SPG 2018 Status Challenge: Get Marriott & Starwood Platinum Status For 2 Years

Update: This offer for The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN has expired. Learn more about the current offers here.


For the most part loyalty programs are becoming less generous when it comes to status matches, since I assume they’re finding that in many cases they don’t actually change consumers’ long term behavior. There are exceptions, of course, but there’s a reason we’ve seen many loyalty programs discontinue status matches over the years.

For example, Starwood Preferred Guest stopped status matching in 2011, and has been offering a status challenge ever since. However, only last year did they publish a webpage with the details of the challenge. Up until recently the status challenge was only available through December 31, 2017, though Starwood’s status challenge has now been extended through June 30, 2018. What makes this unique is that it’s even open to members who don’t have status with a competitor. With that in mind, let’s look at how it works, and whether or not it makes sense to take advantage of it:

How does the Starwood status challenge work?

You can earn Gold or Platinum status through the Starwood status challenge, by completing a certain number of nights over the course of a consecutive three month period, as follows:

  • 9 nights will get you SPG Gold status (ordinarily requires 10 stays or 25 nights per year)
  • 18 nights will get you SPG Platinum status (ordinarily requires 25 stays or 50 nights per year)

Again, the challenge is now available for sign-ups through June 30, 2018. There are a few other important details to be aware of:

  • While award nights usually count as qualifying nights, for the purposes of a status challenge, only paid nights qualify; elite nights earned with the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Card from American Express don’t count either
  • When you register you can choose which three calendar months you want your challenge to include; so if you register in January you could choose January through March, February through April, etc., so you can make it somewhat retroactive
  • If you successfully complete the challenge, your status should be upgraded within 5-7 days of your last eligible stay
  • If you complete a status challenge in March or later, it will be valid through through February 2020 (if you complete it in February or earlier, it’s only valid through February 2019)
  • If you’ve been a Platinum member in the past five years then you’re not eligible for the Platinum challenge, while if you’ve been a Gold member in the past five years you’re not eligible for the Gold challenge
  • You can register by calling SPG customer service
  • See this page for full terms & conditions

What’s the best way to complete the SPG Platinum challenge?

Personally I think the Platinum challenge is significantly more worthwhile than the Gold challenge. Keep in mind that you can get SPG Gold status just for having The Platinum Card® from American Express or The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN. Assuming you’re eligible for either of those cards, that’s a much easier way to earn and maintain Gold status than going through a challenge or making 10 stays or 25 nights.

Since you only receive the status through the challenge upon successfully completing it, I think the ideal situation is to get SPG Gold status through the Amex Platinum Card, and then start the challenge. That way you at least have some status during your challenge stays.

18 nights is quite a few nights to stay, though do keep in mind that you’ll get almost two years of SPG Platinum status out of it, and will also be able to match it to Marriott Platinum status. So if you’re someone who is planning some stays at Starwood hotels anyway, this isn’t that out of reach.

Also keep in mind that Starwood offers elite credits for booking up to three rooms. In other words, booking three rooms for a six night stay would complete the SPG Platinum challenge.

What does Starwood Platinum status get you?

When comparing SPG Gold and Platinum status, both status tiers get you guaranteed 4PM check-out (except at resorts, where it’s subject to availability), a 50% points bonus, and premium internet. So, what are the incremental benefits of Platinum status?

  • You get upgraded to standard suites at check-in, subject to availability
  • You get executive lounge access at all properties (keep in mind that the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express comes with lounge access at Sheraton properties)
  • You get a welcome amenity, and can select continental breakfast for that (typically at international properties it includes a full breakfast)

Personally I love SPG Platinum status, especially for stays in Asia and the Middle East, where treatment tends to be exceptionally good. In the US and Europe it’s hit-or-miss, and dependent on when you’re staying and at what hotel.

Bottom line

It’s nice to see Starwood extend their status challenge into 2018. If you time it properly and complete the challenge in March, you’ll have status through February 2020, which is nearly two years of top tier status with Starwood and Marriott. If nothing else, it’s worth being aware of this opportunity.

