3 Myths About SPG Business Amex Lounge Access

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In mid-August Starwood and American Express announced a host of new benefits for their Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express cards. Some features (like the removal of foreign transaction fees) were a long time coming, in my opinion, while others are pretty innovative.

Namely, those with the SPG Business AmEx will receive complimentary executive lounge access at Sheraton properties worldwide. This is a benefit which is usually reserved for SPG Platinum members (which requires 25 stays or 50 nights), or those paying for Club Level rooms.

Ben has gone through the basics of how Sheraton lounge access works with the SPG Business Amex, so I won’t recap that here, but there are three common access issues that people seem to be having that I’d like to address.

The Sheraton Club in Edinburgh is one of my favorites

Myth: “This Sheraton has opted out.”

Nope, that’s simply not true. American Express and Starwood have an arrangement, and it sounds like it has nothing to do with the individual hotels (though I’m sure they’re getting compensated at some level).

In fact, when I reached out to SPG directly, their response was as follows:

All Sheratons that have a club lounge, as listed on http://sheratonclubroom.com are participating.

This website (clunky though it is), lists every Sheraton with a club lounge that I know about. The only property not listed that I noticed was the Sheraton Maui — however, their club lounge is pretty new, and some OMAAT readers have reported getting lounge access there. I have sent a follow-up to SPG about this particular property, and will report back.

So if a property is on this list, they are participating. Full stop.

Verdict: False

Myth: “Your rate isn’t eligible for lounge access.”

This one is trickier, because there seems to be a lot of confusion here. I’ve even heard of people getting incorrect information from front-line agents at SPG, so it is complicated.

For avoidance of doubt, these are the official determinations of what makes a rate eligible, as per Starwood:

That’s right, if you’re using Starpoints to book a room, you’re eligible. Using some cash and some Starpoints? Eligible. Booked a Hot Escapes rate or used an AAA discount on spg.com? Eligible.

Here are the cases in which you would not be eligible, per the SPG terms:

  • The guest room was booked through a tour operator, online travel channel or other third party channel including, without limitation, expedia.com, hotwire.com, priceline.com, orbitz.com, booking.com, travelocity.com, ctrip.com, and elong.com
  • The guest room was booked at a group rate as part of an event, meeting, conference or organized tour, and the SPG Member does not directly pay the SPG Participating Hotel for such room
  • The guest room was booked at a tour operator, wholesaler, or crew room rate including, without limitation, STARNet and STARPRO
  • The guest room was booked at an employee or friends and family rate or a Starwood business rate
  • The guest room was provided complimentary
  • A voucher or third party award (e.g., Aeroplan room award, Air Miles room award) was redeemed for the guest room

So if your booking is valid under the first list, you’re eligible for lounge access. If nothing on the second list applies to you, and a property tells you that you had to book a specific rate on spg.com to have lounge access, that’s most likely incorrect.

Verdict: Mostly false

Myth: “You had/have to pay with your SPG Business Amex.”

Now, I’m sure that the folks at American Express would strongly prefer you use your SPG Business AmEx to gain access to the Sheraton Club lounges. Afterall, they’re paying for it.

However, it does not matter which card you use to pay for your stay. At all.

This makes logical sense to me — if Free Nights are eligible, then the method of payment obviously doesn’t matter. But I’ve heard from many of you that this isn’t as obvious to front desk staff, so it’s worth clarifying. And AmEx has confirmed that the intention is for all primary cardholders of the SPG Business AmEx to have lounge access (provided the other conditions are being met).

In theory your SPG profile should note that you have the business AmEx, and you should be granted access automatically. In practice, that isn’t happening — I don’t know if it’s a tech issue or an awareness issue, so the best option is to just carry the card and present it at check-in.

Verdict: False

Bottom line

Both Starwood and American Express are as excited about this new perk as we are, and want cardholders to be able to use this benefit. When I reached out to both parties they were equally emphatic in their responses, and apologetic for the confusion.

So if you’re having issues with a property, I would suggest reaching out to SPG on social media (nicely), or even opening a customer care file. With so many properties and employees involved, it’s realistically going to take some time for everyone to be completely aware of the benefits, and some properties might need more education than others.

That’s pretty typical, so just be kind and practice patience if you can.

Also, don’t forget that both the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express have an increased signup bonus that ends Monday! If you’ve been thinking about applying for one of these cards, you’ll want to take advantage of the extra points if you can.

Has anyone used the new lounge access benefit yet? What was your experience?

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  1. Why must guests be patient. SPG knows there is a problem, why don’t they fix it?

    It’s not truly that hard.

