Starwood Platinum Challenge: Rules And Tips

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Yesterday I shared some tips for completing a Hyatt Diamond challenge, which I consider to be one of the most worthwhile status challenges out there. It’s rather generous in that it gives you Diamond status upfront, you get four suite upgrades just for doing the challenge (even if you don’t complete it), and they even give you bonus points for the first six nights you stay with them.

Some of you asked if I could do a similar post for Starwood, so here we go. I’ll say upfront that the Starwood Platinum challenge isn’t nearly as generous as the Hyatt Diamond challenge, unfortunately. That being said, I’m a Starwood Platinum member and love staying with them. While I don’t find them to be quite as consistent as Hyatt, they have a lot more properties and also a wider range of property types, so I do find Starwood Platinum status to be very useful.

As a reminder, some of the Starwood Platinum benefits include:

  • Club lounge access when available
  • A welcome gift (choices include bonus Starpoints, complimentary continental breakfast, or a local amenity)
  • Best room available, including standard suites
  • Free internet
  • Guaranteed 4PM late check-out (subject to availability at resorts)
  • 50% SPG points bonus
  • If you stay 50 nights per year you get 10 Suite Night Awards, each of which can be used to confirm a one night suite upgrade at most five days before arrival

Who can request a Starwood Platinum challenge

Unlike with Hyatt, there’s no need to have status with a competing program to request a Starwood Platinum challenge. However, those that have been Starwood Platinum within the past five years are excluded from the challenge, even if they earned it “the hard way.”

What’s also interesting is that you can request a challenge multiple times. So if you try a challenge now and don’t end up completing it, you can try again shortly thereafter. You’re only disqualified from it going forward if you actually complete it.

How to request a Starwood Platinum challenge

Send an email to platinum.liaison@starwoodhotels.com to request a Platinum challenge.

Requirements for completing a Starwood Platinum challenge

In order to complete a Starwood Platinum challenge you have to stay 18 paid nights in a 90 day period. While free night awards and Cash & Points bookings ordinarily count towards status, they don’t count towards the challenge.

It’s also worth noting that while Hyatt gives you Diamond status upfront, with Starwood you only receive the status upon the completion of the challenge. So for the first 18 nights you won’t have status. Once you complete the challenge your status should automatically be updated to Platinum.

It’s worth noting that if you want some intermediate Starwood status, the The Platinum Card® from American Express offers Starwood Gold status for as long as you have the card.

If you complete the challenge before April 1, then your status will be valid for the remainder of the year and through February of the following year. Meanwhile if it’s completed on or after April 1, then status is valid for the remainder of the year, the entire following year, and through February of the year after that.

In other words, if you start a challenge now and complete it in April your status will be valid through February 2016.

The value of Starwood Suite Night Awards

I’ve at times been a bit frustrated with Starwood’s policy of offering the best rooms available including standard suites, since in practice it’s up to the hotel to follow those rules. I’ve had many hotels try to play games when it comes to suite upgrades, so that’s why I’ve been a much happier Starwood Platinum since they introduced Suite Night Awards.

They basically allow me to upgrade the stays that matter most to me, and I’ve had great luck using them. Because when it comes to complimentary suite upgrades day of arrival, I found that I was getting them most of the time when I had one night stays at airport hotels, while I wasn’t getting them on my “vacation” stays that matter most.

W_Taipei05
W Taipei Marvelous Suite

While Starwood Platinum status ordinarily takes 25 stays or 50 nights, you only get the 10 Suite Night Awards if you stay 50 nights. One great way to boost that balance is with the co-branded Starwood American Express Cards:

Each card offers two stay credits and five night credits towards status annually, so if you have both of the cards that’s four stay credits and 10 night credits towards status annually. That lowers the threshold for Platinum status to 21 stays or 40 nights, and most importantly that means you only have to stay 40 nights to get the Suite Night Awards.

That’s hugely valuable long term in maintaining Platinum status, in my opinion.

Filed Under: SPG

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Comments

  1. I’m SPG Gold. Legit Gold, not AMEX Plat card Gold.

    I’m staying about 20 paid nights from March – May. Do I need to request the challenge, and will I get it as a Gold?

