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Is Marriott backtracking on 5-months of Platinum status for Amex Platinum cardholders?

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The upcoming merger of Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest is, frankly, turning out better than most people hoped.  Marriott is genuinely taking the best of the two existing programmes.  If anything, I think they may have overdone it as the new scheme will be very complex due to the number of benefits and benefits.

I won’t go into the details again but you can find them in my article here.

There has been one big outstanding issue for UK holders of American Express Platinum cards.

American Express Platinum comes with Gold status in Starwood Preferred Guest.

Now (and try to follow this!) …..

From August, SPG Gold members receive Gold status in the new merged scheme, which has few benefits (no lounge access, no 4pm check-out, no breakfast)

However, SPG Gold can currently be matched to Marriott Rewards Gold, and Marriott Rewards Gold members receive Platinum status in the new merged scheme.  This has lots of benefits – lounge access, 4pm check-out and free breakfast among them.

Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest merger

From 2019, there is no doubt what will happen.  American Express Platinum will offer Gold status in the new scheme, which gives few benefits.  This is, to be fair, no worse than SPG Gold used to be so no-one has lost anything.

However …. we thought that, from August to December 2018, anyone with SPG Gold via Amex Platinum who had matched to Marriott Gold would receive Platinum status.  That meant five months of lounge access, 4pm check-out and free breakfast.

Marriott itself was confused about this:

In the UK, Business Traveller and HFP were told (separately) that Amex Platinum members would get five months of Platinum in the new scheme

In Australia, local Marriott management told Australian Business Traveller the same thing

In the US, however, a video interview given to The Points Guy said that they would not

Two things now make me thing that American Express Platinum cardholders are going to lose their lounge access, breakfast and 4pm check-out benefits at the end of July:

This statement has appeared on the Marriott ‘merger’ website:

I ALREADY LINKED MY SPG AND REWARDS ACCOUNTS. WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO MY MATCHED ELITE STATUS IN AUGUST?

The current status matching opportunity is tier for tier (e.g. Gold gets Gold, Platinum gets Platinum), even though the qualification requirements and benefits between SPG and Rewards are quite different. Given this, the following Elite status mapping will occur in August (unless a member has also qualified by nights for higher status):

SPG Gold (10 stays/25 nights) is status matched to Rewards Gold (50 nights) and in August will be Gold Elite (25 nights)

SPG Platinum (25 stays/50 nights) is status matched to Rewards Platinum (75 nights) and in August will be Platinum Elite (50 nights)

Rewards Gold (50 nights) is status matched to SPG Gold (10 stays/25 nights) and in August will be Platinum Elite (50 nights)

Rewards Platinum (75 nights) is status matched to SPG Platinum (25 stays/50 nights) and in August will be Platinum Premier Elite (75 nights)

I accept that this is – still – not crystal clear.

Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest merger

However, US site Frequent Miler submitted a written question to Marriott and got this statement back:

Q: If I obtained SPG Gold status through a credit card (Amex Platinum card or $30K spend on an SPG card), and now have Marriott Gold status thanks to linking my SPG and Marriott accounts, what status will I have in August when the programs combine? [As a reminder: SPG Gold will map to new program Gold, but Marriott Gold will map to new Platinum]

A: You will have Gold status in the new program.

This seems pretty clear, unfortunately.  If you currently have Marriott Rewards Gold via a match from SPG Gold which you got from American Express Platinum, your luck is out.

Frankly, I am not 100% convinced that it will actually happen.  I’m sure that Marriott can work out which Marriott Gold members got matched from SPG Gold, and then go back one step further to see which of those got their status via American Express Platinum.  Given that the combined scheme has 100 million members you need to question whether they actually will.

However, be prepared.

If your Marriott Gold status comes indirectly via Amex Platinum, do not make any reservations for August and beyond if lounge access, breakfast and a 4pm check-out are deciding factors.  You are probably not getting them.

PS.  Two weeks ago I wrote this article where I explained why I was pondering doing the Marriott ‘Platinum challenge’.  This would give me Platinum status in return for doing nine stays within three months.  I decided to go for it, and a combination of HFP and personal trips redirected to Marriott properties plus a couple of £50 mattress run nights at the Moxy at Excel means that I should complete it within five weeks.  This means that I will receive Platinum Premier status from August and until at least February 2020.

