I’ve Earned Lifetime Status With Starwood!

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As much as I’m loyalty program obsessed, it might surprise some people to know that I actually don’t care all that much about achieving lifetime status… in general. That might seem counter intuitive, given that I’m still fairly young and potentially have quite a while to reap the benefits of such a status.

Why don’t I really care much for lifetime status, both with airlines and hotels?

  • Lifetime status is a long term goal, and programs often change the thresholds required for lifetime status; if it takes 10 years to earn it, I’d hate for the rules to change eight years in
  • With the consolidation/mergers we’re seeing in the industry, we’ve seen some change in benefits over the years to lifetime status
  • I constantly evaluate the value of the programs I’m most loyal to, and would rather fly and stay with the companies which deliver me the most value now, as opposed to looking too far forward
  • As I’ve often explained, I take a long term short term approach to this hobby; that’s to say that I’m dedicated to playing the game long term, but I believe the best way to do that is by constantly evaluating how things are now, as opposed to how they might be at some point in the future

Starwood’s lifetime status

In early 2012 Starwood announced some awesome program changes, which shifted them from a program I wanted to love to one which I actually loved. Not only did they enhance benefits for Gold and Platinum members, but they introduced lifetime Gold and Platinum status.

What are the thresholds for achieving lifetime status with SPG?

  • Enjoy Gold membership status for life when you achieve 250 eligible nights total and any five years of elite SPG status since joining the program
  • Enjoy Platinum membership status for life when you achieve 500 eligible nights total and any 10 years of Platinum SPG status since joining the program

I’m Starwood lifetime Gold!

I’ve never much tracked how many nights I’ve spent with Starwood, though last night I got the following email in my inbox, which was a pleasant surprise:

SPG-Gold

The text read as follows:

What a milestone: Since joining the SPG® program, you’ve stayed with us at least 250 eligible nights and experienced at least five years of elite benefits. And now, you’ve joined a very exclusive group: SPG Lifetime™ Gold. This means whenever you stay with SPG, you’ll always get the benefits of Gold status.

Elevated benefits and rewards are all yours, for life, at our more than 1,100 hotels and resorts in nearly 100 countries. Here are just a few:

  • Earn more. 3 Starpoints® for every U.S. dollar spent on eligible stays — a 50% bonus over Preferred — plus 1 Starpoint for every US$2 of eligible group spend, up to 30,000 Starpoints per event.
  • Stay longer. 4 p.m. late checkout when available.1
  • Step up your stay. An upgrade to an enhanced room at check-in2  — a corner room, a higher floor, a better view.
  • Warm welcome. Your choice of welcome gift upon arrival — choose from bonus Starpoints, complimentary in-room Internet or a beverage on us.

If you currently have Platinum status, don’t worry — your Platinum benefits are still intact. Likewise, as an SPG Lifetime Gold member, you can still earn Platinum status each year. It’s simply a reassurance that you’ll never go below Gold status, even if you have a light travel year.

Congratulations on achieving SPG Lifetime Gold. You’re among the best of our best guests, and it’s our privilege to serve you. We look forward to seeing you again soon.

That prompted me to look at my account, which indicated that I’ve earned 251 “eligible” nights towards lifetime status since 2006.

SPG-Lifetime

There is something nice about earning lifetime status, though in this case I doubt I’ll get much value out of it, since I also receive Gold status through the The Platinum Card® from American Express, and don’t see myself dropping below Platinum status with SPG anytime soon.

Is lifetime Platinum status on the horizon?

As much as I said above that I’m not really one for trying to achieve lifetime status, the first thing I thought when I saw the above email is “hmmm, why don’t I just spend the next 250 nights at Starwood properties and get lifetime Platinum status?”

And then I realized I’ve only been Platinum for five years, so regardless I’d have to earn Platinum status for another five years before they’d give it to me for my lifetime.

At 50 nights per year for five years, I’ll be there (though presumably I’ll easily stay those 250 nights in the next two years or so), and then it will just be a waiting game.

Bottom line

It’s cool to achieve lifetime status, especially when you didn’t even realize you were close. For me personally, lifetime status with any program isn’t a reason for me to do business with them, but it is an awesome reward. In the case of SPG, it just happens to be that they offer an all around awesome program which is worth being loyal to either way, and the lifetime status is the icing on the cake.

How about you — does the ability to earn lifetime status impact the airlines/hotels you’re loyal to?

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Comments

  1. Well, first…congrats. Having it is better than not having it.

    I just wish – as SPG Plat two years running – that they’d improve customer service, and have some of the benefits be less asterisked. (I don’t know how, either, but I am not running the program or privy to their inner workings. How about doubling whatever points I earn if I don’t get upgraded?)

    I’ve been almost exclusively SPG for two years – mainly through the US and Asia, but a bit of Canada and Europe. And I’ve had an awfully hard time telling the difference between Gold and Platinum. And some of the properties are downright rude about recognizing status.

    So yeah, lifetime better than no lifetime. But how much does it actually matter in practice?

  2. Congratulations!! I hope this program is better than Hilton. I made Lifetime Diamond with Hilton and no one in the hotels knows about the program or cares. Plus there are no additional perks. I agree the programs may change. Delta removed the word “Lifetime” from the MM program. I like your concept of how you will be moving forward on your terms.

