The Deal Mommy

Why I Decided to Go for the Marriott Platinum Challenge (Hint: It’s Got Nothing to do with Marriott)

We’re not even out of February and I’m reverting to a bad habit. However, I’ve done the math and I think it makes sense. I’d love to hear your thoughts about the 2017 Marriott Platinum Challenge and why I’ve decided to go for it. 

What is the Marriott Platinum Challenge?

Before I tell you my story I should back up a bit and define our terms. In general, loyalty programs offer members different kick-starters to help them get to the next higher level more quickly. Sometimes they’ll match status from a competitor (which worked not so well for Hyatt) but more frequently they’ll offer you a “challenge”. The challenge is to meet a certain number of miles/nights in a short period of time- usually 90 days.

The Marriott Platinum challenge in early 2017 is available to any Gold member who hasn’t gone for a challenge in the past 24 months. (I hear 12 from time to time but was told 24 today.)  Most people can  get Marriott Gold by matching to their Starwood Gold – obtained via the American Express Platinum Card- or via spend on the Marriott Chase card. You’re required to complete 9 stays (individual hotel stays, not combined nights) in 3 months.  To enroll you just call Marriott Rewards at 800-228-2100. I was able to get approved for my first stay the same night. 

United silver comes with Marriott Platinum. That's why you should consider the Marriott platinum challenge.

United silver comes with Marriott Platinum. Image via Pixabay.

What you get after the Marriott Platinum Challenge

We’re in a sweet spot in early 2017 for Starwood and Marriott.  Each program is distinctive but each matches to the other. Once the programs fully integrate the opportunities won’t be nearly as good. But for now Marriott Platinum will equal Starwood Platinum. Marriott Platinum status earned in 2017 is valid for 2017 and 2018 via multiple sources.

UPDATE: The final word on status expiration, straight from a Marriott Rewards team member:

If a member achieves Platinum Elite status in February or March 2017, the new level would be valid for the remainder of the year it was achieved PLUS the next full calendar year.  Elite levels achieved in the month of January are valid for the remainder of the year only.

That’s good in itself, but what really interests me is the airline benefit- Marriott Platinum equals United Silver. United Silver gets you a free bag, economy plus at check in for you and a companion, a higher earning rate and the (slim) possibility of an upgrade. If you have no United status and don’t want to pay for a United credit card- Silver is really helpful.

Here’s where it gets really interesting: Starwood has a similar program with Delta.  They don’t officially call it Silver, but the benefits are about the same so let’s call it “Silver lite”.  So for the immediate future 9 stays gets you not only Platinum with Starwood AND Marriott, but Silver with United AND Silver lite with Delta. One challenge for 4 elite statuses is hard to resist.

Check your math (mine is pretty good)

Here in DC hotels get cheap on the weekends. I can knock out 9 weekend stays in 5 weekends at an average of $50 net (after points earned). Let’s call it $500 to be safe. 

Of course, benefits mean squat if you don’t use them. However, I just happen to have a flight to Puerto Rico late next month on United. Econ + is $69 each way for both me and Deal Kid. $280- over 5 of the 9 stays rebated there. 

Things start to get really interesting this summer in Chile and Argentina. The only hotel in Iguazu Falls national park is a Sheraton, and it’s 12,000 SPG points a night for a base room. I’d need a suite or two rooms for the 4 of us, which is 24,000 points a night and with Gold the hotel isn’t known for handing out upgrades. However with Platinum I have a much better shot at getting that suite for the price of one room- it’s not guaranteed, but I have no shot at Gold. On even a one night stay a 12K Starpoint savings is over $200 by my valuation. That one night pretty much takes care the rest of the challenge cost.

In the gravy column is the fact that many SPG hotels in Chile are going down a category this year. In Santiago in July a Platinum has a great shot at a suite. Sheraton suites in Santiago for 7K points a night with the 5th night free?  Not bad. 

A “stretch” goal for our trip is Easter Island. Awards flights to IPC are few and far between, but for some reason award flights via Easter Island  to Papeete, French Polynesia are popping up right now in business class. The best way to book them is on Japan Airlines- only 65K round trip in Business Class, which is a steal. However, Japan Airlines only accepts transfers from SPG. 

The Verdict? Marriott Platinum Challenge is worth completing for us even if we don’t step foot in a Marriott again after we do so.

