How does the Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Challenge work for quick hotel status?

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Marriott has always run an unpublished ‘Platinum Challenge’.  It is not written down anywhere but, if you call or email them, you can sign up.  This allows you to get Platinum Elite status without completing the usual 50 nights in a calendar year.

I have done the ‘Platinum Challenge’ in the past.  I got lucky, because I was still Platinum Elite when Marriott Rewards merged with Starwood Preferred Guest.  Due to the odd way this was done, I ended up as Titanium Elite which led to some excellent upgrades, mainly on two trips to St Regis New York.

The ‘Platinum Challenge’ still exists under Marriott Bonvoy but has changed substantially.  I thought it was worth another look today.

Here are the main differences to how it used to work:

GOOD NEWS: You no longer need to have Gold Elite status already to take part.  Anyone can sign up.

BAD NEWS:  You now need to complete 16 nights in 90-119 days (varies by sign-up date) instead of 9 stays – this will benefit people who do longer stays but makes it harder to complete if your stays are typically one to two nights.

BAD NEWS:  You can’t apply if you have done a challenge in the previous three years.  It used to be just one year.

Now is a good time to do the challenge, because your new Platinum Elite status will last for the rest of 2020 and all of 2021.

Let’s take a closer look at how it works.

What is the Platinum Challenge?

It is simple.

Do 16 nights (nights, NOT stays) at Marriott Bonvoy hotels within 3-4 months and you will be upgraded to Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status for the rest of this year and all of next year.

Here are some important factors to note:

  • Only cash stays count, not reward nights or ‘cash and points’ nights
  • Only one room per night counts irrespective of how many rooms at a hotel you book
  • Only nights booked directly via Marriott channels will count, not Expedia etc

Marriott Bonvoy Platinum challenge

How do you sign up?

Contact Marriott Bonvoy via their website here.

Send an email with “Platinum Challenge” as the subject and request a Platinum challenge from a date you specify.

You have:

the rest of the current month (or the date you ask it to start)

…. plus the next three months

…. to complete the 16 stays.

It clearly makes sense to start early in a month in order to maximise the ‘rest of the current month plus three months’ qualifying period.

Note that Marriott is not obliged to offer you the challenge and you may be turned down.

You do NOT need to have any existing status with Marriott or any other hotel chain to register.

What are the benefits of having Platinum Elite status?

Under the new elite tier structure brought in when Marriott Bonvoy was launched, Platinum Elite is the lowest level of status which is worth having.

There is a Gold Elite challenge too, which needs eight nights, but the benefits of Gold Elite are so weak that I don’t recommend it.  You can also get Gold Elite status for free with The Platinum Card from American Express, along with Radisson Gold, Hilton Gold, Shangri-La Jade etc.

Platinum Elite status, on the other hand, is worth it.  Take a look at this page of the Marriott Bonvoy site which outlines the benefits by tier.  You will receive, amongst other things:

Free breakfast or club lounge access

Decent upgrades including suites

Guaranteed 4pm check-out 

50% base points bonus

There is some good stuff here.  The 4pm check-out is GUARANTEED except at ‘convention’ and ‘resort’ hotels.  The free breakfast benefit is also worthwhile, as is GUARANTEED lounge access if there is a lounge.

Whilst Platinum Elite is NOT the top tier in Marriott Bonvoy, it actually has BETTER benefits than competing top tiers:

Hilton Diamond does give lounge access but 4pm check-out is not guaranteed

IHG Spire Elite does not give lounge access, free breakfast or guaranteed late check-out!

Marriott Platinum Challenge

Is it worth doing a few mattress runs to hit the 16 nights?

Potentially, yes.

When I did my Platinum Challenge a couple of years ago, I booked a couple of nights at the Moxy at Excel at around £50.  It was a fairly quick DLR trip from the Head for Points office and a round-trip to check in didn’t take long.  I ended going down about 2pm and working in the lobby for the afternoon.   I can still see nights available there for around £50 when there is nothing major on at Excel.

