The traditional route to Platinum Elite requires earning 50 nights in a calendar year, which can be accomplished in tandem with the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card or Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card, as these cards give you a head start of 15 elite nights.
By dabbling in US credit cards, you can even obtain Platinum Elite status simply by getting the American Express US Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card, albeit at a cost of $650 (USD) for the annual fee.
In this article, let’s think about the value of each of the major perks you get from Marriott Platinum Elite status to help you make a clear-cut decision on whether or not it’s worth pursuing.
In This Post
- Valuation Methodology
- 1. Complimentary Breakfast
- 2. Executive Lounge Access
- 3. Complimentary Suite Upgrades
- 4. Late Check-out
- 5. Annual Choice Benefit
- 6. Other Additional Benefits
- Further Considerations
To begin, let’s acknowledge that the value of Platinum Elite status varies considerably based on your travel habits. There isn’t an exact number that’s going to work for everyone.
Furthermore, you stand to gain more from having status if you travel often, and also if you visit destinations where you tend to get better elite treatment. Someone who travels frequently to Asia is going to squeeze more value out of having Platinum Elite status than someone who stays at airport hotels in small North American cities.
Similarly, someone who often stays at higher-end properties, where things such as food and drink are more expensive, will wind up “saving” more with their status than someone who stays at Courtyards and Alofts – bearing in mind that higher-end properties are more expensive in cash and points to begin with.
With all of the above in mind, let’s value Platinum Elite status from the lens of a traveller who stays 35 nights in Marriott hotels each year, assuming that they obtain the other 15 nights by holding on to a co-branded credit card, such as the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card or the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card.
For most benefits, we’ll arrive at a value per night in Canadian dollars and then multiply it by 35, thus arriving at a rough estimate of how much each perk is worth. At the end, we’ll add up the products from each benefit to arrive at our valuation of Platinum Elite status as a whole.
Let’s also assume that our prototypical traveller stays at a mix of hotels along the way, with the goal of keeping our valuation in the middle of the road. For the purposes of this valuation, the traveller stays solo most of the time, and with a partner just sometimes.
1. Complimentary Breakfast
Once you’re a Platinum Elite member, you’re entitled to a complimentary breakfast for two guests at most Marriott brands on every morning of your stay.
However, note that there are a few brands where the breakfast benefit doesn’t apply:
- The Ritz-Carlton, EDITION, and Design Hotels aren’t obliged to give you breakfast.
- Some brands, like AC Hotels, Courtyard by Marriott, Moxy, or Gaylord Hotels, may give you a $10 (USD) food and beverage voucher instead, which may or may not be enough to cover breakfast.
In addition, it could be argued that you aren’t getting incremental value out of this benefit at places like Fairfield Inns and Residence Inns, since these chains almost always treat all guests to free breakfast anyway.
The exact breakfast offering will also vary from hotel to hotel. You may be treated to an impressive breakfast spread at higher-end properties, which can truly elevate the hotel experience to a whole new level.
On the other hand, at lower-end properties, you’ll likely get the bare minimum breakfast offering within the terms of the program, which is usually labelled as a “continental” breakfast that consists solely of pastries, hard-boiled eggs, and other cold items.
Indeed, these breakfasts are easily forgotten, and you may even want to explore other options to start your day off right.
If you’re staying at an aspirational destination, such as the Maldives, having breakfast included can save you a tidy sum of cash. As there aren’t any grocery stores around, you’re beholden to whatever the hotels want to charge for meals, which is usually at a premium.
Likewise, at higher-end properties, breakfast can cost upwards of $50 per person per day. These breakfasts are usually quite memorable, and it feels even more rewarding knowing that you didn’t have to pay a cent more for the meal.
One of the tried-and-true practical strategies when you’re on the road is to maximize the hotel breakfast and treat it as a brunch instead, effectively covering two meals for the day.
The savings here can really add up, especially if you’re travelling as a larger family with many mouths to feed.
Overall, breakfast is probably the Platinum benefit that is often valued the most highly. There’s something very satisfying about starting your day with free-flowing food and drink that you didn’t need to pay extra for, especially when you make a habit out of sampling the variety at many different hotels around the world.
Indeed, it’s one of the things I personally look forward to the most when staying someplace new. Let’s call a middle-of-the-road valuation for the complimentary breakfast benefit $25 per night.
Our valuation: $25 × 35 nights = $875 (CAD) / $658 (USD) per year
2. Executive Lounge Access
Some Marriott brands have Executive Lounges, and as a Platinum Elite member, you’re entitled to unlimited access for yourself and one guest.
In practice, it can sometimes be acceptable to bring your whole family in with you as well, at the discretion of the lounge staff.
The best Executive Lounges tend to be found in JW Marriott hotels, which is a major reason why I’m a fan of the brand.