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Comments

  1. Roger says:

    Wow, not an exciting news.

    I already have a booking at JMW in Singapore this October and have written email from hotel confirming free breakfast as Marriott gold (matched from SPG via Amex Platinum).
    But if I do not get upgraded, that is still fine as long as original GOLD benefit at the point of booking is honoured

    Is it too much to ask?

    • mathzjl says:

      no harm to try..I guess even Marriott or the hotel don’t know how to properly deal with this issue either. Probably it depends on the hotel, and it’s likely they will honor it.

  2. MissGeekChic says:

    There is one thing confusing me. The article talks about the 5 months from Aug to Dec of 2018 where we lose our current Marriott Gold benefits due to the benefits being shifted to their “Platinum” tier. But what happens from 2019? Do the Amex Platinum members who have already matched their SPG Gold to Marriott Gold now receive Mariott Platinum and get the benefits again?

  3. Gareth says:

    Is there a way to unlink the two schemes so effectively the standalone SPG will turn into gold but the standalone Marriott will turn into platinum? You then scrap the first one and continue with the platinum for 5 months?

    • TGLoyalty says:

      if You unlink them you have no Marriott status unless you have earned it through number of nights.

      If you have 50 nights this year in the combined programme then you will be platinum either way.

  4. Paul Hickey says:

    Both Marriott & Amex should know that, if I do not retain gold as an Amex SPG match, then I will be terminating my Platinum. Save for the priority pass, it’s the lounge access at Marriotts which gives me true value. I have enough AVIOS to ensure that any long-haul flights over the next few years will be biz class and on short-haul I can live without or pay on the door if I really do require lounge access. The other lite or non-guaranteed hotel / Car benefits don’t really excite me too much.
    Since becoming Marriott Gold in October last year, we have done 15 nights in their properties and I can honestly say that I would not have chosen any if I had not been guaranteed lounge access.
    So if anyone from Amex or Marriott is reading this, think on, because I bet there are many people with my thought process.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Because Amex or SPG promised you anything other than gold in the SPG programme?

      The Marriott status match was never part of the advertised package it was a happy coincidence

      • Paul Hickey says:

        I’m not saying it was promised. I took the Amex simpley to get the bonus points however, given I had quite a bit on none-bizzo travel I decided to keep it for the PP. I actually learned about the Marriott match a few weeks later but as I say, it’s that which has really given me true value. It’s also given Marriott true value as I have stayed 15 nights and spent a small fortune on extras whilst at the properties. Without lounge access, in most cases, there will be other branded hotels offering a better solution (like Hilton or Shangri-La)

        #justsayin 🙂

        • TGLoyalty says:

          Then what is Marriotts motivation to keep giving you the benefits for your 15-20 nights this year?

          These are benefits they want to reward people who spend 50 nights+ with them each and every year.

          If you fall into the second bracket then you’ll have platinum anyway later this year/all of next.

      • JamesB says:

        Agreed. Furthermore, I don’t see any backtracking here because I do not believe 5 months grace was ever officially promised. Rob and others were only provided with unofficial assurances while others were given the opposite information. I always thought the situation was clear from day one. SPG gold to platinum would have been nice but I had no reason to expect it and I harbour no ill-feeling to Marriott for failing to deliver on it. However, there is an issue for those who booked nonrendable stays before the changes were announced, their
        guaranteed benefits should be honoured or a refund offered.

        • Paul Hickey says:

          My argument here is not “he said, she said”. It’s putely a commercial viewpoint and from what I’m reading Marriott will lose customers if they reduce gold benefits.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          Marriott customers earned gold with 50 nights and that’s still the case in the new programme.

          Loyal 50+ night a year Marriott customers are not losing out.

        • Lady London says:

          I certainly wouldn’t do 50 nights with Marriott for that pathetic package of Gold benefits. I’m traveling to a city frequently for work now, where there are 2 Marriotts within my client’s budget. So it would be easy for me to do a 9 night challenge and get Platinum.. But if benefits are so downgraded I just don’t want to.

