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Should you do a Marriott Gold or Platinum status challenge now the targets are tougher?

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Regular Head for Points readers will know that I did a Marriott status challenge in the run up to the merger of Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest in August. 

Via my Starwood Gold I had been gifted a period of Gold status in the ‘old’ Marriott Rewards programme.  The benefits, primarily guaranteed lounge access, free breakfast and guaranteed 4pm check-out at most brands, worked well for me.  However, following the August 2018 changes, Gold members lost all of the above perks.

Doing a Platinum Challenge meant that I would get these perks back and retain my status until early 2020.  All I had to do was complete nine stays within 3-4 months, which I managed with the help of some business trips and a handful of sub-£50 mattress runs nights at the MOXY London Excel.  (I liked the MOXY London Excel, see my review here.)

The status challenges were dropped following the Marriott / SPG merger in August, but are now back.  The rules, however, are different.

Remember that many of us have a ‘£100 cashback for £500 Marriott spend’ cashback deal available via our American Express cards.  This is an extra reason to think about doing a challenge at the moment.

Marriott Platinum Challenge rules

The new Marriott Rewards / Starwood Preferred Guest Gold and Platinum challenge

You need to contact Marriott Rewards directly to request a Gold or Platinum challenge.  There is no online form.  This is the email you will get back for Platinum:

“On behalf of Marriott Rewards Guest Services, please allow me to extend the offer of a Platinum Elite Status challenge.  If you accept this offer, your account status would be upgraded to Platinum Elite after the following terms have been met.

In order to achieve this status, you must accumulate 16 paid nights beginning with the date your account is registered for the offer, through 03/31/2019.  This is a one-time offer, and would be effective within three business days of your acceptance of this offer.

Once you have accumulated 16 paid nights, your account status would be upgraded to Platinum Elite through January 2020.  To retain this status for all of 2020, you would need to accrue the qualifying number of Elite nights during 2019.  The Silver Elite level requires 10 Elite nights, the Gold Elite level requires 25 Elite nights, and the Platinum Elite level requires 50 Elite nights.

Should you be unable to accumulate 16 paid nights during this trial period, your account would remain at your current status, and you would need to stay the normal night requirements to achieve this Platinum Elite level.

To be eligible for this offer, each stay would need to be individually booked in the name on your account, you must check into the hotel, and you need to pay the hotel directly for the stay.  You are not eligible to earn credit for stays in another name (even that of a friend or family member), stays booked as part of a group or package, or stays booked and paid through a third party.

Incidental credit, redemption stays, timeshare owner stays during a designated owner week, stays in ExecuStay, and stays at Marriott Executive Apartment properties do not earn credit toward this offer.  Also, Elite nights that appear as non-stay nights in your account do not qualify for this offer.

Please note, if you are not able to complete the challenge once you be enrolled you cannot request another challenge until January 01/ 2022.

Please reply to this email if you would like to accept this offer, and I will register your account.”

Marriott Platinum Challenge

There are a few things to note here:

You previously needed to have Gold status to request a Platinum challenge.  This no longer seems to be the case.

The criteria is different.  Instead of nine stays, you now need 16 nights.  For most people this makes it tougher.

Only cash stays count, not reward stays

If you book multiple rooms as part of a stay, only one room will count towards the challenge.  (In the Starwood days, up to three rooms per night counted so you could book three rooms at a cheap hotel and complete the challenge quicker!)

The qualifying period is not clear from the email.  For clarity:  you get all of the current month PLUS the following three months to complete the challenge, hence the 31st March deadline stated.  To maximise the time you have to do the challenge, ask for it very early in the month.

The email is also misleading in terms of how long the status lasts.  You get all of the current year PLUS all of the following year PLUS a month into the next year.  If our reader completes his challenge in December then it will last until the end of 2019 as the email indicates.  However, if he doesn’t complete it until January 2019 – as is likely – he will actually get it for the rest of 2019 and all of 2020.

How about the Gold challenge?

The Gold challenge is easier, requiring eight nights over the 3-4 month period.

However, I don’t recommend going out of your way to achieve this.  Gold benefits are weak – no breakfast, no lounge access, and no guaranteed late check-out (2pm is available but only at hotel discretion).

You can also get Gold status for free by taking out an American Express Platinum charge card.

What are the benefits of Marriott Rewards Platinum?

Take a look at the Marriott website here for the status benefits by tier.

