Marriott’s Taste of Platinum Challenge

Thanks to Marriott’s Platinum Challenge, I received my Marriott Platinum Elite membership card earlier this week.  My Platinum status is valid through February 2014.  Normally, to get to Marriott’s Platinum Elite status level it is necessary to stay 75 nights or hold 8 events at Marriott hotels within a single calendar year.  Luckily, there’s a much easier way. 

As I described in the post “Pursuing Platinum @ Marriott,” you can sign up for Marriott’s “Taste of Platinum Challenge” simply by calling and asking for it.  If you make the call after the first of the month, you will then get temporary Platinum status for the rest of that month and throughout the three following months.  In order to retain status past the challenge period, it is necessary to have 9 separate paid stays at Marriott properties.  You can, alternatively, go for the Gold Challenge which requires only 6 stays.

Platinum Benefits

You can read about Marriott’s elite benefits here and here.  I’ll list just the benefits I think are worth mentioning:

  • Priority Late Checkout (available to all elites)
  • Free Internet Access (Gold and Platinum)
  • Room Upgrade (Gold and Platinum)
  • Guaranteed Lounge Access / Free Breakfast (Gold and Platinum)
  • 48-Hour Guaranteed Availability
  • Guaranteed Platinum Arrival Gift
  • 50% point bonus

Regarding free breakfast: If the hotel has a lounge, you get free access to it during your stay. If the hotel doesn’t have a lounge, then you’ll get free breakfast instead. There are many exclusions. For example, not all Marriott properties are included. Also, within the US and Canada, free breakfast is not guaranteed on weekends.

Regarding room upgrades: Usually this means getting a room on a higher floor.  Suite upgrades are rare.

I’ll follow up soon with more details about my Marriott stays as a Platinum elite, but here’s my brief take on the benefits:

  • Don’t expect suite upgrades.
  • Lounge access is a great benefit.  It means free (often hot) breakfast  each morning, and free hot appetizers each evening.  Some properties even include afternoon tea.  The downside: lounges are often closed on the weekend in the US and Canada.  In that case, you get nothing.
  • Free internet is a great perk.
  • The best benefit I received is not even listed as a benefit.  Twice I showed up extremely early for check-in (once at 9 a.m.).  Thanks to my Platinum status, they had my room ready immediately.
  • At properties without an open lounge, I recommend taking the food and drink arrival gift instead of points if you’re hungry.  At most properties, you can chose between 500 points or a food and drink option.  In the past four months, my wife and I have often enjoyed getting a small bottle of wine along with a nice cheese and cracker tray at various Marriott hotels.  I value 500 Marriott points at less than $5, so I felt that we got great value from the food and drink options.


Two Strategies

There are two reasonable approaches to taking advantage of these challenges.  One is to sign up for the challenge and complete it in order to keep your status.  The other approach is to sign up for the challenge before a planned Marriott stay in order to enjoy high level elite status even if you have no plans to complete the challenge.  Let’s look at each of these options:

Option 1: Go for it

If you are planning a number of paid Marriott stays within a four month period, a Gold or Platinum challenge can be a great opportunity.  This way, your planned stays will be more rewarding and you’ll keep your status well past the end of the challenge.  It may even make sense for you to do a few “mattress runs” to complete the challenge.  The idea behind a mattress run is to check into the cheapest Marriott property you can find just to get credit for a stay. 

Timing this option correctly is critical.  Clearly, you would want to start the challenge prior to a number of planned stays.  Another important factor, though, is to start the challenge as soon in the new year as practical so that your earned status will last longer.  Here’s an example: if you complete a challenge that was started in December 2012, your earned status will be good through February 2014.  However, if you wait one month more and start the challenge in January 2013, your earned status will be good until February of 2015!  By starting your challenge just once month later, you will get an extra 11 months of elite status.

Option 2: Enjoy it

If you have a big Marriott vacation planned, it can make sense to sign up for the Platinum Challenge just to enjoy that status during that trip even if you have no plans at all to complete the challenge.  A year after the challenge is over, you are allowed to sign up for the challenge again!  In fact, if you travel often with a partner, the two of you could alternate challenges so that at least one of you has Platinum status a lot of the time.  Here’s an example:

  • Jan 2: You sign up for challenge.  Your status lasts until the end of April.
  • July 2: Your partner signs up for the challenge.  His/her status lasts until the end of October.
  • May 2: You sign up for the challenge.  Your status lasts until the end of September.
  • etc.


