You will find noted throughout the site references to the Marriott Premier Visa Credit Card. It is an excellent way to help you augment your actual nights stayed by giving you one elite night credit for every $3k in credit card spend. One of the biggest benefits as related to your question is the 15 elite nights awarded to you annually for carrying the card. You get the first 15 as soon as you have the card and make that initial spend of $3k. So, your 19 nights would immediately become 34 nights, and you wouldn't have far to go to get to your goal of 50 for gold status.
Additionally, as you suggested in your question, you can ask to take "taste of gold" or "gold challenge" to get yourself quick status, that way you maximize your bonus points earned during the rest of the year. You would have the status for the remainder of this year and all of next year (with the challenge completed). Additionally, you will get the benefits of enjoying gold status that much sooner ... lounge access, late checkouts, guarantees etc.
You will want to take the challenge when you are anticipating a period of heightened travel activity so that you can meet the requirements of the challenge (18 nights or 9 stays in a 90 day period). You can only take one challenge each year, so it will be important for you to target it at the right time. If you have a lot of activity coming, and you plan to get the card, you might want to wait until you achieve gold to take a platinum challenge. To take a challenge, just reach out to the Rewards hotline 800 # or send a direct message to one of the site moderators.
I see Andrew has reached out to you while I was typing.... take him up on the challenge when it makes sense to do so.
Hope this helps you a bit! Happy traveling!
Message was edited by: nationwide
Excellent advice from nationwide!
One other option is to apply for the Ritz Rewards Credit Card. It gives you instant Gold Status for the first year. You can then maintain your Gold Status by spending 10K each year there after or you can achieve Platinum status each year with 75k spending.
So, if you have the RC card and enter your Marriott rewards number in during sign-up, you make Marriott gold after spend $10K. Does that mean you receive 50 stays in your Marriott account then - the cost of Gold? And does that also then mean you make Marriott Platinum Elite in only 25 nights (equaling 75 total nights for the year?)
I currently have had the Marriott Rewards card for several years, where you get 15 nights automatic each year. But with the Ritz Carlton card, if you can make Gold after spending $10K each year, that's worth 50 nights. Am I understanding this correctly?
With the Ritz Card you are given Complimentary Gold Status with Marriott during the first year. No elite night credits are added to your account...your status is just upgraded to Gold if you are Silver or below. The Marriott Card gives you 15 elite night credits each calendar year. With the RC you can maintain the Gold Status by spending 10k each year or achieve Platinum status each year you spend 75k or more.