How I’m Going To Qualify for Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite For Free(ish)

This post may contain affiliate links; please read our advertiser disclosure for more information.
Disclosure: Miles to Memories has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Miles to Memories and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. Links in this post may provide us with a commission.

How to Qualify for Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite for Free

How I’m Going To Qualify for Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite For Free(ish)

In this article, we’ll look at how to qualify for Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite at a significant discount. We’ll cover my plan for 2020 to earn Platinum Elite status for 2021, as well as what Platinum Elite is worth, comparing its perks compared to Gold. I intend to spend $0 extra of my own money to earn Platinum Elite status next year. There will be some credit card annual fees that I would normally pay anyway but nothing extra.

What is Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite Worth?

I’m aware that sticking with Marriott is not popular in this hobby. I bet a lot of people are reading my question “what’s it worth?” and saying “nothing”. After their merger with SPG and the numerous issues it’s caused, “Bonvoy”, the name of their new rewards program, has become a pejorative. Despite that, I am still getting value from it. 2020 will be my last year pursuing Platinum Elite status (which will then apply for 2021), and that’s because of these issues.

The reason I haven’t jumped ship is because we still have points and free night certificates to use for stays. When the points are gone, we’ll join the crowd of people who only stay at Marriott when the credit card Annual Free Night Certificate posts to the account. Until then, it’s worth earning the status for extra perks.

Perks from Platinum Elite Status

The best way to look at what this is worth is to compare it against Gold (the level below it) and see the differences. Here are the differences between Gold and Platinum in the Marriott Bonvoy program:

  • Points Bonus On Stays: Gold: 25% / Platinum: 50%
  • Late Check-Out: Gold: 2pm / Platinum: 4pm
  • Welcome Gift at Check-In: Gold: 500 points / Platinum: 500 points PLUS another item
  • Room Upgrades: Gold: Yes — but not suites / Platinum: Yes, including suites
  • Lounge Access: Gold:No / Platinum: Yes
  • Guaranteed Room Type: Gold: No / Platinum: Yes
  • Annual Choice Benefit: Gold: No / Platinum: Yes

Marriott Bonvoy benefits chart

Items Without Value

I assign $0 value to the late check-out difference of 2 hours. I also see $0 tangible value to the “guaranteed room type” item. The room upgrades are a perk if you can get upgraded into a suite, but I wouldn’t pursue Platinum for this. It’s a low figure in my eyes. The most I could assign this would be $50 annual if I had to make up a number.

Items With Value

The other areas are where the value comes in. Lounge access gives free drinks and meals during the day, which saves money on your trip. Not all hotels have lounges, so I’ll assume 10% of my stays next year x $30/day savings = $3. With 25 days in my plan (more on that later), we’ll get $75 theoretically. People who only stay at higher-end Marriott brands could massively inflate the value of this.

The points bonus earning and the welcome gifts also add value. Members earn 2.5 points / $1 on room stays. Platinum members get 50%, but this isn’t significant in itself. While Gold members get 500 welcome points at check-in, Platinum members get to choose another welcome gift in addition. There’s massive value opportunity here. Free breakfast, 1000 points, credit vouchers for the snack shop – all of these are valuable. On our trip to the Maldives, breakfast was $35 per person, plus 12% tax. That was a savings of $78.40 per day x 5 days = $392 by getting free breakfast.

These are very situational, depending on where you’re staying, which brand, number of nights per stay, etc. (The full terms of welcome gifts and benefits by brand are here) However, Platinum Elite status can help you save money and earn points faster if you’re going to stay at Marriott hotels. The faster the points add up, the sooner you can use them for another free night.

Review W Maldives

My Plan to Qualify for Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite At A Big Discount

I will qualify for Platinum Elite status for next year, and that will add some benefits during my stays in 2019. However, I’m not going to use any of those benefits in the math for this. That way, it’s simple for others to follow and see how they could do the same. My plan involves a combination of my points, my wife’s points, credit card perks, and a lesser-known chunk of  10 nights for cheap.

