Accessing Sheraton Club Lounges With The SPG Business Amex

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Through March 28, 2018, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express is offering an increased sign-up bonus of 35,000 Starpoints. Specifically, you can earn 35,000 Starpoints after spending $7,000 within three months. This is the best sign-up bonus we’ve ever seen on the card, and the minimum spend requirement is even lower than it was last time they offered this bonus.

If you’re a Marriott loyalist, Starpoints convert into Marriott points at a 1:3 ratio, meaning that the bonus can earn you up to 105,000 Marriott Rewards points.

The SPG Business Amex has a $95 annual fee, which is waived for the first year. In addition to offering a great return on everyday spend, the card offers free Boingo wifi, complimentary premium internet at Starwood properties, and two elite stay credits and five elite night credits towards status annually, which helps me requalify for Platinum status.

There’s one additional benefit that really sets this card apart, which is only available on the business version, and not the personal version. Specifically, primary cardmembers on the SPG Business Amex receive club lounge access whenever staying at Sheraton properties. This is a huge perk, possibly one of the biggest perks offered by any hotel credit card.

Lounge access is otherwise reserved for Platinum members and those paying for access, so this is a great way to get one of the biggest benefits of top tier status without actually having to put in the nights.

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Club lounge at the Sheraton Grand London Park Lane

For those of you not familiar with this benefit, here’s what you need to know:

Do additional cardmembers also qualify for Sheraton club lounge access?

No, only the primary cardmember is eligible for this benefit. You can add employee cards to the SPG Business Amex, but those cardmembers wouldn’t be eligible for Sheraton club lounge access. Only the person paying the $95 annual fee (which is waived the first year) would be eligible.

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Club lounge at the Sheraton Salzburg

How many guests can I bring in a Sheraton club lounge?

This benefit is available to the primary cardmember as well as up to one guest registered staying in the same room. So at most two people can use the lounge. In the case of hotels which have different rates depending on single or double occupancy (this isn’t uncommon in Europe), you’d have to pay for double occupancy for two people to be able to use the lounge.

Do Free Night/Points & Cash stays qualify for Sheraton club lounge access?

Absolutely! If you book directly with Starwood you’ll be eligible for this benefit, regardless of whether it’s a paid, corporate, free night, or Points & Cash stay.

What if I booked through Priceline/Hotwire?

Third party bookings technically aren’t eligible for this benefit. You have to book directly through SPG or an approved travel agent if you want this benefit. Some hotels may still honor the benefit, but that would be out of generosity, and not because they have to.

Can I use a Sheraton lounge when not staying at a hotel?

No. You actually have to be staying at the property with a reservation in your name in order to use the perk.

Does the Sheraton club lounge benefit apply internationally?

Yep! It applies at Sheraton hotels around the world.

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Club lounge at the Sheraton Maldives

Do I have to pay for my stay with the SPG Business Amex to use this perk?

Nope, you can pay with any credit card you’d like and still take advantage of this perk.

How will the hotel know I have the SPG Business Amex?

Your SPG account should automatically be notated for this benefit. As the primary cardmember with your SPG number linked to the credit card, your account will reflect that you’re eligible for this benefit, and you should automatically be offered club lounge access at check-in. There’s no need to show your card. Instead your actual room key will be programmed to get you lounge access.

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Club lounge at the Sheraton Skyline London Heathrow

Does this benefit apply at other SPG brands as well?

No, this benefit only applies at Sheratons. It doesn’t apply at Westins, Le Meridiens, or any other SPG or Marriott brand.

What impact will the Marriott merger have on this benefit?

For the time being Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest are being run as independent programs, and they won’t be merged until 2019 at the earliest (though it could be later than that). Later this year both American Express and Chase will issue new co-branded credit cards.

We don’t know if this benefit will stick around forever, but for now it’s “business as usual,” and I don’t see this benefit being changed anytime soon.

What should I expect of a Sheraton club lounge?

Starwood is in the process of rebranding Sheraton, as they sort of realize the brand is tired and lacks an identity.

The Sheraton brand can be pretty inconsistent, and the same is true of the quality of their club lounges.

Generally speaking U.S. Sheraton club lounges are pretty basic. You can expect a continental breakfast with maybe one hot option, then soft drinks and packaged snacks during the day, and then appetizers and an honor bar in the evening (meaning you have to pay for alcohol).

