Marriott’s Elite Status Buyback Offer is Live (Spend Points for Elite Status)

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One of my 19 tips and tricks for Marriott Rewards is that each year Marriott lets you spend points to keep your elite status. If you didn’t re-earn your elite status in 2016, you can spend points to keep that status.

I’ve been writing about this offer consistently for years. Even the points requirement has stayed the same:

This Offer Has Traded Off With Lifetime Status Earning in the Past

One caveat is that historically when you spend points to buy back status reports are that reduces your lifetime points total which you need to reach lifetime elite status with Marriott.

Of course I wouldn’t be surprised to see lifetime status become easier to earn than it is today given that Starwood’s lifetime status is far easier to earn that Marriott’s, but we may be quite a distance from learning what decision is made there.

Elites Who Earned Their Status With Starwood Can’t Use This to Buy Back Status

I’ve said that my plan has been to get a Ritz-Carlton co-brand credit card this year, spend $75,000 on it for Platinum status, and match to Starwood Platinum as a way of keeping my Starwood status since I simply don’t plan to repeat 2016 where I qualified with 100 Starwood nights, earned Hyatt Diamond on nights, and had nights with other chains and non-chain properties as well.

Several commenters said the better strategy would just to be to take advantage of a Marriott elite buyback offer. Buying back Marriott Platinum is just 40,000 points, so far less costly. My counterpoint was that we didn’t know what those terms would allow. And indeed it’s just not possible. If you earned Marriott status from a Starwood match, you are not eligible for a buy back. If you didn’t re-earn Starwood status you can’t keep the status via Marriott status buyback. The terms are explicit:

SPG members who earned Marriott Rewards Elite status in 2016 by linking their SPG and Marriott Rewards accounts are not eligible to participate in this Buy Back offer.

W Union Square New York

Terms and conditions:

This Buy Back offer is available to members who have earned their status through nights and stays at Marriott brand hotels. SPG members who earned Marriott Rewards Elite status in 2016 by linking their SPG and Marriott Rewards accounts are not eligible to participate in this Buy Back offer. This offer is valid through March 31, 2017 and allows only one level of buyback, which must match the Elite level you enjoyed in 2016. All Marriott Rewards program terms and conditions apply. Once your status has been reinstated for 2017, you can see your updated mobile Elite membership card in the Marriott app. If you don’t have enough points in your account, remember you can buy up to 50,000 points every year.

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. Gary, given the language that buy backs are “available to members who have earned their status through nights and stays at Marriott brand hotels,” are you certain that status earned via the RC card would be eligible for a buy back?

  2. @Andyandy I do NOT think status earned via RC card would be eligible for the buy back did I make a typo of some sort that seems to suggest otherwise? [My point was that the commenters who suggested just using a buyback of Marriott status obtained from my current SPG status would not be an option.]

  3. @Gary Leff, if I earned Marriott Plat for 2016 from my stays in 2015, but have SPG Plat through 2017 since I switched to Starwood this year, is there any reason for me to save my “authentic” Marriott Plat status? Can you buy back status multiple consecutive years (i.e. spend 40k Marriott points now and again in Jan 2018)? I don’t anticipate staying at Marriotts enough in 2017 to earn status, so this would be more of a safety net if I don’t re-earn SPG Plat.

  4. @Gary: Skimming the post, I drew the inference that your plan was to renew the status going forward with buybacks after earning it via RC spend. On closer reading, I see that’s not suggested.

    For now, I’m satisfied with Marriott Gold through $30k spend on the Amex Starwood. Is Marriott Plat really worth the extra spend on the RC? Gold gets you lounge access and breakfast. But I’ll be interested to see what happens to the Starwood card as the merger goes forward.

  5. @Gary, the question going forward — at least in the near-term — is do I continue to earn my status at Starwood (e.g.: earning Gold in 2016 for 2017), or make the switch now to focusing on Marriott-branded properties and status so that I could be eligible for the buy-back in 2018? OR . . . since they are now merged, will it continue to matter where I earn my status?

  6. Never got upgraded in the US with Starwood Platinum, so they can bite me.
    They gave out status offers last year, and free nights to bring people back, which devalued the status…sort of like American giving out Exec Plat for fewer flights.

    This just encourages me to stay at Hyatts more often .
    I may be a Globalist without leaving the US.

  7. I’m less than 50 nights from Lifetime Gold in Starwood (within reach this year), and if the nights somehow transfer from Starwood to Marriott I’ll be in the hunt for Lifetime Platinum with Marriott as well. All that’s to say that what Marriott does with Lifetime status and qualification in the merger far outweighs all other factors right now

  8. Gary, great post, thank you.

    Would you recommend getting the Amex Platinum and getting Marriott Gold through the complimentary Starwood Gold, or keep buying back status each year? I don’t stay enough to qualify for Marriott Gold, but I find that it’s useful to have.

  9. @Andyandy I do not think Marriott Platinum is meaningfully better than Marriott Gold at this point (though in the future I expect they’ll further differentiate). Starwood Platinum is meaningfully better than Starwood Gold.

  10. @Zod I think Amex Plat -> Starwood Gold -> Marriott Gold plus Hilton Gold is a great deal. I do not know for certain it will last past the merging of the Starwood and Marriott programs of course.

  11. I think this merger was a bad move on Marriott’s part. To me, Marriott is getting to big for its britches…In the end I think Marriott will be sorry they made this merger and we the owner’s will be the losers! !!!!!!!!

  12. @Bonnie — isn’t it a little late for that? The merger has happened. Period. You can root for bankruptcy and spin-offs, or you can hope it will succeed. ;^)

  13. @Gary – I got my SPG Platinum by Linking from Marriott. If I do buy-back Platinum on Marriott, they will keep the SPG Platinum as well right? (couldn’t find anything saying otherwise, but didn’t want to assume). Thoughts?

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