Challenge Considerations

Regardless of which option you decide to go with (if either), here are some things to keep in mind:

  • A “stay” is different from a “night.”  If you stay 3 consecutive nights at a singe Marriott property, that will count as a single “stay” towards the challenge.  If you hop around to a different Marriott each of the 3 nights, that will count as 3 stays.
  • If you can help it, never start a challenge on the first of the month since that will reduce the length of your challenge to exactly 3 months instead of nearly 4 months.
  • Once you call to start the challenge, assume it will take 48 hours to kick in.  It will probably be faster than that, but that should be a safe interval to count on.
  • You can save money on your stays by buying Marriott gift cards in advance.  Many deals expire by the end of this year, though, so it may make sense to buy the gift cards now.  For details, see “Marriott gift card triple dip.”
  • You can save money on stays by booking with corporate codes, a government rate, AAA, etc.  However, I don’t recommend doing this unless you have proof of eligibility.  During my Platinum challenge, I was asked for proof at approximately 1 out of 3 stays.

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    • joel: The way they do the challenge is this: If you succeed, your status lasts for the rest of the year (in which you started the challenge) and all of the next year. It so happens that they don’t expire status in December, but at the end of February. So, if you start the challenge Jan 2 and complete it, your status lasts for the rest of 2013 and all of 2014. Your 2014 status doesn’t expire until end of Feb 2015.

  1. Heard about this at Chicago Seminars (thanks for attending the Marriott break out group!). Got back home and called and signed up right after that. I have just one more stay to get Platinum. And it has been great having Platinum status throughout the other stays. I had been Silver for years and Gold once before, but it has been a much more satisfying experience being Platinum. I have gotten upgrades, often with nice views, early check in, late check out, lounge access, free internet, and sometimes BOTH the welcome points and an amenity. On a mileage run to Maui, I stayed in three different properties. The ultimate was the Ritz-Carlton where I was paying the AAA rate, which the desk staff were amazed was so low, and they not only upgraded me to a beautiful ocean view room, they let me stay in it the entire next day after check out because I had an evening flight. Oh, and did I mention the free mai tai amenity along with the points? So glad I took the Platinum challenge!

    • I just realized a fine point that I didn’t put in this post: Marriott’s Megabonus only allows 3 free certs (e.g. 6 stays to get 3 certs) so if you start the Platinum challenge at the beginning of the Megabonus period, you can only earn up to 3 free nights (Gold challenge would work perfectly, though). However, Marriott often runs the Megabonus promotion back to back with just a half month gap in between. So, the best bet if you’re flexible may be to do what I did and straddle two Megabonus promotions. Do 4 to 6 stays in the first promotion and the rest in the second. That way you can maximize the free nights earned. Personally, I just lucked into that approach.

  2. Friendly reminder for purchasing Marriott Gift cards – TopCashBack will NOT give a cash back for Marriott Gift Card purchases as of January 1, 2013.

  3. I’m a huge fan of lounge access, at least outside the USA. I have tended to avoid staying at Marriotts because I find their frequent stay program less rewarding than Starwood and even Hilton.

    But this Platinum challenge would certainly change my view. Does anyone know if you’d get the Platinum benefits if you were staying on a priceline or Expedia/Orbitz booked reservation? Also, do nights booked with online travel agencies count toward the nine stays you’d need to maintain the status?

    • iahphx: I think that each qualifying stay needs to be one that would earn points. Usually stays booked through online travel agencies (OTAs) do not qualify. If you call to start the challenge it would be worth asking the Marriott rep just to be sure.

  4. @joel

    Data point – I joined the challenge in Nov 2012 to complete the required nights by end of Feb 2013. Apparently, the Marriott customer service associate told that the platinum status would be effective until end of 2014 had the challenged be completed.

  5. Do you know if the lounge access benefit translates to Ritz stays? Have a Ritz stay coming up and that would be a huge bonus.