Other brands like Marriott, Renaissance, Westin, and Sheraton tend to have lounges as well, although I’d say they tend to be less well-appointed than those at a JW Marriott.
Many Ritz-Carltons around the world have Ritz-Carlton Club Lounges, which tend to be even more luxurious. However, Marriott elite members do not get complimentary access to Ritz-Carlton Club Lounges; at best, you may expect to be offered a discounted daily Club Lounge access rate.
Meanwhile, select St. Regises, Ws, and Luxury Collection hotels also have lounges, and you’re usually entitled to access them as a Platinum when they’re available (which isn’t very often).
At a minimum, lounges will usually provide breakfast and an evening hors d’oeuvres spread. We’ve already talked about the breakfast benefit, although the evening spread can deliver substantial savings for you as well.
There are usually a few hot items on offer, alongside finger foods such as charcuterie, cheese, and vegetable sticks.
Aside from food, you’ll also usually find a generous helping of alcohol and other beverages, too.
The evening spread can function pretty well as a replacement for dinner on some nights, especially if you’re not the type of traveller to go out for dinner every night.
Indeed, I’ve been guilty of indulging in the lounge’s evening spread when I probably should’ve headed out to get some authentic local food instead.
Besides the food and drink, Executive Lounges can make for pretty great spaces for getting work done, especially if you’re fighting jet lag and might just fall asleep if you’re working from your room.
With unlimited coffee, tea, and snacks available 24/7, they’re also incredibly useful for a quick grab-and-go before you leave the hotel for the day.
All things considered, Executive Lounge access is definitely a very close second in terms of the most highly-valued Platinum benefits.
Since not all hotels have lounges, you aren’t guaranteed to enjoy this benefit with each stay. When available, lounges can be very valuable, so let’s arrive at a valuation of $20 per night.
Our valuation: $20 × 35 nights = $700 (CAD) / $527 (USD) per year
3. Complimentary Suite Upgrades
As a Platinum member, you’re entitled to the best available room upgrades, which includes standard suites.
Every hotel decides independently which of their suites to make available to Platinums, and even then, some hotels are more generous in proactively upgrading Platinum members than others.
To get the most out of this benefit, you definitely need to engage in some “suite-talking” either by email, through the chat function on the Marriott app, or in person at the hotel.
Being proactive about suite upgrades gives you the best chance for a better room when the hotel doesn’t want to proactively upgrade you, and attain higher-tier suites even when it does.
On the surface, getting upgraded to a nice suite is one of the best things about staying at a hotel. There’s nothing quite like walking to your room at the very farthest end of the hallway, opening the door, and stepping into a gorgeously appointed space that might even be larger than your own apartment.
From a functional point of view, though I don’t find quite as much value in getting a nice suite once the initial excitement subsides.
When I’m travelling solo, I usually have very little use for the dining or living areas of the suite, and I often find myself sitting around in various parts of the room just to “use” them a little.
Even when I’m travelling with a partner, large parts of the suite often go untouched, particularly as we usually aren’t spending most of the day in the room itself.
On the other hand, I imagine that those of you travelling with larger families are likely to get much more out of the Platinum suite upgrades than I might.
Overall, it’s reasonable to anticipate getting at least an upgrade from a base-level room to the next tier the majority of the time. If this is the case, let’s value complimentary suite upgrades at $20 per night.
Our valuation: $20 × 35 nights = $700 (CAD) / $527 (USD)
4. Late Check-out
As a Platinum Elite member, you’re entitled to guaranteed 4pm late check-out at any hotel that’s not a resort or convention centre. You can simply call up the front desk and ask for it at any point during your stay, and they should be able to arrange it for you.
If you’ve been treated to a suite upgrade or if the hotel is at full capacity, you may not receive the guaranteed 4pm late check-out. If you need some extra space for work, hotels will often be glad to arrange a suitable alternative.
I’d say that I choose to invoke the late check-out benefit on about half of my hotel stays, and even then, I only sometimes actually need the room until 4pm – in many cases, 1pm or 2pm will do.
It’s certainly nice to have the peace of mind of a 4pm checkout, though, especially if my departure isn’t until later in the day and I’d like to go out for some sightseeing in the morning or finish up my work day before heading out. And at other times, I might just prefer to have a lazy morning, and don’t want to feel rushed to check out by noon.
In practice, you can always store your bags at the hotel even after you’ve checked out, so the late check-out benefit is more of a “nice to have” benefit than an absolute necessity. I’d value it the lowest out of what I’d consider to be the four most significant benefits that we’ve discussed so far.
Let’s say that late check-out adds $10 per night of value to the overall calculations.
