Finding the Easiest Way to Earn Marriott Platinum Status to Save $650 on My Trip to the Maldives

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I booked one of the best (maybe THE best?) Marriott hotels a couple weeks ago for late October:   The St. Regis Maldives.

I booked 5 nights even though I don’t have enough points at the moment (you can read about how to do that here).  But I’ve got until early October to earn the Marriott points I need, which I could do by opening the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express or Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express cards.

Rooms here sell for ~$1,400 per night.  So my 5-night stay with points will save me ~$7,000!  However, if you’ve performed any speculative research of visiting the Maldives, you know the hotel room is just a fraction of the overall expense.

I’m in the hunt for Marriott Platinum status, because that will save me another $650 during my stay.  I’ll tell you why, and how I plan to achieve it with the least amount of effort.

Marriott Platinum Status Comes With Great Benefits, Like Free Upgrades Into a Suite When Available.  So If I’m Lucky I May Get an Overwater Bungalow!  But That’s Not Why I Want the Status

Earn Marriott Platinum Status for Cheap

Here’s one fabulous thing about Marriott Platinum status.  You can choose to receive free breakfast at all hotels and resorts.  That’s extremely valuable when you’re staying somewhere like the St. Regis Maldives, where breakfast costs ~$65 per person.  You’re hostage on a stunning island with no other alternative but to meet the hotel’s demands.

If I have Marriott Platinum Elite status during my stay, I’ll save ~$650 in food costs, just by receiving free breakfast ($65 per person for breakfast X 2 people X 5 nights).

So what’s the easiest (and cheapest) way to get it?  This $650 in breakfast is money I WILL spend if i don’t earn Platinum status.  So theoretically I should be willing to spend $649 to achieve it.

Restaurants Can Be a Crippling Expense in the Maldives

Here are a few ways to earn the status that I will NOT be participating in:

  • Open the Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card and spend $75,000 in a calendar year
  • Stay 50 nights in a calendar year
  • Stay 35 nights in a calendar year (you get 15 elite night credits if you have an AMEX Starwood or Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card)

I have the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, so I’ll begin the next year with 15 nights.  But I still don’t travel enough to spend 35 more nights in a Marriott hotel before October.

Here are the ideas I’m most leaning towards.

Marriott Status Challenge

Every once in a while, Marriott will introduce a “status challenge,” which gives folks like you and me an opportunity to earn elite status for much less effort.  Here’s the latest challenge:

  • Gold Status – Stay 8 nights in 3 months
  • Platinum Status – Stay 16 nights in 3 months

Note:   The 15 elite nights you’ll earn from your Marriott or Starwood credit card do NOT count towards this.

I am much more confident that I can stay 16 nights in a period of 3 months than I am 35 nights in a year.  And even if I can’t, I may just make a vacation out of earning Platinum status.

There are DIRT cheap Marriott hotels around the world.  And while many of them are in places like South Dakota and the less desirable areas of Mexico, some are in very exciting locations.

For example, I have an upcoming trip to Spain in September.  I don’t have a hotel yet, but I could stay at the beautiful AC Hotel A Coruna for $54 per night.

Or, I could Spend 16 nights at the Renaissance Sharm El Sheikh Golden View Beach Resort in Egypt, which sells rooms starting at ~$42 per night.  I could buy a 16-night vacation for just ~$880, and complete the elite status challenge while I’m at it.  For that low price, I might even buy the nights I need and leave early without checking out of the hotel, just to complete my nights.

That’s Right, This Place Costs $43 per Night

They even sell ALL-INCLUSIVE rooms starting at just $66 per night, including alcohol!!

I wouldn’t actually take a vacation I wasn’t interested in just to earn Platinum status.  But these places actually look amazing, and I would be delighted to add them to my bank of amazing travel memories.

Note:   You can call Marriott at 801-468-4000 to begin your 3-month status challenge.  Only 1 status challenge every 3 years.

Status Matching to Marriott Platinum

Here is the my preferred route for attaining Marriott Platinum status.  But I’m not confident about it.

