Buy Back Elite Status from Marriott

Here's a proposition you've probably never seen before:

As one of our valued Elite members, we understand that your travel needs vary from year to year and that occasionally you might not have the required number of stays to maintain your Elite status ... so we are offering you a limited-time opportunity to buy back your status for 2012 using points that you may already have.

The offer is from Marriott. And if you had elite status in Marriot Rewards in 2011 but have been downgraded for 2012, it's an offer worth considering.

Offers Details

With Marriott's Elite Buy Back offer, Rewards members can use points to reestablish their 2011 elite status, as follows:

  • Members who have been downgraded from Silver in 2011 to Basic in 2012 can reclaim Silver status for 7,500 points.
  • Members who have been downgraded from Gold in 2011 to Silver in 2012 can reclaim Gold status for 25,000 points.
  • Members who have been downgraded from Platinum in 2011 to Gold in 2012 can reclaim Platinum status for 40,000 points.

The points may either be those already in the member's account or points purchased just for this purpose. To put the latter in perspective, Marriott sells points for $12.50 per 1,000, up to a maximum of 50,000 points per year. So buying 8,000 points to buy back Silver status would cost $100; buying enough points to reclaim Gold and Platinum status would cost $312.50 and $500, respectively.

The offer is in place through April 2.

Deal or No Deal

In principle, the idea of cutting elites some slack when it comes to requalifying is an attractive one. Consider it a reward for past loyalty and a down payment on future business. But in practice, it's the price of the buy-back that makes it either a gift or a gouge.

American currently has an elite buy-back offer in place, with prices to retain last year's Gold and Platinum status ranging from $409 to $769.

As with American's promotion, the question here is whether Marriott's elite perks are worth the points required to retain them, or the price of those points if they must be purchased.

Here's what you get, tier by tier:

  • Silver - Dedicated phone line, 20 percent elite bonus, late checkout
  • Gold - Silver benefits plus free Internet, room upgrades, 25 percent elite bonus, Hertz #1 Gold membership
  • Platinum - Gold benefits plus arrival gift, guaranteed room availability, 50 percent elite bonus

Personally, I'd be inclined to use my points for free nights rather than redeem them for what seem to me to be rather lackluster benefits. And that goes double for buying the points, which are generally overpriced.

Depending on your priorities and account balance, your mileage may vary.

Reader Reality Check

What's it worth to you to retain your Marriott elite status?

This article originally appeared on

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