(Tip of the hat to Loyalty Lobby)

Comments

  1. @Lucky, I think this is a great option for those who never had any status in SPG, but I think it’s also worth mentioning Marriott’s own status challenge, which you can match to SPG. From what I can remember you need to be at least Silver or Gold. To qualify for Gold you need to be Silver and complete 6 stays, and to qualify for Plat you need to be Gold and complete 9 stays. I personally did the Gold to Plat last year, which was the fastest top tier hotel status I ever earned! Assuming of course that each stay was just for one night which I didn’t have any trouble completing.

  2. So I am new to SPG Platinum status and only used it once at the W in Seattle. I got upgraded to a corner room not a suite. I got no welcome amenity. There was no lounge access as I was informed W’s don’t have a lounge. Coming from Gold and with high expectations for becoming Platinum I didn’t see any difference. Am I missing anything?

  3. Do stays on Explore rates count towards the status challenge? They don’t earn points (unless you’re crafty – I discovered a way by accident) so I kind of assume they won’t count towards a challenge either. If they do, the 9 day Marriott challenge sounds like a great option for me.

  4. what about multiple room stays? if I go on vacation with my family for 8 days and book 2 rooms, does that count as 16 nights on the challenge?

  5. Lucky, what about 18 days at Marriott? Since they’re intertwined with SPG can that work with the challenge?

  6. Do stays booked through online travel agencies count towards theses challenges? I usually book through Platinum AMEX for 5x points …

  7. Are points and cash rates considered a qualifying rate for purposes of this challenge? Would assume so as the rate is “eligible to earn points.” Please let me know.

  8. I have 6 nights at the W Taipei booked next month through Amex Travel. They have my SPG # on the booking -would this count towards the challenge?

  9. If I have already stayed 3 nights in January and register now for the Jan-March period, those 3 nights will retroactively count towards the challenge, correct?

  10. This is ridiculous because all it’s going to do is flood the ranks of Marriott platinum even more. 50-night SPG platinum should not match to Marriott at the platinum level. Marriott requires 75 nights.

  11. It’s ignorant to keep claiming “Marriott’s 75 nights are so much more than SPG’s 50s!!!” when it is sooooooo much easier to generate non-stay nights with Marriott. Let’s be real.

    And once again, if SPG Plats wanted to be Marriott Plats and stay at Marriott properties, they would have done so in the past.

  12. @anameofaguy no, they don’t.

    @Eric yes, it will, as Lucky has already clearly pointed out.

    @Nick In Chicago no; only Starwood properties count toward a Starwood challenge (for now).

    @Larry no they don’t; only direct bookings as per normal Starpoints accrual. (see SPG t&c’s 2.1 D (1) )

    @CSP yes they will; you may choose any three month window (including the current, prior or following month to retroactively cover past stays, as Lucky has already clearly pointed out)

  13. Just complete a couple of stays in Sofia and was upgraded to Executive suite.

    Writing this from Bratislava – got upgraded to a Deluxe suite. Loving the plat status with SPG!

  14. Last year, after the SPG acquisition, Marriott granted me SPG Platinum status (I was already Marriott Platinum). Anyone know if they will do the same thing this year?

  15. Hi, whats your experience in getting suite upgrades with SPG/Marriott as a Platinum Member?
    During my last 15 stays with either of them i never received a suite upgrade, i only received upgrades to business rooms max.
    Are there any tricks or ways to get a suite upgrade?

  16. Hi Lucky,

    Is it possible to enroll first in the gold challenge for 9 days and then to platinum challenge afterwards within the same timeframe? To clarify I mean that it will still be a total of 18 days within that timeframe?

    Thanks

  17. Do you have to register by June 30 or complete the challenge by June 30? Can I register in June to have July/Aug/Sep to complete he challenge?? Wording isn’t quite clear in the T&C

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