Marriott SPG 4 New Shortcuts to Platinum Elite Status

Shortcuts to PlatinumThe Marriott SPG merger has opened up a wealth of new opportunities.  Program members who link their accounts get instantly matched to their highest status level:

  • Marriott Gold = SPG Gold
  • Marriott Platinum = SPG Platinum

And they now have the ability to transfer points in either direction:

  • 1 SPG Starpoint = 3 Marriott Rewards points

I am actively maintaining a list of great opportunities that the Marriott SPG merge make possible:

Marriott SPG Complete Guide to Sweet Opportunities

In this post I’ll expand on shortcuts to Platinum elite status made possible with this merger…

Platinum = Nearly Top Tier

Platinum status, in either chain, is only nearly top-tier.  Marriott has a higher, secret, status named Platinum Premier.  They do not publish the requirements or benefits of this level, but one awesome perk that I know of (but isn’t documented) is that Platinum Premier members match to United Gold status via RewardsPlus.  Regular Platinum members match to United Silver (which is still a great perk!).

SPG meanwhile makes no secret of their many levels of Platinum status.  Above regular Platinum there’s Platinum 50, Platinum 75, and Platinum 100.  Each represents the number of qualifying nights spent at SPG properties.  Above regular Platinum benefits, Platinum 50 elites get to choose extra benefits (including suite upgrade certificates); Platinum 75 elites earn more points per dollar for stays and get to choose their check-in time; and Platinum 100 elites get SPG Ambassador service.  More details can be found here.

That said, basic Platinum status, with either chain, is very nice to have.  So, here are some shortcuts to getting there…

Shortcut 1: $75K Spend

The Ritz Carlton card offers automatic Gold status for the first year and then lets you maintain Gold status each year thereafter with just $10K of credit card spend.  Further, they’ll grant you Platinum status with $75K spend.  The Ritz and Marriott rewards programs are identical programs with different names, so Ritz Platinum = Marriott Platinum.  When signing up for the Ritz card, you can even enter in your Marriott Rewards number so that you’ll get status directly with Marriott.  Then, of course, you’ll automatically get status with SPG as well.

Shortcut 2: Status Ladder Climb! Requires 9 stays.

Marriott sometimes offers status challenges to those who call to ask for a status match.  Unfortunately, they’re selective as to who will get approved for a status challenge and the selection criteria is not well known.  I do believe, though, that having recent Marriott stays is very helpful.

In order to get Platinum status through a challenge, you need to get approved for either the Taste of Platinum or Road to Platinum Challenge.  Both require completing 9 stays in approximately 3 months. The main difference is that the “Taste of” challenge offers temporary Platinum status during the challenge (which cannot be used to match to SPG Platinum), but the “Road to” challenge does not.  If you complete either challenge, you’ll get Marriott Platinum status which will match you to SPG Platinum.

In order to get approved for either Platinum Challenge, you need to have Marriott Gold status first.  Otherwise, at best, they’ll offer you a Gold challenge.  So, the “ladder climb” goes like this:

  1. Acquire Marriott Gold status.  There are plenty of shortcuts to do so:
    • Sign up for Ritz Carlton card, or
    • Sign up for Amex Platinum card to get SPG Gold status and automatically match to Marriott Gold, or
    • Spend $30,000 on an SPG credit card within a calendar year to get SPG Gold status and automatically match to Marriott Gold, or
    • Enroll in RewardsPlus. If you already have United MileagePlus Gold status or higher, that status will grant you Marriott Gold status
  2. Request a status match or challenge to Platinum.  It is very unlikely that you’ll get an outright match, but you may get approved for a Platinum challenge.
    • Call Marriott Rewards (1-800-721-7033), or
    • Fill out Marriott request form online (here)
  3. Complete the challenge by completing 9 stays in the specified time-frame.  Note that a multi-night stay only counts as 1 stay even if each night is booked separately.  One work-around is to change hotels each night so that each night counts as a separate stay.

