3 reasons I loved my Marriott Platinum status last year — get yours now with a credit card

Jan 11, 2021

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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card

Having elite status levels in the various airline and hotel programs may not mean as much for most travelers right this second as it usually does. It’s been understandably hard to care about that triple-diamond-platinum-zinc-oxide level elite status card when you haven’t used it in almost a year.

But, I trust that travel will return in 2021.

And when it does, having some tangible travel perks and benefits at the ready in the coming years will be a truly enjoyable treat after spending too many months only traveling from the bed, to the couch, to the computer desk and back again.

A hotel elite status level I’ve personally earned and used for the last several years is Marriott Platinum status.

It’s one of the more valuable hotel elite status out there. In a normal year, it hits the right notes of being both realistically attainable and rewarding. But it’s actually far easier than normal to earn right now until Jan. 13, as instead of requiring 50 nights in Marriott hotels, it comes automatically for a year as part of a temporary welcome bonus with both the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card and the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card. (And here’s how Marriott is making it easier to earn elite status the old-fashioned way in 2021.)

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(Photo by Ethan Steinberg/The Points Guy.)

Through Jan. 13, 2021, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card has a welcome offer of up to 125,000 Marriott Bonvoy points — 100,000 after spending $5,000 in the first three months and an additional 25,000 after your first card year anniversary, along with Marriott Platinum status valid from Feb. 1, 2021 – Jan. 31, 2022. The card has a $450 annual fee (see rates and fees).

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is temporarily awarding 100,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months, up to $150 in statement credits within your first 6 months of card membership for all eligible purchases on your card on U.S. advertising in select media and the valuable Platinum status valid from Feb. 1, 2021 – Jan. 31, 2022). That offer also ends on Jan. 13. The card has a $125 annual fee (see rates and fees).

But if you’ve never had Marriott Platinum status, you may be wondering just how useful the status actually is. To help show just how useful it can be, here are three of my favorite recent experiences with my own Marriott Platinum status.

Related: Guide to the Marriott Bonvoy program

Sweet Suite nights clearing

Booking a suite at a truly slope-side hotel between Christmas and New Years is probably going to cost you close to $1,000 per night if you paid with cash. But, a little over a year ago, we locked in a suite at the ski-out Westin Snowmass near Aspen using Marriott points, plus Suite Night Awards earned courtesy of my Marriott Platinum status.

Suite Night Award success at the Westin Snowmass (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

I was genuinely shocked when the upgrade cleared in advance of the stay during peak season into this large, true suite. We didn’t make use of the outdoor patio with six inches of snow blanketing everything, but the size of the private patio gives you an idea of how large the suite was.

Related: These are our favorite points-friendly ski hotels

(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

While not every desired Marriott suite night award has cleared during my time as a Marriott Platinum, my success rate is actually pretty solid. You can choose to select five Suite Night Awards each year as one of your annual Marriott Platinum Choice Benefits.

View from the Westin Snowmass (Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

In addition to securing that prime-time slopeside suite and view in Colorado, in 2020 my Suite Night Awards also launched us from a standard room a true suite at the brand-new J.W. Marriott Bonnet Creek located near Disney World.

(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

Free full breakfast

I get that some people don’t care about free hotel breakfast, but I am not one of those people. (And I’d bet most of those people who poo-poo that perk don’t have young kids who wake up hangry!)

Marriott’s stated Platinum breakfast benefit isn’t the most benefit out there (The World of Hyatt Globalist gets that nod), but in practice I’ve noticed a trend toward Marriott’s breakfast option being both more valuable and flexible — even before the pandemic.

(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

We’ve enjoyed many free full Platinum breakfasts for either two of us, or occasionally all four of us, with my Platinum status. An example is shown here during an early-March ski trip to the Westin Mammoth. If you’ve ever had to get a family fed before making an a.m. ski school drop-off time, you know how incredibly handy a hearty, free hotel breakfast can be.

We owed nothing but a tip each day we indulged in this delicious pre-ski breakfast.

Tip-toeing a little further back in time, Marriott Platinum status has also unlocked otherwise pricey and indulgent room service breakfast on occasion, too, such as shown here at the St. Regis New York from a trip in late 2018.

Marriott Platinum breakfast at the St. Regis New York (Summer Hull / The Points Guy)

Pandemic escapism close to home

After carefully traveling some over the summer and fall months, as COVID-19 case rates and travel complexities increased, we decided to cancel pretty much all travel for the winter months in late-November.

However, we still craved a little close-to-home outdoor fun and a change of scenery from time to time. So, we booked a night of staycation at a local Westin — primarily for the outdoor heated pool and delicious free breakfast that comes with Marriott Platinum status.

Yes, our suite upgrade award certificate cleared into a suite, which was nice, but it was that ‘free’ breakfast that we enjoyed by the heated pool on a sunny December morning that made my Marriott Platinum status taste as sweet as the syrup on the chicken and waffles.

Sure, it wasn’t a floating pool breakfast served in the Maldives, but with my re-calibrated 2020 expectations, it was a much-appreciated escape from the home routine.

We could have redeemed a 35k Marriott certificate for the stay regardless of whether I had Marriott Platinum status, but it’s the status that unlocked the breakfast and the ability to upgrade to a suite on top of the 35k certificate.

Bottom line

In the traditional model of earning Marriott Platinum status with 50 annual Marriott nights or $75,000 charged to the Bonvoy Brilliant card, this status level isn’t realistically attainable for everyone. However, if you act quickly, picking the status up for a year simply by getting approved for a card such as the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card is outstanding, assuming you trust you’ll have at least a couple opportunities to put the status to use in the next 12 months.

For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Business card, click here.

Images by author except where indicated. Featured image by author of an amazing upgrade at the St. Regis Punta Mita in 2015.

 

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