Hotel Status Series: Marriott
[Noob Contributor, Ethan, discusses Marriott Status. Enjoy!]
I like having hotel status because it can make my stay more comfortable, save me $$$, make me feel like a VIP, and impress my wife (most importantly). Plus, there are easy ways to achieve hotel status. You can either sign up for a hotel rewards card (gasp), status match, accumulate paid stays (what?), or through rewards card spending.
Hotel Elite Status Series
Marriott has 3 status levels, but first let’s look at some of the highlights of basic benefits from Marriott Rewards:
- Earn Points or Airline Miles
- 5th redemption night free
- Rate discounts
- Priority Check-in
There are a lot more listed on their website, but these are the big highlights. The elite benefits kick in once you hit 10 nights. Each level also has its own “exclusive offers” and “customized rewards” in addition to the benefits listed on this webpage and below:
Silver Status (10 Nights)
- 20% Bonus on points for stays
- Elite Reservation/Guest Services Line
- Ultimate Reservation Guarantee
- Priority late checkout
- Weekend discount
- Gift shop discount
Gold Status (50 Nights)
- 25% Bonus on points for stays
- Free Internet Access
- Room Upgrade
- Guaranteed Room Type
- Guaranteed Breakfast/Lounge Access [sometimes, more on that later]
- Hertz #1 Gold membership
Platinum Status (75 Nights)
- 50% Bonus on points for stays
- 48 Hour Guaranteed Availability
- Dedicated Platinum Reservation Line
- Guaranteed Platinum Arrival Gift
Overall, pretty standard rewards for a hotel elite program. Here’s my beef with Marriott: they have more exceptions than they do rules. Take a look at this photo of their footnotes from the elite page:
That’s insanity! I didn’t include the footnotes, but one of the big things is the breakfast/lounge is limited to JW Marriott, Renaissance, Autograph Collection, and Marriott Hotels & Resorts (but not available at resort locations). In my opinion, breakfast for free is one of the biggest values you can get out of elite status with hotels. Unfortunately Marriott severely restricts this access, most notably with their popular Courtyard brand not being included. Some of the other brands offer a free breakfast, but Courtyards are the most widespread with breakfast available that you must pay for. Most of the other footnotes are explanations or restrictions for hotel brand or location, and can be seen on the website.
I got Marriott Gold status recently through a targeted promotion where I had made 4 paid stays in about a month’s time. I think it’s pretty cool that they make an effort to get you used to elite status when you start traveling a lot, to hook you in.
However, in my 3 Marriott stays since then, I’ve had multiple issues. First, they did not credit me elite stays when the room was paid for by a 3rd party (a soccer tournament I was attending). The hotel staff said I would receive elite nights, and not points, which made sense. However it is their policy, not a mistake, to not credit elite stays for “stays in another name (even that of a friend or family member), stays booked as part of a group or package, or stays booked and paid through a third party.” I think that’s ridiculous, as you are still completing the stay at the hotel and no one is earning points.
Second, they also wouldn’t allow me to check out late, which is supposed to be a perk at the silver elite level. I understand they had high volumes (peak season in Orlando), but allowing a gold elite member to check out at 1pm rather than 11am is hardly going to affect them, and is poor form. Thirdly, no breakfast at a Courtyard, which caught me by surprise, but is in fact in the fine print. The most recent time was at a full service Marriott, where my Gold status was never acknowledged, but this was more of a service issue than anything else.
I think you can see I’ve been less than overwhelmed with Marriott status, but I’ll give them a few more stays to sort it out before I switch my loyalty.
Chase offers the Marriott Rewards® Credit Card. It comes with a 50,000 point & 1 free category 1-4 night as a bonus, though there are ways to get a better bonus. Right now, there is a targeted 70,000 point bonus (no mention of the 70k offer on the landing page). If you go to the Mariott website and do a “dummy booking” of a room, you should see a link for a 50,000 point + $75 statement credit that gets you a good deal if you can’t find the 70,000 offer.
Here are the details:
- $0 first year, $85 annual fee following year
- Anniversary certificate for 1 night (category 1-5)
- 5x per dollar/Marriott Hotels
- 2x per dollar/dining
- 1x per dollar/everything else
- 15 night credits toward Elite status
The anniversary certificate more than pays for the annual fee, as in some locations category 4 and 5 hotels can be north of $200 a night.
Marriott will give a status challenge that they call “Taste of Silver/Gold/Platinum.” They will temporarily grant you status, and then you must fulfill requirements in order to keep that status the rest of the year. You have 3 full months plus the remainder of the month in which you signed up to complete the challenge, so it’s best to challenge right after the first of the month.
Marriott requires stays, and not nights for a successful challenge, so it’s better to make 1 night stays at different properties if you’re trying to meet a challenge.
The requirements are:
- Silver: 3 stays
- Gold: 6 stays
- Platinum: 9 stays
As I mentioned before, Marriott also offers targeted promotions occasionally. Mine offered Gold status for 4 stays in a 1 month period. Almost like the challenge, except that I didn’t have Gold status while I was completing the stays, which may explain the lower requirement.
Here is the Marriott Award Chart, organized into hotel categories:
You can also redeem Marriott points at Ritz-Carlton properties at these rates:
All redemptions on Marriott give you the 5th night free if you book 4 nights. The PointSavers rewards are valid at a list of locations which change and can be found here. They also offer Seasonal awards at select locations, which can be seen on this page.
I’m still a Noob in Marriott’s program, but their treatment of me as an elite has yet to impress. They also have some of the highest threshold requirements for elite status of any of the hotel programs, and have a lot of exceptions. They do have really good promotions however, and I was able to get 3 free nights by making 6 stays during the winter MegaBonus promotion, and hope to do the same on the MegaBonus that just started.
Despite my troubles, I’m sticking with them for now, if for no other reason than Marriotts are everywhere. But, so are Hiltons and some others, so if I continue to have trouble I might switch and try Hilton, or Hyatt (since Geoff is so in love with them). Marriott Rewards could be the right program for you, and I certainly have enjoyed Marriott properties.
— Noob Master