          Lounge access for me to the very few properties Marriott has in Europe with lounges would get them a lot of nights and other spend in those hotels. As @Paul Hickey says if you take the lounge access away, the great majority of Marriott properties are easily bettered in quality by the offerings of other hotel programs we have memberships in.

          Also I’m wondering so Marriott really have access to the data to see how an incoming SPG Gold got their status? It may be that they can’t distinguish so with their 100 million members they fear a flood of non-Amex SPG Golds could also qualify for Platinum if they can’t do the work to exclude them in time.

        • Do the 9 stays, Plat until Feb 2020 (2021 if you got a soft landing) is worthwhile I think.

      • but Gold (in the future) is essentially worthless?

    • Well you’re not wrong – but I don’t think Marriott will lose any sleep over you not booking in the future as a consequence. It’s not like they’ve lost a long term loyal customer. My stays for 2018 are already booked in non-Marriott hotels. I’d have used them in 2019 if I’d kept lounge access but I won’t so I’ll go elsewhere. And Marriott (rightly) won’t give a damn, whereas as Shangri-la might see my cash due to the breakfast. I doubt they will care much either regarding a one off booker.

      • Paul Hickey says:

        I tend to disagree. I am in my mid 30’s and will probably rack up 30 nights a year – multiply by 25 years and I’d be classed as a decent prospect. I accept that me, myself and I is a drop in the ocean BUT if another few thousand people (like some listed above) take my view then it becomes a bigger splash.
        For the sake of 3 G&T’s, 2 OJ’s a a few lite snacks per day it will cost Marriott very little to retain these people.
        Of course, it’s out of our hands and what will be will be, I’m just saying that if I was in the customer acquisition or loyalty department at Marriott then I’d be taking the views of people like me in to account. In my business I know the cost of customer acquisition and I can tell you that it’s much cheaper to keep an existing customer than to find a new one.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          Platinum gives no top level hotel status since Accor stopped platinum. They’re all mid level, granted some mid level are better than others for getting breakfast but generally lounge access is top level for most groups.

          And 50 nights will get you platinum in the future which has the equivalent benefits as gold today, if those benefits are worthless why are you so concerned with them disappearing.

      • Lady London says:

        Hotel groups give Amex Platinum customers their top level status because they know a typical Amex Platinum customer has money to spend and a higher percentage of Amex Platinum customers have large numbers of hotel nights to choose hotels for. It’s a commercial decision. Yes they let me in to the top status level without my having done the officially required nights but my spend and further nights will more than make up for it.

        I’ve lost count of loyalty schemes I’ve joined in that kind of way and subsequently fully qualified for the benefits I was initially given free, by the business I subsequently gave the hotel or airline after they gave me the initial status free.

        Alitalia a couple of years ago would only match me to their Silver equivalent level and not the top level status I was asking to match. I told them not to bother as I would not be booking any flights on Alitalia so long as I already got better benefits elsewhere. If they matched me to the level I was asking to be matched to and proved I had elsewhere, then I said I was happy to book flights with them. But I was not going to make my travel more uncomfortable just to book with Alitalia when I already received better benefits elsewhere – they had to match me.

        Luckily they didn’t budge so I am not now invested in an airline that seems to have gone bankrupt where their main investor also is having to cut back.

        So match me – or I won’t even try you if I’m already getting better benefits elsewhere. If you match me I’ll give you a fair try and you will definitely get a lot more business. And I might even end up switching to you as my main program. No match no bookings.

        • mathzjl says:

          I’d suggest you to get the Amex Hilton Aspire card, which is the easiest TOP tier hotel status you could get, though you might find devaluation in years to come when they realize they give too many people the top tier benefits.

        • I’d suggest that the need to move to the USA, gain a US social security number and build up a US credit record before Amex would give you this card means that it probably isn’t “the easiest”.

  5. Graham Walsh says:

    Hmm not good news at all.

  6. Alex W says:

    I understand that compared to a year or so ago, we haven’t lost anything. But even so, an unexpected mid year demotion is a bit of a kick in the balls.

    • Graham Walsh says:

      Or at least honour existing bookings too. End of the year is a sensible change date. How much will it actually cost them to keep it like this for 5 months vs. how much will they lose if people decide to switch brands?

