I have never been a huge fan of Marriott. Although Marriott Rewards was the first hotel loyalty program I signed up for over 10 years ago. I have become loyal to Starwood for their generous redemption awards (cash + points), suite upgrades for Platinum members (when available), and relatively easy requirements to earn top elite status (25 stays or 50 nights) to earn Platinum. In fact, I will be going on 4 straight years as a SPG Platinum member this year!
The one thing I like about Marriott’s program is that they have a pretty generous and achievable elite status challenge program. It seems to me that they vary the requirements occasionally, and you are only allowed to do one challenge per year (meaning that if you do not complete your challenge, you can’t sign up for another challenge for exactly one year from the end of the challenge). The best part about the challenge is that you get to try the elite status while you are attempting the challenge (unlike AA’s status challenge program). Finally, the requirements of the challenge are that you complete the necessary number of stays within a 3-month period after starting the challenge. As long as you start the challenge on any day after the 1st of the month, the current month is not included in the 3-month period. Hence, I started my challenge on Sep 6th, so I have until Dec 31 to complete my challenge.
Since, I have a couple weeks of business travel coming up, and I’m planning to complete the Marriott MegaBonus that starts on Sep 15th where you can earn 1 free night in a category 1-4 hotel after every two stays (limit of 3 free nights), which I blogged about here, I figured why not call Marriott Rewards and inquire about a status challenge?
I called Marriott Rewards customer service at 1-801-468-4000 and the agent asked me what challenge I’d like to sign up for, and I responded that I didn’t know. I knew that Marriott typically only allows you to enter a challenge for one status above your current level, in other words if you are currently Silver, they will only allow you to challenge for Gold. I’m currently just a general member, but I wanted to challenge for Gold or even Platinum status. The agent then asked how many stays I anticipated coming up in the next three months. I told her maybe 10-15 and she said they could make a one-time exception and offer me a Platinum status challenge that required only 9 stays!
This was a fantastic offer, and I accepted immediately. Two years ago I was offered a Gold challenge that required 11 stays, so this was not only fewer stays, but a higher status! If I complete the 9 required stays, I would get Platinum status for the rest of this year and all of 2013.
What does Platinum status get me?
– 50% bonus on points earned during your stay (15 points per $1 spent)
– Complimentary room upgrades
– Guaranteed lounge access
– Priority late checkout
– Free internet
You can find the full list of benefits here.
Of course, in my opinion these benefits are not anywhere near at good as SPG Platinum, but the free lounge access, point bonus, and free internet are definitely worthwhile. From what I’ve read online, Marriott tends to lag behind their competition when it comes to room upgrades.
This is a great offer even if you don’t plan on completing the challenge. Having Marriott Platinum status for almost 4 months free of charge is a total no-brainer, especially for only a 5 minute phone call to customer service. If you plan to earn the 3 free nights by staying 6 times during the Mega Bonus promotion, you might as well enjoy the benefits of Platinum status, and maybe consider completing 3 more stays to hit Platinum status for another year or so.