One of the things I love about Marriott’s elite status program is that once you get status it is incredibly easy to keep it. Each year they offer their Elite Status Buy Back program. If you didn’t earn enough elite nights during the previous year to keep your current level of status, you can exchange points to keep that status. Years ago I completed a Taste of Platinum Challenge in order to earn Marriott Platinum status. Since then, I’ve bought back Platinum status each year by trading in 40,000 points. I plan to do the same this year.
Unfortunately, not everyone is eligible to buy back status. Whether or not you can buy back status depends how you earned the status in the first place. The following lists are my attempt to clarify who is eligible. I’d recommend checking this post again in a few weeks, though, because I’ll update the details as I learn more from readers.
Yes, you can buy back status if you obtained your current level of elite status by…
- Staying at Marriott properties the required number of nights
- Automatically earning 15 elite nights by owning a Marriott Premier Rewards credit card
- Earning elite nights through spend on a Marriott credit card
- Completing a Marriott Gold or Platinum challenge
- Buying back status last year
No, you cannot buy back status if you obtained your current level of elite status by…
- Linking your SPG and Marriott accounts (i.e. if you have Marriott status only because you had SPG status, then you cannot buy back that status. However, if you continue to hold that level of SPG status, you will continue to hold the equivalent Marriott status)
- Enrolling in, but not completing, a Marriott elite challenge that offered temporary elite status
- Automatically earning Gold status as a first year Ritz Carlton card* holder
- Earning Gold status in subsequent years through $10K annual spend on your Ritz Carlton card*
- Earning Platinum status through $75K annual spend on your Ritz Carlton card*
*Ritz Carlton card owners
I don’t have much evidence to support the claim that you cannot buy back status earned as a cardholder. I vaguely remember a comment on my blog to that effect (but I cannot find it). I did find a comment on this Loyalty Lobby post where a reader said that they tried to buy back status but “I was not eligible because I had gold status last year due to having a Ritz card, which I had cancelled, and that the offer was just automatically generated and was a mistake.” Maybe if you still have the card open you can buy back status (but I doubt it). I don’t think that would make sense to do at the Gold level (since you can keep Gold with just $10K annual spend, or by getting SPG Gold status a variety of ways). At the Platinum level, though, it would make sense to do (if possible) since the required $75K spend for Platinum status is a huge investment.
Readers with Ritz cards: Have you tried buying back status? What were the results? Please comment below!
Shortcuts to Marriott Elite Status
If you don’t already have elite status, there are many ways to get there more easily than actually spending the required number of nights at Marriott properties. You can find a comprehensive list of shortcuts in the following two posts:
- Shortcuts to earning and renewing Marriott elite status
- Marriott SPG 4 New Shortcuts to Platinum Elite Status
When to Buy Back Status? A recommendation…
The Marriott elite year goes through February of the next year. For example, if you had Platinum status in 2016, you will continue to hold Platinum status through the end of February 2017. Unless your plans include a Marriott stay right around March 1, I recommend waiting to see if your status actually drops before buying back status. If your status drops, you’ll probably get a membership kit in February for the lower level status. If not, at worst, you’ll see your new status when you log into Marriott on March 1.
You have until March 31 to buy back status.