Platinum Elite status requires earning 50 nights of credits in a year. Here’s how I’ll add up to 50:

  • 15 – Credits from having any Marriott credit card
  • 10 – Credits from Marriott meeting program
  • 3 – Annual Free Night Certificates
  • 2 – Nights using Marriott reimbursement credit
  • 3 – Nights using wife’s Marriott reimbursement credit
  • 17 – Stays using points

Qualify for Marriott Silver Elite with a credit card

15 Nights – Have A Marriott Credit Card

You automatically get 15 nights of credit for having a Marriott credit card. Any one of the following works:

Note that you don’t get 30 credits by having 2 cards. Also, while the American Express Platinum and American Express Business Platinum do offer you complimentary Gold status, you don’t get elite night credits with the status though.

10 Nights – Host A Meeting

The Marriott Rewarding Events program offers points and stay credits for hosting meetings at Marriott. This doesn’t get a ton of attention (and several of the sales reps don’t know much about it, so make sure you get this written in the contract if doing one). Being a freelancer and running my own business, I can use this once a year for a meeting with someone I don’t want to invite to my house or when needing a professional-looking space during a video chat. Prices vary, but I’m able to host a meeting at a hotel near me for $100, and I also earn points – but not much. I will pay this with my American Express Bonvoy Brilliant card and get reimbursed because of the $300 annual perk. I have $200 more in credit and only need 25 nights now. I’m halfway there and haven’t spent an extra dime outside of annual fees.

meeting to qualify for marriott plainum elite

3 Nights – Annual Free Night Certificates

Every Marriott credit card comes with an annual free night certificate. I have the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card, The Marriott Bonvoy Business, and American Express Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant. I’ll get 3 free nights to stay in 2020. 22 nights to go. These cards do come with a total in annual fees of $670.

Amex Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant

2 Nights – Marriott Reimbursement Credit

Since I have $200 remaining in reimbursement credits from the Bonvoy Brilliant card, I’ll use this on stays at properties under $100/night. (Yes, this is possible. Marriott even lets you filter for hotels under $100/night during your search). That will allow me to get 2 nights out of this. 20 nights to go.

Protea Parktonian All-Suites Johannesburg
The Protea Parktonian All-Suites in Johannesburg, South Africa is under $100 per night.

3 Nights – Marriott Reimbursement Credit On Wife’s Credit Card

My wife will become eligible for the Amex Bonvoy Brilliant card in the middle of 2020. I’ll refer her for the card (and get a referral bonus of 15,000 points). She’ll immediately have this $300 credit. We can pay with her card but make a reservation in my name so I get the stay credits. Used on hotels under $100/night this gives 3 more nights. 17 nights to go. (note: this does add an annual fee of $450 for the card)

17 Nights – Stays Using Points

Currently, I have 33,600 points in my account. If I refer my wife for the Bonvoy Brilliant card in the middle of 2020, I’ll get 15,000 points. She can transfer up to 100,000 points to me next year (50,000 at a time). By transferring the points to me, we can make reservations in my name for me to get credit on my account. Between what she has now and the welcome bonus from opening a card, she’ll have more than enough to transfer 100,000 to me.

We’ll also get 6x points on the $300 each from our reimbursed spend on the credit cards. Members earn 2.5 points per dollar on room rate, but I’ll get 50% more. That $500 of room rates (which are covered by the credit cards’ reimbursement) will yield me 1875 points. That gives me 150,475 points to play with if I don’t count any other perks.

Aloft Kuala Lumpur

So, how does 150,475 points yield 17 nights? Marriott has a perk for a 5th night free after booking 4 nights on points. That stretches the points. I also tend to choose the option needing the least points when using my own points. I choose the fancy places only when using the free night certificate. I’ll stretch my points here, because I know that the countries I haven’t visited yet include large parts of Central Asia and Africa, where it’s not hard to find Marriott hotels for 7,500 points per night. 150,475 divided by 17 nights is 8,8571 average, and that’s if I never use the 5th night free. This is easily doable in my travel plans.

What Doesn’t Count?

It’s important to note that you can’t get credit from stays in someone else’s name. My wife has free night certificates, but I can’t get credit from those. There’s no way to transfer them to my name so I can get credit. If the reservation is made from someone else’s account, you can’t get the stay credit. Otherwise, this would be even easier to qualify for Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite for free(ish).