Platinum IS a status worth having in most cases.  You normally need 50 nights in a calendar year to achieve this.  You get:

50% base points bonus on stays

upgrade if possible, potentially including suites 

breakfast at most brands – or an alternative of bonus points or a welcome amenity if you’re not around for breakfast

guaranteed lounge access, where a lounge exists (The Ritz-Carlton is excluded)

guaranteed 4pm check-out except at resort and convention hotels

free premium internet

Conclusion

I am enjoying my Marriott Platinum (Platinum Premier in my case) status.  My stay at Marriott Berlin in March (review here) for the ITB travel show was really enhanced by lounge access and late check-out. At St Regis New York in September (review here) I was upgraded to a huge suite and enjoyed the excellent a la carte breakfast.

That said …. I wouldn’t have been able to do 16 nights over four months in order to achieve it.  If you are able to move a decent number of nights to Marriott, however, then it is worth considering even if you need to do a couple of mattress run nights to get across the line.

(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.)

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Comments

  1. What am I missing in terms of how long the status lasts? From the email, it seems clear to me that whenever you achieve the challenge with 16 nights, you have status through to January 2020. To maintain status in 2020, you need to stay the usual number of nights during 2019 – 50 for platinum… is that not correct?

    • Nigel the Pensioner says:

      That does appear to be correct and 2021 would be a bleak year, having to stay 50 nights at a “Marriott”, and when the RC group deny Club access anyway, Im not sure it works for me.

    • The email is just a point-in-time example. Marriott have typically given status for the current year, the next year and the very start of the year after.

      I’m not sure you needed to be Gold before accepting a Plat challenge, or perhaps not actively enforced as I’m pretty sure I went straight to Platinum last year.

      Benefits of Lounge and breakfast are worthwhile, especially for families. I saved a substantial amount this year.

      • I take that second point back… I recall being Gold by virtue of Amex Plat at the time

      • I think that was for Platinum Premier Elite not Platinum Elite. Marriott sure seems to be able to complicate things.

  2. The Luxury Collection properties are also excluded from the guaranteed lounge access benefit for Platinum members. Another benefit which Marriott took away from old SPG Platinum members

  3. I shifted almost all my stays to Hilton mid July this year after they refused a platinum challenge.

    I can not compare others as only been in Glasgow and Manchester Airport recently, but the lounge in Glasgow has slipped significantly in terms of offering.

    If you want unlimited onion bhajis and fraught beer, then way to go, otherwise Hilton lounges are blowing them out the water.

    I asked a long standing member of staff in the Glasgow Marriott who used to service the lounge and he advised this reduction in offering had been planned for some time with a view to moving guests from Exec Lounge to hotel/restaurant.

    • Isn’t this just incidental evidence though? Hilton Prague [s] lounge [s] are very different to nearly all Hilton lounges in the UK. Poland DoubleTrees have a lounge offering that puts the BA First lounge to shame. [Excluding the fizzy urine looking water].

      • Quite possibly Tim.

        My travel plans are predominantly in the UK though, and as such, the 16 night challenge would be most likely be based on UK stays.

        I agree however that Hilton lounges are far superior. My point was Glasgow Marriott lounge is not what it used to be…

  4. Nigel the Pensioner says:

    I have saved £100 (thanks AmEx) on night one at the Renaissance Kings Cross (nice lounge) and will use the second £100 saving on another AmEx card for the second night tonight! Oh the student days when a HI would do nicely……
    Nice do last night though! Yet again, no raffle prize :- ((

    • Not sure you need a raffle prize if you’re doing cash stays at the Renaissance for over £500 a night!

      • Skeptical says:

        Unless he is not a pensioner, does not have a centurion card and is not staying at posh hotels…. You never can tell who people really are online.

      • Nigel the pensioner says:

        £430 for a suite actually! Thought that was quite reasonable for London? One night ba amex and one night plat credit. It wasn’t offered on my centurion I’m afraid skepti (below). Add £70 per night for dinner and wine at Gilbert Scott and voila!
        Back down again on Sunday for a spot of shopping at the corner shop – got a 10% day! 😁
        Don’t collect hotel points unless good exchange rates for Avios or VM. Prefer to pay for hotels in the standard of room I choose and get airline miles. Its simpler and gives us a better class of travel for free! Hotel room rates start at basic rooms which frankly is not for us.
        Sorry……. 🤗

  5. Just not worth it.

    Already have gold and to do 16 nights as a challenge just to get breakfast and may be a lounge is crazy.

    I will stick with Hilton I think where I am diamond and will have completed around 70 nights this year.

    I have 2 nights booked for January at the Marriott, and I could extend that to 4, but at the end of the day I will not be that much better off than Gold.

    Marriott are missing a treat by not making it easier for people like me to switch.

    • As a long time diamond Hilton card holder I’m not convinced this is a poor offer – 16 nights sees you availing a greater spread of hotels with lounges. And new Courtyards – especialy in EU land – are more often than not, good. If you really are doing 70 nights per year then your logic is flawed.

