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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 email@example.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.
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:
- Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
- Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Card from American Express
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.