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Club lounge at the Sheraton Miami Airport

However, outside the U.S. there are some really nice club lounges. For example, you could literally have all your meals in the club lounge at the Sheraton Tel Aviv, if you were so inclined. They have a hot breakfast, lunch, and dinner buffet, with complimentary drinks (including alcohol) available for most of the day.


Club lounge at the Sheraton Tel Aviv

Beyond that, I find club lounges to be a great place from which to work, so whether you’re between sightseeing or trying to get some work done, they’re a great place to come and relax, grab a drink, and use your laptop.

So yeah, the quality does vary significantly, though there are some nice Sheraton clubs out there.

Getting approved for the SPG Business Amex

The SPG Business Amex is a credit card (rather than a charge card). Amex typically limits most consumers to having five credit cards, so that’s the major limitation with being approved.

For those with excellent credit, I find Amex business cards to be easy to be approved for. Anecdotally most people I’ve heard from have reported instant approvals on this card, so it really shouldn’t be very tough to be approved for, even if you haven’t gotten many business cards in the past.

Furthermore, since this is an Amex card:

Bottom line

The SPG Business Amex has a big sign-up bonus, waived annual fee for the first year, and a generous rewards structure. Beyond that, I think it’s worth specifically highlighting the lounge access offered at Sheraton properties on the business version of the card. I know many people have gotten value out of this perk since it was introduced in 2015, as it’s especially awesome at international properties, where many Sheraton lounges are great.

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Comments

  1. Lucky, How about Four Points hotels by Sheraton? do they have lounges and do SPG business card members have access to it? Thanks

  2. @ Fred — Four Points properties don’t have club lounges, so there’s no additional benefit for SPG Business Amex members there.

  3. @lucky My gf and I both just stayed at the Sheraton Maldives in November and we both have the Canadian version of the card. We had no trouble using the lounge there. Are you sure about that?

  4. Huge perk?

    huge
    (h)yo͞oj
    extremely large; enormous.
    “a huge area”
    synonyms: enormous, vast, immense, large, big, great, massive, colossal, prodigious, gigantic, gargantuan, mammoth, monumental;
    More:
    of considerable importance or seriousness.

    Um, no.

    Occasionally handy ? Perhaps

  5. What about children? Do you usually get free access along with parents? Compare this with Platinum membership , just lounge access alone, are they identical?

    Thanks

  6. Can you elaborate on how the hotel verifies that you’re entitled to utilize the lounge area, please? I’ve had a few different experiences with this, and have been denied access on each occasion with a few different denial reasons:

    1. Denied because I must book the room with my SPG Business card,
    2. Denied because I didn’t have the physical card on me,
    3. Denied because that perk simply isn’t offered on the card.

    The article above states that SPG Business cardholders should have some kind of notification on their account that the check-in agent should see, correct? How can I inform them of this in the future? Where should I advise they look for it?

  7. I used the Club Lounge at the Sheraton in Lisbon, Portugal and it was nice. I visited the Lounge daily with my wife and three kids with no problems at all. I’m not sure how they limit it to one guest. At the check-in they activated our room key so that’s what we used to enter the Lounge.

    Maybe in other hotels they limit it to one guest but I’ve used various Club Lounges a few times with my wife and kids with no problems at all.

  8. @steve i think its a huge perk. The last time i was in one, breakfast was nice, stop by a ton of times to get drinks, and a night, they have snacks as well. save me quite a lot of money.

    @Patrick the last time i went, it was noted on my account. They did however ask to see my business card. 1 and 2 could be legit, im not sure. but 3 is not. If you run into that problem, ask for a manager of if you have twitter, hit up @spgassist and they will sort things out for you. @spgassist has help me out in a lot of cases so far.

  9. @Albert H thanks for the info! I assumed it would be something that’s tied to your SPG number, but when I asked about access at my most recent stay (Sheraton Philadelphia Society Hill), they stated I wasn’t eligible because I didn’t have an executive level room. Then, after pressing, said I wasn’t eligible because I didn’t book with my Biz card.

    It would be nice to see a bit more consistency with these kinds of things. Until then, I’ll just have to know the rules myself!

  10. @patrick if you have entered your SPG account info with amex then your account should show that. That being said, I’ve had front desk agents that don’t know how/where to look for that. I had to show them my card… and what one particular agent was looking for was the “OPEN” logo on the card that indicated that it was a business version of the card… So YMMV with actual check-in process, but if you have issues in the future, asking to speak with a manager should help resolve the issue.