I think you could justify spending £250 – £300 on 5-6 mattress run nights.  If you planned to do, say, 20 Marriott Bonvoy nights during the period you had Platinum Elite status, it would work out at £12.50 – £15 per night (£250 – £300 divided by 20) for free breakfast, lounge access, guaranteed 4pm check-out and the upgrade.

Realistically, I got substantially more value than that from my mattress run investment.  I ended up, just for starters, getting a massive two-room suite for six nights at St Regis New York.  On family stays, getting four free breakfast each morning was worth £75+ per day.  The maths may not work for you however.

One benefit of the challenge now being based on nights and not stays is that you could check in for a 2-3 day mattress run stay.  You need to be careful, however, that the hotel does not decide that you have checked out early.

Does the Platinum Elite challenge make sense?

It did for me, yes.   I ended up with 1 million Bonvoy points when my old Starwood balance was converted and I knew I would be doing a lot of redemptions as I started to work through them.  That said, I had the easier requirement of nine stays instead of 16 nights.

If you want to give it a go, you can email your request via this page.

Marriott Bonvoy Platinum challenge

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points via UK credit cards

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Marriott Bonvoy points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

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, Shangri-La Golden Circle Jade and Melia Rewards Gold status.  We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here.

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Marriott Bonvoy points.  That page is regularly updated with the latest special offers and will still be accurate even if you are reading this article months after publication.

(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. Pangolin says:

    “You have:
    the rest of the current month (or the date you ask it to start)
    …. plus the next three months
    …. to complete the 16 stays.”

    Should say ‘nights’ instead of ‘stays’ at the end.

  2. Whats the easiest way to stop marriot bonvoy points from expiring? I’ve just had an email.

  3. Thanks Rob.
    I’ve just got an email back from Marriot to confirm the challenge. These were the key terms listed on the email – I’ll put here for everyone’s notice:

    Conditions for the Challenge:
    1 Previous Gold or Platinum Members who have been downgraded qualify to register.
    2 There is no retroactive registration for the Elite Status Challenge, the earning date
    begins on the day of registration and credit towards offer cannot be given for past stays.
    3 If a Guest registers after the 1st of the month, their ‘Earning Period’ will be the remainder of the month in which they registered and the following three months.
    4 Only Nights at a Qualified Paid Rate are eligible for this Promotion. Award Nights do
    not count.
    5 Stays at Marriott Executive Apartments are not eligible.
    6 Once Elite Status is achieved, the Member keeps the achieved Elite Status for up to one year from qualifying.
    7 Registered Members who fail to complete the Challenge cannot register again before January 1, 2021.
    8 A confirmation email will not be sent after Registering or Promotion completion.
    9 Cancellations can be done as long as the request has not been executed (After this, it cannot be cancelled).
    10 Once a Member achieves the correct amount of Nights, their Accounts will be upgraded within 24 hours.
    11 Members who do not meet the Qualifying Night requirement within 90 days will be downgraded to the appropriate Tier:
    – 0-9 Nights Stayed earns a Marriott Bonvoy Member Status.
    – 10-24 Nights Stayed earns a Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite Status.
    – 25-49 Nights Stayed earns a Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status.

    • @Rob / all
      Can anyone please confirm point 6 on the above? Is the achieved status for one year ONLY or ‘rest-of-the-year’ PLUS one year?

      • Odd. Does it flip over at some point during the year? ie are they only offering you the rest of the year in January but in, say, July they’d offer you all the current year and following year? Or is it a typo?

        This is an unpublished challenge, as you know, so Marriott can and does play with the rules as it wants.

        Can you go back and ask for clarification? Clearly no-one signing up in September would get ‘rest of the year’?

  4. No, because Amex gives you Gold, not 25 nights credit which triggers Gold.

  5. I’m considering completing this challenge before a two week stay in Asia which includes over a week at various W hotels where Platinums receive breakfast, free cocktails, possible upgrades etc. I’d probably have to spend a few hundred on mattress runs though. Would it likely be worth it? Would this status then last for the whole of 2021 too?

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