    • Or maybe Marriott are not missing a treat by making it ‘…easier for people like you…’ to switch. I’d suggest Marriott aren’t really arsed that you could extend your 2 day stay in January to 4 days. Unless you can guarantee 20+ days with Marriott instead of Hilton, for example, why should Marriott bother?

  6. I’m considering it, as my HH diamond lapses in March. 16 nights is a lot though, I’m not really sure it’s worth it.

  7. So in essence, Marriott Platinum will get you space available upgrade and lounge acces and breakfast with the additional caveat of lounge access should the hotel have one.

    Hilton Gold offers identical to above without lounge access. I know what I will be doing going forward….

    • Excuse the typos.

      • Which one? Hilton are good at giving lounge access with only gold membership

        • I am Diamonnd at Hilton so have it guaranteed.

          My thoughts are it is just not worth the effort of 16 nights to essentially gain a lounge that A.) Is not in every hotel and B.) from my experience in Glssgow, is most certainly not aspirational in any form.

    • Not comparable. Hilton Gold has no late check out guarantee and upgrades are modest, plus no lounge access.

      Hilton Gold easily trumps Marriott Gold due to breakfast.

      • That’s my point Rob.

        I am currently Platinum (legacy) from Marriott so will no doubt drop to Gold after February 2019

        I am Hilton Diamond until March 2020 so see no logical reason to try and squeeze 16 Marriott nights into a very short period of time to essentially get “possibly” lounge access and a late check out.

        If I soft land to Hilton Gold in March 2020, I would argue I am still better off..

        • Yes, but check Hilton prices versus Marriott. Things have changed – in my view – significantly in the past two years and the Hilton points devaluation. IHG – who are given short shrift on this board – have better lounges at some of their Crowne Plazas than Hiltons do. CP Porto, and CP Bratislava being two good examples. Plus, of course, Hilton is giving out diamond to every Tom, Dick and Nigel The Pensioner.

        • IHG gives out Plat with a £99 credit card and from March anyone globally can buy it for $200 with Ambassador.

        • Rumours of AMB changing a bit – on the upside potential for a free breakfast for the member, although may then not have guaranteed upgrade/late checkout but with penalty ($50/10k points) for the property.

        • Covering tomorrow ….

        • Ah cool – will be interesting to see if more confirmed details.

  8. Rob

    I don’t have any status as such in most hotels apart from Accor and Hilton silver for what it’s worth as we don’t travel anywhere near as much with our 5 year old these days. That said I’ve just booked the three of us to Doha via Frankfurt on BA, in the Q suite next year…..flown that route before on the A350 in biz and it was great.

    We’ve booked 10 nights in the ritz Carlton Doha in a club room. Since I’m only measly Marriott rewards member and no status any suggestions on how I can maximise our points on the stay? Should I get a Starwood preferred guest card near the time?

    • Might be worth getting Amex Plat for a month to get Gold before you go. Alternatively (or on top) do the Plat Challenge whilst there and try to slot in another 6 nights.

      • Side note Nick, that’s a lot of days in Doha. Maybe consider spending a few nights on Banana Island to spice it up a bit? I’ve hear very good things about it when going with kids.

    • Nigel the pensioner says:

      10 nights at the RC Doha. Well youll be very pleased to know that it is licensed in Westetn ways and that the young lady pianist is superb in the cocktail bar. But even I would get a bit drawn with this for 10 nights! There is nothing really yet in Doha. Get down to Abu Dhabi where all of the upper groups are represented and it is fun, or better still, Manama Bahrain which is simply superb!! The RC there is the place and there are as many dining places as in Abu Dhabi.
      Trouble us, for either, youre going to have to gly via Kuwait City……. That’s the nearest friendly port!

      • Shoestring says:

        Bit late if he’s booked it, which is what a lot of us were refraining from saying. Doha’s a right hole.

        Hotel should be lovely, though. And guaranteed heat.

        • Shoestring says:

          The way we all coped with the unrelenting awfulness of Doha when I worked there was to get out on the water. That & Sunday (Friday) brunches, of course.

          Loads to do on the water so check it out. Sailing, fishing, scuba, snorkelling no doubt these days, picnics on the islands?

        • Absolutely. You’re better off visiting Whitley Bay for ten days and meeting with the local tour guides on the street at 11pm…

  9. Kilburnflyer says:

    Planning to do this for honeymoon next year:

    So if I sign up in early July 2019, I will have until end of October to complete? Then accrued Platinum status would be valid until January 2021?