Shortcut 3: SPG Platinum Challenge. Requires 18 paid nights.

Acquiring SPG Platinum status through stays usually requires 25 stays or 50 nights at SPG properties.  An alternative is to sign up for the SPG Platinum Status Challenge which only requires 18 paid nights.

There are a number of downsides to this challenge compared to earning status through 25 stays or 50 nights:

  • You must complete the challenge in a 3 month timeframe
  • Reward nights do not count towards the challenge
  • Amex SPG credit card nights do not count towards the challenge

However, it is now quite easy to request this challenge as there is a dedicated SPG Status Challenge website with all the information you need to contact Starwood for this challenge.

Shortcut 4: Qualify on stays and use Amex SPG credit cards to help. Requires 21 stays.

Marriott Platinum status usually requires 75 nights per year.  You can automatically get 15 nights towards that requirement with the Marriott Rewards credit card, but that still leaves 60 nights required.  Those 60 nights can be achieved through actual stays or through very high Marriott credit card spend which offers 1 elite night per $3K spend (if you go that way, you’re almost certainly better off spending $75K with the Ritz credit card).

Thanks to the Marriott SPG merger, a new option for getting Marriott Platinum status is to qualify for SPG Platinum status.  By limiting SPG stays to 1 night each, it is possible to achieve Platinum status with as few as 25 stays.  And the Amex SPG credit cards can reduce that number further…

Amex offers both personal and business SPG credit cards.  Both automatically give the cardholder 2 stays and 5 nights towards elite status.  This means that if you have both cards, you get 4 stays and 10 nights towards status.

Another reason that SPG Platinum status is easier to achieve is that SPG allows you to earn multiple night and stay credits at once by booking multiple rooms.  If you travel with friends or a large family and book multiple rooms under your own SPG account, you’ll earn night and stay credits for each room (up to 3 rooms).

Wrap Up

All of the shortcuts described above existed before.  But, now, each of these shortcuts leads to Platinum status in both programs, Marriott and SPG, rather than just one.  The most interesting of these opportunities, to me, is option 2, but I don’t know how readily Marriott will offer Platinum challenges.  If you try for it, please report your results in the comments below!

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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  1. Recent Starwood stay with three rooms, I was denied points on the third room. Is there any thing published about the three room credit?

    • Thanks, yep. I decided to leave that out since officially you only get the 10 night stays if you book rooms with your meeting so that makes it a very high hurdle. Unofficially it is still possible to get 10 nights credit per meeting even without rooms booked, so you’re right that it is a viable shortcut.

  2. I have been granted lifetime Marriott Gold Elite. I think this complete merger thing is about SPG and quite frankly is not very fair to any of us that spent most of our life staying at a Marriott.

    • I can understand that. I think that for Marriott Platinum elites it is a pretty good deal because it gives you SPG Platinum which is arguably better than Marriott Platinum. Marriott Golds only get SPG Gold which is not worth nearly as much as Marriott Gold.

  3. Just tried Shortcut #2 via Marriott chat and was told I needed 50 nights with Marriott in order to be considered for a Platinum Challenge.

  4. Could you shed some light as to how long with the Platinum status last once we acquire it? Also the silver status match with United, how long is that good for? Are both the statuses good for the calendar year one gets them, or 365 days from the day acquired? I

    • It depends how you earn it. If you earn status through nights with Marriott (or nights or stays with SPG), then it will last the rest of the current calendar year, all of the following calendar year, and then through Feb of the year following that.

      If you earn it through a Marriott Platinum challenge, the challenge terms will tell you how long it will last. My wife’s Platinum challenge offer that she received today said that if she met the challenge requirements (9 stays between now and Dec 31) she would keep status through January 2018

      • Actually, as I think about this, I’m wondering if Marriott changed the end date for status to end of January? I don’t know why else my wife’s Platinum challenge would state that her status would only last until then.

