Marriott’s loyalty program, soon to be named Bonvoy, has a lot to like… and a lot to dislike (even beyond it’s name). Overall, though, I’m pretty happy with the program… as long as I can maintain Platinum elite status or higher. Platinum status entitles you to 4pm late checkout, a 50% point bonus, a welcome gift with breakfast option, lounge access, and complementary room upgrades including to select suites.
The following chart shows each level of elite status, the requirements for earning that status, and key benefits:
In my opinion Platinum Elite is the sweet spot. Yes, Titanium and Ambassador add nice perks, but the key perks come with Platinum status. As a result, I believe that achieving lifetime Platinum status is a worthwhile goal.
My current status
In 2018 I earned 75 nights, which got me to Platinum Premier status (soon to be renamed “Titanium”) which will last through February 2020. I earned 75 nights largely due to short term opportunities caused by the program merger between Marriott and SPG. Specifically, I have four credit cards which each contributed to my total: Marriott Premier (15 nights), Marriott Premier Business (15 nights), SPG (5 nights), and SPG Business (5 nights). With that collection of credit cards I had earned 40 elite nights before setting foot in a Marriott or Starwood hotel. Going forward, it won’t matter how many Marriott cards one has: the elite nights will no longer stack. So, going forward, I’ll earn only 15 elite nights per year from credit cards.
Even with the 40 credit card nights, it was a bit of a stretch to earn 35 more nights for Platinum Premier status, but I ended up doing so almost entirely with actual planned stays. Near the end of the year I “manufactured” one elite night by booking an award night at a near-airport hotel in my name for my son’s friend who was flying out early the next morning (I checked in and gave him the key). In a previous post I had said that I would use a Choice Benefit to get 5 more nights, but I didn’t end up needing to.
The Marriott app shows that I currently have lifetime Gold status (not worth much, but better than nothing). More importantly, it shows my progress towards lifetime Platinum:
- 366 nights completed (I need 600 for Lifetime Platinum)
- 10 years or more as Platinum Elite or higher (I’m done with that requirement since lifetime Platinum requires 10 years as Platinum or higher)
So, all I need to get to lifetime Platinum status is to earn 234 additional elite nights.
My elite night run rate
In 2018 I earned 35 elite nights from actual stays. My guess is that a typical year going forward won’t be as Marriott-heavy. Let’s estimate that, on average, I’ll earn 25 elite nights per year from stays. With 15 credit card nights, that will get me to 40 elite nights per year. At that point, I’ll be close enough to re-earning Platinum status that I might as well book a meeting room to get 10 more elite nights (my understanding is that we’ll be able to do that once per year going forward).
In short, I expect to earn 50 elite nights per year one way or another.
That will be enough for me to keep annual Platinum status while I make may way towards lifetime Platinum.
4 years to go at 50 nights per
I need 234 more nights to reach lifetime Platinum. If I did nothing but hold onto a credit card and use its one free night each year, then I’d earn only 16 nights per year and it would take me 15 years to reach lifetime Platinum status.
I’m not likely to do that, though. As discussed above, I’m expecting to earn a combined 50 elite nights per year, on average. At that rate, I’ll achieve lifetime Platinum status in approximately 4.5 years.
Another way to look at it is that if I earn 50 elite nights each year for the next 4 years, then on the fifth year I’ll only need to earn more 34 elite nights to reach my goal. That should be a piece of cake.