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Do You Get Elite Choice Benefits By Spending Your Way to Marriott Platinum Status?

Jan. 15, 2019
4 min read
Do You Get Elite Choice Benefits By Spending Your Way to Marriott Platinum Status?
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"Reader Questions" are answered twice a week by TPG Senior Points & Miles Contributor Ethan Steinberg.

Upon reaching 50 elite night credits a year, and again at 75 nights, Marriott Platinum and Platinum Premier elites can select a Choice Benefit. These include 5 elite night credits, 5 suite night awards (SNAs), gifting either Silver or Gold elite status (at 50 and 75 nights, respectively), a UNICEF donation and, at 75 nights only, a free night award certificate. TPG reader Jimmy wants to know if all Platinum elites are allowed to pick a Choice Benefit...

[pullquote source="TPG READER JIMMY"]Do we also get 5 suite night awards after qualifying for Platinum status by spending $75,000 on the SPG Luxury Amex?[/pullquote]

Most Marriott members will be best off selecting the suite night awards as their choice benefit, but unfortunately you will not earn a Choice Benefit if you earn your Platinum status by spending $75,000 a year on the Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card. Similarly, if you hold Marriott lifetime Platinum status but don't stay 50 nights in a year, you won't be able to select a Choice Benefit. I personally find this to be more problematic than the lack of choice benefits for those who qualify through credit card spending, as lifetime Platinum elites have proved their commitment to Marriott for a decade or more and shouldn't need to jump through hoops every single year to earn a few suite upgrades.

Now remember even without these 5 confirmable suite night awards, Platinum elites are still entitled to space-available suite upgrades at most brands in the Marriott portfolio (with notable exceptions including Ritz-Carlton and EDITION hotels). Choice Benefits are a great way to reward Platinum elites for requalifying for their status year after year, but they are by no means the most valuable element of elite status. The 50% points bonus, welcome amenity and upgrades at check-in add much more value to the travel experience than 5 confirmable upgrade nights do.

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That being said, this question raises an important point about the value proposition of spending your way to platinum on the SPG Luxury Amex. Ignoring for a moment the massive opportunity cost of spending $75,000 on a single card (which for most of us would mean passing up other welcome offers), you don't even get the full suite of elite benefits this way. Post-merger, Marriott has made it relatively easy to qualify for Platinum status with actual stays. After subtracting the 15 elite night credits you earn from holding any Marriott or SPG credit card, you only need 35 nights in a hotel to earn Platinum status "organically." If you aren't traveling that frequently, you'll have a tough time enjoying the Platinum benefits to their fullest extent, anyway, and you'll be leaving a lot of points on the table to do so.

Bottom Line

Spending your way to Marriott platinum status on the SPG Luxury Amex is not a great value, no matter how you slice it. You won't earn elite night credits toward lifetime status or be able to select a choice benefit, and the opportunity cost of that $75,000 spend is just too high. That being said, even without confirmable suite night awards Marriott, Platinum members should have decent odds of scoring a suite upgrade at check-in, and there are even a few tricks to help increase your odds.

Thanks for the question, Jimmy, and if you’re a TPG reader who’d like us to answer a question of your own, tweet us at @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or email us at info@thepointsguy.com.

Featured image by St. Regis New York (Summer Hull / The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
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Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees