When it comes to hotel loyalty programs I am not one that tries for elite status. The reason being is that I hold no loyalty to any particular program, I usually end up picking the best that suits my needs at the time. I don’t need anything luxurious, just something with a great location, cheap and clean. Though there is one loyalty program that I am willing to try for elite status, the Marriott Platinum Elite.
So what makes this program so special that it is the only one that I am willing to try?
First lets start off with what you get as a Marriott Platinum Elite.
Before your stay:
- Elite reservation line
- Exclusive guest services line
- Ultimate reservation guarantee
- Exclusive elite offers
- 48-hour guaranteed availability
During your stay:
- 50% bonus on Marriott reward points
- Priority late checkout
- 10% Marriott gift shop discount
- Weekend discount
- Free internet access
- Room upgrade
- Guaranteed room type
- Lounge access/free breakfast
- Free local phone
- Free local fax
- Discounted long distance phone calls
- Hertz #1 gold membership
- Guaranteed platinum arrival gift
After your stay:
- Elite only rewards
- Customized rewards
The benefits that I find useful as a platinum elite are: late check out, 50% bonus on paid nights, free internet, free breakfast/lounge access, free room upgrade and free platinum arrival gift. To find out exactly what these benefits entail, you can find out more info on Marriott’s site.
A Taste of Platinum
In any loyalty program platinum is usually one of the highest tiers for elites and it’s not easy to get. With Marriott, to get to the platinum tier level you would usually have to stay 75 qualifying nights at a Marriott hotel. I say usually because there is another way, a lot easier way. It is called the “Marriott Taste of Platinum Challenge.” Marriott has made it so that you get to sample what it is like to be a platinum member. Though to keep this platinum status, you have to meet their criteria of 9 stays within 90 days. The great thing about this is that the 90 days starts at the beginning of the next month, unless you signed up on the 1st of the month. To best utilize this rule, it is best to sign up on the 2nd of the month to give you almost a whole extra month!
How to use the Platinum Challenge
If you are like me and don’t plan on becoming an actual platinum member, you just want the benefits for your upcoming stay, this is a great way to get yourself 4 months of free platinum status. The best part about this challenge is that if you don’t meet the required stays, you can always try again 12 months after your challenge has ended. In addition to that, if you intend to stay at a Marriott hotel later in the year, you can always have your spouse sign up to get another 4 months. Combined you and your spouse would have platinum benefits for 8 out of 12 months a year!
If you are not like me and want to actually become a Marriott Platinum Elite member, you should try to find deals on Marriott hotels and do a mattress run. It is similar to a mileage run, where the purpose of the stay is to just earn stays/points. Being a local in Hawaii gives us the opportunity to book what is called a Kamaaina discount. With this discount the cheapest price I have found was $119 vs $199 at the Courtyard by Marriott at Waikiki Beach. Though this is a fairly decent option, I know some of you will find much cheaper options in your area. Don’t forget to sign up for the mega bonus promotion, it gives you a free night certificate for category 1-5 hotels, when you complete 2 stays. If you are interested in finding the best options for using this certificate Travelisfree has written a great article about this.
RewardsPlus an additional benefit to becoming Platinum
If you are able to qualify to become a full fledged platinum elite member, there is an added benefit of becoming a United Airlines silver elite member. All you have to do is sign up for their co-op program called RewardsPlus. In addition to all the benefits that you receive from both parties, you also get these benefits:
- Convert Marriott Rewards points to MileagePlus miles at a 20% discount
- Receive 10% more MileagePlus miles when you book and redeem for Marriott Rewards Travel Package
- MileagePlus Premier members can convert their MileagePlus miles into Marriott Rewards points 1:1
I know some of you are thinking, what if I take Marriott’s Taste of Platinum Challenge, can I qualify for United Airlines Silver Elite status if I don’t complete the challenge? I also thought of this as a fast track way to get United Elite status, but sadly they thought about this and list it in the terms and conditions. If you want a fast track way to Star Alliance elite membership check out my other post Aegean Airlines Fast Track to Lifetime Star Alliance Gold Status.
How to sign up
Marriott does not list the Taste of Platinum Challenge on their website, so you have to call in and ask for it. Some people may not qualify and are offered the Gold challenge instead. This may be because you have not stayed at a Marriott recently, don’t have enough stays, or you just recently signed up for their loyalty program. If you don’t get approved, you can just tell them that you will think about it and call back later. Then just try again later for the Platinum challenge.
To sum it all up, I am not one to pursue elite status, but Marriott’s Platinum Elite is free. With it, you get free internet, free breakfast/lounge access, free arrival gift, and a free upgrade (if available). With all these free benefits, who wouldn’t want to sign up for this challenge. Not to mention you and your spouse can be platinum for 8 months of the year and don’t forget you can repeat this challenge FOREVER or until they change the rules that is.
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