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My single favorite hotel loyalty program is Starwood Preferred Guest. I’m certainly not thrilled about Marriott taking over SPG on principle, though so far I’ve been pleased with how they’ve handled the merger. Marriott and Starwood are offering reciprocal status matches and points transfers, and nothing has really been taken away yet.
I imagine that will change eventually, once the programs are integrated, but that hasn’t happened yet. The Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest programs won’t be integrated before the middle of next year at the earliest. Personally I think it’s more likely that it’ll be 2019 before the programs are integrated.
I’m still remaining loyal to SPG for now, and just passed 50 elite qualifying nights for the year.
Starwood’s incremental Platinum perks
One thing I appreciate about SPG is that they give you incremental perks for overqualifying for status:
- You can earn SPG Platinum status with 25 elite qualifying stays or 50 elite qualifying nights
- If you earn 50 elite qualifying nights you get to pick from a variety of benefits
- If you earn 75 elite qualifying nights you receive an extra Starpoint per dollar spent, plus Your24, which lets you check-in and check-out for any 24 hour period, pending availability
- If you earn 100 elite qualifying nights you’re appointed an Ambassador, who will help you with reservations; my Ambassador, Mike, is incredible, and I think of him as my Starwood guardian angel
I just passed 50 nights with SPG for the year
I actually haven’t been doing that many SPG nights this year. Keep in mind that the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express each offer two elite qualifying stays and five elite qualifying nights towards status annually, so in reality I’ve only stayed 40 nights with Starwood so far, as I started off the year with those 10 nights.
However, now that I’ve passed 50 elite qualifying nights for the year, I’ve just been advised that I can choose my 50 night benefit.
I received an email with a link where I could log in to choose. Early last year Starwood significantly expanded the benefits from which you could choose at 50 elite qualifying nights. I have the option of choosing between the following:
- 10 Suite Night Awards
- The gift of Gold status for a friend or family member
- One Free Night Award
- Five Elite-Qualifying Nights
- SPG donation to UNICEF
- 40% off your favorite hotel bed
So, how do I view each of these benefits?
- Personally I quite value the Suite Night Awards, and have been able to get them to clear pretty consistently, but I realize not everyone has such good luck
- Gold status can be had just by having a credit card, like The Platinum Card® from American Express or The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN, so I don’t think that’s worth choosing
- The free night award is capped at a Category 5 hotel, which would cost 16,000 Starpoints per night
- Five elite qualifying nights could help me requalify for status, but I’m not sure I’ll have any issues either way
- While a donation to UNICEF sounds nice, it’s only a $100 donation, and I’d rather donate cash and take one of those benefits, since I value them at more than that
- I wouldn’t get much value out of a hotel bed
So to me the decision is between a free night at a Category 1-5 hotel, and the 10 Suite Night Awards. Are the SNAs worth more than 1,600 Starpoints each to me? I guess that’s what it comes down to. Or perhaps I should lower the value of the free night certificate a bit, given the expiration policy, that I might not otherwise redeem at a Category 5 property retailing for 16,000 Starpoints, etc.
I’m tempted to go with the 10 Suite Night Awards again, given that I’ve had good luck with them.
My Starwood lifetime status woes
I’ve never put much weight into lifetime hotel or airline status, given how much consolidation there is in the industry nowadays. I earned lifetime SPG Gold status a couple of years ago, but as I look at my account, I notice that I’m just 50 nights from the 500 night requirement for SPG lifetime Platinum. That means I should cross that number later this year.
Unfortunately the catch is that for lifetime Platinum you need 10 years as a Platinum member and 500 nights. Unfortunately I’ve only been a Platinum member for seven years.
I imagine the qualification criteria for lifetime status will change when the programs are merged, which is frustrating. Or maybe they can just wait another three years before integrating programs, please. 😉
I appreciate the incremental perks that SPG offers for those who stay 50, 75, or 100 nights. Personally I’ll probably go with the 10 Suite Night Awards again, though I’m tempted by the free night award as well.
As I look at my account, my bigger realization is that I’m so close, yet so far away, from lifetime SPG Platinum status.
To fellow SPG 50+ night Platinum members, which reward are you choosing this year?