Every year Marriott Rewards seems to offer the option of redeeming points to maintain your current elite status. This promotion is exclusively for retaining your current status, and can’t be used to buy up to a higher elite tier.
Now, it’s pretty normal for airlines to offer status buy back opportunities nowadays, though you can usually only pay in cash, and it’s usually outrageously expensive.
Via View from the Wing, Marriott’s elite buy back promotion is now live for 2016. I’d say this is the most lucrative opportunity out there to “pay” to retain elite status.
Marriott’s elite buy back offer 2016
In the case of Marriott, they simply charge you points to maintain your status from the previous year. Until April 1, 2016, you can retain your Marriott elite status at the following rates:
- Buy back your Platinum status – only 40,000 points
- Buy back your Gold status – only 25,000 points
- Buy back your Silver status – only 7,500 points
Personally I value Marriott Rewards points at ~0.8 cents each. So while there are virtually no benefits for being Marriott Silver, I’d totally pay the equivalent of ~$200 to retain Marriott Gold, and if I were a Platinum member I’d certainly consider paying the equivalent of ~$320 for Marriott Platinum status. While the differences between Gold and Platinum are marginal on paper, it’s a moot point in this instance, since you can only buy the status you had the previous year, whatever it might have been.
Keep in mind that at full service properties, Platinum members receive a 500 point welcome gift, so even if you don’t make enough stays to requalify for Platinum, you could earn back quite a few of those points through the welcome gift alone.
How to take advantage of the offer
There are two ways to take advantage of an elite buy back offer.
The first option is to phone up Marriott Rewards at 800.321.7396 and say you want to buy back your status.
The second option is to email Marriott Rewards at EliteBuyBack16@Marriott.com with your name and Marriott Rewards number, and let them know you want to buy your status back.
Just to clarify, you can only buy up to the status you had in 2015. So if you were Gold in 2014, for example, you couldn’t redeem 40,000 points to get Platinum status. You also couldn’t redeeming 7,500 points to get Silver status.
While Marriott does have among the highest qualification tiers for status, at least they make requalifying much easier by consistently offering buy back offers, for those inclined to redeem points. I’m curious to see if this option sticks after Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest merge (though we’re still a ways off from that happening).
To the Marriott loyalists out there, do you plan on redeeming points to retain your status?