        Anyone know?

        • where on can I see my end date? I did the challenge in June, have 71 nights currently, but met plat challenge already…sooo, if you can point me to it before Thurs, (when I’ll have 4 more nights) I can check what mine says for end-date and see what it says post-75 nights.

      • I was thinking of doing it with MS on the Ritz Carlton card, $75k spend. Is it better to do that in January 2017 ? Thanks for your reply

  5. ALL: If you are thinking of challenging for Marriott Platinum, if possible, wait until the second day of the month in which you plan to have some Marriott stays. This way you’ll have more time to complete the challenge.

    The trial period is the rest of the current calendar month (unless you make the request on the 1st) and 3 months after that. So requesting today is actually a bad idea since you only get a few days in September, and then 3 months.

  6. MR has been a lot stingier w/ Plat challenges. As noted above, having to already have Gold (50 nights) before they’ll give the Plat challenge (w/ plat bennies along the way). I asked (and denied) until I reached Gold first. BUT…I could go backwards 1 month for stays after a HUCA, as I complained…”why would I do a challenge if I have 50 nights, it’s June and then have to stay another 18 nights…ie. 68 nights, when plat was only 7 more nights…

    I’ve had plat for a # of years and just wanted to lock-it-in for the year (and get more pts matching along the way) since I dropped to Gold last year b/c of working on elite status w/ another hotel chain.

    Anyways…the challenges/paths have definitely been much more stringent in their enforcement AND the latitude the CSR has in denying a better offer/challenge (not being nicer, fyi)

    • p.s.
      While on the call w/ them, they reiterated I had to have 50 nights. (not just Gold status), as I mention I could get gold status thru a CC card and begin the challenge….so pre-merger, it inferred they were denying plat challenge if you didn’t have the nights…ie.. had the Gold status simply by having the gold status from some pgm/perk/etc

  7. @greg
    I’m now marriot gold from SPG match, we are staying in Venice May 2017 as gold, can I ask for the challenge a couple months before for our May vacation to have plat for our stay? Likely never will stay 9+ nights in 3 months

    • It can’t hurt to try, but if they give you the platinum challenge at all it will most likely be the one that does not grant status until you complete the 9 stays. It is rare these days for them to offer the version that includes temporary Platinum status.

  8. Hi Greg,
    Do you know anything about the timing of the SPG Platinum challenge in regards to how long the status lasts for? For instance, if I elect my 3 month period to be from Oct-Dec and get my 18th night in Dec, then I assume my Plat status will last the rest of 2016 and then all of 2017. If I elect my 3 month period to be from Nov – Jan and my 18th night is in Jan 2017, then I get Plat for the rest of 2017 and 2018? Have seen confusing responses online about this.

  9. Since it is the end of the year I am trying to secure my platinum marriott status for next year. I currently need 26 nights to platinum marriott, however with the merger now I am thinking I could do 25 nights of SPG.
    If I have already stayed 50 nights for 2017 with marriott should I just continue to stay marriott to lock that platinum down or stay the final 25 with SPG? Any thoughts?

    • Keep in mind that SPG requires 25 stays or 50 nights. So if any of your stays are more than 1 night long, you’re better off sticking with Marriott. Another option is to simply wait until your Platinum status lapses and see if Marriott offers to let you buy back Platinum status for 40,000 points. I’ve done that for the past 3 or 4 years in a row.

  10. Does anyone know if using award stays will count in the 9 stay platinum challenge? I just started it and I have until January 31st.

  11. Hi Greg,

    Huge fan of the site! In regards to the Marriott Road to Platinum… the 9 stays. Hypothetically speaking… if I booked one night at my local Marriott (~$90 a night) once every week for 9 weeks straight, would that qualify for the 9 stay requirement?