Our valuation: $10 × 35 nights = $350 (CAD) / $263 (USD)
5. Annual Choice Benefit
One of the most widely advertised benefits of attaining Platinum Elite status every year is an Annual Choice Benefit. If you earn the 50 nights required to organically attain status, you get to choose from one of the following:
- 5 Suite Night Awards
- 5 Elite Night Credits
- Give the gift of Silver Elite status
- 40% off your favourite mattress
- $100 charity donation
Alas, none of the choices really deliver over-the-top value here. Suite Night Awards can sometimes be very useful to secure upgrades, but for the most part, you’ll often be able to get the same suites at the same hotels just by asking nicely over the Marriott app.
Meanwhile, the five additional elite qualifying nights will only count for the current qualifying year, so they can’t be used to help you re-qualify for Platinum Elite next year.
They’ll only be useful if you want to boost yourself even further up to Titanium Elite for the current year, which only delivers limited incremental benefits over Platinum Elite.
As for the other options, Silver Elite status is basically worthless, and 40% off a mattress will only be meaningful if you really want a mattress. You could always make a $100 charity donation of your own, so it doesn’t make sense to choose that as your Annual Choice Benefit either.
All things considered, the Suite Night Awards still end up being the best choice on this list. They’re at least somewhat useful for securing a suite upgrade up to five days before your stay (instead of on the day of arrival).
Assuming you can use your Suite Night Awards for upgrades to actual suites, let’s value each one at $20, for a total value of $100.
Our valuation: $100 (CAD) / $75 (USD)
6. Other Additional Benefits
Several other Platinum Elite benefits, while less notable in their own right, can also stack up pretty quickly.
You’ll earn 50% more points on top of the base rate of 10 Marriott Bonvoy points per USD spent at Marriott properties. This represents 25% more than the Gold Elite bonus of 25%.
Over the course of the year, this amounts to a slightly higher return on your spending.
Let’s imagine that our prototypical traveller spends $5,000 (USD) with Marriott as they stay 35 nights over the course of the year, with a handful of nights booked on Marriott Bonvoy points mixed in there.
Then you have the Elite Benefit Guarantee, which is where you’re entitled to claim $100 (USD) in compensation if the hotel doesn’t offer you your choice of welcome benefits upon check-in.
Indeed, the hotel has to specifically offer you the choice of your welcome benefit, which is usually bonus points or daily breakfast. If they simply add the points to your reservation, or assume you want breakfast and forget about offering you the points, you can saunter up to the front desk and call them out on it to claim your $100 (USD) in cash.
In practice, I’ve only pursued compensation a portion of the time. If you wanted to be vigilant about it, though, you could probably easily squeeze $300–500 out of this guarantee per year.
For our valuation, let’s assume that you claim the elite guarantee once per year, resulting in an additional $133 (CAD) / $100 (USD) to our total.
Finally there’s the more intangible aspects to being a Platinum Elite member, such as the tiny dopamine rush of being recognized as one upon checking in, the ability to throw your weight around when you’re talking to Bonvoy on the phone about a disappointment, or perhaps a bottle of sparkling wine awaiting you when you arrive in your room as a welcome gift.
Let’s call the reduced waiting times and surprise gifts a $75 (CAD) ($56 USD) value over the course of the year.
Our valuation: $321 (CAD) / $241 (USD)
Adding it all up, we arrive at a total rough valuation of $3,046 (CAD) ($2,288 USD) for one year of Platinum Elite status.
Keep in mind that our prototypical traveller stays about 35 nights per year at Marriott hotels, so you might scale the value assessment up or down depending on your specific hotel stay patterns.
In deciding whether to pursue Platinum Elite status, think about your upcoming travel patterns for the rest of this year and all of next year.
Do you see yourself travelling enough to maximize the benefits from being a Platinum, and how does your personal valuation of the status align with how much additional time, money, and energy you’d need to spend to earn it?
As a general rule of thumb, if your current organic travel patterns are such that you stay with Marriott for 25–30 nights a year (resulting in 40–45 elite qualifying nights once you factor in the 15 nights from the credit cards), then it’d be worth it to make a run for Platinum Elite.
If you stay with Marriott less than that, then it may not be worthwhile to do so, since you’d need to work harder to earn the status while also not having many opportunities to reap the benefits afterwards.
Of course, you can bypass all of the elite night requirements by simply getting automatic Platinum Elite status with the American Express US Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card.
This is by far the cheapest way to become a Platinum member, with an annual fee of $650 (USD), which is offset by monthly $25 (USD) dining credits. That’s a small price to pay for all of the benefits that you can get with the status, and can be much more affordable than paying for enough hotel stays to organically earn status.
Hotel elite status is one of the keys to unlocking a more luxurious style of travel, and Marriott Platinum Elite is one of the most significant statuses you can attain in the hotel game.
Getting Platinum Elite status either requires some legwork to reach 50 nights in a calendar year, or you can bypass the stays by applying for a single US credit card.
At the end of the day, everyone will value Platinum Elite status differently, but as long as you tend to stay at Marriott hotels frequently throughout the year, a little bit of finesse for earning status can be very worthwhile compared to the benefits you derive along your travels.