      • Paul Hickey says:

        If they agreed to honour bookings made over the next few months, they would be getting a total of 20 nights from me over 2 holiday in the next 12 months. If not, they won’t.

    • Lady London says:

      It’s a question of honour. They told Rob and other journalists they would honour it.
      I’ve seen comments elsewhere that the Marriott program has a history of making negative changes without notice and can’t be trusted.

      So on balance No even if I could easily divert my next 9 stays to Marriott to do a Platinum challenge I don’t trust them so I’ve stopped considering it. It will take a while now before I might consider the Marriott program again. Which means I’ll be booking hotels in programs which currently give me what they say they will. Or decent notice and no pfaffing around about what they will honour and then changing their mind.

  7. This is, to be fair, no worse than SPG Gold used to be so no-one has lost anything.”

    Hi Rob, sorry this isn’t quite true from my understanding. As an SPG gold I always had guaranteed 4pm late checkout, the new scheme gives 2pm subject to availability which is a massive downgrade.

    • Is that guaranteed?

      • I think so, says subject to availability at resort and conference hotels but I’ve never not had it at an SPG one. Marriott barely manages to give a 1pm late checkout currently so not confident that 2pm will be feasible, and if late checkout is subject to availability than there is little reason to book the stay as no guarantee at all that it will be possible.
        For me it’s a massive downgrade.

    • Relaxo says:

      Not guaranteed….ever only got a fruit platter for being SPG gold , so yeah, its useless…..

  8. Louie says:

    More than a bit naughty not to honour promises made to Rob and the other UK/Aussie journalists.

  9. Doing this mid year. I’ve got 9 nights worth of stays coming up, if I lose the benefits I’ll shift my stays to Hilton or Shangri-la. Flyertalk is full of other people doing the same, I presume Marriott have done the maths but if thy don’t honour existing bookings then they may well see a few cancelled.
    The cost of honouring breakfast and late checkout surely doesn’t outweigh the cost of cancelled bookings?
    Oh and losing the guaranteed 4pm checkout is a big benefit downgrade.

    • Paul Hickey says:

      I’ve pretty much repeated your comments above (without reading this first) 🙂

  10. MissGeekChic says:

    What happens from 2019 for those who have not linked their SPG account to a Marriott account? Can these folks still link to a mee Marriott account? and if so, what tier do they get?

    • mark2 says:

      will SPG accounts still exist in 2019?

    • Relaxo says:

      Your SPG account will be automatically linked to Marriot in August if you ave not done so proactively….along with your matching status level

  11. Would the platinum challenge need to be completed by August for it to have any benefit, or would starting it in July to complete in October be worthwhile?

    • We don’t know. For security I would want to be done well before 1st August.

      • mutley says:

        I asked to do the platinum challenge at the end of April, they told me that i had until the end of July to complete. Moxy at Heathrow, Stratford, or Excel can be as cheap as £46 a night so worth a few mattress runs I think.

        • Moxy gets less cheap as you towards the Summer. Don’t leave it too late.

          I have to say, for the money – as you say, it can be under £50 but I doubt you’ll see that now until Autumn – Excel is astonishingly good value. Rooms are well decorated, more than acceptable size, decent bathrooms, good bed. Only the lack of tea / coffee in the room annoys me. No desk but the ground floor is effectively a clone of your typical WeWork hot desking area.

  12. Clive says:

    SPG Gold did have a 4PM late check out guarantee however in the new programme it reduces to 2PM and is subject to availability. Luckily I am currently PLT but also LTG and the loss of some of these benefits when the new programme opens is not cricket dear chap.

  13. Waribai says:

    Rob, I recall you mentioning an upcoming visit to JW Marriott in Venice. We are there in late July. With what will be your newly minted plat. card, what are you hoping for there considering it is a resort? Just trying not to get my expectations up!

    • Under the new rules we will get free breakfast, which is £240 saved over 3 days (and little alternative given you’re on a private island!). That covers my Platinum mattress run costs.

      They never upgrade but will get a hard sell at check-in about paying for one.