Annual Choice Benefit at 50 Nights – Which to Choose?

After earning 50 nights, you’ll qualify for Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite for free. Platinum members can choose a gift at this point:

  • 5 nights of credit
  • Give Silver Elite status to someone
  • Buy a Marriott mattress at 40% off
  • 5 suite night requests
  • $100 charity donation

Silver Elite status just isn’t worth gifting to someone – neither for value or for how easy it is to get. I’m guessing no one wants to buy the mattress, and the charity donation is probably a rare choice. The real options become the suite night credits or 5 nights of credits. Here are the pros and cons:

  • 5 nights credits: if you’re passing Platinum and going to be close to Titanium (the next level), this would drop the requirement from 75 to 70. The credit applies this year, so it can’t help you earn Platinum next year. Only choose this if you’ll be close but not all the way to Titanium.
  • 5 suite night requests: these are not guaranteed, and when staying at a popular spot during high season or most times in the U.S. means these might not get approved. The upgrade to a suite is a request, not a guarantee. However, I’ve never had any of mine get denied, as long as the hotel participates. Also, note that you can’t use these if you did the advanced discounted rate on a cash stay. Cash value on this varies greatly but was over $400 for our night at the St. Regis Doha in Qatar. This is likely the most common choice of benefit for people hitting Platinum and not Titanium-bound.

Suite Night Awards from Platinum Elite

Final Thoughts

This hobby is about maximizing value where possible. For me, there is still value to be maximized at Marriott, because I can earn Platinum Elite status for $0 extra out of pocket. This does include $1,120 in annual fees but I get way more value then that out of the cards. This way, I’ll enjoy extra benefits during my stays, like the Mercedes S-Class that picked me up at the airport in Kuwait. If it would cost me extra money, I’d take a hard look at the cost-benefit ratio and decide if this status is worth it. Probably not. Since it’s not costing me anything extra than what I would normally pay, it’s definitely worth it.

I’m aware others are on the “never Marriott” boat. I wasn’t an SPG loyalist before the merger, so that probably factors in. There’s value to be had in getting elite status this way IF AND ONLY IF you’re going to use it. Once our points run out, we won’t pursue Platinum Elite status. There’s no point if you’re not staying enough nights to enjoy the benefits. I have enough points and free nights to earn it and use it. I’ll enjoy it for some free nights in 2021 using my free night certificates and some free nights booked with whatever points we have remaining from 2020 activities. Once those points are gone, I’ll only stay at Marriott with my free night certificates. I’ll also downgrade our Bonvoy Brilliant cards to reduce annual fees after the status is no longer a goal.

I’m not loyal to any brand, only to which account has points in it. That’s how to maximize value. When possible, I’ll get status for maximizing those free stays even further. Now you know how to qualify for Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite at a big discount next year. Does anyone do something similar?

Miles to Memories has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Miles to Memories and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

Ryan S
Travel hacker in 2-player mode, intent on visiting every country in the world, and can say "hello" or "how much does this cost?" in a bunch of different languages.

More Like This

17 COMMENTS

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

17 COMMENTS

  1. I thought platinum was out of reach for me and didn’t try to pursue it. Then in the middle of Dec. I noticed my elite nights jumped from 27 to 42. I was given an extra 15 nights from my boundless card by accident (30 nights total). They were also running a double elite nights promotion till the end of the year. I already had 2 nights booked so only had to book 2 more nights to reach 50. Another promotion also gave me an extra 22K points as well. This was pure luck but I hope to maximize my good fortune and status match to other programs too.

  2. Does it count if the reservation is in my name but my company pays the bill? I have a lot of work where my company arranges the conference room for our event, and tacks on two hotel rooms for myself and my colleague and the hotel room is in my name and I give them my Bonvoy number when I check in, will I get credit for those stays? Or only if I reserve and pay for the room myself via the Marriott website?

    • Yes, you should get credit for a stay if your rewards # gets tacked on. Make sure to ask when checking in. Have you done this before? Did it show up? It should, but asking again at check-in to confirm doesn’t hurt. Also, whoever is planning the event (assuming that’s not you) could be earning 10 nights’ credits on the first event each year. If you’re involved in the planning, why not try to get your account tacked on as the meeting organizer and get the extra 10 nights bump?

