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.
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.”
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
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.
How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points from UK credit cards (July 2021)
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 usually comes with 20,000 points for signing up, 2 points for every £1 you spend and 15 elite night credits per year. Until 31st August 2021, the bonus is doubled to 40,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. You can apply here.
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.
You can also earn American Express Membership Rewards points with American Express Gold (20,000 bonus points), the American Express Rewards Credit Card (5,000 bonus points) and – for small business owners – American Express Business Gold (20,000 bonus points) and Business Platinum (40,000 bonus 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.)