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Should I do a Marriott Platinum Challenge to lock in the new benefits?

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Marriott Rewards has an unpublished ‘Platinum Challenge’.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?

I currently have Marriott Rewards Gold status via my American Express Platinum charge card.  (Amex Platinum gives you Starwood Gold which matches to Marriott Gold.)

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.

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Comments (66)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • John Crilly says:

    Hi Rob, Am I misunderstanding the Marriott website where it tells me that if I’m Gold Elite now I’ll be automatically Platinum Elite from August?

    • Rob says:

      You will, yes, but if it is a match from SPG Gold it will end in December.

  • shd says:

    Rob, did Marriott already give you a Plat challenge as Amex Plat-SPG Gold-Marriott Gold? Did you have (m)any Marriott stays completed/booked?

    Marriott turned me down for exactly this challenge earlier this year, said not enough evidence of stay history, despite me having both (earned!) Hyatt Glob + HH Diamond to offer to match against.

    • Rob says:

      No, haven’t asked yet, hence the article. Still juggling numbers.

      • shd says:

        When I called (back in Jan) I had a multi-night stay at a Marriott coming up, from what the agent said it sounded as though it was significant stay *history* at Marriott they were looking for, rather than the promise of future business.

    • xcalx says:

      Don’t ask for a match ask for a “taste of ” Plat or “road to” Plat the former if granted comes with instant Plat for 90 days during the challenge a bit like Hyatt used to work.

      • shd says:

        I didn’t mention a match, I knew the right names, and they said no to both. HUACA didn’t work either.

        Maybe it’s a Marriott policy. Be interesting to see how Rob gets on if he requests one.

    • Lee says:

      I was rejected for the same reason as never had Marriott stay before, then I booked one stay then thought to give another try after I checked in, granted instantly and that say did count.

    • KBuffett says:

      You could try booking some fully refundable future stays before asking for the challenge.

  • David L says:

    I’m just about to complete my 2nd taste of platinum challenge, I had to do either 9 stays or 18 nights within 3 months. As I had dropped to gold this year but have a number of Marriott stays this year it was an absolute no-brainer and I signed up as soon as I could.
    Consider also if you’re a heavy stayer and the new lifetime status criteria which in part will now go off number of years at the platinum status.

  • CV3V says:

    Marriott are opening a Moxy in Glasgow in July (ish). Given its newness and location, i imagine they will have some cheap rates available for anyone planning a mattress run. Hotel doesn’t yet seem bookable on website.

  • Talay says:

    Having had around 40 nights a year lost from Marriott due to their losing two properties I continue to use under other branding (no suitable Marriotts or Starwoods nearby) I am also intrigued by this.

    I have a couple of 7 day rewards to work through and a decent six figure balance to draw upon if I continue to use Marriott but I am also only Gold now having fallen back from Platinum. I retain this due to SPG Amex which is my primary card.

    However, I have had great success in simply asking the hotel to give me the benefits I want, whether they are bespoke for me or not. Breakfast is key (3 of us), then a spa discount (usually costs nothing as there are so often on site spa discounts), lounge is nice, plus laundry (we use in house heavily) and possibly additional points / nights credit or discount off on site spending.

    We do use the hotel and spend one site. For example, we had a few £300/500 lunchtime bills from our stay in Phulay Bay recently and I’d say we often double the nightly charge with in house spend.

    I have 2 or 3 bespoke corporate rate with no minimum nights but just copies of what they trot out to folk that do stay long term. I’m just happy to ask and re-ask if at first refused. though sometimes you just get knocked back completely.

    The bonus points sound attractive though.

  • Talay says:

    Re Marriott Challenge

    Can’t you just check in online and check out online and effectively, never go there ?

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