In brief: Dave Stringer passes away, Marriott Platinum Challenge surprise

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News in brief:

Dave Stringer passes away

Regular readers may remember that, back in January, I posted a link to Dave Stringer’s travel blog.

I get a lot of emails from readers who tell me of all the great places they have been able to visit and all of the great hotels they have been able to stay in as a result of reading Head for Points.  I’m always pleased to receive them.

I got a similar email from Dave, but unfortunately the circumstances were different.  Dave, despite being only 49, had incurable lung cancer despite having never smoked.  HFP was helping him spend much of his last year travelling so he could see the world whilst he has the chance.

Unfortunately, Dave passed away yesterday.  His family posted this on his blog:

On behalf of him and the family, I’d like to extend my thanks to everyone that has read his blog. From the amusement of the hooker in London to the sadness of his pain and low points, he thoroughly enjoyed sharing his experiences with you. Your comments and support never failed to lift him up and the support network it allowed him to form helped him battle on for this long. You made him feel like a superstar.  Today is a sad day, but we are happy that dad is at peace now. He had the best last days he could ask for and passed away without pain or suffering.

Dave had set up a JustGiving page for the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation which is here.

Pleasant surprise for Marriott Platinum Challenge participants

I wrote a couple of articles in recent months about the Marriott Platinum Challenge, which elevated you to Platinum status in Marriott Rewards for completing nine stays within 90 days.

(The challenge is no longer available as part of the preparations for the scheme merger.)

As I will have over 1 million points in the new combined Marriott / Starwood scheme when it launches in August, the idea of getting Platinum status to Jan / Feb 2020 appealed.  It will literally pay for itself within weeks – the cost of the ‘mattress run’ nights I did on top of stays I had to make anyway was less than I will save from getting 12 free breakfasts at the JW Marriott Venice in late August.

Quite a few HFP readers decided to follow my example.  Suddenly, at the start of the week, all of them were upgraded to Marriott and Starwood Platinum status despite not completing the challenge.  Some had not completed a single night.

There are two possibilities here:

it is a big mistake, or

Marriott has realised that it doesn’t have the IT capabilities to track challenge stays once the two schemes merge in a few weeks, and thought it was easier to ‘clear the decks’ by upgrading everyone and then not having to worry about it

For clarity, it is not certain that this ‘comped’ status will last until early 2020.  Marriott would be in its rights to drop you down in early 2019.  If you want to be certain that your Platinum status will last until 2020 then I recommend that you complete your challenge as originally planned.

Some people will have got lucky over this. On the other hand, others were unlucky when Marriott pulled the challenge without notice.  That’s how it rolls.

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Important: Virgin Flying Club miles transfers to IHG Rewards Club points are no longer status qualifying
What is the best credit card to earn Avios points? (Part 2: on-going earning rates)

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  1. Noggins says:

    As Dave’s last entry in his blog was a few weeks ago I feared he might be heading toward the end of his road. But what great inspirational words he wrote. I worried that so few people left comments and that was why he was not writing more. But I guess he could see the ‘visit count’.
    I’m not sure it matters that it wasn’t covered in a single post – it’s knowing that is more important.
    Dave, RIP.

  2. Here’s dave’s fundraising page for anyone who can spare a few bob.

  3. Andrew says:

    My father passed away from cancer earlier this year aged 67, he was on the verge of retiring and had so many plans for travel in his retirement that he never got to do. If you have a dream trip in mind or have always wanted to visit somewhere, just do it. Don’t miss out. If you have the cash/Avios to do it, do not waste any time!
    I had been accumulating Avios and decided to take my wife and child to the States in First with BA. I’m so glad I did.

  4. William Kerr says:

    Rob God Bless You ! for your interest in, and support for, Dave …

  5. rob,

    just a quick one for you.

    do u think there is any chance that those of us who are lucky enough to have had this platinum upgrade, but do not actually complete the challenge by end of august, will have it taken away at the end of august, or do u think that we will have it as a minimum till march 2019?


    • The emails said 3/19 so that is not an issue I think. There is a decent chance you are OK until 3/20 but if you don’t want to risk it I would still complete the challenge.

      Interesting to note that anyone whose challenge ended before 31st July was NOT upgraded.

      • stu287 says:

        My challenge is due to finish end of August – I need 4 more stays which probably wont be an issue as I have some trips planned.

        I received an email from SPG congratulating me for making platinum – it states that the status is valid to March 1st 2019 – will be interesting to see if this changes once I complete the challenge.

        I guess its one of those that you would rather not take a chance on if your over half way already.

  6. Why so many RIP? Have Faith, Dave is a traveller, I am sure he has just begun his greatest ever journey 🙂

  7. Off topic – Curve card adding 2 pound fees (hidden) to each Foreign ATM withdrawal in addition to the 1% spread. Has everyone else seen this?
    I had not seen this fee in the card term’s or conditions, or read of this anywhere in Rob’s reviews (not that I am blaming you Rob!) I only noticed after 10 or so transactions, not best pleased, I only noticed when I got a really bad rate on a small withdrawal. Time to use other cards people!

    • Gits. I wonder if that £2 fee applies to local currency withdrawals?

      • Genghis says:

        Not if you change the currency on Curve to local currency. Only advantageous with the Lloyds Mastercard for a handful of points.

    • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

      The £2 fee is in the schedule of fees in the T&Cs. Agree that it’s not ideal that it’s not called out on the pricing page though.

      • Genghis says:

        It’s been in the T&Cs and de facto being charged since April 17 (first time I noticed and then stopped using Curve for ATM use abroad), all wrapped up in the amount charged and not separately disclosed.

  8. heggers03 says:

    As an Amex Platinum SPG Gold I unfortunately was declined the Marriott Platinum status challenge when I applied in late June.

    A bit miffed I did not apply earlier as I will genuinely start doing up to 75+ hotel nights a year due to work changes and Marriott is probably my best option in the city I need to be in.

    Problem I have is that this year with my first Marriott/SPG stay this year having only being in the past two weeks I will rack up less than 40 nights so would only remain Gold in the new scheme in 2019.

    Anyone have any idea if the new Marriott/SPG scheme will have a similar platinum challenge or have I missed the boat?

    • We don’t know – but the new scheme is ‘Plat heavy’ and they may want to thin the ranks first.

  9. Ptw9911 says:

    The post around Dave’s devastating passing needs to be separate from all others. This is rather insensitive…’

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