The case for burning 80,000 points to earn Marriott Titanium status
Someone talk me out of this.
I qualified for Marriott Platinum status about a month ago by registering for a Marriott status challenge. It's great -- I receive suite upgrades on an absurd percentage of stays, free breakfast at hotels has already saved me $700+ (thanks in large part to a recent stay at the St. Regis Maldives, where food is exorbitant), and guaranteed 4:00 pm late check-out has been a luxury I didn't know I needed.
But I now find myself insatiable for hotel prestige. I've reached 50 nights this year, and I'm eyeing Marriott Titanium status. In addition to the aforementioned Platinum status perks, you'll also receive an annual choice gift after staying 50 nights. Most people choose five "suite night awards," which means you can confirm a suite upgrade before you arrive at the hotel.
To achieve Titanium, however, I'd need 25 more nights before the end of the year. I've got no upcoming Marriott stays planned, and although there isn't a world of difference between Platinum and Titanium status, it does come with a few distinct perks. Here's why I may just book 25 throwaway nights with points to get it.
Upgrades at Ritz-Carlton
As a Marriott Platinum elite member, you're eligible for suite upgrades at check-in just about everywhere. The glaring exception is Ritz-Carlton. You'll need to be Titanium Elite or higher to receive a complimentary suite upgrade. I'm planning to stay at three Ritz-Carlton properties next year. Based on my suite upgrade success thus far as a Platinum member, I reckon the probability of scoring a Ritz-Carlton upgrade as a Titanium member are good.
United Premier Silver elite status
When you earn Marriott Titanium status, you automatically qualify for United Premier Silver status (check this post out for details). I've got no loyalty to airlines. I fly United Airlines as often as I fly American, Delta and Southwest. But holding United Premier Silver has a few benefits I find handy, like complimentary access to Economy Plus/preferred seats and complimentary Premier Upgrades.
Plus, with United Premier Silver, you can status match with Southwest to receive Southwest A-List status. That comes with perks like priority boarding, in which Southwest will check you in 36 hours before departure (that's 12 hours before those without elite status or premium tickets). That's a big deal, because the Southwest boarding process is first-come-first-served.
Another five Suite Night Awards
After staying 75 nights in a calendar year, you'll get another five suite night awards. Super valuable if you use them at a lavish hotel.
So, how can I reach 75 nights??
To earn Titanium Status, you must stay a total of 75 nights in a calendar year. There is absolutely zero chance I'll ever spend 75 nights in a hotel in a year, so I've gotta get creative. Fortunately, Marriott award nights count toward elite status. If I could find some insanely cheap award nights, might it be worth it?
The lowest category Marriott hotels (Category 1) cost:
- 7,500 points per night for a standard rate
- 5,000 points per night for an off-peak rate
- 4,000 points per night for an off-peak PointSavers rate
4,000 Marriott points per night is insane. And remember, when you book five consecutive award nights, you'll receive the fifth night free. That translates to 3,200 Marriott points per night. If I could find a Category 1 hotel with tons of PointSavers availability, I could book 25 nights for 80,000 points (3,200 points per night x 25 nights), check in and head home.
I opened the Marriott hotel directory, filtered my search to Category 1 hotels, and clicked on my region.
Turns out, I've currently got a few of these rates nearby. That's right, off-peak Category 1 PointSavers hotels. Booking in increments of five means I'll get every fifth night free, and I just may be able to pull it off for 80,000 points.
Heck, I could effectively "buy" nights at this hotel for under $30 per night with Marriott's buy-points sale. They're selling points for 0.875 cents each, which equates to $28 per night (3,200 points per night x 0.875 cents per point).
Even if I value the benefits that come with Titanium status more than I value 80,000 points, it still feels a bit of a waste.
Instead of booking 25 empty hotel nights this year, I may wait until I find myself in similar position in 2020 and reach Titanium status by booking those 25 nights at Category 1 hotels that I could at least foresee myself enjoying. There are plenty of perfectly acceptable four-star Category 1 hotels around the world, like the AC Hotel Aravaca, just outside Madrid, or the AC Hotel Brescia, an hour east of Milan.
To reiterate, 80,000 points can get me the 25 nights I need to qualify for Marriott Titanium status. I'd receive:
- Another five suite-night upgrades
- Eligibility to be upgraded at Ritz-Carlton hotels at check in
- United Premier Silver status
- Southwest A-List status (matched from United Premier Silver)
- Nauseating obsequiousness from Marriott front desk employees
Anyone with Marriott Titanium status, holler at me with data points about your upgrade success at Ritz-Carlton, plus any other noticeable customer service differences between Platinum and Titanium.