Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

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

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

News in brief:

Dave Stringer passes away

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

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 site. 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.

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.

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards (August 2022)

There are various ways of earning Marriott Bonvoy points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.

The official Marriott Bonvoy American Express card comes with 20,000 points for signing up, 2 points for every £1 you spend and 15 elite night credits per year.

You can apply here.

American Express Marriott Bonvoy credit card

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

20,000 bonus points and 15 elite night credits Read our full review

You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points by converting American Express Membership Rewards points at the rate of 2:3.

Do you know that holders of The Platinum Card from American Express receive FREE Marriott Bonvoy Gold status for as long as they hold the card?  It also comes with Hilton Honors Gold, Radisson Rewards Gold and MeliaRewards Gold status.  We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here and you can apply here.

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points, £200 travel credit and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points indirectly:

and for small business owners:

The conversion rate from American Express to Marriott Bonvoy points is 2:3.

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which can be used to earn Marriott Bonvoy points

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

Comments (51)

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

  • Donald Trump says:

    Does anyone know what will happen to the earning rates on the SPG Amex card?

    • Peter K says:

      They will go from 1 spg point to 3 marriott. So basically the same value.

    • Rob says:

      Multiplied x 3

    • Canuck says:

      In Canada, it’s dropping to x2

      • Rob says:

        Cardholders have already been told in the UK it is going to 3 per £1.

        In North America Amex is being effectively killed by a thousand cuts by Marriott who have inherited the contracts but much prefer their long-term Visa partnership. When I first got into this game, the SPG Amex in the US was the undisputed king of travel rewards credit cards. I doubt it would anyone’s top 5 list after August.

        • r says:


          Any idea on maximum online transaction limit for MBNA credit card?
          I want to use it for large value transaction but not sure it will work or not.
          Is it normally a full or say 90% of available limit?

        • Will says:

          Depends on lots of things. Taken me ages to get £3k approved without having to phone up on a card with a £19k limit.

          Seems to vary by merchant though. In any case, try it and if it fails call them, I always found them very helpful to authorise things on a second attempt after a phone call.

        • Genghis says:

          I found MBNA the worst at blocking online payments

        • mr dee says:

          Had no problems putting through 14k in one go (100% limit) several times in a month

  • Marcw says:

    Sad news, RIP. Remember when Rob post his recent history on here – I read with great interest Daves blog back then.
    Putting things in context, please remember that about a 1/3 of us will Ben affected by cancer. Among the affected, a 2/3 will be just by chance, independent of lifestyle or genetics (this is a nice study where they analysed tonnes of data to find this number Consequently, it is a real challenge to find successful therapies (a 66% is a lot).
    Conclusion: enjoy life while you can. It may hit you (us) at any time.

    • Marcw says:

      Wrong link! Rob, could you please replace it by this one:

      Thank you! 🙂

    • the real harry1 says:

      Yep but such statistics don’t really tell the whole story, whilst getting cancer at a younger age & dying from it is definitely tragic, the vast majority of people in your 1/3 figure either won’t die of it, or if they die of it they’ll die at a ripe old age anyway. Eg my Grandpa had prostate cancer but didn’t die of it, I think he was 89 when he died so the cancer was largely an irrelevance.

      People may have read of Bill Turnbull’s ‘devastating terminal cancer’ – prostate cancer that spread to bone cancer – he’s 62 and the story was good for raising awareness of getting checked out for prostate cancer so thanks Bill, good when a well-known figure is happy to publicise their condition & I’m not making light of the seriousness of his condition. But if you delve deeper, Bill expects to live another 14 years (making him 76) and his consultant’s ambition is 18 years (making him 80)

      • Marcw says:

        I’m not suggesting that if you are affected by cancer, you are going to die – but cancers are def life changing events.

  • Fiona says:

    Dave was an inspiration. He didn’t give in when he got his diagnosis. I am not sure I would be able to do the same. I had been reading his blog for a while.
    It’s nice to acknowledge him here but even better if it was a post on it’s own.

  • 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.

  • Mark says:

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

  • 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.

  • William Kerr says:

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

  • mike says:


    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?


    • Rob says:

      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.

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

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.