While this no longer seems to be a Marriott policy, I’ve heard many data points of Marriott offering Platinum status for showing proof of elite status with competing hotels.  The most frequent match seems to be from Hilton Diamond status.

Hilton Diamond status looks incredibly easy to earn.  Here are a few ways:

  • Open the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express.  It comes with complimentary Hilton Diamond status.
  • Open the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card.  It comes with complimentary IHG Platinum status.  Several data points show that Hilton will match IHG Platinum status with Hilton Diamond status.
  • Purchase InterContinental Ambassador status for $200.  A few data points show that Hilton may match this to Hilton Diamond status.

You can submit a status match to Hilton here.  And here’s a good site to see the success and failure of status matching with various programs.

Bottom Line

I’m trying to avoid paying ~$650 in breakfast during my trip to the St. Regis Maldives next October.  To do that, I need to earn Marriott Platinum status!

Here are my top 2 strategies:

First strategy – I’ll open the Chase IHG Rewards Premier to receive IHG Platinum status.  Then I’ll submit a status match to Hilton to receive Hilton Diamond status.  Then I’ll submit a status match to Marriott to (fingers crossed) receive a status match to Marriott Platinum status.

If that doesn’t work:

Second strategy – I’ll find a super cheap hotel that either fits seamlessly into my travel plans, or I’ll find one that I actually WANT to visit and make a vacation out of it.  Like the Renaissance Sharm El Sheikh Golden View Beach Resort, which costs $42 per night.  If I don’t want to stay the whole time, I’ll just leave early and continue paying for the few nights I don’t use, just to achieve Platinum status.

I’d adore anyone else’s insight on this.  And let me know if you have data points for trying a status match train like this in the past!

Joseph Hostetler is a full-time writer for Million Mile Secrets, covering miles and points tips and tricks, as well as helpful travel-related news and deals.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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Keisha
1 year ago

Great read. Thank you

dk
1 year ago

Hi,
I have marriott air plus hotel package for 7 nights.
Do I get 7 night credits toward elite status if this certificate is used?

Joe W.
1 year ago

I’m a Platinum Elite, and when I talked to the customer service rep they said the St. Regis doesn’t offer free breakfast for elite members. Do you have anything that confirms free breakfast is actually included?

Rebecca
1 year ago

Following your link for Hilton’s status match, it appears proof of stay within the past 12 months needs to be provided along with proof of status.

miz
1 year ago

Called back again and got yet another story. Agent (who claims to be an “elite specialist” with 13 years of experience) states

1) platinum challenge can not be retroactive

2) challenge can only start on 1/1, 4/1, 7/1, or 10/1 for 3 months

3) only available to gold members or recently downgraded memebers

4) available once a year

Every agent says something different!

miz
1 year ago

Called to register for platinum challenge this morning. Then called to confirm my enrollment and was told just by Marriott rewards rep who also spoke to his supervisor that elite level status challenges have been suspended since the merge in Aug/Sept 2018. He was unable to register me.

Anyone heard of this?

Richard L
1 year ago

I am Platinum Elite. Just tried booking Maldives using points but says nothing available. Tried three different months. When I take points off, shows availability. Any suggestions?

I do around 90-100 nights a year in Marriott Properties. Maldives has been on our list and 2019 be our 25th Anniversary so trying to book it for that celebration.

WR
1 year ago

I am Marriott plat now from an SPG status challenge I did in 2017. I’m going to lose it in 2019. Think I can get away with doing a Marriott status challenge in 2019?

Zebraitis
1 year ago

Hit the 50 night mark (no matter how) and you get 5 nights in a suite… si how ’bout the Maldives with an upgrade? 🙂

ScrewTheAverage.com
1 year ago

Don’t forget about earning 10 EQN (per year) on your first event/meeting at a participating brand.

When you stack that with holding an SPG/Marriott card it’ll further knock down your required 35 nights to 25 for earning Marriott Platinum!