    Or do I get to wait for the full number of nights until I turn Platinum?

  2. @ Neil S. — I believe you can qualify for the challenge as a Gold member. You would only get the Platinum status after you stay the 18 nights in 90 days, though.

  3. Also, I believe you can repeat the Platinum Challenge at the end of your 3 months if you did not qualify. Say you start in January and end in March, you could start your next challenge in April. You can keep trying till you get it.

  4. Great post – I was recently tossing around the idea of just trying for Platinum the “hard” way but using SPG points. If you have both the SPG Amex cards that gives you 4 nights, so you only need 21 more.

    If you had access to a level 1 or level 2 property nearby, you could just do a mixture of full rewards posts (2000-4000 points) and cash + points stays. Since those both count as stays toward platinum, the 60,000 SPG points you get from the 2 CCs should easily cover that with plenty leftover

    Not even considering the fact that you also get 250 bonus starpoints for each stay, even on rewards stays I believe?

    The math seemed to work out but I have not actually tried it

  5. @ Points with a Crew — Yep, that’s a great point. You do get the welcome amenity bonus points on award stays, so I know it’s something a lot of people do. But you do physically have to go and check-in each time.

  6. Yeah – that’s a bit of a hassle, but if you’re going for Platinum, it makes no difference if you do it that way or if you do it via a status challenge. Still got to check in!

    That’s why I would only do this if I had easy access (in my city) to a low-level Starwood property

    In Cincinnati, where I live, there is only a Category 4 hotel, so of course it doesn’t make sense to spend 10K a night.

    But if I lived in Columbus, where there are 3 Category 2 hotels, then we might be in business.

    4000 points on weekdays, or 3000 on weeknights, or 2000 plus $35, AND you’re getting 250 points back per reservation, and it is possibly doable.

    Obviously if you have easy access to a Category 1 it is even better, but there aren’t many of those around (closest one to me is in Pittsburgh.

    Now this all of course assumes that you value status, which I personally do not.

    It’s probably a better idea to just use all those points to just take stays you enjoy, rather than mattress running…

  7. IMO this challenge is not worth doing. 18 nights is too close to the 25 stays you can do in one year to get the same status except you have to cram 18 stays in 90 days. Get both CCs and you only need 21 stays. Better get them throughout the year unless you already know you have 18 coming up. Only advantage is if you have a long trip but strictly from a mattress running standpoint I’d rather just spread them out and book when the prices are lowest if I have access to lower end properties.

  8. @ FreeTravelGuys — Totally agree, from a mattress running perspective this definitely isn’t worth it. But if you actually have several long Starwood stays planned, it’s a different story.

  9. I can’t decide if it’s worth a few more mattress runs this year. I’m doing a few ~$40/night stays (AAA rate near IAD) to maximize the Bring on the Nights Promo.

    I’ll have about 45 nights by November at which point I have a 7 night C&P stay at St. Regis Mauritius. If I re-qualify before then, I could apply the 35% coupon to the stay and do 5 nights full points and 2 nights C&P. Goes from 70k points and $1260 to 72k points and $360… over $500 in savings even after the mattress run.

    OTOH, if I don’t mattress run, I’ll make platinum from the 7 night stay and can use the coupon in 2015… Probably looking at St. Regis Punta Mita for the honeymoon, so it’s not like I wouldn’t use it, but I want to maximize my chances of getting extra special “honeymoon treatment” and being on a revenue stay probably is the best bet… Do you think that’s the case or that they’d care if we were on a point rate?

  10. @ Al — Nope:

    “What’s also interesting is that you can request a challenge multiple times. So if you try a challenge now and don’t end up completing it, you can try again shortly thereafter. You’re only disqualified from it going forward if you actually complete it.”

  11. Coincidentally I’m starting my Platinum Challenge this weekend (March-May). Great that it will last me till Feb 2016. 🙂

  12. There are two other major things to know:

    (1) SPG Gold you get from a Amex Plat isn’t a shortcut to achieving SPG Plat as you still have to re-qualify the hard way with 25 stays or 50+ nights (but, as Lucky noted, SPG Amex cards ARE helpful because they give stay & night credits which more than offsets annual fees).