  3. I like the tip with the 10 night credit for the “meeting”. I would like to pursue this. Do you have more in depth tips? Do I need to stay for the night? Is it based on time? I was going to do RFP for 2 attendees one day. Advice appreciated. Thanks.

    • Anthony – look for an article coming in the next day or 2. Got several questions about this in the Facebook group, as well, so it’s worth more info.

  4. Also dont forget to status match of your a Hilton Diamond I seen many cases Marriot will match you to plat or give you a challenge which could reduce your 50 stays down to 15 stays in a given period of time. Since I have the Aspire card I get Diamond status and I always using that status stretching and match it across all the rental car c ok companies and hotel programs. Sometimes its a puzzle to find out the correct status matching path such as Hilton to Enterprise then use enterprise to match other rental cars etc. Statusmatcher.com is best for finding the paths

      • Still good once you make Plat with Marriot you can status match as Hilton Diamond, then Hilton to IHG spire elite.

        • They gave me a temporary status with Hilton last year, but I didn’t complete the activities to maintain it because I didn’t have enough points to make it free and didn’t have any low-cost properties in the places I was going to make it worthwhile. Would’ve had to shell out a lot of $ to keep the status and wasn’t worth it for me. Will get the aspire next year probably and then solve the issue 🙂

  5. I get it that in 2020, you have a lot of travel to properties that require few points… But what about 2021? In doing this, you will draw down your Marriott balance, and you seem to be averse to actually paying cash for hotel rooms. At that point, why even hold the Marriott cards that you use for the free night credits and Marriott travel credits? Hotel status is the most useful for those that actually have organic, regular travel, paid for in cash, year after year after year…

    • That’s why I said it will serve me for what remains in 2021 (remaining free night credits from CC, remaining nights booked on points) and then I’ll stop aiming for status. I will downgrade the brilliant to the regular Amex Marriott card to reduce the fee, but I’ll still keep the cards open. I just won’t pursue platinum after this, for the reasons detailed in the article.

  6. Excellent maximizing article, Ryan. This is the type of content I love. It shows the possibilities and benefits, which allows me to decide if it is worth it for my own situation. Thanks for this breakdown.

  7. Doesn’t seem worth it. Platinum is ok but trying to stay at lower end award nights 17 times just to qualify it a bit much unless you have a need for low end properties like visiting Grandma in Topeka or whatever. Also lower end hotels are great but really don’t offer much for Platinum benefits although you might get the 1000 point gifts on most award nights. This is like earning airline status. Unless you stay enough to earn it when will you take advantage of it. You’re going to use up all your points in 2020 trying to qualify and have to re-churn for 2021. I get it but you might want to rethink the advantages on this one. I say this as a Bonvoy Platinum sitting on the club floor of a Sheraton in Europe as I write this.

    • I disagree. Look at the part about areas I plan to visit being chock full of lower tier properties where I can easily beat this average points valuation. Properties in Africa and the Middle East roll out the red carpet for Platinum members, even at lower tier, so it’s definitely worth it for the value I’ll get out of it. I’ve been given presidential suites at a 7500 point property that also picked me up from the airport for free and gave me free breakfast while being located in the exact neighborhood I wanted. It’s all about where you’re going, like you said, and this is fantastic for where I’m going in 2020.

    • I would agree Dan if someone was simply mattress running for the status. I think this just happens to work with Ryan’s upcoming travel plans but it won’t work for everyone. And a lot of the properties he will be staying at are full service properties.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Sponsored

  • MtM recommended tool to track & organize credit cards
  • Best card offers personalized for you
  • Track bonus deadlines, fee dates & 5/24 status
  • Full Travel Freely overview

Free Sign-Up

moomoo - 2 Free Stocks!

Brokerage app moomoo is offering 2 Free Stocks! Just open an account and fund with $500 to get your stocks! Super easy.
Grab your 2 free stocks now!
BoardingArea

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join thousands of MtM readers who are subscribed to receive a once daily email with all of our posts. Never miss out!

You have Successfully Subscribed!