Update: Marriott bonus nights and application timing

Two weeks ago I wrote up a technique for achieving Marriott Gold elite status through manufactured spending that's slightly more convoluted but much cheaper than the straightforward method described by Frequent Miler. That post drew a lot of terrific comments from readers, and since I know many readers get my posts by e-mail or in RSS readers and may not have checked out that follow-up conversation, I want to provide a quick update.

Three moving parts for Marriott elite status

The hack I described takes advantage of three facts:

  • Elite status, once earned during a calendar year, is good for the remainder of that year and the entire following calendar year;
  • Elite-qualifying nights earned in excess of your earned status are rolled over and count towards the following calendar year's elite-qualifying night total;
  • The Chase Marriott Rewards Premier credit card gives 15 elite-qualifying nights per year.

By noting all three of these facts, I realized that it's possible to spend your way to Gold (not Platinum) elite status every two years, instead of attempting to requalify for Gold status by earning 50 elite-qualifying nights each calendar year.

The (not so) fatal flaw

Unfortunately, my commenters noted a potentially devastating problem with this plan, based on a nuance of the Premier credit card's bonus nights: the 15 elite-qualifying nights are not credited at the beginning of the calendar year, but rather together with the card's anniversary statement each year! Since my hack depended on using the bonus nights to qualify every other year, in the "requalification year" cardholders have to make do with Silver elite status until their anniversary month arrives.

Timing Marriott Rewards Premier credit card applications

In other words, if you are interested in this trick, the absolute worst day for your anniversary statement to close is December 31: you get just one year of Gold elite status every two years.

On the other hand, the best possible day for your anniversary statement to close is January 1: in this case, the trick would work exactly as I originally described.

Personally, my anniversary statement is in April, so I'm closer to the winning end of that spectrum. Some readers complained that their anniversaries are in October, which strips a lot of the value from the technique.

If you already have the Premier card, but have a bum anniversary month, I don't see any easy way to get on board with this technique. Canceling the card and reapplying (without a signup bonus) would be a tough credit pull to justify.

But if you don't already have the Premier card and are interested in getting it someday, make that day early in January!