The benefits I’ve calculated are only the ones we already have planned. As with many of you trips come up last minute and who knows where we might end up? The one thing I do know is that Platinum status in two hotel chains and Silver status on two airlines for less than $500 is a no-brainer for us. It’s certainly cheaper than 25 stays in two months at Hyatt! 

Are you going for the Marriott Platinum challenge? Am I doing the right thing? As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. 

The Deal Mommy is a proud member of the Saverocity network. 


I'm taking the Marriott Platinum Challenge- but not for Marriott. Should you?

60 thoughts on “Why I Decided to Go for the Marriott Platinum Challenge (Hint: It’s Got Nothing to do with Marriott)

        1. thedealmommy Post author

          I will let a Starwood Platinum answer for sure however my guess is that it says Crossover Rewards. My guess is that it is notated in a similar way that a high-level credit card would be.

  1. Robert

    This is an intriguing option – thanks for the heads up. Now that the great Hyatt Diamond giveaway has come to an end, I’ve found myself naturally booking more Marriott/SPG stays. Like you point out – there’s currently a situation where a bunch of programs are fused together that surely won’t last for long. Great time to tinker with this program.

    Unlike Hyatt, Marriott counts award stays towards status – correct?

    1. thedealmommy Post author

      In general, both Marriott for SPG award stays count for status. However for a challenge they DO NOT. Challenges must be paid stays.

  2. Pamela Selway

    Not sure what is happening with Marriott it may be growing but their service and the quality of their rooms is going down in my opinion.

    1. thedealmommy Post author

      Hi Pamela, I agree that both Hyatt and Starwood hotels are on the whole higher end. That’s why the SPG piece really helps when you want luxury as opposed to a large footprint.

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  4. Bob

    I am assuming the Platinum status would expire at the end of 2017(or early in 2018. Do you know if waiting do complete the challenge until summer or fall would give you Platinum status for the rest of 2017 and for all of 2018?

    1. thedealmommy Post author

      Hi Bob,
      I went to multiple sources and the status through lasts 2017 and 2018 no matter if you earned it in Janruary or December. Most hotel chains work that way. It’s why so many travel hackers squeezed in 25 Hyatt stays the first two months of 2017: to get 2017 and 2018.

      1. ​o0o0o0o0o0o...Points

        a Platinum challenge taken now lasts the rest of 2017, all of 2018, until Feb 28, 2019 (14 months beyond the year you earned it).

  5. keepsmiling123

    Do stays booked through an awards portal such as UR count? (As they do show up as paid stays and you earn Points from them in my experience).

    1. thedealmommy Post author

      My gut says no. However if you have had success I guess it’s worth a shot. I would definitely call it ymmv.

    1. ​o0o0o0o0o0o...Points

      a Platinum challenge taken now lasts the rest of 2017, all of 2018, until Feb 28, 2019 (14 months beyond the year you earned it).

  6. Tom

    I requested this a little while ago but was told that they wouldn’t do a challenge for a new gold member who received via the Amex platinum card.

    We’re you new to gold level when you requested the challenge?

    Maybe I should try again….

    1. thedealmommy Post author

      Hi Tom, I had gotten the Starwood (via AMEX) Gold about a year ago. Could they see that’s how you got it?

  7. Rachel

    I do think this is a different situation than had you chased Hyatt Diamond. You’re not doing this because you’re blinded by a chain, but instead for the ways it will help your personal BYOE quest. Bravo!

  8. Ryan

    If you do this before mid June you will not get status carried thru next year, it will only be this year. You have to complete these things after the halfway point of the year in order for it to carry all the way thru 2019

      1. Ryan

        I was referring to matches/challenges in general. For example, if you do it now, you will have Platinum thru this year and into February of 2018. If you do it on July 1st, you’ll have it all of this year, all of next year, and into February of 2019. Granted with their merger in the works, it could not work that way, but I know for a fact that it’s worked that way with others (I did it with Hyatt, and Alaska Airlines 2 years ago)

    1. ​o0o0o0o0o0o...Points

      a Platinum challenge taken now lasts the rest of 2017, all of 2018, until Feb 28, 2019 (14 months beyond the year you earned it).

