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What really happened (possibly) with the £400 American Express Platinum / Marriott offer

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The recent offer of £400 credit for American Express Platinum cardholders to spend at eight UK luxury Marriott-managed hotels created quite a stir.

In particular, a lot of people who did not sign up for the offer have been complaining that they were discriminated against by Amex in not receiving it.

I have been doing some digging into the offer and how it was set up. The bottom line, for absolute clarity, is that I have been told that all Platinum cardholders had an equal opportunity to register.

American Express Amex Platinum card

This may or may not be correct but that is the official line. What may add to the confusion is that the Amex mobile app will often show fewer offers than the desktop site.

How the launch day panned out

First, some background. This offer launched on a unique day. I was leading with an exclusive story – that Tesco and Avios were splitting up. Then, prior to the stock market opening, IAG announced that Alex Cruz was stepping down as CEO and Chairman of British Airways.

These two stories meant that I was already at my computer at 6am, even though it was a school day and I had children to deposit. Even by 6am, a couple of (clearly insomniac) HfP readers had spotted the £400 Marriott offer on their Amex Platinum accounts and emailed me about it.

By 7.45am, all three stories were live on the site. It ended up being our biggest ever day, with almost 110,000 page views.

If it hadn’t been for the Tesco and Cruz stories, I wouldn’t have opened my laptop until at least 8.30am and things may have gone differently.

Who received the offer?

Amex and Marriott had a plan. The offer was meant to appear on ALL American Express Platinum and Centurion cards overnight, although in reality it dripped out across the morning. My own version only appeared about 10am.

The only exceptions were:

supplementary cards, and

cards where the cardholder had asked not to receive any marketing offers

JW Marriott Grosvenor House £400 cashback

What happened with registration?

As was clear in the offer terms, registration was limited to 2,000 people.

HfP has a disproportionately high number of Platinum-holding readers. We are a key third party channel for sales of The Platinum Card in the UK, and even if you didn’t apply via us, our reader profile is the sort for whom The Platinum Card is often a logical choice.

On a normal day, I would have popped up an article by 10am and it would have been modestly read. Our peak readership time is 8.45am to 9am and then people get down to some work. Registration slots may still have been available by the time the Amex email blast went out.

As it turned out, HfP was having a day like no other day due to the Tesco and Cruz news. The Marriott story was also pulling in its own traffic from our social media feeds.

Within a few hours, all 2,000 registrations had gone and the Marriott offer was automatically removed from the Amex system. People who tried to register after this did not see it.

Whilst there were probably a few exceptions, almost all 2,000 were HfP readers. How many other Platinum holders religiously check their card account for new offers before breakfast?

American Express and Marriott had to cancel their email blast. This may not have been a bad thing, since the offer would have filled up within minutes and many more people would have known that they had missed out.

So …. I am told that all Platinum and Centurion cardmembers were targeted with this offer. If you didn’t get to register, it is apparently simply bad luck that you did not read HfP in the window before all the slots were taken.

Had it been a normal news day, with the normal level of traffic to the site, it would have lasted longer – although the way it turned out meant that we maximised the number of readers who got in.

Of course, the big question now is whether readers can get to the participating hotels by 19th December when the offer is due to end. I believe that The Westbury, one of the eight UK hotels, is not reopening for some time, choosing to bring forward a refurbishment. I am still hoping to squeeze in a night and a decent meal by the 19th, if only to pick up 10,000 Marriott Bonvoy points (what a Platinum gets for spending £400 with the current promo) for the stay.

Mariott Bonvoy American Express credit card

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards (September 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.

You can apply here.

American Express Marriott Bonvoy credit card

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

20,000 points sign-up bonus and 15 elite night credits 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.

Until 2nd November 2021, The Platinum Card comes with a sign-up bonus of 60,000 Amex points. This converts into 90,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 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 (30,000 bonus points – special offer to 9th November 2021), 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 (172)

  • InfrastructureDebt says:

    I told my friend about this maybe and hour or 2 after the article was posted here and he saved the offer at 6.30pm

  • Oli says:

    What are the 10,000 Marriott Bonvoy points worth?

    • Harry T says:

      About £50, if you assume a base value of around 0.5p per point, as Rob usually does. You can, of course, do better.

  • Andrew says:

    Yes I don’t think there’s a single comment on here today who’s experience reflects what Amex are trying to sell us with this story – we either didn’t get it at all, despite checking from 6am and all day, or we could save it at any point throughout the day. So the early bird catches the worm doesn’t work with either scenario I’m afraid Amex.

  • babyg says:

    Another article about the £400 that most people didnt get… yawn…

  • James says:

    After the whole Berners Tavern/The London Edition debacle, I can confirm I received my £400 statement credit today after visiting Berners Tavern on Tuesday evening. Amazing restaurant by the way, would definitely recommend.

    • Rob says:

      Thanks James.

      So now we need to ask whether the people who claimed to have been told that it would not work (despite all the readers who sent me credit card shots showing how it went through) were actually deliberately spreading misinformation.

      • Lady London says:

        yes. were those who posted that misinformation regular posters, I wonder.

        I had no skin in the game having neither Marriott membership nor a current Plat. However I think there is more to this than Amex is saying.

        I suspect Amex systems released slots in the offer in more than one tranche in the day.

        Seems like this was set up more like a lottery – does Amex have a lottery licence? amongst other things would ensure systems operated fairly in making it available

        • The Streets says:

          Why did it have to be so big? Instead of £400 just spread £100 amongst more cardholders

          • The real John says:

            A comment from a few pages back suggests that it was because the hotels involved have a minimum revenue agreement with Marriott and if not achieved Marriott must pay them the shortfall. The marketing teams thought that a completely free stay for N cardholders would be more enticing than a 25% discount for 4N cardholders.

