Greetings all! I've been a Marriott Rewards member for about 11 years, ever since my first business trip to the sprawling metropolis of Indianapolis at the age of 22. I stayed about 85 or so nights in 2005 in my only true Platinum year, and have been riding those coattails ever since. I've always had a Marriott Visa, and as soon as I thought of it upgraded to the Platinum. However, after ten years at job with light travel, I've now moved to a company in which I'll be flying to a domestic or international destination every other week.
Since then, I've ran about everything I can ($40k year, including work expenses that are reimbursed) through the Marriott Visa, but I was surprised to see that I presently have 408 nights (about 200 of those are likely 'actual' nights), and 900,000k points. Still at Gold - even though I haven't stayed 50+ nights ever since that one year - I called today and asked for the Platinum challenge (9 stays before Oct 31st), which I will probably have knocked out by the end of August. I estimate that I'll have my 500 nights taken care of quickly, and with the 50% points premium, 1.6M points before the end of 2016.
I guess there's not a question coming - just a future heavy Marriott patron saying 'hi', but - to me, this seemed really easy to make Gold lifetime. Like, really easy. It'll take me a bit to bridge the gap between life Gold and Platinum, but it feels like I traveled a bit ten years ago at the start of my career, I'll travel a bit for the next year, and *BAM* I'm already here. But truth be told it was probably the ten years of every-little-bit as I ran most charges through the Visa that helped the most.
I'm certainly going to enjoy it for the duration, but considering the massive number of reimbursable expenses I'm going to run through my CC in the near future, and the corresponding conversion to 'nights', are these lifetime levels too easy? Or am I just maximizing the benefit of the situation I find myself in?
Very true. In fact, for a while I had both the normal and the Premier card at the same time, so I could use one while I held the other for a few days to pay it off. That's probably what tacked on most of my bonus nights. Looking at the points/nights required for the Gold and Platinum lifetime benefits, it comes out to 3200 and 2667 points per stay, respectively. With a decent level/card bump, that's an average per night charge of $200-250. A lot of my stays the first time around, however, were at Courtyards in the midwest US for FAR less than that. Even with compensating for that with the cards and bonuses and such, I'm still far short on points for Gold, but probably right on par by the time I make it to Platinum. So, I guess in short - unless you're staying in the standard Marriott-class or higher for your nights, no matter what you do you're probably going to be short on points until making it to 750/2M, when it starts to even out.
Wwell, you have preferred Marriott for 11 years now, with one 85 night year, and by the sounds of it around a dozen or so real nights each year since then, plus very heavy spending on your Marriott Credit card, remember, $40k pa is more than most full time workers take home each year, and you're spending that on ONE credit card, every year for 10 years. Wow.. That's loyalty, and at least as far as the credit card is concerned, valuable loyalty. And Marriott gets its kickback too, every year for 10 years.
ANd remember, LT Gold/Plat is worthless unless you actually give Marriott more money by staying at their hotels.
Depending on what that 40k spend is going to, I'd suggest switching to a 2% card (like the fidelity amex or citi doublecash) or a card with category bonuses. the extra half a percent with a 2% card (as opposed to the 1.5%) could mean $200 or more extra in cash back (with no annual fee)
Alternatively, the discover it miles card offers 3% cash back for the first year (though it says it can only be redeemed for travel, it can also be redeemed as cash back in the form of a statement credit). There is also a $30 airline wifi credit (that according to anecdotes can be used for in flight food/drink as well). That could be as much as a $600 increase in cash back for 1 year (With no annual fee) =]
Also, if you want to snag some extra points, keep an eye out for the ritz card's 140k bonus to come back. Carries a $395 fee, though there's ways to get it waived, and you can pull that $395 fee back REALLY easily if you utilize the benefits of the card correctly.
Yeah, but that's just money - I'd just waste that on beer and pizza. I'm presently more concerned about knocking out the points for lifetime Gold. In that way, I can reap the benefits of upgrades and such for decades to come. I try to split various categories up over several cards for standard living expenses, and pretty much everything I can gets purchased through Amazon for a 3% effective discount.
While RI may only offer half the points, MEA only offers 1/3 the nights (you only get 1 night credit for every 3 nights you stay on a long term stay). I've personally had over 2,000 nights (estimate) at MEA but my total "official" nights with Marriott amount to less than 1,200.
Various ways to get to the Lifetime status. As long as it's working out for the person doing it then it seems that's the best way.
Quick update, have added 70 nights and 300k points in the last three months, which puts me at the 1.2M points needed for silver lifetime status. 22 nights and 390k points to go before lifetime gold, will have the nights taken care of next month and at this rate, might even just hit 2.0M before the end of 2016. Just need to catch up on nights.
For most of us that's probably true, Following up to my earlier post, over the last 6 years I've now stayed over 800 nights, most at Residence Inn at gov't rate, but a few solid months at Courtyard and full service Marriott's, I've received multiple megabonuses, 1 80k credit card bonus, and still only about halfway to lifetime Gold status (silver is basically nothing) and not even halfway to platinum. I'd guess that most people staying at marriott 750+ nights are are paying a lot less full rate.
