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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Marriott Rewards has an unpublished ‘Platinum Challenge’.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)

  • Aliks says:

    It looks marginal for me, as I would have to completely move over from IHG to Marriott.

    I could move some upcoming stays to Marriott. Assuming a 3 night stay can be split into 1st day on me, 2nd day on wife, 3rd day on me – to give me 2 of the 9 required stays, then I can easily do 7 stays, and a couple of mattress runs.

    However, as Ambassador/Spire Elite with IHG, I have 250,000 points to spend from recent Accelerates – about 8 night’s worth. I would want to use over the next year or so, cutting into the benefit of having Elite status with Marriott.
    Also, we usually have very light breakfasts. We would eat the Marriott food if it was offered, but its more like excess calories than a luxury benefit.

    On the plus side, we will likely spend 20 nights a year in hotels, so gaining Marriott benefits for 50 nights through to end 2020. Are the Marriott hotels that much better than IHG to justify the change?

    • mark2 says:

      From my, obviously limited, experience Marriott hotels are in a different league from IHG. Having said that, Marriott have got some motel type brands too.

  • John D says:

    Another option I am looking at is to do the Marriott Gold Challenge. Last week I spoke to a Marriot rewards CSA on the phone as I Have recently been downgraded to Marriott Silver. I was offered Marriott Gold Challenge which would give me Gold Status for 6 stays or 12 night in 3 months . The CSA said the status would cover me for 2019 and the Challenge needs to be completed in 3 month. She said to apply I just need to call the Marriott Rewards team. I am very tempted and just looking at the maths. I have a 21 nights trip to the Far East booked for February 2019 ( business class flights and hotels all paid with points using tips gleamed from HfP – thank you Rob) 10 nights are at JW Marriott . If I can do my Challenge for £400 of mattress runs I will go for it. I reckon the breakfast , exec lounge access for cocktails and afternoon tea for 2 is worth £100 a day for both of us.

    • Rob MC says:

      That won’t work as gold from August won’t offer any of those benefits.

      You’re best option is to get the amex platinum and get gold that way.

      • Alex W says:

        Won’t he get upgraded to platinum in August? Question is whether that would continue in 2019 or not.

      • John D says:

        Hi Rob MC my understanding is getting Amex Platinum now which would give me SPG gold then this would not be the same as Marriott gold and would not merge into the new scheme platinum

        • Rob says:

          Your understanding is wrong 🙂

          You get Platinum from August to Christmas.

          I wrote about this last week, the top Marriott Rewards man in Europe has confirmed this to me personally and US guy who said otherwise has retracted his statement.

  • Craig Sutherland says:

    I am currently MR Plat due to linking it too my SPG account where I am Plat and focus most of my stays. In the article you mention that if you are MR Plat on 1st Aug that this will map to Plat Prem in the new scheme – so does this mean that MR Plat members via this route will become Plat Prem?

  • Brian S says:

    I don’t stay often enough to justify chasing Platinum and certainly not to spend on a challenge. I can understand those that do 20-40 nights per year in Marriott properties doing so.

    I’ve just got my IHG Platinum Ambassador so I’ll be trying out some IC’s this year as well as making stays at Hilton as Gold benefits are ok and certainly better than the new Marriott Gold.

    The main Marriott I stay at in Cologne offers Lounge access with Exec room bookings which is often marginally more expensive that a Grand Deluxe so at worst if I want lounge access for evening meal, snacks and breakfast I’ll probably go for that rate.

  • mike says:

    Rob,

    given you have platinum till end of 2018, wouldn’t it be better to do this challenge in Jan 2019, giving you guaranteed platinum status until end of 2020?

    thinking of doing the same, but wanted to get your thoughts on this.

    • Rob says:

      But will the challenge still exist under the new scheme? Yes, you are right that if we knew we could do it, it would make more sense. But we don’t …..

      We also don’t know if Marriott will being back ‘status buy back’ which was dropped for 2018. This lets anyone downgraded get status back for a few thousand points.

  • Ben says:

    Hi Rob,

    As John says above, why not do the Marriott gold status challenge?

    Marriott gold (if not earnt through match from SPG gold), will match to platinum elite status on 1st August.

    Platinum elite has pretty much all the benefits of gold status now.

    Only have to do 6 stays for the challenge…

    • Alex W says:

      Presumably Rob can’t do the gold challenge as he is already gold!

      • Cate ⛱️ says:

        But Rob’s only Gold because he’s been status matched with SPG and he got the match through having the Amex Platinum card. That status only lasts as long as he keeps the card so if he cancels the card won’t that mean his current Gold status is forfeit so he could then do the Marriott Gold status match?

        • Andrew M says:

          No. Hotel status retained until usual hotel status expiry, irrespective of whether Amex Plat subsequently cancelled.

    • Rob says:

      I am Gold, that’s why! And I can’t be sure the challenge will still exist after August 2018.

    • Luthar says:

      Could you tell me more about the gold status challenge or perhaps send a link?

      • Rob says:

        4 stays in 90 days, everything else is the same as per my article.

        • Alex W says:

          If you complete that status challenge before August, presumably you’d be bumped up to platinum after August. Question is (as above) would platinum continue in 2019?

  • Leigh says:

    Rob I’ve just signed up for this last week, and was also offered the challenge of 18 nights which I took as it will include my existing future bookings. I’d seen some reports out there of Marriott sometimes offering a choice of 9 stays or 18 nights like SPG do, but was proactively offered it anyway.

    I called the UK number to set it up and there were no problems, it won’t show in the online profile and there’s no email confirmation, so I logged a ticket just to reconfirm.

  • simon says:

    Do you receive these benefits on points stays and 3rd party bookings or only direct cash reservations?