Like many points and miles enthusiasts, I had been worrying about the new program, but after knowing what we know now, it seems it might work in our favor after all. I’m by no means happy with getting the new gold instead of platinum through the American Express Platinum card. Depending on one’s travel pattern, the new mid-tier status will be much better than before.
First, there will be many less mid-tier Marriott elite members. This could me less competition for lounge space and room upgrades. This upgrades now for the first time include suites. In my experience I was upgraded at least 80% of the time.
Second, while gold is useless, getting to platinum (what gold used to be) requires 35 nights because it seems all Marriott cards will grant a 15-night credit towards elite status.
Third, there is no indication that the platinum challenge is going away. Thus, one can take the credit card’s gold, stay 9 times in 90 days and make it to a more robust platinum status.
The most important question left is: which hotels will be in what category? I’m hopeful that the current Marriott category 8 and 9 will not see increases bigger than 5,000 points.
Last, there is a big caveat to all this, worrying about status only matters if you actually stay at Marriott properties! In previous years, by this point in time I would have had stayed at at least 5 different Marriotts. This time around, I have yet to stay at a single Marriott or SPG hotel. Instead, I have stayed at 4 Hyatts, 2 Hiltons and for the first time in over a decade a Wyndham! One of the reasons, I usually stay at Marriotts has to do with my having what I consider a pretty good mid-tier status with lounge access, almost guaranteed 4pm late check-out, and pretty good changes of getting upgraded. When going on vacation, I would almost always pick a Hyatt if available because of the great value proposition, however Marriott is everywhere and as such this chain has always been not my first choice, but my backup plan.
In the upcoming days, I will have to decide if completing the Marriott platinum challenge before August 1st makes sense.