      • Waribai says:

        Thanks Rob, that’s really good to know. We’ll be there for a week so that will save us a packet if hopefully they are already doing this in July.
        On TripAdvisor, recently plats mention an upgrade to a junior suite. Possibly not in summer but I will test this out!
        Just a tip about the mattress run, I didn’t always turn up for mine and instead sometimes sent family and friends to places such as the Sunderland Marriott. They never had a problem checking in but a couple of times the points didn’t post as it wasn’t me who checked in. A quick submission of the missing stay form along with the invoice (I always have my settings on “send me a folio copy post stay”) and the points posted and the stays counted for the challenge.

        • We book a JS in the first place, very nice rooms. I think it is 45k points plus Euro 200 in August.

        • Not sure they are. Brekky at resorts is part of the new scheme not the old scheme. Same with brekky at Moxy etc.

  14. So, where I’m the world are the cheapest Marriott hotels for the platinum challenge?

    • The UK Moxy properties are generally around £50 although Excel has little at that price once you get past mid June. Clearly bits of Asia are the place to go but not exactly convenient – you could book 9 nights in Bangkok and hotel hop every night!

    • Aberdeen. The Moxy and Courtyard are practically next to each other. The Marriott hotel is also close and has a free shuttle going to/from the airport and will also drop you off at the Courtyard.

    • Dubai would probably be good this time of the year but 50C and Ramadan do make it a challenge…

  15. I already requalified for SPG plat this year on stays with 49 nights so far. In Augus,t i should qualify for Plat premier in the new scheme when my 25 nights at Marriotts are added. Am i a right to think i should push for one night at SPG before August because then I can choose Plat 50 gift and in Aug Plat 75 Gift or will i still get the SPG plat 50 gift after Aug and after i got the plat 75 gift in the new program?

  16. What became apparent from the 14th April was that different people were being told different things. However Marriott didn’t update their web site confirming that Amex golds would be getting platinum till Dec 31st which is telling.

    Bottom line as I see it – If platinum is important to you then locking those benefits down before August is a no brainer – especially if you are going to do mattress runs in the UK with holiday season looming and prices to start edge up.

  17. Adrian says:

    It’s not too much to ask that when you start the year with a set of benefits and plan your stays accordingly, that those benefits are honoured. The fact that gold loses 4pm checkout, breakfast and lounge access is huge. Why these changes aren’t just effective from Jan 19 is beyond me, then no one can have any complaints (even if we don’t like it). The bad press, confusion and bad feelings towards them are of their own making.
    I’m a leisure only traveller so can never get 50+ nights but the changes mean that Marriott will get zero nights and all 30-40 will go largely to Hilton.

  18. I linked my SPG gold with Marriott from the very beginning of the merger, and a few months later I got the Chase Ritz Carlton card which is supposed to give me gold status at Ritz Carlton. Not sure what would happen in my case.

  19. ankomonkey says:

    Rob, do you know if you get Platinum as soon as you start the challenge or only after 9 stays? I know many challenges match straight away and downgrade if you don’t make it.

    • No. You stay with Gold (you can only do the challenge if you are currently Gold, you can’t do it if you have no Marriott status) until all 9 stays are done.

  20. lecteurist says:

    I emailed Marriott directly asking this exact question as I have 12 nights booked in September across Europe. I too will consider moving my bookings and the replacing AmEx Platinum card if I’m going to lose lounge and breakfast access on these bookings I made a year out. Here was their response to the AmEx Platinum status match question:

    “Thank you for contacting Marriott Rewards.

    In August 2018 since your Marriott Rewards account is current Gold Elite status your account will be upgraded to Platinum Elite status through January 2019. In order to have the Platinum Elite status for the rest of 2019 your will need to have 50 nights on or before December 31, 2018 between your Marriott Rewards account and your SPG account.

    So since your account will be moved to Platinum Elite status in August 2018 you will still have access to the lounge for your stays.”

    At least this one cancels out what Frequent Miler was told, but again, I’m still not holding my breath.

    • Amex Platinum card only offers SPG gold (basically nothing useful), not marriott gold. You get breakfast and lounge access at Marriott merely as a short term surprise for SPG customers after the take over. We all know this won’t last long.

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