    (2) Unlike Hyatt, SPG actually allows you to get both stay and night credit for up to THREE rooms at once (if they are under your SPG # and you pay for them), e.g. 3 rooms for 1 night gets you 3 stay credits and 3 night credits; 3 room for 2 nights – 3 stays, 6 nights; and so forth.

    You get bonus Starpoints just for one room but this makes mattress runs a lot more convenient (heck, even if you are on a trip and find an amazing rate, just book a couple extra rooms). Also, of course, this makes it way better when traveling with family/friends or booking rooms for weddings, etc. as it’s an easy way to rack up nights.

    To address another question brought up in Hyatt post, SPG’s policy it to only credit you for one hotel per night. For example, if you book a room at a Sheraton and a Westin for the same night, you’ll get credit for one of them. It doesn’t even matter if the second hotel is in a different city. I think someone of FT was with family in City A but had to leave for a day or two to go to City B and he didn’t get any stay/night credits for City B.

  13. Ben, are you sure about the status lasting through Feb 2016 if you qualify in April 2014? When I signed up for the challenge the Plat liaison said if you “meet the challenge you will be Platinum for one year from the qualification date.”

  14. @ MK — It depends on when the challenge is completed. If it’s on or after April 1, then status is valid for the remainder of the year, the entire following year, and through February of the year after that. If you complete it prior to April 1, it would only be valid through next February.

  15. Have things changed? Two things I’ve read in other older accounts/forums:

    1) If you complete the challenge after March 1st, 2014 you will have the Platinum status all until February 2016.

    2) If you change the three-month period you aren’t limited to months outside the originally selected three months. “You may only register for one status challenge per month. For example, if you registered for a status challenge this month, but you realize you prefer a different set of three months to challenge, you must contact us next month to be re-registered for another month.”

  16. @ Points with a Crew

    SPG Platinum is reached after completing 25 eligible stays or 50 eligible nights in a calendar year, so if you want to stay just 25 nights, they’d have to be 25 individual one-night stays. I’d definitely attempt this, but in the country I live in, even the category 2 hotels aren’t cheap enough.

  17. Hello,

    If I book a weekend stay for 2 nights, and 3 rooms. That will count as a total of 6 nights towards the Platinum challenge..correct? My 2nd question is then..do i get SPG points on all of those stays, there was some confusion from the posts above. And will all of those nights count towards the Bring on the Nights promotion as well? Getting me extra points and also platinum challenge status?

    Thanks

  18. I much prefer Hyatt’s Challenge unless there is a category 1 nearby you should just spend the money you would have spent doing the challenge one a better room or use more star points

  19. I got the challenge e-mail from Starwood, but it says “reservations booked through any third-party sources” do not count towards the challenge. What if I usually have a travel agent who books my stays, but I pay for them myself with my credit card upon checkout? Do these count?

  20. Do you know if the 2 free stays credits apply to the Canadian SPG Amex? I can’t find reference to that benefit anywhere and I may need it. ie need 23 stays instead of 25

  21. I did a status challenge from feb 1- April 30th for platinum 18 nights
    I applied for spg amex credit card last week it counted in feb 6th, total 5 nights and 2 stay, does this count toward challenge nights?

  22. thanks for the useful information. could you please help me with the following questions?
    1.Is this challenge still available?
    2.Can I start in the middle of the month, like 5th Jan 2015?
    3.If I complete the challenge on 1st April, does it mean the status will last till February 2017?
    thanks again.

  23. @ sam — Yes, it should be, and if you qualify April 1 or later it’s valid through February 2017.

  24. the above information is quite helpful.
    But just one thing, can you actually credit two rooms for this challenge?

  25. I just signed up for the challenge oct-December. I’m planning to stay at SPG properties for at least 30 straight nights, so I’ll definitely be able to complete the challenge. Do you know if the platinum status will kick in immediately after 18 nights? It would be nice to get the possible room upgrade, free food, and bonus points for the last 12 nights of my stay.

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