Marriott has always run an unpublished ‘Platinum Challenge’.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
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.
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!
Is it worth doing a few mattress runs to hit the 16 nights?
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.
How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points from UK credit cards (August 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.)