      • James says:

        I was one of those who reported the restaurant were billing customers instead of the hotel – I have email proof should you require it, Rob – this correspondence came from the “Head of Restaurant” at Berners Tavern. Definitely not misinformation on my behalf but maybe from the restaurant staff themselves.

        • InfrastructureDebt says:

          Still don’t know why you went out your way to email the restaurant about this and potentially jeopardising it for others or potentially raise awareness to it – didn’t they say they would change their payment processing because it shouldn’t be billed under the hotel name?

          More likely than not the whole hotel property just uses the same payment processing system therefore all comes under one merchant name ….

          • James says:

            To be polite as possible here, please mind your own business as to my reasons for contacting them. There was a full article written on the issue. I reached out to seek peace of mind, why is that such a problem for you? So many people also contacted the hotel, obviously for their own peace of mind too. Maybe you’re able to let £400 slide but not everyone else is in the same financial position. Enjoy your day, if thats at all possible for you.

          • James says:

            The chat section of this website is no longer a nice place to be because of people like yourself. I shall no longer be commenting on any articles for the foreseeable until it clears itself up.

          • Lady London says:

            @James I’m with @Infrastructuredebt on this. You said you “couldnt let £400 slide”. Yes you could, because you didnt have it in the first place.

            Contacting the outlet themselves was the worst thing you could do. In doing so you could have prompted them to change it so that no one else could benefit from it. Has happened plenty of times before.

            I understand £400 would have mattered to you. But for the sake of your own ‘peace of mind’ instead of hanging back, watching how feedback on here developed, giving it some time, you could have ruined it for hundreds of people.

            Let’s write that off as a rookie error anyone new to watching the game could make, but learn for the future.

          • Number9 says:

            Hold on james you can’t tell people to mind their own business when you are the one splashing your business all over a public forum! You don’t like a comment or reply so spit your dummy out, as for not knowing your personal circumstances, if you can drop nearly £600 on annual card fee you are hardly destitute.

          • AndyW says:

            While agree with the sentiment regarding trying to be polite here in the comments, I don’t think the response from Infradebt was unreasonable. Just pointing out the First rule of fight club… it’s something that goes a long way to keeping opportunities available to multiple people

  • Neil Spellings says:

    Definitely a lot of PR spin here. I saw the article, and saw the offer on my app, but it was still there at 9pm that evening, so clearly wasn’t snapped up in a matter of hours like the article claims.

    I didn’t accept the offer until the date was extended the next day, as I wasn’t sure I could take advantage of it in the timescales.

  • Harry T says:

    I think there are too many reports of people saving the offer later in the day, or the next day, for the explanation offered by Amex to be the full story.

    I do think offering these deals to card members is something that should continue, but the logistics and marketing should be managed more carefully.

    • Rob says:

      What is clearly true is that readers got all 2,000 slots. Emyr has taken a few hundred booking enquiries (even though many hotels had good ‘book direct’ offers) and is apparently now much loved by the hotels who don’t understand why one guy can send them loads of business whilst all their other agency partners are doing nothing ….

      • Lady London says:

        big grin 🙂

      • Harry T says:

        I’m genuinely pleased. Emyr is a lovely chap who is great at his job, and I hope he’s generated plenty of revenue from this and increased his standing with the hotels. Plus HFP should get some commission too! Win-win.

      • Andrew says:

        Yes I think that is the only true part of this article. I am a bit surprised Rob that you bought this from Amex and wrote what they told you to when you knew it wasn’t true, based on all the discussion on that day.

      • dragonfly says:

        I got the Marriott offer, but not the Harrods – and not complaining, you win some you lose some. Early December is our big anniversary and am hoping this lockdown will be lifted so we will be able to use the Marriott offer for one night stay at the W – as it is dog friendly. We have an elderly dog and cannot leave her with anyone. We will use Emyr to check this out with the W when the dates get closer to see if do-able. If not, then we will just have to forgo the Marriott offer.

        • Harry T says:

          I really hope you manage to get away for your anniversary, and take advantage of the Marriott Amex offer. The staff at the W were delightful when we stayed in October, so I have faith they will be accommodating. The hotel is great and I’m sure your dog will enjoy it too.

          I’m unsure if you have hotel status, but it’s worth asking for a room on the higher floors, as they are much quieter. Having said that, Leicester Square wasn’t massively lively when we stayed, and it may remain relatively tranquil if the 10pm curfew makes a return in December.

          Best of luck with all your plans.

          • dragonfly says:

            @Harry T
            Thank you so much for your encouraging words. We only have Marriott gold via amex plat. But am OK if they don’t upgrade because it is always difficult to find a (high end) hotel accepting dogs – as long as they clean the room well when we check in (am a germaphobic! and our dog is very clean and well groomed even at her age). I keep fingers and toes crossed tightly that we will be out of this full lockdown by 2nd December as promised by the government because our anniversary is a few days after that.

  • Lady London says:

    So…..any chance of asking Amex to look again and come up with a better explanation in light of the comments here?

    • Chris Heyes says:

      LL Your joking this is their explanation, to admit they sometimes deceive their customers ? Rob put a good spin on it for them, so they also deceived Rob
      What I’m unsure about is whether “Rob” actually knew or had suspicions as he wrote this ? only Rob knows

    • Doug M says:

      Does it really matter? Marriott and Amex have conspired to turn a bit of promotion into a bad news event for a subset of HfP commenters that probably are not representative of the total HfP readership anyway, never mind Amex Plat or Marriott customers in a wider sense. Much if the reaction feels out of all proportion to me.

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