    • jpgisbd: I don’t know which benefits apply to Ritz stays. They only guarantee lounge access at participating JW Marriott Hotels, the Autograph Collection, Renaissance Hotels and Marriott Hotels & Resorts.

    • dale m: Thanks. Yes, it is stackable. I now have 4 free night certificates with one more coming when I complete one more Marriott stay before the end of the current Megabonus (ie. before Jan 15)

  6. What day of month is best to start then? end of month? :)

    “If you can help it, never start a challenge on the first of the month since that will reduce the length of your challenge to exactly 3 months instead of nearly 4 months.”

    Bookmarked this page because I may go for it for France trip.. unless Club Carlson/Radisson Blu has even better promos

  7. FM, I think your Option #2 for a couple to use “temporary” Platinum status over and over is not quite correct – per your comment #13, challenge is allowed once per 12 months. So, even 2 persons try for Challenge one after another, they still have to wait 6 months for next round.

    • Sergey: Yes, that’s true. I see that I had some of the example dates wrong so I’ve updated the post to be correct. I believe that a couple can average 6 months out of the year with status.

  8. Something that wasn’t clear in the post. Isn’t the challenge you can take dependant on what your current status is? i.e. You can take the platinum challenge if you are gold, and the gold challenge if you are silver?
    I’m guessing you can get gold through status match with IHC platinum status that comes free with the Priority club Chase card.
    For stays I’m guessing they have a mechanism to stop you counting a 3 night stay at 1 hotel that you book as 3x 1 night stays? Is this spelled out in the T&C’s?
    I’m currently gold and interested in trying this out. I have a 4 night work stay coming up in a town with both a Courtyard and Residence Inn and though it will be a hassle am thinking of staying alternate nights in each to count this as 4 stays. If I can just have 4x 1 night bookings at just one it is a lot easier.

    • russell: I believe you can pick either Gold or Platinum. Just tell them that you have top status with another chain (they won’t ask for proof) and that you’re planning quite a few Marriott stays in the near future. Yes, they are smart enough to treat it as one stay if you book stays one night at a time at the same hotel for consecutive nights. So, yes, your best bet with the work trip is to alternate hotels in order to get 4 stays out of it.

  9. Some fun math for this challenge:
    I have 4 stays planned which will cost ~$800.
    Buy $800 Marriott gift cards through Topcashback = $40
    Pay using OD GC = 800×5 points = 4k points
    Promo* at = 800×10 points = 8k points
    Stay itself = 800×10 points = 8k
    $40 plus 20k points for an $800 spend.
    (this does not include the 50% point bonus for stays with Plat status).
    *note at checkout in the promotion/coupons box you need to enter your Marriott rewards number – this is needed to get the 10x promo.

  10. Another thought in this chain.
    The challenge (and regular status achievement) is only for paid stays. As such stays using rewards don’t count. However there is an exception. I like to use my rewards for special stays such as Ritz-Carlton’s. These can often have rewards stays where you upgrade your room type with a cash element. When you do this, although your cash outlay is relatively small, it does count as paid night stay.

  11. This status idea is brilliant. I only wish I followed your blog last summer when you first blogged about it! Do any other hotel chains offer status challenges either via something like this Marriott plan, or something more similar to airline challenges?

  12. Thanks FrequentMiler for the info on qualifying stays. What about if I do the challenge and then stay at a Marriott resort on, say, an opaque priceline rate. Will I get the platinum benefits during that stay?

    • iahphx: Yes, you should get platinum benefits either way

      Ben: Yes, Marriott used to do the challenge with nights instead of stays, but they recently switched to stays. Hyatt’s challenge is based on nights so that might be worth considering instead.

      Con: It took about 4 weeks for me to get the membership card, but my Platinum status remained in place regardless.

  13. Does the platinum and gold challenge only apply to stays? What if you spend a lot of nights in a hotel in a 3-4 month period? For example, 3 stays lasting 7 days each?

  14. Hello – I just completed my Plat Challenge last week. How long does it take before you received your Platinum Elite membership card? Did you have to contact Marriott to let them know you completed the challenge? Thanks.

  15. Hello, Question about option 2, I have a vacation planned in europe for spring break (march), already booked the hotels in Madrid, and Miami, I am going to pay with points, but have not issued the certificates for the points yet. Now if i signup for the challenge in Jan 2 , will I be eligible since i already have the booking in place?

