Marriott Bonvoy's Gold Elite and Platinum Elite status challenge puts you on the fast track to some great perks for the business traveller, such as free room upgrades, higher-speed Internet and access to each hotel's club or executive lounge.
If you have upcoming stays planned at hotels like Marriott, The Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis and Westin, or other properties attached to the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty programs such as W Hotels, Sheraton and Le Meridien, these can unlock Bonvoy Gold Elite or Platinum Elite status at an accelerated rate – provided you've registered in advance for a Marriott Bonvoy status challenge.
That Gold Elite card can be yours after just eight nights, with Platinum Elite headed your way after 16 nights. Considering that mere Silver status normally requires 10 nights (yet provides very few real benefits), you can appreciate how this fast track puts you on the winning track.
Here’s what you need to know to take your Marriott Bonvoy status to the next level, covering you at over 6,500 hotels and resorts worldwide.
The 2020 Marriott Bonvoy status challenge
Unlike many other status challenge promotions, you don’t need to have an elite-tier membership with a competing hotel chain to take advantage of this promotion: making it perfect for budding business travellers looking to choose their preferred loyalty program and hotels.
However, you won't see the benefits of your status challenge straight away. You'll remain at your current Marriott Bonvoy tier until after you've completed the requirements of the challenge, during which time, perks like hotel lounge access won't be swung your way (unless paid for normally).
In that sense, it helps to think of Marriott's status challenge as being closer to an airline's 'double status credits' promotion: it's a path to get you to a higher tier faster than you'd otherwise reach it, but not one that gives you the benefits of that higher level before you've stepped up.
Whichever way you look at it, it's Marriott's way of helping you earn a higher level of status from a lesser amount of travel than would have otherwise been possible.
The other thing to consider is that you'll need to nominate yourself for either the Gold Elite challenge or the Platinum Elite challenge – but not both.
For example, choose the Gold Elite challenge and stay for 16 nights, and you'll be stuck at Gold, even though you'd have otherwise met the requirements of the Platinum challenge.
Similarly, aim for Platinum but stay for only eight nights – the number needed to earn Gold status via the separate Gold challenge – and you'd get no elite status at all, because the Platinum status offers Platinum or nothing.
(At eight nights, you wouldn't even earn Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status, which requires 10 nights via the normal path.)
Your best bet is to choose the challenge that best-matches your upcoming travel plans, to make sure you don't miss out.
Timing your Marriott Bonvoy status challenge
Whether you're aiming for Gold or Platinum, you'll have a set period in which to accrue the number of nights your challenge requires.
Both challenges give you until the end of the month in which you register, plus three months thereafter.
This makes the best time to apply at the beginning of a month, because your challenge will then run for that entire month, plus three additional months, giving you up to four months to qualify.
For instance, apply for your challenge on February 3 2020 and you'll have all of February, plus March, April and then until the end of May 2020 to earn the 8 or 16 nights your challenge requires.
Apply at the end of the month – February 29 2020, for instance – and you'll get less time, with the challenge still needing to be completed by May's end.
Savvy travellers who have hotel stays coming up, but which aren't within the next month, might choose to wait until the beginning of another month to apply. Enrol on March 1 and that challenge extends through until the end of June, and so on.
The 2020 Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status challenge
Have your heart set on Gold Elite status, awarded after spending just eight nights at Marriott Bonvoy-participating hotels within your 3-4 month challenge period?
Meet that simple requirement and you can begin to enjoy perks like "enhanced room upgrades" and late check-outs, subject to availability.
Not only is the hotel WiFi free – as you'd expect in 2020 – but as a Gold member, you also get complimentary access to the hotel's higher-speed plans, where available, as opposed to the entry-level connection aptly afforded to entry-level and Silver members.
You'll also take home 25% more Marriott Bonvoy points with every stay, versus regular members.
Complete your status challenge in 2020 and these perks will cover you until the end of 2021, which means during calendar year 2021, you'll need to have met the normal requirements for Gold Elite status to have that extended throughout 2022.
Normally, Gold Elite requires a member to stay at least 25 nights a year, making the eight-night requirement through the status challenge particularly generous.
The 2020 Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status challenge
Gold status is nice, but Platinum status is even nicer, being your key to complimentary hotel lounge access – and at many properties, free daily breakfast – on top of the benefits afforded to Gold cardholders.
In return for completing a 16-night Platinum Elite challenge, you'll enjoy those perks above, while also earning 50% more points on every stay versus base-level members.
When it comes to room upgrades, these include selected suites if available at check-in, as opposed to the ‘enhanced’ rooms offered to Gold members, which may only provide a better view or be in a more favourable location.
As another step up from Gold, late check-out moves from a possible 2pm to a guaranteed 4pm departure at most properties.
But as a reminder: if you aim for the Platinum challenge and only stay for eight nights – or anything less than 16 – you won’t get Gold as a consolation prize.
And, as you won't enjoy the benefits of Platinum status until after your challenge is complete, keep your goals realistic and choose the challenge that you're most likely to complete.
Applying for the 2020 Marriott Bonvoy status challenge
With your Marriott Bonvoy membership number handy, head to the Marriott website and complete their contact form, first selecting the topic as "Managing Accounts/Points Inquiries/Packages and Deals", and then entering the subject below.
If requesting the Gold challenge, enter "Gold Challenge" in the subject box – and, you guessed it, for the Platinum challenge, type "Platinum Challenge" instead.
Provide your contact information including your membership number in the boxes provided, and on the comments section, write a short note requesting to enrol in either the Gold or the Platinum challenge.
You should be prepared for the challenge to begin when your message is responded to, so you may wish to send it on the first day of the month to maximise the number of days available to notch up those nights.
Be mindful that if you've already taken advantage of a challenge with Marriott (or in the past, Starwood Preferred Guest if your accounts were merged) in the past three years, you won't be able to apply.
Finally, note that the eight or 16 nights you'll need to earn must be paid nights, booked directly with Marriott. Third-party bookings, such as via online travel agents, don't count – and don't normally provide Marriott points anyway.
For this promotion, stays booked using Marriott Bonvoy points in any way are also ineligible. These would normally count towards earning status the 'normal' way, but for this fast-tracked deal, you'll need to be booked onto a paid room rate.