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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.)

Marriott Platinum Challenge rules

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.”

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.


Mariott Bonvoy American Express credit card

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.

American Express Marriott Bonvoy credit card

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

40,000 points sign-up bonus and Gold Elite status 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.

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

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).

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 (74)

  • 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)

    • Rob says:

      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.

    • Tim says:

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

  • Lee says:

    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.

  • FlyUpTop says:

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

    • Rob says:

      Permanent as long as you keep your Amex. Will fall away end Jan otherwise.

      • Alan says:

        I thought it’d be March to fit in with Hilton status year-end?

        • Peter K says:

          But they are on about Starwood Gold (now Marriott Gold).

        • Alan says:

          Haha yep, quite correct Peter K 😀 Was quickly reading through emails and had seen mention of Hilton when it came to challenges!

  • Alan says:

    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!!

  • Pierre says:

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

  • Russ says:

    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?

    • Genghis says:

      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.

      • Rob says:

        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.

      • Russ says:

        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.

    • Rob says:

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

  • Ralphy says:

    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!

  • Munch says:

    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?

    • Peter K says:

      From what’s happened post merger or seems likely you will be charged the higher rate.

      • Mark says:

        I just ordered my ecertificate as I didn’t want to risk the points going up.

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