    • Adnan: If you don’t plan on completing the challenge, then you might want to wait until closer to your trip to start the challenge so that your status will last longer (in case you have another stay after March). On the other hand, if you know you won’t have any stays after March, starting Jan 2 makes sense since the sooner the challenge ends, the sooner (1 year later) you can do another one. Yes, you will still get the Platinum benefits regardless of when you booked your stay.

  16. Hi There. I assume stays at all Marriott family properties count towards the status? Like Fairfield Inn and Courtyard Inn?
    I am doing 6 mattress runs starting tonight to get my last nights in before Dec 31. No two consecutive nights at the same property but I got 6 inn at decent rates at these properties. Hope they count!

  17. Hello, question for option 2: I have a planned stay July 12 of 2013 in France. 2 rooms for 3 nights each. When should I call to start the challenge? What number do you call? Should I book other dates just to “look good”? During the challenge can you sign up for whatever promo is going on at the time? Will my account be credited with Platinum bonus points during the challenge? I am Hilton Diamond. Thanks!

  18. J. figg:
    Just make sure to call at least 2 days before your first check-in.
    Call Marriott’s Rewards #: 1-801-468-4000
    No, you don’t need to book other dates.
    Yes, sign up for every other promo you qualify for.
    Yes, your account will be credited with Platinum bonus points during the challenge.

  19. I just signed up for the challenge and have a 2 week trip planned for San Diego area. I’ll be traveling for work but taking my family along which includes a 5 month old. Instead of moving my family around often can I be checked into 2 locations at once. Have my family stay in one and do mattress runs at others in the area without checking them out??

  20. I have a reservation for Feb 4 and want to maximize my platinum challenge. When should I call to request the challenge? If I call on Friday, Feb. 1, then I will only get Feb, Mar and Apr right? I want to try to get Feb, Mar, Apr and May.

    Does the stay have to start after the plat status is awarded?

  21. Ts2010: I believe that would work
    JoeJoe: Call first thing in the morning on Feb 2. Yes, the stay has to start after the challenge officially begins, but that should be enough time.

  22. Just called this morning for the platinum challenge, I was denied being able to get it. The agent told me that only people who have attained Platinum in the past are eligible to challenge for Platinum again.

    She did, however, get me signed up for Gold. Sucks because I would easily meet the Platinum challenge requirements by April 30th.

    Anyone else had this happen? Should I call back?

  23. Tim: I haven’t heard that one before. Have you done the challenge in the past? Yes, definitely call back although it might be tough changing it if you’re already signed up for the Gold challenge.

  24. Thanks for the advice. However, since, Feb 2 is on a Saturday this year, is Marriott Rewards customer service open? I seem to recall when my wife tried to do the challenge last year that they said it would take 1 business day to take effect.

    • JoeJoe: That’s a great question. I don’t know. I’d recommend calling and asking about that. Simply tell them that you’re planning a lot of stays between Feb and May and so you would like to activate the challenge on Feb 2 and ask if that’s possible.

  25. I actually called this morning and the Marriott rep said they do not do a Platinum status match anymore. They tried to offer me gold, and I said I would decline because I have plenty of nights at other hotels to meet the requirements of the high level. Has anyone else had this problem yet?

    • bb: There is a difference between a status match and a status challenge. With a status match, they give you status for free based on matching to a high level of status with another chain. With a status challenge, they give you status temporarily and will extend it only if you meet the conditions of the challenge. Do you know which one the rep was talking about when he/she said that they didn’t offer Platinum anymore?

  26. The representative told be that they do not do a status match, but instead they do a challenge. She offered me the gold for 6. I am pretty sure she was talking about the challenge for 6 stays to get gold, and how they do not do platinum challenge now because it discounts the value of the membership for current platinum holders.

    • bb: I’d recommend that you call again and specifically ask for the “Taste of Platinum Challenge”. If they offer the Gold challenge tell them that you have top tier status with another chain (assuming that’s true?) and you wouldn’t want to move your business over unless you can get top tier with Marriott. Make it clear too that you have 9 or more stays coming up.

