add it up

The following numbers are approximate because they do not take into account hotel taxes on the one hand, or highly discounted nights that I might find on the other:

  • Total Cost: $80 x 9 = $720 – 20% off (via gift cards) = $576
  • Free nights earned: 5
  • Points earned: 640 x 15 = 9,600

Is it worth it?

If I was sure that I could effectively use the free nights before they expire (1 year after issue), then yes it could be a great deal.  Category 4 hotels can easily go for $150 per night (and sometimes much more) which would make the 5 free nights worth $750.  And, the points earned can be used toward another free night.  Normally, I probably wouldn’t bother with this because the payoff is modest.  However, I do know of some upcoming trips in which I may choose to stay at Marriott properties anyway.  So why not go for it?  Plus, it will make a good story for this blog Smile

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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    • Wow, my math was off! I’ve updated the post with the correct points earned. I also incorrectly stated that 5 free nights was worth $600. I’ve updated that to $750.

      Steve: It’s true that you can’t earn more than 3 free nights with either promotion, but I hope to earn 2 free nights with the summer promotion and then 3 with the fall promotion.

  1. As always, Miler, innovative blog content that blows the competition away and even though I won’t do it, it was a great read and I love how you think out of the box. You are a breath of fresh air and are my first stop of the day, and I am no longer a “newbie” at all this.

  2. Do the free nights count as “stays”? I’ve had free nights with both Hyatt and SPG that have registered as stays on my account…

  3. You can’t earn more than 3 nights with the marriott megabonus

    “Earn up to 3 free nights with MegaBonus® when you stay at any participating Marriott® hotel worldwide. With more brands in more locations, one rewarding experience leads to another.
    See Details

    To earn your free nights:

    Register online or call 888-MARRIOTT (627-7468) by October 31, 2012
    Stay twice between September 15, 2012, and January 15, 2013
    Earn 1 free night after every second paid stay, up to 3 free nights

    Enjoy your free nights at any of nearly 3,000 category 1 – 4 hotels.”

  4. Don’t forget the value of the free breakfasts you will get and lounge access w/ platinum status. In Thailand we had free dinner at night at the lounge w/ good casual Thai food and the best breakfast you could ask for that would have cost $25/person.

  5. Did you have to tell Marriott that you were at gold/platinum with another chain before they would do the challenge?

  6. You don’t need status elsewhere to be given a challenge. Though they may try to talk you into gold. If so HUCA.

    If you miss, you need to wait a year from the end of the challenge period to try again. I am going to miss on my challenge come the end of August on the old “nights” challenge. I’d make it on stays had that been offered. Oh well, not a biggie to me.

  7. I got the gold status match deal, requires six seperate stays. I plan on just switching hotels every night on my next trip….

  8. Some Marriott and Renaissance Cat 4 properties in the Asia Pacific region are incredible properties. some of the most luxurious. Some Cat 4 in APAC would be considered Cat 7 JW’s here in the US.

  9. “If you call and ask, they will likely offer you a Gold or Platinum status challenge. ”
    Who did you call? I currently have a gold status expiring in February…

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