    Should be doable. Does anyone know if you get the Platinum suite upgrade certificates qualifying via a challenge? (Data points appreciated)

    • No

    • No certificates.

      • Kilburnflyer says:

        Thanks Rob. Are my previous assertations correct regarding earned status validity?

    • RIccatti says:

      ALARM bell at “Suite Night Award” (SNA) certificates.

      Under Starwood, they were applied towards true Suite Upgrades.

      On new Marriott systems, they actually upgrade from “next category” up to level the hotel chooses. We know how inventive hotels are with room categories, so SNA certificate now only give an upgrade from “Premier” to “Deluxe” and that is it. Club-level rooms and suites are completely excluded from upgrade options.

      Name and shame: Sheraton Lisbon.

    • I can give you a data point: the earth is round. Probably.

  10. Really depend on your travel pattern.
    Booked W Maldives for this Christmas with points. Upgraded to overwater villa without ask due to status plus free breakfast and 20% off all dinning will have huge value.

  11. For anyone with Gold status via Amex Plat, how long does status exist for via this route.

  12. Given the chaos of the merger (I’m still trying to sort some issues with my account) and their generally abysmal customer service I’d be steering well clear of Marriott personally!

    • RIccatti says:

      I can’t see my own account history (of hotel stays) but given the data leak, apparently someone else can!!

  13. This year, I’m doing a data breach run: BA(x2), CX, Eurostar, now Marriott,…who’s next? 🙂

  14. Little OT, is anyone interested in gaining Platinum lifetime status? I’d pick it up if I have a one night challenge to do it but wouldn’t chase it further. I find it curious that Americans seem to be, from my readings at least, keen to get lifetime status. Are we missing something or are we just not bothered?

    • Lifetime status means nothing when a company gets bought out / goes bust / changes the goal posts again. It’s not something I would actively chase.

      • The only one I potentially regret was when American counted credit card points. I could have done it via massive Amex to SPG to AA transfers, although of course I would have had a huge number of AA miles to use up on top of the Avios which is not exactly great diversification.

      • Indeed there’s always that ticking away in the background.

        Then again not all companies go to the wall or follow the same direction as SPG. If we accept that lifetime status comes with changes which won’t always be in our favor then some may consider chasing worthwhile. Then as Rob says further down the comments, there are more properties post merger so it’s conceivable some of us will gain lifetime status incidentally.

    • Easier to earn it and easier to use it, in terms of the number of properties around.

  15. Topically, I applied for the Platinum Challenge just before coming to south east Asia for just under 6 weeks, competed the challenge easily and feel that sixteen nights is easier than 8 “stays” on such a trip.
    Staying at Westin Nusa Dua, it would be the third of four nights before I would technically have been Platinum but they recognised my new status from the day we arrived, great service.

    Today, I applied for Hilton Diamond challenge and got accepted straight away, within hours my app was updated. Having recently retired and planning a lot of personal travel in the next year, having both Marriott Platinum and Hilton Diamond will provide great flexibility, free breakfasts but the biggest thing for us is lounge access in nice city properties that offer some great spreads (particularly traveling east) and of course free alcohol.

    Currently in Yogyakarta in Java where it is very difficult to buy alcohol and a bottle of ordinary wine can be £30. They serve food for two hours and drinks for four hours! The drinks probably cover the room cost alone!

    So, it all works for me. And the wife of course!

  16. Just noticed you can book any hotel brand on the Marriott site using points advance. If I don’t transfer the points over before the end of 2018, will the number of points required for the reservation increase to the new redemption chart for 2019?

  17. O/T Wondering if anyone can help with incorrect Marriott points total? My account shows all transactions, but the total is about 9.5k points out.

    I’ve contacted Marriott many times now, but all I get is “I have checked your account and can see you stay has been credited. Thanks”

  18. PAT BEST says:

    I have re-read the T&C several times as well as HOP’s email but I’m still not sure I’m getting this right.
    So if I apply to take the Platinum challenge January 1st 2019 I have till April to do the 16 nights – I have already booked 16 nights in Canada in February so therefore I would get Platinum on completion – so far so good but can any one confirm that I will retain that status, without doing anything else to retain it, for the rest of 2019 plus 2020 plus Jan & Feb for 2021 (my year with them runs end February) are am I misreading HOP email ?

  19. If you achieve Marriott platinum via the challenge could you not follow that up with a status match at Hilton ? My Hilton platinum expires March 2019. Seems like you would in the end have both (Marriott and Hilton Platinum)? Just a thought ?

  20. I registered to my new Marriott account I called the USA hotline and asked them to register me , they simply denied that they cannot do it for beginners .
    Do we have any email address to apply for what I learned about platinum is that anyone can go for the challenge.

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