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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.
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.
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.
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.
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!