Tricks to Earning Marriott and Starwood Elite Status

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The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card

On the day that Marriott’s acquisition of Starwood closed, they were ready with the ability to move points back and forth between programs and with status matches as well. Here’s how to link your accounts.

Here’s how Marriott and Starwood status map:

  • Marriott Rewards Platinum = Starwood Platinum (base)
  • Marriott Rewards Gold = Starwood Gold
  • Marriott Rewards Silver = Starwood Preferred Plus
  • Marriott Rewards Basic = Starwood Preferred

Benefits of Status

Marriott Golds and Platinums get upgrades, 4pm checkout (excluding resorts and convention hotels), and continental breakfast, light snacks and beverages in the club lounges of JW Marriott, Autograph Collection, Renaissance, Marriott Hotels, and Delta Hotels (excluding resorts). There are a handful of hotels that provide bonus points in lieu of breakfast or lounge access.

Marriott Platinums also get United Silver. In my opinion that’s the best benefit of Platinum over Gold, since United Silver gets access to economy plus extra legroom seats free at check-in and priority boarding so you don’t wind up having to gate check your bags.

Starwood Golds and Platinums get 4pm late checkout (excluding resorts and conference hotels). Platinums get lounge access or – when a lounge isn’t available – breakfast as a check-in amenity option.

Breakfast at the St. Regis Bali

Starwood Platinums also receive upgrades to the best available room at check-in including standard suites.

Free Credit Card Status is Eligible for Match

One of the really exciting things is that since it’s really easy to get Marriott status, it’s easy to get Starwood status too. You can get it just by signing up for a credit card.

However, some readers were concerned about an item in the status match FAQ — that ‘promotional’ status cannot be matched.

It seemed clear to me that ‘promotional status’ in this context meant that if you got a temporary status challenge, you wouldn’t get status in both programs. However I wanted to confirm with certainty that credit card status would get matched.

So I laid out the different credit card status options and fortunately Marriott’s Dan Forman confirmed to me that “these are all eligible for the status match and not considered ‘promotional’.”

Spend Your Way to Status

The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card gives you Gold status the first year. That status is honored at Marriotts, and matches to Starwood Gold. You can keep the status spending $10,000 a year on the card.

You can also spend $75,000 in a year on the Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card and earn Platinum status. And that matches to Starwood Platinum.

I’m on my way to 100 Starwood nights for the year (and I’ve got 6 Marriott nights too as it happens). But I’m planning to spend fewer nights on the road in 2017, and I do love my Hyatt top elite status. And it’s going to be tougher to re-qualify for that next year. So the way I’m thinking about my hotel status strategy for 2017 is that I’m going to stay enough nights with Hyatt to earn their new top tier, and I’m going to spend $75,000 on a Ritz-Carlton card to earn Platinum, which will also get me Starwood Platinum.

Meanwhile Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card gives you 15 elite nights each year just for having the card, and an additional night for each $3000 spent on the card.

Alternatively, $30,000 spent on a Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express or a Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card earns Starwood Gold status which matches to Marriott Gold. (Each card also gives you 2 stays and 5 nights towards earned Starwood status such as Platinum.)

Complimentary Status from Your Credit Card

The Platinum Card by American Express comes with Hilton Gold and Starwood Gold status.

You can match this Starwood Gold status to Marriott Gold. That gets you club lounge access at eligible Marriott hotel properties and also 4pm late check out.

The The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card gives you Gold status the first year without any spend at all, and that entitles you to Starwood Gold as well.

Finally, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card come with Preferred Plus at Starwood which matches to Marriott silver, so even if you just have a Starwood credit card and no other status you should be able to get something on the Marriott side. (Marriott Silvers also get Preferred Plus, and that is good for late checkout at Starwood.)

Book a Cheap Conference Room

Marriott will give you 10 elite nights for booking a meeting and this is on top of any elite nights you earn for sleeping nights at the hotel. And that’s a straight 10 nights for any contracted meeting, even for use of a single conference room at a cheaper hotel in an inexpensive location such as in Southeast Asia.

You can earn top tier status booking 8 conference rooms on 8 separate dates. Or you can get the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card which gives you 15 nights per year and book 6 meetings. (Or combine the 15 nights for having the card with an additional night for each $3000 spent on the card with nights from fewer meetings still.)

United Gold Elites and Higher Get Marriott Gold and Therefore Starwood Gold

United Golds and above get Marriott Gold. United elites should make Marriott their ‘backup program’ because of free status. Now that also means that they can have Starwood Gold status as well, and therefore 4pm late checkout when staying at Starwood properties (based on availability at resorts and conference hotels).

The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card seems promising. if you spend $6k a month that’s 2 nights, 24 nights a year, + annual 15 = 39 nights. this leaves only 21 nights to get to 60. Correct?

  2. And, it seems that there’s also a “crossover” benefit agreement between SPG and Emirates. SPG Plats get priority boarding, and there’s double dipping of miles for Golds and Plats between the two. Seems to be similar to Delta on the double dip.

  3. If I’m a SPG Plat this year and get matched to Marriott Plat, will I get a chance to buy back Marriott Plat next year (for 40k pts) if I’m only Marriott Gold next year (thru United 1k or SPG Gold)?

  4. “You can also spend $75,000 in a year on the Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card…”

    And why again would anyone want to do that?

  5. @DCS exactly. Hard to believe Gary would take 75k Marriott points instead of 75k SPG Amex points (which convert at 3:1) or even Chase UR points. Makes no sense.

    The sweet spot with Marriott is Gold, which is free for UA Golds and above or to first year RC Chase customers. But that doesn’t get you jack at SPG, where the only useful level is Plat. So for those who can’t earn through stays, that leaves the Conference room bookings as the cheapest shortcut. Alas not easy to find $50 rooms in expensive metro areas.

  6. @DCS
    “And why again would anyone want to do that?”

    The main difference between 75k spend on SPG Amex and RC card is the 50k SPF or 150k RC points extra with the SPG card
    I would rather spend that 50k SPG as a trade off and get to SPG Platinum instead of Gold.
    In fact, if I could only spend 30k get to SPG Gold and then GIVE spg 50k and get bumped to Plat status, I would gladly do it.

  7. @Boraxo — That was the essence of my question…

    It seems that @ffi is also on the ‘track of the bewildered’….

  8. So many ways to calculate the benefits. I have my own plan of getting United SA Gold next year with creative planning. What I would like to know is how to take advantage of the silver status with United. Who do I contact to take advantage of the this benefit.

  9. Gary:
    Im curious, do you really think its worth spending 75k on the ritz carlton card for the SPG/marriott platinum status, when you can spend 75k on an SPG card and get 150k extra marriott points as a result for future free stays? Id think the free stays are worth more then the platinum status.

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