Shortcuts to Marriott Platinum Elite status (Special 2021 edition)

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This Marriott Platinum Elite status shortcuts post has been updated with Marriott’s recently announced promotions that will make it easier than ever to earn meaningful Marriott elite status in 2021.

Breakfast shown here is from the US Grant Luxury Collection hotel. This is one of many properties where Platinum Elites get free breakfast.

Background

Marriott Bonvoy is Marriott’s loyalty program.  One cool thing about Marriott Bonvoy, besides its delightful name, is that elite perks are pretty good for a hotel chain of its size. Unfortunately, Marriott doesn’t apply the same benefits uniformly across their brands, and even within brands some properties are allowed exceptions.  Still, I find that Platinum perks at Marriott hotels are often very good.  You can find everything you need to know about Marriott Bonvoy in our complete guide.

Here’s a summary of Marriott’s elite perks:

Elite Status Level Requirements Per Year Key Benefits
Silver Elite 10 Nights Late checkout, 10% point bonus
Gold Elite 25 Nights 2PM late checkout; 25% point bonus; welcome gift (points only); room upgrade; enhanced internet
Platinum Elite 50 Nights 4PM late checkout; 50% point bonus; welcome gift w/ breakfast option; room upgrade includes suites; lounge access; Choice benefit (such as 5 suite night awards) when you achieve 50 nights.
Titanium Elite 75 Nights All of the above, plus: 75% point bonus; United Silver Premier status via RewardsPlus; Ritz-Carlton suite upgrades; Additional Choice Benefit (such as 40K free night certificate) when you achieve 75 nights.
Ambassador Elite 100 Nights + $20K Spend All of the above, plus: Ambassador Service (dedicated Marriott agent); Your24 (Choose the 24 hours of your stay. For example, choose to check in at 9am after an overnight flight).
 
JW Marriott Grand Rapids Lounge.  Platinum elite status often offers free access to lounges like this one.  Lounges usually include free breakfast and afternoon canapes.  Some offer free alcohol as well.

The sweet spot elite status, in my opinion, is Platinum Elite.  This will get you the vast majority of the best benefits: 4pm late checkout, 50% point bonus, welcome gift, free breakfast at most properties, and lounge access.  And, when you earn 50 elite nights you also get a Choice Benefit, such as 5 Suite Night Awards.

I’ve had mixed success in applying Suite Night Awards at the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel London. Suite Night Awards are available as Choice Benefits to those who earn 50 and 75 elite nights with Marriott. Once, my Suite Night Awards worked perfectly. On another stay, the upgrade didn’t go through on the first night, but they were able to move us to a suite like the one shown here for the rest of our stay.

Of course, you might not have the opportunity to actually stay 50 nights at Marriott properties.  But all hope is not lost.  There are quite a few shortcuts to Marriott Platinum Elite status that you can pursue instead…

Two Distinct Paths for Marriott Platinum Elite Status Shortcuts: Elite Nights vs. “All at Once” Shortcuts

There are two types of shortcuts to elite status.  One type of shortcut offers a way to get elite nights more quickly or easily.  Elite night shortcuts are stackable.  That is, you can mix and match these shortcuts in order to earn whatever level of status you want. The all-at-once shortcuts are not stackable. Each offers a way to get to a specific level of status, but if you want to go for a higher level of status, these generally won’t help.

Elite Night Shortcuts

The following shortcuts are stackable.  You can earn elite nights from one or more of these options in order to add up to the 50 nights you need.

