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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Marriott Rewards has an unpublished ‘Platinum Challenge’.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

Marriott Rewards Platinum Challenge

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%)

Marriott Platinum Challenge

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 miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Comments (68)

  • Tariq says:

    I stayed at the Moxy Heathrow last night, only £58 – impressed as I only booked it on Monday. Free parking at the moment too as their car park barriers don’t seem to be working yet. Exactly like the other two London Moxys but much bigger!

    • RC says:

      Thinking of booking a stay here too. Can I ask if there was any recognition of Marriott status. eg Free breakfast / late check out!?

      • Tariq says:

        No, nothing. Only time I’ve had recognition of Gold was at Moxy Excel – a poker chip for a free drink was received. Free breakfast is not a benefit (will be in the revised Platinum level) at Moxy.

        • RC says:

          Thanks! thats probably a deal breaker for me this time round. Prices are definitely competitive though!

  • mark2 says:

    OT
    My IHG Spire Elite was due to expire on 28th Feb. This is no great loss, but i am staying at a HI in August and Spire Elite is still showing on my account and the booking.
    Has this happened to everyone?

    • Liz says:

      Expiry for Spire Elite is normally the end of Dec

      • Liz says:

        We cancelled my hubby’s IHG Black card over 6 mths ago and he is still showing as Platinum Elite status when he should be only Club!

      • mark2 says:

        Thanks. I remember now that the later date is probably because I got the Spire extended by buying Ambassador. So it should have expired on 31/12/17?

        • shd says:

          I’m still Spire and was expecting to be Plat by now. Certainly NOT going to phone IHG and ask why, though 🙂

    • Mr Dee says:

      maybe they will upgrade your free snack if your still elite 🙂

  • Redkitty says:

    do corporate bookings via Concur count towards a Plat Challenge? I have a couple of biz trips coming up and your plan makes sense for me to up myself to Plat if it might get me 2yrs benefits.

    • sunguy says:

      Probably not, Concur usually books via your corporate travel agent – whomever your company have signed up with.

      I used to book the hotel nights using the website, then once the trip was manager approved, call the hotel directly and get them to swap the booking for something more sensible (i.e. RO to B&B plus directly booked) – the prices were usually cheaper and/or a better room for a similar price.

      • sunguy says:

        I should have added that all the hotel stays that my company authorised/booked via the travel agency were pay at property…. this is also generally the way that these are booked – however, I did notice that some pre-pay rooms were showing last time I logged in, so just be careful!

        • Sididdly says:

          I did this using bookings made in Concur and all went well. I did the challenge about 18 months ago staying in central London. Marriott Kensington and Hotel Xenia (Autograph Collection) are over the road from each other so I just flipped between them for 3 week’s.

  • Waribai says:

    I did this last year with a a view to our New Year stay at RC Abama. When we arrived the hotel was sold out and they couldn’t even give us an upgrade. After a few emails we did eventually get breakfast and lounge thrown in. But without this we would have had zero plat recognition!

    • New Card says:

      How did you manage that? I thought it was just a feature of the Marriott Rewards program that you don’t get breakfast for having status at an R-C?

      • Waribai says:

        No, you don’t but my point was that if they couldn’t offer us a room upgrade then breakfast would be an alternative compensation. Front desk were sympathetic but had no authorisation to grant this and their supervisor was nowhere to be seen. An email to the assistant manager for the resort finally made the stay great!

        • New Card says:

          Cool – sounds like a success (and a good strategy to try if elite benefits aren’t honoured at the front desk…)

  • Tony says:

    Re attaining “Platinum Elite” with a challenge:

    Going forward (and with particular reference to 2019) and if I completed the challenge pre-August 2018): would any “Platinum Elite” benefits then extend to Ritz-Carlton properties in the new merged programme after July 31st? I seem to have read mixed things about this (perks at R-Cs) in recent days. I do appreciate that, at the moment, no such benefits apply at R-Cs.

    Thanks!

  • Donald Trump says:

    Does day use count as a stay?

  • James says:

    Do the upgrades apply to the Autograph collection, ie Domes if Elounda?

    • Waribai says:

      Yes, it applies to Domes. You’ll get breakfast and lounge access. Outside of school holidays you may also get upgraded to a pool villa.

  • Kuan says:

    Great article, Rob.
    Any idea if the challenge can be taken post (or during) August?