  27. Just FYI, I did exactly what FrequentMiler said in post 52 and was still only offered Gold. The agent repeatedly told me that it devalues the worth of Platinum if they give it away in challenges. She knew I had over 9 stays planned and that I was top status elsewhere. Didn’t matter.

  28. I called today to ask about the Plat challenge. The CSR looked at my account and said he could only offer Gold challenge because they can’t just give away Plat… They are not open on Saturday, and suggested that I call either on the Feb 1st (Friday) or Monday the 4th. He said that even though it would take 24 hours to update in the system, I would still get credit for that stay since the stay is inputted after I check out. I would have to just go to front desk to get concierge lounge access the next day when I have the elite status.

    What he says makes sense, but I’m concerned that I may not get credit for that stay. I might just alter my reservation for one day later and just have my wife make a res for the Monday the 4th instead.

  29. I did a number of things to check whether Marriott still offers the Platinum challenge: I called and I emailed two separate email addresses. All confirmed that the Platinum challenge still exists, but that it is only offered to people who meet certain undisclosed criteria. The person on the phone was the most helpful in telling me that they check to see if you’ve had activity on your account in the past two years. If not, or if you have a brand new account, they won’t offer the Platinum challenge.

  30. Hello, I got the Marriott Credit Card last July, just got it for the 75K bonus they offered then, I am going to signup for Taste of platinum at the end of the month as I am also signed up for the mega bonus that starts on Feb. Well I was looking towards the benefit of the card it says $3000 spending = 1 Elite night. Provided I do V card runs I dont know if its worth it.
    If my math is right $3000/$500=6, 6x$3.95=$23.7 for 1 elite night, cheapest Marriott I found was $54.00/night in my area

    • Thanks FM, I forgot to add more details, I signed up for Megabonus for the free night, i already booked the rooms. Need the free night for trip to Porto Rico in July. Well I was trying to figure out if spending $1279.80 to get Platinum status is worth it.
      My math Card comes with 15 elite night + 6 night(mega Bonus) remaining night for platinum 54 nights
      54*23.7 = $1279.80

  31. Thanks for the info here, called to request Plat Challenge, they would only offer Gold. I told them I was a Hilton Diamond and SPG Plat, and they were not impressed. The CSR mentioned I only had four stays at Marriots, and that my activity would not prompt Plat.

    I’ll live with Gold I only have one future stay at Marriot, so it will not be a deal breaker, would like to have had Plat though.

  32. Hi,

    I’m travelling quite extensively at the end of this year and was wondering if I started the challenge say in October and completed it in Jan 2014, would that mean I could keep the status until 2016 or do I need to start it in Jan 2014?


  33. Great Tip..called Marriott and they were willing to offer any status you wanted. The rewards agent said go with what you think you can achieve and that way you will have that guaranteed till end of year 2013 and all of 2014. 6 Stays for Gold and 9 Stays for Platinum.

  34. Anna: My understanding is that you would have to wait until January to start the challenge if you want the status to last through 2015. If you’ll be traveling a lot at the end of this year, it might make more sense to start the challenge earlier so that you can enjoy Gold or Platinum status this year even though the status will only last until the end of next year.

  35. Thanks FM, just a follow up question;

    If I’ve already booked with Marriott, can those stays still be counted towards the challenge provided I stay at them after I call up the hotel?

    And also quite stupid, I know but do reward nights count to the challenge? Or if I pay partially with points, would those nights count to the challenge?

  36. Anna: Pre-existing reservations are fine. You don’t have to do anything special to make them count. Reward nights do not count, nor do nights paid partially with points.

  37. Hey FM,

    I was wondering, do executive apartments owned by marriott count? I’d assume so but I think someone mentioned that they were someehow treated differently?

    Also, thanks for the advice, worked and I got the platinum challenge

  38. Is there a way to reverse the process? I am already a United Gold, can this somehow get my Marriott raised to Gold?

    SD State Senator Stanford Adelstein

  39. Tough to TRANSFER loyalty over to Marriot when you are top status with SPG and Hilton. It was worth doing when they gave you the status and then you got to keep it if you remain loyal. I am in hotel 170 nights a year business alone.

    Need to rethink the transfer program, build new high use customers. Long term look after the old remain loyal customers. If the program offers good rewards they will stay if it does not they will move.

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