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TPG reader Hunter sent me a message on Facebook to ask about earning Marriott elite status:
“I’m currently two stays away from completing the Marriott Platinum challenge. I normally spend about 50 nights each year with Marriott, but I don’t have any plans to travel before my challenge period ends. I found a local hotel where I can stay for 15,000 points per night; is it worth spending 30,000 points for two stays to earn Platinum status?”
Frequent flyers often use mileage runs as a shortcut to earn airline status and redeemable miles. Similarly, mattress runs can serve as a shortcut to hotel status: You can pick up extra night or stay credits by booking a room and checking in even when you don’t really need it. If you find a good rate, the value you get from earning a higher tier of elite benefits may outweigh the cost of the room itself. Since Marriott now offers elite credits for award nights, you can even take a mattress run using points instead of cash.
Hunter needs a few extra stays to complete an elite status challenge, and wants to know if booking a throwaway award stay is worthwhile. In this case, I’d say it’s a toss-up. On one hand, reaching Platinum status could offset the points you redeem, since you get a 50% bonus on paid stays, and you can request points as the Platinum Arrival Gift you receive at check-in. It’s reasonable to think you’d make up a good portion of those 30,000 points over the course of a year (depending on the length of your average stay).
On the other hand, there aren’t many other Platinum benefits that you don’t already get with Gold status (which Hunter should have if he’s staying 50 nights each year). The main difference is that you’ll receive higher upgrade priority; that’s a nice incentive, but its usefulness depends a lot on where you stay. If you’re frequently visiting JW Marriott or other top-tier properties, then upgrades can be pretty valuable. If you’re staying at a lot of Fairfield Inns, then it’s not worth much.
If you have points to burn and you’ll get a lot out of the higher upgrade priority, then I’d say go for it, but keep in mind that you might be better off booking a paid stay. I list Marriott points at 0.7 cents apiece in my most recent valuations, so 30,000 points is worth $210. If you can find rates of $105 per night or less, then you’ll be better off paying cash, since you’ll actually earn points for your stays.
If a mattress run doesn’t seem worthwhile, you have other good options to earn Platinum status. The Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card offers 15 elite night credits annually, and you can actually stack that benefit to earn 30 elite night credits total if you also have the business version of the card. That should be enough to earn Platinum status for anyone who would normally qualify for Gold. Both of those cards also offer bonus points at Marriott locations and an annual free night stay at a Category 1-5 property, so they’re worth getting anyway.
Featured Image courtesy of Delta Vancouver Suites.
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