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In August the yet to be named SPG and Marriott combined program will be in effect along with a new elite status structure. While the new program does a pretty good job of aligning current elite status with reciprocal status and benefits in the new program, there’s one major gap. Current SPG Gold members (and Marriott Gold members matched from SPG) who enjoy lounge access and breakfast will lose those benefits.

If you’d like to enjoy the executive lounge and breakfast in addition to five suite-night upgrades, now is the time to reach Platinum status in either program in order to be a Platinum Elite in the combined program. Let’s look at the current shortcut options you can complete before August to earn Platinum in either Marriott Rewards or Starwood Preferred Guest.

Elite Status Conversion Chart

As a reminder, here’s a chart detailing what your current status will equate to in the new program,  and the nights required to earn the status in the new program (you can no longer qualify for status on stays as of August):

Elite Status Tier in New Marriott Program Qualification Criteria Current Status Equivalent(s)
Silver Elite 10 nights Marriott Silver
Gold Elite 25 nights SPG Gold
Platinum Elite 50 nights Marriott Gold and SPG Platinum
Platinum Premier Elite 75 nights Marriott Platinum and SPG 75-night Platinum
Platinum Premier Elite 100 nights + $20,000 in qualifying spending SPG 100-night Platinum

I find myself in the situation that’s causing perhaps the most elite status anxiety for the new program — I’m a Platinum Card® from American Express cardmember, which has given me SPG Gold status that I’ve matched to Marriott Gold status. As of August, this will only earn me Gold Elite in the combined program. Remember, if you have earned Marriott or Ritz-Carlton Gold status through any other means besides matching, you’ll be a Platinum Elite in the new program.

With the extra motivation to earn Platinum before August, I looked at the current SPG Status Challenge, the Marriott Road to Gold or Platinum Challenge and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card as possible shortcuts to help me out.

SPG Status Challenge

SPG gives you the opportunity to earn Gold or Platinum status through its current challenge program. The entire program is listed online with all terms and conditions. You must register by June 30 for either the Gold or Platinum challenge. After you register, you have three months to complete the required stays. You must stay 9 nights to earn Gold status or 18 nights to earn Platinum status. Only paid nights count towards the required nights, and you won’t get the status during the challenge period.

You can technically choose your three-month period to start beginning up to the third month from when you register for the challenge (i.e.: if you register now in June, you could select August-October to be your challenge period).

But if you register on June 30, you only have one month before the new Marriott program is in effect, at which point the challenge could be null and void or you’ll have a hard time getting Marriott to honor it. The terms and conditions state “Marriott International, Inc. and its affiliates reserve the right to modify, change or terminate any of the terms and conditions of the Status Challenge in its entirety at any time, without notice.” My recommendation is to register immediately and complete the challenge before August 1.

You may register for the Gold challenge if you’re an SPG Preferred member, have not held SPG Gold or Platinum status in the last five years and have not previously completed a status challenge promotion. You can register for the Platinum challenge if you’re an SPG Preferred or Gold member, have not held SPG Platinum status in the last five years and have not previously completed a status challenge promotion. If you complete or have completed the challenge any time after March 1, 2018 your new status is good until February 28, 2020.

Marriott Road to Gold or Platinum Challenge

Unlike SPG, there’s no website listing the details of Marriott’s “Road to Gold” or “Road to Platinum Challenge.” You must call Marriott Rewards (801/468-4000) and request the challenge. With Marriott, you can only challenge for one status higher than your current status and must have at least Silver to challenge for Gold.

For the rest of the month in which you begin the challenge and during the following three months, you must complete 6 paid stays if you are challenging for Gold, or 9 paid stays if you’re challenging for Platinum, and you won’t get the status during the challenge period. The Marriott phone rep I spoke to didn’t have any information on what was going to happen to the challenge in August or if it was going to be honored if I completed the challenge after August 1. My recommendation is you register as soon as possible and complete the challenge before August.

Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card

The Ritz-Carlton Rewards card is the heaviest I have ever had and always gets a remark.

The premium Ritz-Carlton credit card, which is not subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule, can make sense to pick up right now if you’ve got large expenses planned for June and July, or if you want immediate Platinum Elite status in the new program come August. This $450 annual fee card comes with automatic Ritz-Carlton Gold status for the first year, which will become Platinum Elite in the new program in August, good through February 2020. If you spend $75,000 on the card before July 31, you’ll earn Ritz-Carlton Platinum status, which will become Platinum Premier in August and allow you maintain that status through February 2020. Note that after the new program launches, this card will get you Gold or Platinum in the new program instead of Platinum or Platinum Premier, respectively.

Bottom Line

We don’t know if there will be a status match or challenge opportunity with the new program. I imagine Marriott will wait to see the number of new elites across the board and monitor business for at least a few quarters before trying to finagle the elite equation. For now, if you have no status and want Gold, or have Gold in either program and want Platinum in order to enjoy benefits for at least the first year of the combined program, now is the time to enroll in a challenge or pick up the Ritz-Carlton Rewards card. Make sure to play it safe and ensure you can complete the stay requirements of a challenge before August.

Featured image of the Ritz-Carlton Bali.

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