Awesome New Starwood Platinum 50 Night Perks As Of 2016

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Starwood is the hotel chain I stay most with, and part of the reason for that is because of the incremental benefits they give you for staying with them, beyond just qualifying for the traditional elite tiers. You can qualify for Platinum status by earning either 25 elite qualifying stays or 50 elite qualifying nights, though they give you an incentive to qualify through the latter method (and an incentive to earn beyond that):


Starwood’s suite night award benefit

The suite night award benefit is new as of 2012, which I would say is when Starwood made the most meaningful improvements to their elite program in a long time. That’s also the time when Starwood added the option for Platinum members to receive breakfast, in lieu of the 500 Starpoint welcome amenity.

Starwood Platinum breakfast at the W Beijing

So 2012 was a great year for Starwood Platinum members, between the Suite Night Awards and complimentary breakfast.

If you earn 50 elite qualifying nights you receive 10 Suite Night Awards, each of which can be used to confirm a suite upgrade up to five days before arrival for one night each. There are some capacity controls, but it’s still awesome to be able to confirm upgrades earlier on.

Not all members had luck redeeming Suite Night Awards, however, so in 2015 Starwood introduced alternatives to Suite Night Awards. Specifically, in 2015 you could choose between the following when earning 50 elite qualifying nights:

  • 10 Suite Night Awards
  • Four free rides with Uber up to $25 each
  • Gift Gold status to a friend or family member
  • TSA PreCheck fee waiver
  • $100 Amazon gift card
  • Donate $100 to UNICEF

All of the alternatives were worth $100 at most, so for me it was a no brainer — I selected the Suite Night Awards, since I value them at more than $10 each.


Well, this year the decision is a bit more difficult.

Using a Suite Night Award to confirm a Marvelous Suite at the gorgeous W Taipei

Starwood’s 2016 suite night award alternatives

This coming Monday, January 18, 2016, Starwood will announce some exciting new options which can be selected for Platinum members accruing 50 elite qualifying nights in 2016.

First of all, Starwood will be bringing back the following options from last year:

  • 10 Suite Night Awards
  • Gift Gold status to a friend or family member
  • SPG donation to UNICEF

But they’re introducing some alternatives. Some really compelling alternatives:

  • Free rental up to 5 days with Silvercar – unlock a silver Audi A4 using your smartphone
  • Free Night Award – enjoy a night on us, at any Category 1-5 hotel or resort
  • 5 Elite Qualifying Nights – get an extra boost toward re-earning elite status
  • 40% off your favorite hotel bed, including the iconic Westin Heavenly® Bed

How valuable are these new perks?

Last year the math was easy, as the alternatives to the Suite Night Awards were worth $100 at most. This year it’s not quite as easy.

  • A five day Silvercar rental could easily run you $400+
  • A free night at a Category 5 property costs up to 16,000 Starpoints; I value Starpoints at ~2.2 cents each, so that benefit would be worth ~$350
  • 5 elite qualifying nights wouldn’t hurt either — keep in mind you already earn two elite qualifying stays and five elite qualifying nights per year for having each of the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Card from American Express, so if selecting this benefit you’d basically lower the yearly requirement for 50 night Platinum status to just 35 “actual” nights; that’s pretty compelling
  • When I last had an apartment I had a W Bed, which I love; the discount is nice in theory, though I’m not sure I’d select this since they seem to run sales on the bed every so often anyway

Receive a 5 day Silvercar rental in lieu of Suite Night Awards

Once the program goes live on Monday, more information will be available on the program’s landing page and the benefit selection page, though the latter will only be visible to those who have already earned 50 elite qualifying nights for the year.

Bottom line

These are some really compelling alternatives to Suite Night Awards. In the past selecting Suite Night Awards as the 50 night gift was a no brainer, given that you were giving up at most $10 in value compared to the alternatives.

This year it’s a bit tougher. While I do love Suite Night Awards, do keep in mind they only clear at most five days before arrival, so it’s not like a guaranteed upgrade. These likely won’t be all that valuable if you’re staying in Maui over Christmas or Aspen in ski season. That’s part of why they introduced the alternatives to begin with, since they found so many members were trying to use their Suite Night Awards for the same type of stays.

I’ve had good luck redeeming them, though I’ve also used them mostly in Asia and the Middle East, which are regions that are generally good with upgrades to begin with. I’m not sure how many upgrades I actually scored through Suite Night Awards which I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.

St-Regis-Bali-Pool-Suite - 14
Using a Suite Night Award to confirm a Pool Suite at the St. Regis Bali

But now there are some really compelling alternatives, and the opportunity cost of the Suite Night Awards is now closer to $40 each rather than $10 each.

On one hand I sort of hate that Starwood has made this decision process tougher for me by introducing compelling alternatives. 😉

What do you make of Starwood’s new Suite Night Award alternatives, and which do you plan on selecting?

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  1. god you are annoying. only blogger I cant stand on boardingarea but you always plaster the site with articles. Articles that 3 other bloggers got to first. If there are already 3 post about SPG do you really think they need four?

  2. @ anon — Pray tell who the three bloggers are who published first? View from the Wing published a post on this topic three minutes before mine. Do you think I wrote this whole post in three minutes?

  3. Ooooh!! Fight, fight fight! Between the Republican debates and some of these silly comment-wars, I’m on pace to be eating a LOT of popcorn 🙂

  4. @anon you need to go have an Ambien and a good lie down, petal. Some of us only read one or two blogs, so this might be it. Says a lot about how much some of us rely on Ben for this info.

    That’s all…

  5. I agree that seeing numerous posts on the same topic here at Boarding Area is annoying and redundant. There’s a lot of bloggers that pile on the same topic but OMAAT isn’t one of them. And even if he’s not first, his posts are typically more detailed and useful.