  12. Datapoint: My main goal is to buy MileagePlus Silver as economically as possible given my already committed holiday travel plans. I applied for the Ritz Carlton Rewards card last week. Marriott Gold Elite status took effect yesterday. Today I called the Marriott customer support line and requested a Platinum status challenge. The customer service staffer applied the 9 stay status challenge. I thanked her and hung up. Since i’m expecting to stay at least 18 nights in hotels in December I called back and politely asked to be switched to the 18 nights status challenge, they were able to do it with no problems. The customer service staffer said she made a note in the system explaining why she switched it to the 18 nights version.

    My Marriott/Ritz account only has two nights lifetime (at a Ritz Carlton) and no status prior to the Gold Elite from the RCR card.

    My original strategy was to take the SPG platinum challenge and automatch to Marriott. The Starwood stay 2 get 3rd free promotion in theory would synergize well with Citi Prestige 4th night free. But the limitations of that code are pretty severe (weekends only, must prepay, the first and second night rates are not discounted) and Starwood’s has a non-existent footprint in some of the places i’m going (e.g. Budapest).

  13. Greg – thanks for the great post. I’ve been reading lots of these describing the SPG-Marriott linking and status matching and have a question:

    I have Marriott Gold through my Ritz Carlton Visa and SPG Gold via my AMEX Platinum. Is there *any* reason to spend the $10K on my RCV to re-qualify for Marriott Gold when I can simply link my accounts and immediately match SPG Gold-> Marriott Gold? I seem to recall reading *somewhere* that status matched benefits are not always 100% the same as “earned” status benefits.

    Having said that, I would much rather spend that $10K on my AMEX PRG. I can get 2X small business bonus with some purchases lined up – i.e., 20K MR points – instead of 10K Marriott points worth much, much less.

  14. Hi Greg – my Marriott Platinum status expires in February. If I link my Marriott Platinum to United today and obtain the MileagePlus Silver this calendar year, will I be able to ask for status again in January for all of 2017?

    Or the Silver status benefit only available to Marriott Platinum for one calendar year?

    Thanks in advance for your assistance.

    • You do need to re-sign up for Silver status each year. I’m not sure whether or not you can eke out one extra year that way. Maybe. Better yet, wait for Marriott to offer to let you keep Platinum status for 40,000 points. I’ve been paying the 40K points each year. I think its well worth it!

  15. Hi Greg I just asked for SPG platinum challenge. If I do the challenge now, would I get status through next year den 2018? What if I do the challenge on or after April 1 this year? Or would that be too late given the merger?

  16. I was wondering if I take the challenge to platinum, am I eligible to the Elite Status Buy Back program and spend 40,000 Marriott points to keep platinum status?

    • Unless they’ve changed things, yes. As long as you complete the challenge, it should work. I got my status from a challenge several years ago and having been buying it back each year. Of course there’s no guarantee that they’ll bring back the Elite Status Buy Back in 2018 or beyond.

  17. I am currently a gold SPG member but am going to be doing many stays over the next few months. I called the Gold Member line and asked if I could get a Platinum challenge and they put it on my account. I have to stay 18 nights in the next three months, which should not be too hard with what is on my plate.

  18. i have 5 rooms booked at ritz maui in april and a few nights earlier in april. as far as marriot night challenge, how many of the rooms will I be able to use to qualify. all total at ritz I have 30 nights booked.

  19. The SPG challenge allows up to three rooms on a single night to count towards the challenge (ie. stay one night with three rooms booked and you actually get three night credits). Does the same apply to the Marriott challenge?

  20. Stumbled across this article – and I am glad I did! Went ahead and filled out the Marriott Request for Platinum status (currently am Gold with 51 nights – actual stays). They responded the next day with this:

    Dear Rick Kee,

    Thank you for contacting Marriott Rewards.

    On behalf of Marriott Rewards Guest Services, please allow me to extend the offer of a Platinum Elite Status challenge. If you accept this offer, your account status would be upgraded to Platinum Elite after the following terms have been met.