  2. I dont share in the excitement with Amex or Starwood
    At the end of the day their club lounges even in their expensive hotels are meager inferior and stingy when comparing some other chains that get lounge access and quality standards right
    I earned my Platinum status the hard way and the clubs are already shockingly overcrowded
    It will only be worse now
    I’m with Hyatt Marriott Ritz Carlton now
    Starwood good luck to you
    I wont set foot in a Domestic Sheraton except perhaps overseas where the amenities aren’t as crappy
    Hopefully there will be less card carrying members that get a free load at the expense of paying customers and those fools who paid to actually stay in their hotels like me:)
    Former fan from years ago

  3. @ TransWorldOne — I mean, you don’t have to be patient, I just tend to think that’s a better life philosophy.

    Have you ever been new at a job? Or even in an existing role, thoroughly read every email and note posted on the breakroom wall? Hotel employees are people too, and no one is perfect. Few of us are able to execute something new perfectly the first time we’re called to do it. And I don’t think most of us would be inclined to go to any extra effort to check on something for someone who was being nasty.

    So might as well be patient, in my opinion.

  4. The Sheraton club lounge list includes a few Westins, Le Meridians etc. I assume the SPG Biz Amex will NOT get you into those lounges even though they’re on the Sheraton list?

  5. I’m told at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers Hong Kong: If you book Sheraton Hotel the Lounge is sub-sub-par. If you book Towers then excellent lounge.
    Is this true?

  6. Yes, Paul, that is true about the HK Sheraton. However, you have to pay for Towers level rooms to access that Lounge.

  7. @ BothofUs2 — The rules say eligible cardmember and one guest per room. That being said, it likely depends on the hotel and the age of your children in practice.

  8. Wait, this is a benefit of the SPG Business Amex but only applies to Sheraton properties and not ALL SPG properties with Clubs??

  9. Thanks for the clarification on this benefit. I’m looking forward to using my newly minted biz card in the near future.

  10. Can you use the lounge if the room is booked at group rate as part of an conference but Ihave paid for it directly? Also, do we need to pay for the room using SPG card or any card would do?

  11. @Tiffany – Two non-Sheratons on the Sheraton list are the Westin Crystal City and the Le Meridien Delfina Santa Monica. I only checked the United States.

    BTW – I think the Delfina was formerly a Sheraton.

  12. Did SPG get back to you regarding the club at the Sheraton Maui being available to SPG business card holders?

  13. +1 on the Sheraton Maui. I have a stay coming up on Saturday and want to use the Amex SPG Business lounge access. I called SPG and they did not seem to know.

  14. @Lindy you get access to the Na Hoku lounge at the Sheraton Maui with the business SPG Amex. You must have the card with you (odd) and present it at the Na Hoku lounge every time you go in.

  15. Many SPG staffers don’t understand the benefit of AmEx SPG business card, do you know any link on SPG site pointing out to this kind of benefits [access Sheraton lounge]? Some foreign countries, SPG staffers are very vague about this kind of benefits, if they don’t see it on SPG site, then they say NO

  16. The Sheraton Hong Kong Hotel & Towers is listed as having a Platinum Lounge, not a Club Lounge. Does the SPG Business card grant access to this lounge?

  17. I am not getting anywhere with a Starpoints stay in Rome:

    “I have researched your reservation at our Sheraton Roma Hotel & Conference Center. While our hotel will honor the Sheraton Club Access for your SPG Business American Express, this cannot be done on a Free Nights reservation. The reservation must be booked on a Starpoint eligible, or earning, reservation. Reservations booked with Starpoints will not earn Starpoints.”

    Do you have any advice for dealing with this? It has been several emails with different SPG reps.

  18. Have gotten this benefit in Puerto Rico, Dubai and Rio, in fact Rio had a cheat sheet on me that showed I had the card. They weren’t originally going to give me lounge access until I showed the card even though it was listed on their cheat sheet which I pointed out to them.

    So to clarify you don’t get to go to a club room, you just get your card keyed to the lounge and your account is marked eligible for the breakfast.

  19. I know this is an old post, but while on the phone with SPG reservations, I was told I would NOT get lounge access without using the SPG Biz Amex to pay. My card was in the process of being replaced and I wasn’t going to get it in time to pay with it. The SPG phone representative even verified this with a manager. They rechecked that not paying with the SPG Biz Amex, means no lounge access. This was for a August 2016 reservation at the Royal Orchid Sheraton Bangkok.

  20. I just had trouble with this benefit at the Arrabella Park Sheraton in Munich. The manager granted us club access, but did try to make the argument that they had opted out and he was doing us a favor somehow. Had the same issue in New Orleans last summer, and Chicago prior to that. Seems to be some confusion. If this is going to be an advertised benefit, I would strongly prefer to not have to argue about it at check in. Leaves me with a bad taste each time. I will use the suggestions above and try to contact the hotel before, but that seems to be an extra step that shouldn’t be needed.

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