“Reader Questions” are answered twice a week by TPG Senior Points & Miles Contributor Ethan Steinberg.
Legacy Marriott elite members undeniably scored a win during the merger, as the threshold for Platinum status qualification status was lowered to 50 nights a year, and a new avenue to qualify was introduced. As of August, holders of the Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card (soon to be renamed the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card from American Express) can earn Platinum status by spending $75,000 in a calendar year on the card. This perk is in addition to the automatic Gold status they receive. However, TPG reader Jimmy is wondering how this status is awarded …
I know spending $75,000 a year on the SPG Luxury Card gets me Platinum status, but does this mean I actually get credited with the 35 additional elite-qualifying nights?TPG READER JIMMY
First of all, where is this 35 night number coming from? All Marriott and SPG cardholders earn 15 elite-qualifying nights a year, regardless of their elite status or which card they hold. This benefit is capped at one set of 15 nights per Marriott account, so you can’t shortcut your way to Platinum status simply by opening multiple cards. Assuming Jimmy doesn’t stay a single actual night in a Marriott property, he would need an additional 35 nights to hit the qualification mark for Platinum status and unlock perks like bonus points, suite upgrades and more that it entails.
Unfortunately, Platinum status earned through spending $75,000 in a calendar year on the SPG Luxury Amex doesn’t work this way. You don’t receive any bonus elite night credits; you simply have the Platinum status added to your account. This is the same way it works with the automatic Gold status earned through the card, as well as the similar perk offered on The Platinum Card® from American Express.
While you still get almost all of the benefits of Platinum status, there are two areas where earning it this way falls short. The first is when it comes to Marriott lifetime status. Earning lifetime elite status with the program requires the following combination of lifetime nights and years as an elite member:
If you qualify for Platinum status through actual hotel stays, earning Lifetime Platinum isn’t all that hard. Earning platinum status for 10 years would require 500 nights (50 a year), so assuming you can stay an extra 10 nights each year, or 60 total, you’re set. If, on the other hand, you’re earning your Platinum status from spending on the SPG Luxury Amex and only complete a handful of stays each year, that 600-night threshold might prove rather difficult to hit.
In addition, if you spend your way to Platinum status on the card, you also won’t be able to select an annual Choice Benefit, such as suite night awards. Think of this as a benefit you’d enjoy for earning 50 elite-qualifying nights in a year, not as a published perk of Platinum status in generaly. The same is true for Marriott Lifetime Platinum elites — unless those members reach 50 nights in a given year, they won’t be able to select a choice benefit.
The ability to spend your way to Platinum status sounds enticing, but it’s a large commitment to undertake. Spending $75,000 on a single card carriers a massive opportunity cost due to missed rewards and welcome bonuses, and if you aren’t staying even 35 nights in a Marriott property to earn Platinum status organically, you probably won’t get as much value out if it. If you do decide to spend your way to Platinum, just remember that you won’t earn elite-qualifying nights to help you bump up to Platinum Premier or earn lifetime status, and you also won’t be able to select a choice benefit.
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