Reader Question: Online Offer Marriott/SPG Platinum Status For $399 – Legitimate?

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We received an interesting email from one of our readers today about an offer that is circulating on the internet advertising Marriott / SPG Platinum Status for $399 through fake Marriott Meetings.

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You can access Marriott’s web page for Platinum elite benefits here.

READ MORE: Marriott Rewards Rate & Bonus Points And Miles Promotions

The reader sent us correspondence with the outlet that is advertising this obscure status offer and from the bat I was already suspicious that something isn’t right here. Nevertheless before I stepped to judgement I went through the emails to confirm this is something I’d rather stay away from.

Here is the email from our reader Catherine:

Hi Sebastian,

wonder if you heard about the offer that [name redacted by LL] put out basically selling Marriott Platinum status for USD 399. I can’t afford all these hotel stays right now that are required for Platinum the regular way but would invest the 399 to get a foot in the door. I attach the email one of the guys sent me.

Thanks, Cathy

My rule of thumb is: If something sounds too good to be true it usually is and once again these words rang true as soon as I glimpsed over the email she got.

Here is the essential part of it:

… We have found a property that is able to credit the 10 conference room bookings for a total of 80 night credits.

So even if you don’t have a single stay with Marriott so far this year you can become Platinum in about a week.

We are happy to facilitate setting up the bookings in the correct order for you. You still only pay $399 – all we need is your Marriott Rewards account number and a one time payment from you. …

Back in February John actually hinted on these Marriott Meetings that credit fix amounts of nights towards your status each year (see here) and it’s been a rather open secret for years that it is possible. All nice and well as long as these meetings are taking place somehow.

However as soon as something becomes a commercial enterprise and borderline fraud as far as the T&C (as well as franchise agreements between the hotels and Marriott) are concerned you can be sure that it won’t take long until Marriott gets wind of the whole thing and shuts it down.

Participating in such a transaction could have dire implications for your Marriott Rewards account and any existing points balances. Marriott Rewards would be fully within their rights to suspend accounts that were found violating the Terms & Conditions of the program and ordering someone to book ‘fake meetings’ is certainly reason enough for doing so.

We therefore strongly advise against taking advantage any such offer be it on ebay, email chains, blogs or professional websites. You see all the time that things like hotel and airline status are being offered online and almost always (unless it’s through a partner referral – and even then it’s prohibited to sell it) the methods applied to gain that status are fraudulent.

Conclusion

Without naming, shaming or going any deeper into the particulars of the provider here I have to give them credit for at least laying the cards somewhat on the table and describe their modus operandi to get this status for their ‘customers’. That doesn’t make it any better though.

Marriott Rewards as well as any other loyalty program has a sophisticated fraud department that has nothing else to do than to look out and study such cases. It’s just a matter of time until they find out which property does these bookings and to find the person behind it. More than likely this will have consequences for all parties involved and if you don’t want to be caught in the middle then stay away.

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  • Laurel Wang

    You don’t think these people are scammers who will just take your $399 and disappear off the face of the planet?

    • No I assume they have a deal with some rogue/corrupt hotel employee who thinks he can just create tons of Marriott Elites without showing up on the radar of Marriott Rewards. I’m sure that ‘payment’ can be done via PayPal as well but I didn’t go too much into it as I think people should stay as far away as possible.

  • Joe S

    I don’t see anywhere in it that the bookings/night credits are free. Only that they will “facilitate” the booking for $399. Could be totally legit, just not reading the small print.
    They may just act like a travel agency.

  • Austy

    I’ve held a few meetings at Marriott’s over the years and 5+ years back, it was possible to book a (legitimate) one hour/half day meeting and receive the 10 nights towards elite credit. I believe the terms and conditions have changed in the years since – the last meeting I held I was advised I only receive the 10 nights elite credit if I book and pay for accommodation for 10 guests who are attending the meeting.