    In order to achieve this status, you must accumulate nine separate paid stays beginning with the date your account is registered for the offer, through 12/31/17. This is a one-time offer, and would be effective within three business days of your acceptance of this offer.

    Once you have accumulated nine separate paid stays, your account status would be upgraded to Platinum Elite through January 2019. To retain this status for all of 2019, you would need to accrue the qualifying number of Elite nights during 2018. The Silver Elite level requires 10 Elite nights, the Gold Elite level requires 50 Elite nights, and the Platinum Elite level requires 75 Elite nights.

    Should you be unable to accumulate nine separate paid stays during this trial period, your account would remain at your current status, and you would need to stay the normal night requirements to achieve this Platinum Elite level.

    A “hotel stay” or “stay” means all consecutive nights a Marriott Rewards member registers and personally pays and stays at any participating hotel. For example, one or multiple consecutive nights stayed in one hotel qualifies as one paid stay.

    To be eligible for this offer, each stay would need to be individually booked in the name on your account, you must check into the hotel, and you need to pay the hotel directly for the stay. You are not eligible to earn credit for stays in another name (even that of a friend or family member), stays booked as part of a group or package, or stays booked and paid through a third party.

    This information is visible by clicking on the following link for the Marriott Rewards online terms and conditions.

    Incidental credit, redemption stays, timeshare owner stays during a designated owner week, stays in ExecuStay, and stays at Marriott Executive Apartment properties do not earn credit toward this offer. Also, Elite nights that appear as non-stay nights in your account do not qualify for this offer.

    Please reply to this email if you would like to accept this offer, and I will register your account.

    Thank you for the opportunity to be of assistance and for making Marriott your preferred hotel chain.

    Best Regards,

    Nancy G
    Internet Correspondence Specialist
    Marriott Rewards Guest Services

  21. Greg I’m not clear on Challenge status expiration. For example, what would be the difference between completing the 9 stays in December 2017 vs. January 2018? Would it likely expire in both scenarios January 2019? I saw one unverified report that if waiting until February or March to finish the 9th stay would extend into January 2020.

    • I might be wrong, but I think Marriott bases it on the date you start the challenge, not when you complete it. I think that if you start the challenge in December 2017, your status would be good only until Feb 2019. But if you start the challenge in January 2018, your status would be good until Feb 2020.

  22. Hi Greg,
    One thing I don’t think I have ever seen a blogger comment on in regard to Marriott credit cards is getting 30 elite nights per year by having the personal and business cards. I have had both for 2 years and each year have received 30 nights. why doesn’t anyone acknowledge that? I read the rules on this and it seems to me that it is not supposed to happen as the card terms state that you can only get nights for one card but they do not directly reference having one personal and one business so I wonder if they are referring to having two of the same card. Your thoughts?

    • I can’t say why other blogs haven’t acknowledged this. In my case I didn’t know about it until recently. I had assumed that the terms were correct when they said that you’d only get 15 nights. Anyway, for those who achieve Marriott elite status through stays, this is obviously a great benefit for those who have both the personal and business Marriott cards.

  23. To get to Platinum status fastest get SPG Amex and Business Amex in January of any year. SPG Amex gives you 2 stays and 5 nights per year. That will give you 4 stays. I did it last year. You then get another 4 stays and 5 nights in February. At least I got the additional. That gives you 8 stays and 10 nights. To reach platinum with Spg you only need 25 stays or 50 nights. A stay is any stay, Can be one night or as many you stay. Staying 1 night per stay gives you platinum after 17 stays or (if you stay is one night) just 17 nights. With linked accounts and status match you get Platinum with Marriott.

  24. Also, to add to my post above, to get gold with SPG you only need 10 stays or 25 nights. I did not need status match because I was already a MR gold, but I figured out that Following the above strategy I would gave achieved SPG gold after just 2 nights, remember a stay can be 1 night or any amount of night you stay consecutive. But got Platnium really fast using This strategy.

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