I think every two years you can get a new credit card with bonus, and I have a business too, so I'll have to work that for a few years.
Marriott should give 10 points on the dollar to all their hotels and not penalize some of their best customers who do long term stays by only giving them 5 points on the dollar.
What I've realized in the brief time I've hung around here is that there's a wide range of travelers, some having more difficulty with the nights, and some the points. On one hand, you have the person such as yourself with long-term Residence Inn and TownePlace Suites stays, who quickly surpass the number of nights but are nowhere near the number of points required. On the opposite end, I've seen some MR Vacation Club members mention that they have a TON of points, but barely register on the number of nights. Personally, I think I've somehow managed to work it out so that I'll hit 750/2.0M at about the same time, but I guess I'll find out late next year.
In my opinion, in order to get to lifetime levels quickly, it helps if you...
- Have a bunch of nights early on in your MR 'career'. Since rollover nights count the next year, you could conceivably stay 300 nights in year #1, and never need another night to make LTP. 300 (Year 1) + 225 (-75, Year 2) + 150 (-75, Year 3) + 75 (-75, Year 4) = 750 nights total.
- Stay in 10/$1 properties, with nightly rates of at least $200 or above. If you wanted to make two million points in 300 nights, at 15 points per dollar you'd be spending $333 a night. That may not be all room rate, you could add meals and services to that total in most cases, but still - at Platinum earning levels it's going to take between $100,000 (with CC) - $133,000 (without CC) to hit 2M points. That takes a long time in a Courtyard at $129/night.
- Send everything through the credit card IF it's available to you (Sorry ramoneur!). Obviously, it'll help with both points and nights, and can reduce the amount you have to spend to achieve LTP by 25%. I wouldn't say hitting LTP is by any means impossible to accomplish without it- just takes 33% longer.
- Another obvious angle, hit all of the megabonuses, and (something I just started doing, maybe it's a new offering) check the room rate to see if there's any sort of stay/night point bonus tied offered when booking. For just a few more dollars, my 10 nights in Minnesota in January (brrrr) will get me an extra 6,000 per night, or 60,000 total. That'll warm me up nicely.
Edit - Based on current travel plans, it looks like I'll hit LTG in Feb/March, and probably LTP by the end of 2016 - way sooner than my original estimate.
Jt15550 - I think you are misunderstanding the carryover nights (or I'm misunderstanding your post). The carryover nights only extend into the next year, as I understand it. You can't continue to reuse, in effect, the same carryover nights. That means that in year 3, you would start with zero carryover nights if I understand the program correctly.
bigdog8412, I couldn't help noticing your screen name. Is that 8412 random, or is that a Marine Corps MOS? I ask because I was an 8412 myself many moons ago. Hope so! Would be nice to have another of us around
What a difference a year (or 1.5 years) makes. Pretty much blew past lifetime gold, after the dust of 2016 has settled - counting rollover, birthday and 15 credit card nights, I'll have 750 nights exactly at the end of 2017 - and that's if I never stay another night in a property. However, I'm 97K points short of lifetime platinum, and since I left the job that involved large amounts of lucrative travel, it's going to be close. Sure there's my standard estimated annual spend, double points for rental car and restaurants - but I'm going to have to get inventive if I'm going to wrap this up this year.
The plan: I've made the current MegaBonus for an add'l 5K, will try to call and argue down the level of the new Jan-Apr MegaBonus to something attainable - the 10 night version. Looks like in at least one of my upcoming stays, I can pick a less-than-convenient hotel location in Raleigh-Durham and pick up 5000/night in a members-only bonus for my three night stay. Conservative estimate is two weeks of business travel this year, which I can probably stretch into 12 nights at $150 each - another 27K in-hand. All-in-all, there's about 10-20K that I'm going to need to find somewhere along the way - referring a friend to the Visa card, making friends with our marketing person to put an event in my name, buying a mattress, even making a 'points run' at the end of the year if needed. Sounds silly, but being this close I'd really like to nail down lifetime platinum before anything could possibly change in 2018.
As long as you'll get use out of the lifetime Plat, I'd say go for it in 2017, I think Marriott is likely to pick up the SPG requirement for minimum years at the status to add a further hurdle since it does seem odd that Marriott Plat is currently both the most demanding annual top tier and the least demanding lifetime...
If they do this, let's hope for a page out of Hyatt's book and 1 Free Night at any category hotel every year for the top tier.
brightlybob's prediction is my biggest fear with LT Gold achievable by the end of 2018. Ideally, they combine all nights and points from both programs, and add a higher (probably much higher -- maybe even double Plat requirements) level for people to continue to strive for, like mustanggt said, although I am very skeptical of that being the only change.
This is a great idea. This means that I can take advantage of opportunities as they come along in 2017 without having to stay 45 minutes down the road just to pick up a few precious points. I'll be very close at the end of the year, and paying $50 or so to seal the deal is a pretty easy call. Thanks for the tip!