Marriott Rewards has an unpublished ‘Platinum Challenge’. It is not written down anywhere but, if you call or email them, you can sign up. There are only two caveats:
You must already be a Marriott Gold member (comps from Starwood Preferred Guest Golds status are accepted)
You can’t do it if you have done a challenge in the last 12 months
What is the Platinum Challenge?
It is simple.
Do nine stays (stays, NOT nights) at Marriott Rewards hotels (Starwood hotels do not count) within 3-4 months and you will be upgraded to Marriott Rewards Platinum status for the rest of this year and all of next year.
Here are some important factors to note:
- Back to back nights at the same hotel, even if booked separately, will only count as one stay
- Consecutive nights at different Marriott hotels will count as separate stays
- Only cash stays count, not reward nights or ‘cash and points’ nights
- Only one room per night counts towards status irrespective of how many rooms you book
- Only nights booked directly via Marriott channels will count, not Expedia etc
How do you sign up?
Contact Marriott Rewards via their website here.
Send an email with “Platinum Challenge” as the subject and request a Platinum challenge from a date you specify.
My understanding is:
You get the rest of the current month (or the date you ask it to start)
…. plus the next three months
…. in order to complete the nine stays.
Note that Marriott is not obliged to offer you the challenge and you may be turned down.
Why am I interested in this?
On 1st August I will become Platinum in the new scheme. This will only last for five months. From 2019 I will drop to Gold in the new scheme. This has no useful benefits at all. Going forward, American Express Platinum will get you Gold in the new scheme.
Important, for me, is the fact that I am sitting on just over 1 million Marriott Rewards points. I will be doing plenty of Marriott stays over the next couple of years as I work down that pile and it makes sense to maximise the benefits.
What are the benefits of doing the Platinum Challenge now?
On 1st August, the new merged Starwood and Marriott Rewards loyalty scheme begins in all but name. The new name won’t be with us until early 2019.
If you are Marriott Platinum on 1st August, you will become Platinum Premier in the new scheme.
This has quite a bit going for it – basically the current Gold benefits:
Free breakfast or club lounge access (existing benefit)
Decent upgrades including suites (suite upgrades are unlikely as a current Gold)
Guaranteed 4pm check-out (existing benefit)
75% points bonus (improved from the current 50%)
The key would be a soft landing, and that is not clear
I doubt I would bother doing the Marriott Platinum Challenge if I only got the benefits for 2019. However, Marriott Rewards has historically been good at giving ‘soft landings’.
After my year as Platinum Elite, I would hopefully drop to Platinum for 2020. Platinum has virtually the same benefits as Platinum Premier except for a smaller 50% points bonus.
This is not guaranteed. Some reports suggest that Marriott takes your existing stay pattern into consideration which is obviously not going to be too impressive. I am taking a risk over my status level for 2020 if I do this.
How would the maths work?
I have two Marriott stays in the next 90 days in the diary. These are booked as reward nights but I could swap them to cash. They are not ‘outsized’ redemptions (eg I get the 0.5p per point I expect but no more) so swapping for cash makes no real difference.
This means I would need seven ‘mattress run’ stays. Realistically I can probably do at least one more work stay at a Marriott leaving me up to six stays short.
The cheapest Marriott in London is the Moxy at Excel. This is around £55-£60 on most nights. It is a fairly quick DLR trip from the Head for Points office and I reckon a round-trip to check in would be 90 minutes maximum. As I work for myself, I don’t have to eat into my leisure time to do this. I might even work out of the room for the afternoon. Anika is about to head off on holiday so it won’t be disruptive to how we operate day-to-day.
I am therefore looking at £360 plus nine hours of my time, offset by the points earned from the stays themselves. In return I would get one guaranteed year of Platinum Premier status with free breakfast / lounge access, 4pm check-out and upgrades. I would hope to get two years of benefits via a soft landing to Platinum for 2020.
If I put a value on the benefits, I think – on a solo trip – I can justify £50 per night of value from the lounge access and late check-out, when I need it, irrespective of any upgrade received. On a family trip I can easily get £100 per night of value, mainly from four free breakfasts and lounge access, and that is a real saving as my wife is generally insistent that we ‘eat in’ with the kids.
It would be hard for me to lose the money I would spend but it isn’t clear how much I would make. Six trips down to Excel is clearly not painless and I’m not sure I want to do it if I only break even.
Does it make sense?
I’m not sure yet. I am tempted, especially as my Hilton Diamond will expire next March. I don’t have long to decide as I need a hotel for one night next week and would only book a Marriott if I was doing the challenge.
If you want to give it a go, you can email your request via this page. Contact telephone numbers are on the same page if you want to call.
Want to earn more points from credit cards? – May 2022 update
If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are our top recommendations based on the current sign-up bonuses.
In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards. You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:
You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the best of the other deals currently available.
The Platinum Card has doubled its sign-up bonus to 60,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert to 60,000 Avios or other airline miles, if you apply by 1st June 2022.
British Airways American Express Premium Plus
25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review
British Airways American Express
5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold
Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review
The Platinum Card from American Express
60,000 points (SPECIAL OFFER) and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review
Earning miles and points from small business cards
If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these offers:
American Express Business Platinum
40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review
American Express Business Gold
20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review
British Airways Accelerating Business American Express
30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review
Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa
10,500 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa for a limited company Read our full review
For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending.