A “Platinum status challenge” is a promotion that Marriott offers to select members to allow them to obtain Platinum status from Gold by hitting a specific number of stays within a specified timeframe. For example, the challenge I previously completed required 9 stays (not nights) by June 30th.
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I believe these offers are sometimes targeted but other times they are available to Marriott Gold Elite members who have not completed a challenge in past year or two. If you don’t get an email offering you the challenge, you can always call up Marriott to inquire to see if you’re eligible. Sometimes to be eligible you might need to have a recent stay with them.
Why would you want Platinum status?
One of the reasons I was attracted to obtaining Marriott Platinum is that there are many other elite statuses that some along with Marriott Gold. In total, you will receive:
- Marriott Platinum
- Ritz-Carlton Platinum
- SPG Platinum
- Delta crossover rewards
- United Silver
Marriott Platinum and Ritz-Carlton Platinum
To be honest, Marriott Platinum doesn’t offer a whole lot that Marriott Gold doesn’t offer. The main difference is the additional 25% in bonus points earned (for a total of 50%) and better odds of getting upgraded. The same goes for Ritz-Carlton Platinum since the programs are interrelated.
SPG Platinum and Delta crossover rewards
SPG Platinum offers complimentary breakfasts to Platinum members and upgrades which include suites.
The other big perk is that you can earn one Starpoint per dollar spent with Delta Crossover Rewards on eligible Delta flights. Plus, you get elite benefits when traveling with Delta, such as Priority Check-in, Priority Boarding, Unlimited Complimentary Upgrades, and first checked bag free.
So it’s essentially like having status with Delta. I personally don’t fly with Delta much but for someone who does these would obviously be nice additions. (There are also similar benefits offered for Emirates and China Eastern.)
United Silver offers a number of different benefits which I cover in this article. The most worthwhile benefit is probably getting upgraded from economy to economy plus. This is not 100% guaranteed on each flight but in practice, you often receive the upgrades. You’re also eligible for upgrades to business/first (much more rare) and get other bennies like priority check-in, boarding, security, access to more award space, and waived or minimized fees for changes in booking.
Marriott Platinum can be “bought” at a reasonable price
Another thing that attracted me to getting Marriott Platinum status is that it’s not hard to get it for a reasonable price when you complete a status challenge. I’ll show you how it can be done.
Depending on where you live, you can find some very cheap Marriott properties for category one and two properties. Many of these properties are Fairfield Inns and TownePlace Suites and even Courtyards can be very cheap, so look for those names.
For example, here’s a sample cost breakdown for one night at a TownePlace Suites on the outskirts of Houston.
To book this night, I went through the TopCashBack portal to earn 5% off Member Rates. In some instances, it might make sense to pay the higher non-member rate and get 7% back but you’d typically be only scraping pennies.
So you would get 5% back on $64 (since tax is not included). It’s not hard in Houston to find these low rates for the above properties on weekends, so it’s very doable to bounce around town paying this much each every weekend night for a few weeks to get 9 stays. Stays during the week (when business travelers are in town) tend to be little more pricey but still not bad.
So with 9 stays at $64 and at 5% cash back, that’s $28.80 off the total.
Now also factor in the Marriott points earned at 10 points per dollar and that’s 640 points per stay and 640 X 9 = 5,760 points. Throw in the bonus for Gold status at 25% and that’s a total of 7,200 Marriott points.
At about .8 cents per point in value that’s $57.60.
And finally, if you book the room on a Chase Sapphire Reserve that’s 3X on the entire cost of $74.88 so that comes out to 224 points for each stay. 224 x 9 = 2,021. At 2.1 cents per point, that’s $42 in Ultimate Rewards earned.
So the total cost spent would be $673.92.
But we’ll subtract:
- $28.80 5% cash back
- $57.60 for Marriott Points earned
- $42 in Ultimate Rewards earned
That comes out to $545 worth of out of pocket costs.
Now I personally already had a few nights at more upscale hotels booked for trips already planned so I didn’t book all of my nights at hotels like the one above. But it’s just to show that you could do that and come away with earning Platinum status while only shelling out a net cost of $545.
And that’s without factoring various Marriott promos that you can often utilize to further your savings. To see an even more extreme example, read how you could use Marriott promos to complete a Platinum status challenge for as cheap as $318!
Is it worth it?
In the end you’ll be the only person to judge whether or not it would be worth it for you to jump on the Platinum status challenge. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with all of the benefits of each program (Marriott, United, Delta, etc.) and see if those perks are perks that you’d normally pay for.
For example, if you’d normally pay for economy plus upgrades a couple of times a year for you and your partner, that could easily amount to $200 or more. In that case, you’d already be close to halfway breaking even.
Marriott Platinum and SPG Platinum are unique in that they offer multiple ways to achieve elite status or elite status-like perks for multiple programs. Status challenges can be great ways to achieve these elite statuses but you should do some math and research into the benefits of the programs before jumping on them.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC. Read my bio.