    What needs to happen is that Boarding Area needs to limit the number of posts on the same topic…..

  6. I have been reading points and miles blogs since 2012. I have noticed that positive or negative changes to the most popular (or most unpopular) loyalty programs will eventually be covered by everyone and their grandmother. I don’t read every points and miles blog on the web, but I do regularly read about 12 blogs on a daily basis. If there is big news about a loyalty program, typically there will be a general consensus from the bloggers about the changes. There will also be different view points and priorities based on the target audience of the blogger. One the best examples to my recollection is the first time Chase Ultimate Rewards could not be transferred to Korean Air Skypass. Just about every blogger was concerned about not being able to transfer Ultimate Rewards points for first class tickets on Korean Air. Out of the 12 blogs that I regularly read, only Mommy Points reported about the loss of Korean Air Skypass as an inexpensive way for families to redeem tickets to Hawaii on Delta Airlines.

  7. Nice new benefit again from SPG. Good that they continue to innovate. A great program that leaves much lesser ones like Hilton in the dust

  8. Lucky,
    You have great skills by posting an article 3 minutes after the other first blogger. #anonisannoying On another note, I couldn’t achieve my lowly SPG gold for 2015 due to one stay I needed and moving to the boonies where I couldn’t do a mattress run. So… I emailed SPG and they let me keep my gold through 2016.

  9. “I’m not sure how many upgrades I actually scored through Suite Night Awards which I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.”

    Ben, I think that’s just it for me. When I was a 25-stay Plat rather than a 50-night like I am now, I got suite upgrades ALL the time. So when I hit 50-nights, and I did choose the 10 SNA’s, I decided I’d save them up for some of the bigger stays I have this year…

    But I’ve still gotten suites many times this year by just being a platinum member. I’ve elected not to use my SNA’s on one or two night stays, because I’ve ended up getting the suites anyway.

    I wish they would work more like Hyatt, to where they’re confirmed at booking, but maybe only give out 4 per year. I feel like that’s a lot more valuable to people.

  10. “It is interesting that they are changing/improving the program with the Marriott merger pending.”

    That’s the huge elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about 😉

  11. How many of those 100 nights for status did you get on points. Or is this a case of spending cash on 100 nights ($15k+), to get some status.

  12. How exciting woo hoo
    let me stay 50 to 100 nights a year so I can have Marriott come in at the end of the year and devalue every last point I earn for miles and rooms and discontinue all suite upgardes and late check out
    A crashing yawn in a program that costs OVER 50% (SEE the recent published article) more than marriott to redeem in within the premium category properties
    so SAD
    Starwood you have long lost me but thanks for the good old days now long gone
    Im preparing myself for an enhanced cookie cutter world of Hilton and Marriott (sigh)

  13. the posts about ‘redundant posts’ are ridiculous. even for BoardingArea to limit # of post per topic is even insane. you should go asking your local advertisers to stop those annoying weekly flyers.

    if you dont know yet, you dont need to go thru BA to get to the blogs, go to 1 or 2 of them and the only way not to miss anything is for them to keep up with the news and not the other bloggers. ie. not wrorrying what others have written already.

  14. @ anon
    Go and get a new life. If you dont like to read, dont subscribe to his post. It may not be useful to you, but it is for others. For me, the more the merrier.

  15. I like the new options for SPG50. I question, however, relying on anything SPG publishes about future benefits since it is being merged out of existence this year. Do you have any low down on the way the SPG and Marriott programs will be combined?

  16. Hi, just to let all know that the Starwood perk of 5 elite nights award towards 50 night platinum ,
    According to Starwood has expired on 14 th January 2016. This is not what I understood from the article on “exciting platinum rewards” ? Any commentd

  17. “5 Elite Qualifying Nights – get an extra boost toward re-earning elite status” – this is no longer correct. The 5 Elite Qualifying Nights now count toward the current calendar year to help you get to Platinum 75 or 100 but do not count toward re-earning status next year.

  18. Anyone who redeems for the W bed discount code needs their head examined. 30% codes are regularly posted on SlickDeals/FatWallet and a 40% code will likely be released for Black Friday.

  19. “5 Elite Qualifying Nights” – this bonus is confusing. On their site, it says for 2016, which you have already hit 50 nights, so adding 5 only is good towards 75 nights. It does not help for 2017 status, but may only help for lifetime nights credit?

  20. Ben ,

    First off, thank you so much for your site and providing detailed and accurate information. I have a question regarding the suite night awards. Recently became a platinum member with SPG and Mariott – redeemed my offer for 10 suite nights. Looking to take advantage of the Southwest Companion Pass (looks like Southwest changed their minds yesterday) by transferring SPG to Mariott points and redeeming it for a 7 Night Certificate at a Tier 3 (Ritz Carlton, Bali). How do you suggest I approach being able to use my 10 suite night upgrades when I book the Ritz Carlton in Bali? Not sure if this applies to Mariott, but I was wondering what you would suggest I do if you were in my shoes. Thank you!

  21. @Amar – the 10 SNA is only for SPG. You put in request at time of booking, but it’s not confirmed, until later, by the hotel. a lot of times they just never get appiled, there are a lot of people ending a yr with all 10 still unused.

    “5 elite qualifying nights wouldn’t hurt either — keep in mind you already earn two elite qualifying stays and five elite qualifying nights per year for having each of the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Card from American Express, so if selecting this benefit you’d basically lower the yearly requirement for 50 night Platinum status to just 35 “actual” nights; that’s pretty compelling”

    unfortunately the above is incorrect. The 5 elite nights brings forth a lot of confusion for many platinum members, see post #142:

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