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American Express Platinum Cardholders to Lose Marriott Lounge Access and Other Hotel Benefits with New Gold Elite Status

As the reward programs of Starwood and Marriott make their final merger, benefits are being stripped away from American Express Platinum cardholders.

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American Express Platinum Cardholders to Lose Marriott Lounge Access and Other Hotel Benefits with New Gold Elite Status
As the reward programs of Starwood and Marriott make their final merger, benefits are being stripped away from American Express Platinum cardholders.
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One of the most valuable benefits of The Platinum Card® from American Express is automatic gold elite status within the Starwood Preferred Guest and Marriott Rewards programs.

Typically such status comes after banking numerous stays, and the rewards of such status are many. For example, getting Marriott Rewards Gold Elite Status normally requires staying 50 eligible nights in a calendar year. And rewards include guaranteed late 4 p.m check-out and access to Marriott’s fabulous hotel lounges. American Express Platinum cardholders are able to bypass the typical eligibility requirements simply by being cardmembers.

Last month, Marriott announced details of its new yet to be named rewards program. It will combine Marriott Rewards, SPG, and Ritz-Carlton Rewards and shake things up quite a bit. With the news, it became apparent that American Express Platinum cardholders would become one of the major losers from this new program.

When it begins in August 2018, the new program will expand to five elite tiers: Silver, Gold, Platinum, Platinum Premier, and Platinum Premier with Ambassador. While American Express Platinum cardholders will still acquire automatic Gold Elite Status, this doesn’t carry its weight in gold like it used to.  Here’s what you need to know.

Say good-bye to free breakfast and lounge access

Arguably our favorite benefit of Marriott Rewards Gold Elite Status was guaranteed lounge access plus one guest at JW Marriott® Autograph Collection®, Renaissance® and Marriott Hotels®, and Delta Hotels® (resorts excluded). Hotels within the portfolio without lounges would offer free breakfast instead. This benefit is now disappearing for Gold Elite Status members. It will be available only for those with Platinum Elite Status and above.

Late check-out won’t be as late

Another excellent benefit of SPG Gold Elite Status and Marriott Rewards Gold Elite Status was 4 p.m. late check-out (subject to availability at resort and conference center hotels) with SPG. 4 p.m. late check-out  was guaranteed at Marriott brands.  This benefit has now been reduced to 2 p.m. late check-out, based on availability.

Upgrades won’t extend to suites

Currently, SPG Gold Elite Status members get space-available room upgrades at all brands except Aloft and Element. Marriott Rewards Gold Elite Status members also receive space-available room upgrades. In general, this benefit will remain. However, suites are now excluded from the upgrade pool.

Bonus points will be 25% for gold members

The points bonus of the new program remains in line with the previous benefit granted to those with Marriott Rewards Gold Elite Status. It’s a drop from the 50% bonus awarded to SPG Gold Elite Status members.

Complimentary enhanced Internet access will become standard for Gold Elite Status members

Previously, complimentary enhanced Internet access was granted to Marriott Rewards Gold Elite Status members. SPG Gold Elite Status members had to make a welcome amenity choice between enhanced Internet access, a set amount of bonus points, or a complimentary beverage. Now all Gold Elite Status members will automatically receive the two welcome amenities of complimentary enhanced Internet access and bonus points.

Bottom Line

With Marriott’s new program, the automatic Gold Elite Status granted to American Express Platinum cardholders still offers value. It’s just not at the level we’ve grown accustomed to.

That said, The Platinum Card from American Express carries the most hotel benefits of any elite credit card on the market. Beyond Gold Elite Status with the new Marriott program, cardholders can also automatically acquire Hilton Honors Gold Status. This typically requires 20 eligible stays or 40 eligible nights per calendar year. It includes benefits like space-available room upgrades, late check-out (based on availability), and a fifth reward night free on standard room reward stays of five nights or more.

Also, let’s not forget about American Express’ Fine Hotels & Resorts (FHR) program. This program includes perks like free room-category upgrades, lavish breakfasts, welcome amenities, spa credits, and 4 p.m. check-outs when booking through FHR directly.

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Award-winning travel writer and economist Paul Rubio is a credit card enthusiast, whose sophisticated use of points and rewards has helped him travel to 125 countries for free. Paul is a Harvard graduate with a master’s degree in public administration and a master’s degree in economics. He also holds a bachelor’s degree from Boston University with a double major in economics and environmental policy and a minor in conservation biology. He attended both undergraduate and graduate schools on full scholarships. Paul worked in the field of wildlife conservation before embracing his writing talents full-time in 2008. Since then, he has won more than two dozen national awards for his exemplary work in travel journalism. The prolific writer contributes to a number of top-tier international, national, and regional publications including Condé Nast Traveler, Fodors.com, Palm Beach Illustrated, Private Clubs, and Robb Report.