  11. Is there a list of Sheraton hotels that has a lounge ? I don’t think they are do, right ? Thanks in advance

  12. The benefit is good in theory and is good when the hotels recognize it. It is a PITA to use it if the hotel either is ignorant or play game with you such as lying to you that you must book the hotel with the card, or only on pay stay.

    It is amazing that 3 years or more after the benefit is introduced, SPG still has not had a fool-proof system to guarantee this benefit.

    What Lucky claims about the card is linked to your SPG account therefore the benefit is automatically coded is not 100% correct. According to Williams Sanders the SPG lurker on FT SPG forum, he said about 3 days before your stay, the system should send the hotel a CODE which the hotel then input to your reservation – only until then, your reservation would have NO indication you are entitled to such benefit.

    Some of us thought it would help by emailing the hotel ahead of time. Williams adamantly said it has NO BEARING. He even advised me if I wanted to send an email, no earlier than a week before the stay, just so the hotel got a reminder to look for the CODE when it in theory would come about 3 days prior to your stay. So they would remember to apply it.

    The problem with the bloggers is, they most all have the SPG plat status therefore the lounge access is automatic by their status. They have NO actual experiences on how difficult this SPG AMEX BIZ card benefit could be at many times when the hotels simply not give a damn

    For those who would like to read Starwood Lurker’s comment on FT about the above, it should be plenty of such info posted in the 2016 and 2017 thread.

  13. Does anyone have experience booking through Citi Prestige Concierge (to take advantage of 4th night free) and still getting lounge access with your SPG Biz Amex? Planning to do this but haven’t been able to verify if this would work.

  14. Even though the perk is intended for primary card holder only, I have four employees who consistently get it. They have to ask for it and point out the card, but then so do I, so no difference.

    And yes, kids staying with me get it too. And in reality, the lounges I’ve been in have all been card key accessed, so anyone with a key to my room can get in as well.

  15. @Curtis agreed that usually in practice it’s anyone with the room key. And also in practice likely anyone that flashes the business version of the card should be able to swing it as well.

    That said, the Sheraton in NYC (the big one on 53rd) had staff manually checking guests w/room numbers and names for breakfast, but was not checking during other times. The lounge has recently been moved down to the lobby level, which has some nice morning people watching.

  16. From my experience, I’ve had to show my SPG Biz card to get access- *even* when paying it. Once I was traveling light and was -denied- club lounge access for a stay. Really frustrating as no way in hell would I have stayed in a Sheraton otherwise.

  17. @FLL is exactly correct. It’s a nice benefit in theory, but notice any blogger writing about it is already a SPG Plat and has no experience with it. 😉

    If they did, it would be a different story…

    In practice, it is very very hard to take advantage of this benefit and nearly always necessitates involving the manager on duty or Twitter assist. Unfortunately, there is not a big blue box that flashes CLUB on their computer screen when you check in.

  18. @stvr. I don’t think it’s that hard to take advantage of this. I’ve used it twice in the last month and didn’t even have to ask for it. At checkin, they let me know that my key card would get me into the club lounge. One time I had used my SPG business to book and onetime my Citi prestige. Both of these times were outside the US so maybe it’s easier that way..

  19. Although this is a great benefit, it is far from one of the biggest hotel card perks. That award would go to the Hilton Aspire card by a mile, as that gets Diamond status and lounge access across the brands. I think even the IHG card gets lounge access too, plus a free room night each year. I know I was just given lounge access at a Crowne Plaza.

  20. I have found that hotel employees don’t know about this benefit. I always contact the hotel ahead of time to make sure they understand it. Every time they have said I wasn’t eligible, but then eventually come to understand it. Hopefully it’s getting better.

    BTW, the lounge at the Salzburg Grand Sheraton is awesome! Nice vibe, quiet, friendly, great food, lots of beer and wine choices all most all day long.

  21. Hello, unfortunately this lounge access is going away with the merger. I called today and they said this benefit was going away August 1st 2018. Does anyone know if this date is correct? Thanks!

  22. Yes the August 1st date is correct – this benefit will be going away and all of their card benefits will be changed on that date. Most notably is that the SPG Amex will no longer earn 1 SPG point but 2 new-program Marriott points instead, which is a 33% devaluation at least.

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