  9. VRHunter

    I called the Ritz-Carlton Reward desk kicking the tires on this and was told:
    1) Once 9 stays are completed status stays through the end of 2018
    2) Cash + points stays do not count (Dia mentioned earlier that award stays didn’t count, I wanted to clarify on cash + points)
    3) It’s obviously smart to start the challenge the day you have a paid stay occurring, but the way they count 3 months is a little quirky. If you start it on say the 2nd day of the month you get the rest of that fractional month plus the 3 months after that. So nearly 4 months to complete if you time it right.
    Again – just what I was told, in case it’s useful.

    1. ​o0o0o0o0o0o...Points

      Yes, best time to start the challenge is the 1st or 2nd day of the month. Started this year’s challenge today and have 4 months to complete it, through Aug 31, 2017.

  10. Russ

    Do you have to book direct, or would Travelocity/Expedia/ bookings count? Seems like you could stack your way to a decent discount off the upfront cost if they do count.

    1. ​o0o0o0o0o0o...Points

      Search your Travelocity/Expedia/etc bookings for your rate, then book direct with Marriott. Within 24 hours, use their best rate guarantee and put in a claim online here:

      You do NOT have to book the TravelocityExpedia/etc room, just submit the link in which you found the lower rate – my suggestion would be to find the rate first, then IMMEDIATELY submit your claim.

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  13. Boonie

    I already have a paid stay coming up late April so decided to take the challenge. Someone else mentioned the strange calculation of how they count the 90 days which would end in July, so need to start planning the rest!

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  15. Josh

    The SPG challenge allows up to three rooms on a single night to count towards the challenge (ie. stay one night with three rooms booked and you actually get three night credits). Does the same apply to the Marriott challenge?

  16. mike

    thedealmommy – now that you achieved it did you confirm your status expiration date?

    And, I assume it doesn’t matter when you start the challenge it’s when you finish it, correct? What I’m not clear on is can I register in November 2017, complete the 9th stay in January 2018, then have status until JaNUARY 2020?

    1. thedealmommy Post author

      Hi Mike,
      Mine is definitely until Jan 2019. When the qualification date will reset to Jan 2020? I’d call and check that- please report back what you hear!

      1. mike

        Via email from Marriott – “If the challenge started in December it would end March 31, 2018. The status would be good till February 2019”
        Note I also called and politely ended the call when it became clear the person really didn’t know specifics about the challenge.

        1. Josh

          That doesn’t make any sense, though. Once you earn status you have it for the remainder of the year you earned it plus all of the next. So if you earn it in March 2018 you should have it through February 2020.

          1. mike

            I may have been making the incorrect assumption that it is when you complete the challenge. If it is when you start the challenge then it makes sense.

  17. Josh

    No, it should be when you complete it that matters. That’s when you actually achieve the status, just like that’s what matters when you achieve it normally.

    1. mike

      Unless I see a few more data points specific to the challenge, and not earning it via 75 nights, I’m not going to risk it, I’m going to wait until February or March to start it – the only data point I have in writing from Marriott is what I posted. And the person I spoke with on the phone was clueless. Note deal mommy started hers near the beginning or middle of the year. I think I’m just going to wait and start in February or March.

      1. thedealmommy Post author

        I think even starting in Jan would be ok. It is when you complete that matters so don’t complete till March, but by Jan the clock will definitely have reset for a challenge.

        1. Josh

          So are you saying that it doesn’t matter when you START, just when you FINISH, such that a start in December 2017 and a finish in March 2018 should give status through 2020?

          1. thedealmommy Post author

            Hi Josh,
            As the rules currently stand, it should. However, be mindful that Marriott/SPG are in the middle of their merger and that the challenge could be stopped at any time. You do run the risk of waiting and the challenge not being there when you want it.

      2. Jack

        another data point for you. I contacted them and got this
        “( 11m 44s ) Dan: You would need to begin and finish the challenge in 2018 in order to receive the status until February of 2020.”

        1. thedealmommy Post author

          That sounds about right. 2017 challengers get through Feb. 2019. At this point it may make sense to wait it out till January.

          1. mike

            I wrestled with this decision. I decided to start mine this month. I didn’t want to gamble and wait until early 2018 in case they rescind the challenge when SPG and Marriott merge. Its also easier for me to get the nights in November and December.

          2. thedealmommy Post author

            That is a good point. We are in a specific sweet spot right now that could change at any time.

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