  1. Credit Card 15 elite nights x 2.  This is by far the simplest option. Almost all Marriott and Ritz credit cards offer 15 elite nights per year simply by being a card member.  You can find a complete list of cards here. Having more than 1 consumer Marriott card or more than one business card won’t give you more than 15 elite nights.  That said, you can get up to 30 elite nights by holding both a personal Marriott card and a business Marriott card.
  2. 1 Elite Night Per $3K Spend.  Two legacy Marriott cards offer 1 elite night per $3K spend (you can find a complete list of cards here, along with a chart showing which cards offer elite nights for spend).  Of the two legacy cards that have this feature, readers are most likely to have the Chase Bonvoy Premier Credit Card, but only if they turned down upgrade offers to the Plus version of this card.  Unfortunately both cards that offer this feature only give cardholders 1 point per dollar spent (except in certain categories of spend), whereas most other Marriott cards offer a minimum of 2 points per dollar.  This means that this spend is costly in that you lose the ability to earn more points for your spend.  It’s especially costly if you consider that you can earn far more than the value of 2X Marriott points for that same spend with other cards.  See: Best Rewards for Everyday Spend.
  3. Book award nights.  Marriott hotels are available for as little as 7,500 points per night standard, 5,000 points per night off-peak, or 4,000 points per night for off-peak PointSavers.  Just as with paid nights booked through Marriott, award nights earn elite night credits.
  4. Use free night certificates.  If you have free night certificates (which you can get from simply having certain Marriott credit cards or from completing various Marriott promotions), you’ll earn elite night credit when you use those certificates.
  5. Book 5th night free awards (even if staying 4 nights).  For example, you can book an off-peak category 1 hotel for 5 nights for 20,000 points.  Or, if you are lucky enough to find an off peak category 1 hotel with PointSavers rates, you could book 5 nights for 16,000 points.  In exchange, you’ll get 5 elite nights.  Note that you do have to check into the hotel to get credit.  If you don’t plan to stay all 5 nights, I recommend that you discuss your plan with the hotel manager since they may check you out early if they see that you’re not there.
  6. Choice Benefit: 5 Elite Night Credits.  This is a weird one.  You won’t have access to this Choice Benefit until you’ve earned 50 elite nights, and the 5 elite nights can only be applied to the same calendar year in which you earned the Choice Benefit selection.  Therefore, the only good uses for this option are to help you get to Titanium Elite or Ambassador Elite status, or to increase your lifetime elite night count.  Learn more about Choice Benefits here.
  7. 50% Elite Night Credit Rollover (2021). Marriott will deposit 50% of the Elite Night Credits (ENCs) into members’ accounts based on their 2020 Elite status tier. The ENC’s will be deposited in February 2021.  The number of elite nights you get depend upon your status in 2020, as follows:
    • Silver: 5 Nights
    • Gold: 13 Nights
    • Platinum: 25 Nights
    • Titanium: 38 Nights
    • Ambassador: 50 Nights
  8. Double Elite Night Promo (2/16-4/27/21). Members will earn double the number of points and elite night credits for stays of two nights or more.  Each stay must include at least 1 paid night booked directly with Marriott.

Once you earn elite status this year, your status will be good for the rest of this year, all of the next, and through February of the year after that.

Advantages to elite night shortcuts (as opposed to all-at-once shortcuts below):

All-At-Once Shortcuts

The following shortcuts will get you to a specific elite level, but you can’t stack them with elite nights to get higher status.

  1. Credit card Gold status.  The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card and the Ritz-Carlton Card (available only as an upgrade from a consumer Chase Marriott card) both offer automatic Marriott Gold status.  Similarly Amex Platinum cards offer free Gold status (you must enroll).
  2. Spend $75K for Platinum. The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card and the Ritz-Carlton Card (available only as an upgrade from a consumer Chase Marriott card) offer Platinum Elite status with $75K spend.  With the Bonvoy Brilliant card, the spend must be within a calendar year whereas the Ritz card spend must be within your membership year.
  3. Marriott Status Match Taste of Platinum.  Match status from a competing hotel chain to get Platinum status for 90 days.  Complete 15 paid nights during those 90 days to retain status for the rest of this year and through February of the next.  Details here.
  4. Timeshare Ownership: Marriott Vacation Club and Vistana are timeshare ownership programs affiliated with Marriott, and each offers elite status under certain conditions.
  5. United MileagePlus Premier Gold or higher status: Via RewardsPlus, United elite’s with Gold status or higher get Marriott Gold.

Disadvantages to all-at-once shortcuts:

  • Earning one level of status doesn’t help you get to the next. For example, if your Amex Platinum credit card gives you Gold status, you’re just as far from earning Platinum status as someone with no status at all.
  • You won’t earn Choice Benefits.
  • You won’t make progress towards lifetime status elite nights (but you will add lifetime elite years).

Seeking Status in 2021

If you stay often in Marriott hotels and if you can find a way to use the above techniques to get to Platinum status or higher without spending too much extra money or points, I recommend doing so.

This year (2021), it’s exceptionally easy to earn Platinum status or better, especially if you had Gold status or better last year.  Consider this scenario: You start the year with one consumer Marriott credit card and Gold status.  In that case, the elite night rollover will give you 13 elite nights and the credit card will give you 15 more.  You could then sign up for the business Amex Marriott card in order to get 15 more elite nights.  You’ll now be only 7 elite nights away from Platinum status.  Book a 3 night stay during the Double Elite Night promo and spend one more night during the year (perhaps using the free night certificate from your credit card) and you’ll have Platinum status!

See more info about 2021 elite status promos here: Marriott launches easy elite status for 2021 and cheaper saver awards.

Marriott Platinum Elite Status Shortcut Graveyard

The following shortcuts are no longer available:

  • Host a meeting in order to earn 10 elite nights [DEAD]
  • Birthday Elite Night Credit [PAUSED: Let’s hope this comes back!]
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