Wow, what a race. Here we are 11 months into 2018, and so far this year I've accumulated 262 nights and 670,539 points. That may not sound like a lot to some of the road warriors out there. For me, it's astounding. Don't forget, I don't travel for business so those totals are all from leisure travel. Earlier in the year, I didn't think I'd have a shot at reaching the lofty goal of 750 nights and 2M points by the end of the year. Now I find I've gotten there with a month to spare.
Several other Insiders have posted the details of how they ran their LT race. I don't plan to wade quite a deep into the weeds on every trick I used, but I will share a few tidbits particularly on the nights side. For the most part, I used many of the same methods as others who reached this point ahead of me.
My biggest challenge was figuring out how to accumulate enough LT nights. At the end of 2017, I only had 490 nights, just shy of what was needed to reach LTG under the old rules. Fortunately, Marriott gave us some advance warning that rollover nights would end after 2017, so I did what I could to max out those before 12/31/17 by scheduling a handful of Rewarding Events over the last few months of the year.
It wasn't until mid-June that I crossed the old LTG criteria of 500 nights and 1.6M points. By then, I realized I only had about two months before the merger of programs and under the new rules, the ability to earn 10 nights for each Rewarding Event would be gone. If I was going to go for it, I had to make the push for LT nights by the end of July. Over the next 7 weeks, I held 10 meetings, enough to put me close enough that travel would be enough to put me over the top by year end. Here's the details on my nights total which includes the 2 nights that came over from my SPG account when I finally got around to combining.
Once I knew I would be able to get to 750 nights, I still had to figure out how to come up with around 300k. Yikes!
Credit cards played a big part. I signed up for a Chase Ink card in July and immediately booked a couple business class flights from the US to Athens Greece, earning the 80k bonus points in one transaction (plus another 22k for the airfare for a total of 102k). I had previously booked a cruise out of Athens through Marriott's partner site which added another 40k (once those points posted). I transferred 100k from my Chase Sapphire card, plus converted some UA miles and Hertz Gold points that weren't doing anything for me. The rest came from travels and my Marriott Rewards Visa. November turned out to be a busier month on that CC, so I actually overshot my goal by 20k points, exactly the number of points I had purchased in August when reaching 2M points seemed in doubt. Oh well.
In the end, the additional out of pocket cost (beyond my travel) was a little over $1,000 to go from LTG to LTP (meetings and purchased points). Knowing that LTPP won't be available after the end of this year, I feel that it was money well spent.
One last comment. Some folks will surely say I don't deserve to be LTPP. After all, I've only been a member of Marriott Rewards since February 15, 2011 (just shy of 8 years) and accumulated 349 actual nights (paid and redeemed). The rest of my nights came mostly from methods that Marriott has discontinued (rollovers and rewarding events). Like many others, I followed the rules set up by Marriott and exploited a few (now closed) loopholes. I respect everyone's opinions on both sides of the issue issue of who deserves to be granted LT elite status. Lucky for me, the final arbiter is Marriott. The determination from them is that come January, I'll be LTPP.