Last week, my Marriott Rewards Gold Elite membership kit arrived in the mail. You’d think I’d be happy to see it, but not at all. For the past six years or so I’ve had Marriott Platinum status. I originally got the status through a challenge that required 9 stays. Since then, I’ve bought back my status every year with 40,000 Marriott points. But this year Marriott has stopped allowing status buy backs. I’m stuck with Gold status unless I do something about it.
Why Bother with Platinum?
Those who have an Amex Platinum card get SPG Gold status for free and that matches automatically to Marriott Gold status. And truthfully, Marriott Platinum status doesn’t get you much beyond Gold status at Marriott hotels. So why not be content with Gold?
For me, the primary motivation for wanting to keep Marriott Platinum is so that I can keep SPG Platinum and United Silver status:
- SPG Platinum: Marriott Platinum status automatically gives you SPG Platinum status. And, SPG Platinum status is way better than SPG Gold status.
- United Silver Status: Through the Marriott / United partnership RewardsPlus, Marriott Platinum status gives you free United Silver status.
Other benefits of Platinum over Gold:
- 50% point bonus for stays (vs. 25% with Gold)
- 48 hour guaranteed room availability
- Welcome gift upon check-in
Another reason to make the effort now is that Marriott is expected to unveil their new combined rewards program at the end of 2018 or early 2019. It’s impossible to know what that will mean for their elite program, but I think it’s safe to say that it would be better to go into the new program with a top elite status rather than a mid-tier status.
Top 4 Ways to Manufacture Marriott Platinum status
The normal way to earn Marriott Platinum status is to stay 75 nights per year in Marriott hotels. In my case at least, that is definitely not going to happen. Here are my favorite alternatives:
- Ritz Carlton Card $75K Spend
- Complete a Marriott Platinum Challenge
- Qualify on stays with SPG
- Qualify on nights with Marriott (without staying that many nights)
Ritz Carlton $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. Fortunately for those who don’t have the card yet, the Ritz card is not subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule.
|Chase's 5/24 Rule: With most Chase credit cards, Chase will not approve your application if you have opened 5 or more cards with any bank in the past 24 months.
To determine your 5/24 status, see: 3 Easy Ways to Count Your 5/24 Status. An even easier option is to track all of your cards for free with Travel Freely.
Marriott makes Platinum challenges available to members with Gold status. Once you have Gold status, you can request a Platinum challenge as follows:
- 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, or
- Fill out Marriott request form online (here)
- Choose stays or nights. One version of the challenge requires completing 9 stays. The other requires completing 18 nights. Depending upon your plans, one or the other might be better. Note that a multi-night stay only counts as 1 stay even if each night is booked separately. So if you plan to have multi-night stays, the 18 night challenge is probably better. If no offered it right away, ask to switch to the challenge that you prefer.
- Complete the challenge by completing 9 stays or 18 nights in the specified time-frame. The challenge requires actual paid stays booked through Marriott. Award stays or stays booked through online travel agencies don’t count.
Qualify on stays with SPG
Another option for earning SPG Platinum status is to complete 25 stays in a calendar year. Here are some reasons that this may be achievable even if you don’t have very many stays planned:
- Award stays count
- Up to 3 rooms count at once. For example, if you book three rooms for 1 night at a cheap hotel, you’ll get 3 stay credits for that night.
- Amex offers both personal SPG 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.
- If you are staying multiple nights in the same city, you can change to a different SPG hotel each night in order to earn 1 stay per night.
- If you are staying multiple nights in the same hotel, you can alternate booking nights with another person in your group. For example, if you plan to stay 5 nights, you could book nights 1, 3, and 5 as separate stays while your travel partner books nights 2 and 4. Let the hotel know in advance that you’d like to stay in the same room the entire time.
Qualify on nights with Marriott
Marriott Platinum status requires 75 nights per year, but there are shortcuts for getting those nights:
- You can automatically get 15 elite night credits with the Marriott Rewards Premier credit card.
- You can get another 15 elite night credits with the Marriott Rewards Premier Business card.
- With either Marriott Rewards Premier card, you can earn 1 elite night credit with each $3K of spend.
- If you have any elite nights earned in 2017 above those used for the level of status you obtained, they will roll-over (for the last time ever) into 2018.
- You can earn 10 elite nights for each meeting or event that you plan and hold at Marriott hotels (details here).
- Award nights count.
I already have both the personal and business Marriott cards. Since they each give me 15 nights elite credit, I already have 30 nights toward the 75 needed for Platinum status. My next step is to see if I can get a second Marriott business card for a second business. If that works, hopefully that will give me another 15 nights credit (we’ll see! NOTE: Reader Joe C says it did not work for him). If that works, I’ll be up to 45 nights without breaking a sweat. Then, I could try to get a second personal card as well. That card is subject to 5/24, so I can’t just apply for it (and I doubt I’d be approved anyway since I already have one), but there’s a trick that just might work: I could apply for the Ritz Carlton card (not subject to 5/24) and then product change it to the Marriott card. If that works, I’d be up to 60 nights out of the 75 needed. I stay in Marriott hotels often enough that the final 15 nights would come easily.