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Wanted to be sure I wasn’t gonna get Bonvoyed before I posted this, but can now confirm it works exactly as advertised.
For $395, you can join FoundersCard (Out and Out readers get a $200 discount on the usual $595 rate, and the $95 initiation fee is waived too) and get access to a long list of travel, business, lifestyle, and hotel benefits. A few of them, like Caesars Diamond status, AT&T discounts, Hilton Gold status, discounts on United flights, and many more can easily make membership worthwhile.
You can also take advantage of an exclusive Marriott Platinum status challenge. When you have 15 paid nights within 3 months, you’ll earn Marriott Platinum status for a year, which is a huge step up from Gold. When I stayed in Asheville last month, I took advantage of this offer.
And the next day when my points posted, I saw I was a shiny new Marriott Platinum elite member.
Here’s more about how I booked and further maximized my stay using this status challenge.
FoundersCard Marriott status challenge
Here’s the fine print on the Platinum status challenge:
- Upon making 15 paid nights within 3 months of enrollment, participant will receive Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status for up to one year. After the first year, Platinum Elite status will be retained by staying the required number of nights under the terms of the Marriott Bonvoy program.
- Existing Marriott Bonvoy™ members with base membership, Silver Elite or Gold Elite status are eligible for this promotion; members at Platinum Elite tier are ineligible for this offer.
- Only one room per hotel is counted toward a member’s nights or stays. Paid nights at a qualifying rate count towards the promotion. Nights spent while redeeming an award are ineligible and do not count towards the promotion.
What does Platinum status get you?
Typically, you need to stay 50 nights with Marriott to earn Platinum status. Getting it for only 15 nights is an incredibly good deal.
With Platinum status, you’ll get these benefits:
- 4pm late checkout (based on availability)
- 50% bonus points on paid stays
- Points, breakfast offering, or amenity when you check in
- Lounge access at hotels that have them
- Free enhanced internet
You also get the 5th night free on award stays, which is a standard benefit.
So what’s it all worth?
I, for one, value breakfast highly. Especially now since I’m living in hotels (and Airbnbs) full-time, any time I can get a snack, coffee, and a few things to take back to my room (like yogurt, fruit, or a power bar), is a win for me.
And earning more points on paid stays mean I get more points to supplement award stays along the way. And because I’m always staying long-term, getting the 5th night free saves me real cash.
Lounge access, free internet, and late checkout are all nice additions, too. Although realistically, I’m not staying at places with lounges all that often (because they’re more expensive), and I appreciate early check-in over late checkout in most cases. I do like getting faster internet for free (it’s usually an extra $7 a day, so that’s a nice upgrade) so I can do my work and video calls.
Platinum is also the level where free breakfast, 50% points bonus, and lounge access kick in – so it’s definitely worthwhile if you stay with Marriott often.
How I made the most of this offer
So I’m actually trying to be loyal to Hyatt and Hilton while I’m living in hotels full-time because I’m Globalist with Hyatt and Diamond with Hilton (because of the Hilton Aspire card). But every time I look, Marriott has the best rates, especially for long-term stays.
For example, now – in Pittsburgh, there’s a Hyatt right across the river, but I’m at a Marriott hotel because the location was better and cheaper. I’m finding that tends to happen a lot with Marriott. All things being equal, I’d rather save money and be closer to where I want to be.
Don’t even get me started with Hilton – they’re the most expensive of the bunch. I haven’t had a single paid stay with them since I started living on the road.
Anyhoozers, I booked 5 nights in Asheville with Marriott points (some of them topped up from Amex Membership Rewards because there was a 40% bonus going on). And then I booked the other 15 nights as a paid stay to complete the Platinum status challenge.
And I priced it out both ways – 5 award / 15 paid vs 15 paid / 5 award and the former came out cheaper by about $300.
Then I booked through TopCashback for another $67 off. Asheville is surprisingly expensive. For this amount, I polished off the last of a minimum spending requirement on a new card to earn a welcome bonus.
I also earned ~17,000 Marriott points that I can use for a future stay and got another 5,000 points because the fridge in my room wasn’t working when I checked in.
In this way, I make sure to maximize every stay, every time – and now that I have Platinum status, I’ll earn more points and potentially get better room upgrades next time I stay.
Should you go for this FoundersCard Marriott status challenge?
If you’re going to stay a lot with Marriott…
….and value free breakfast, late checkout, and 50% bonus points…
it can certainly be worth paying the $395 fee to join FoundersCard and activate this status challenge.
Plus, you’d get all the other FoundersCard benefits. And earning Platinum status in 15 nights instead of 50 is an incredible fast-track.
But I’d say it’s only worth it if there are a few other FoundersCard benefits you like and know you’ll use. That said, as a FoundersCard member for several years, I came upon the occasion to use this particular benefit. It fit my travel plans, was easy to use, worked as advertised, and I’m glad it was there.
I’m still personally going to try to stick with Hyatt first and Hilton as a backup, but Marriott keeps delivering pretty good service…
…and I haven’t been Bonvoyed…
So all in all, I’d say this is a pretty great offer if it matches your travel plans and you can make the most of it like I did.
FoundersCard Marriott status challenge bottom line
So that’s the story of how I stayed at a Marriott in Asheville and came out on the other side a Platinum elite member. I further maximized the stay by:
- Using points to stay 4 nights with the 5th night free
- Booking through TopCashback for cashback on the stay
- Using a new card to earn a welcome offer
- Speaking up about a broken fridge for an extra 5,000 points
And now I’ll get:
- 50% bonus points on paid stays
- Free breakfast
- Lounge access
- Late checkout
- Free enhanced internet
- and other benefits
I’m grateful FoundersCard had this offer! I’ve been a paying member for 7 years and have always gotten my money’s worth – this year is no exception. And I find their benefits often pop up at just the right time to take advantage of them, like this one did.
Would a Marriott Platinum status challenge be useful to you? If you already have the status, do you find it’s worth keeping long-term?
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I recently used a 35K certificate from the Chase Marriott credit card for a one night stay at the Waterside Norfolk Marriott. The experience was the opposite of being Bonvoyed (Yovnobed?) They sent me an email to click if I would like early check-in (no promises). I accepted and when I was nearing Norfolk VA I received a text. The room was ready and I had been upgraded (this was about noon). I am only Silver Elite (from the cc) and have not stayed at their properties much. So I was surprised (to say the least) that I was upgraded to the Presidential Suite with lM Club lounge access, We’re talking dining room table with eight chairs, a few couches (including a wrap-around) and another six of so chairs in the two living room like areas, Also three large TV’s, full size fridge, desk, microwave, Keurig etc.
I was traveling solo and I ending u pin a suite that I could have entertained a dozen easily.. I certainly didn’t made full use of all it had to offer, but i did hit the M Club lounge several times including early evening (hot and regular snacks and beverages) and for a hot breakfast, and made sure to sit in several different areas of the suite.
It was a great place to just chill the whole stay until I left late-morning for Nags Head.