  3. @Neil Considering how they keep devaluing elite status (all hotels have wifi) and no “better speed for elites, etc”, I think it’s getting worse over time. The 10yrs of Plat. at SPG pretty much says “500 is a min., but most will have far above that, but we SAY it’s low to entice travelers”..it’s really a b.s. # of nights, unless you book 50 nights each year, don’t take adv. of the extra points/$ at the level and switch to another hotel.

    In short, I’ve grown tired of all the SPG chanting, “it’s the best”, etc. When the pgm is disingenuous at best. If I can get 10ppd @ Marriott and 2ppd @ spg using a CC, and Marriott is 0.5cents/pt and spg is 2 cpp, then Marriott gives me 10pts or 5 cents in value for $. Whereas, spg gives 2 points @ 2 cents or 4 cents in value per $.

    Last I checked 5 > 4. (Yes, it changes at various elite levels, but for a large majority of non-business travelers, spg is NOT best.

  4. Lucky. Congrats! I too got lifetime Gold, but with the SPG Amex Card, it’s a mute point . How SPG affiliate properties outside of the US are awesome and so much more affordable to redeem than here, hence I have stuck to the SPG brand , with the intent of getting to Lifetime Platinum. .the perks of free upgrades, early check in, my 24, come in really useful on international travel, not to mention 10 complimentary upgrades every year + the awesome ability to transfer SPG points to some key airlines with a 5k mile bonus for every 20k mile transferred.

  5. Congrats, but I agree with Andrew – you can have lifetime SPG Gold with the AMEX Plat (until they change it!). Also SPG Gold is not that big of a deal. I would push to get lifetime Plat, much better benefits. I would love to have Hyatt LT Diamond but $200K spend is about 30 years away, so not going to happen.

  6. Moot point not mute point.

    Also having gold with Amex is not lifetime gold lol you do know the difference right? With Amex it is a benefit that is likely to change and even with co-branded cards those things die off. So no, you do not have life time gold whatever your name is ..

  7. I value the certainty of lifetime status but increasingly the lower/lowest level status especially with the airlines are worthless. I have 1MM (Gold) on AA and am working towards 2MM hoping to be there in 5-6 years, that is assuming they don’t gut the program. Hotel status to me is generally less valuable, lifetime or otherwise since there are often other ways to achieve many of the same perks (Amex FHR, Virtuoso, schmoozing with front desk, corporate rates, etc)

  8. In light of today’s Supreme Court decision and given Ben’s lifetime SPG gold status and myriad miles(not to mention being smart, funny and #top), some Lucky guy should move quickly and propose to him. 😉

  9. Exactly the same thing happened to me about 2 weeks ago. Surprising email and then looking at the threshold for lifetime plat status. 😉

  10. @ Jay,

    Yes I know that having an AMEX PLAT is not the same as SPG LT Gold, that is why I said “(until they change it!)” in my original post. PS Nobody likes the grammar police.

    BTW my name is Jeff, but you were too busy being critical of others to take the time to read and comprehend.

  11. I’ve never made it a mission. That said, diligently making sure I was earning miles on America West, US Airways, and American, even when I knew I didn’t have any chance of earning flights, has, thanks to mergers, put me within spitting distance of million miler status on American. Who knew that Qantas flights I took as a teen would reward me 30 years later?

  12. Congrats, i used to have lifetime status at the top level with Delta, I just didn’t realize that Delta’s definition of lifetime was not my lifetime but just until they decided to change the name of their program.

  13. Congratulations on the lifetime status. I know they keep changing it all the time and that sucks, but it is better than nothing. I have also found it is useful in addition to chatting up the people in check in. This week along I was able to get my parents a presidential suite at a SPG property for just 4000 points. I’m currently a platinum and will hit lifetime Gold yearly next year.

    I also reached lifetime Gold with Marriott last year and it wasn’t a big deal there. no one noticed, but atleast you got an email.

    Good luck on your way to lifetime platinum,

    Jonathan

  14. I am at 245 nights. Hard to believe I am close to Ben in anything!

    It will take me five years at my present rate to get to lifetime platinum. I hope to get there as I view it a valuable perk but five years is a long time…things change…especially in his game.

  15. I am also Lifetime Gold at Starwood but with about 400 nights to my credit and 8 of the 10 years of required Platinum status to get lifetime Platinum. I also have lifetime gold on AA — because of many mergers over the last 30 years: New York Air, Allegheny Airlines, Piedmont Airlines, USAirways, TWA….so the US/AA merger put me over the top with 1.2m lifetime miles.

    Now it can be told: I used to be a QA inspector for TWA back in the day. No salary or expense reimbursement but got to fly in first class whenever I wanted on a whim and got to keep any accrued miles and status along the way…

  16. Ben, just started the CMN Doha Portland special you mentioned a few months ago in BC on Qatar. Your readers might want to know as incorrectly reported there is no alcohol on non-US bound legs and no alcohol anywhere in Qatar as we just found out at the oryx Rotana. There will be alcohol on the Doha to DFW leg tomorrow. whew!

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