Marriott Rewards offers an elite buy back program for Platinum, Gold, and Silver status where you can redeem miles to retain your elite status. You are allowed to buy back your status until April 1, 2014, and you MUST buy back to the status that you held last year.
Here is a summary of the cost.
How to Buy Back Marriott Elite Status
There are two ways to buy back your status using points.
- Send an email to Marriott Rewards at EliteBuyBack14@Marriott.com
- Call customer service at 1-800-321-7396
In the email you must include the following information:
- Marriott Rewards number
- Buying back Marriott status from Gold to Platinum: 40,000 points
- Buying back Marriott status from Silver to Gold: 25,000 points
- Buying back Marriott status from general to Silver: 7,500 points
You can buy back your status until April 1, 2014. The status you are buying back mus match the status you held last year in 2013.
Does It Make Sense to Buy Back Marriott Gold Status?
I am currently considering buying back Marriott Gold status, but 25,000 points is quite a steep price to pay for free breakfast, lounge access, and an occasional upgrade. My valuation of Marriott Rewards points is $0.75 per point (after all the ceiling for points is roughly 1.25 cent per point since you can purchase up to 50,000 points per year for $500). The short answer for me is NO, it does not make sense for me to pay between $187.50 and $312.50 to purchase Marriott Gold status.
Does It Make Sense to Buy Back Marriott Platinum Status?
Now this is a more interesting question. Marriott Platinum costs 40,000 points, but unlike Gold status you get to participate in the United Rewards Plus program where you can earn automatic United Silver status for being a Marriott Platinum member. This status comes with the following benefits:
- Free Economy Plus access (at time of check-in)
- Free domestic US upgrades
- 25% redeemable mileage earning bonus
- Free priority check-in & boarding
- Instant upgrades on Y or B class fares
- 1 free checked bag
- Discount on United Club membership
Obviously this is very valuable, but the question is how much is United Silver status worth? Recently, I wrote a post about Buying Back AA Gold Status, where American Airlines is offering elites who lost their status for 2014 the option to buy back Gold status for $399 if they flew 20,000 – 24,999 miles, or $649 if they flew 0 – 19,999 miles last year. Using AA’s elite buy back price as a proxy, you could estimate United Silver status to be worth about $500. That is clearly already more than the $400 you would have to pay in terms of points to buy back Marriott Platinum status, so you already have a profit there. Obviously, this does not even take into account the benefits of Marriott Platinum status, which granted are not worth that much more than Marriott Gold status, but do include a free welcome amenity (usually I take the free 500 points at Marriott, Ritz Carlton, or Renaissance, and less at lower end brands).
Other Considerations of Buying Back Marriott Status
It should not go unsaid that Marriott Rewards has both a rollover nights program and Marriott lifetime elite status where they will credit elite qualifying nights earned above and beyond your current status level toward earning status next year. For instance if you have Marriott Gold status (requires 50 nights/year), and you earn 30 nights this year, then you will fall back to Silver status next year. You will not accrue any rollover nights toward next year because you did not exceed the nights required to renew your current status. However, since you will be Silver status, and don’t renew Gold next year, any nights above the 10 nights required to renew Silver will rollover to next year AND will count toward Marriott lifetime status as well. That’s like getting extra free nights toward lifetime status! Of course, you do have to tolerate having a low status level with practically no benefits, but that might be a good strategy if you are targeting Marriott lifetime status.
Spending 25,000 Marriott points to buy back Gold status is not worth it in my opinion, however if you have the option to buy back Marriott Platinum status, it could be a wise move if you have any travel planned on United in the upcoming year.