Is It Worth Earning Platinum Status With The New SPG Amex Luxury Card?

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Yesterday I wrote about what Amex’s portfolio of Starwood credit cards will look like going forward. In addition to the current two cards they issue, in August we’ll see the introduction of the new Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury Card, which will have a $450 annual fee.

One of the unique features of this card is that you’ll be able to earn Platinum status by putting spend on the card. In this post I wanted to crunch the numbers on the value of that. Could it make sense to spend $75,000 per year on the Luxury Card to earn Platinum status?

The basics of the new SPG Luxury Card

This SPG Luxury Card will have a $450 annual fee, and will offer the following benefits:

  • 6x points at Marriott and Starwood hotels, 3x points at U.S. restaurants and on flights purchased directly from airlines, and 2x points on all other purchases
  • An anniversary free night certificate every year that can be redeemed at a property that retails for up to 50,000 points per night
  • Complimentary Gold status, and receive Platinum status when you spend $75,000 on the card in a calendar year
  • Earn up to a $300 statement credit each year for eligible purchases at Marriott and Starwood hotels
  • Starting in 2019, receive 15 elite qualifying nights towards status annually
  • A TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry fee credit once every four years
  • A Priority Pass Select membership with unlimited visits
  • Free premium in-room internet access at Marriott and Starwood hotels
  • Free Boingo wifi


You can use the $300 credit at the W Punta de Mita

How Platinum status works on the SPG Luxury Card

Once introduced, this card will offer Platinum status when you spend $75,000 on the card in a calendar year. Platinum status ordinarily requires 50 elite qualifying nights, and spending $75,000 on the card would wipe out that requirement. Keep in mind that this card also offers 15 elite qualifying nights towards status annually, so in reality you’d just need to stay 35 additional nights to earn status if you didn’t want to complete the spend.

If you spend $75,000 on the card your account will be updated to Platinum status, though you won’t actually earn additional elite qualifying nights. In other words, you’d be no closer to Platinum Premier (which requires 75 nights) than before, and you’d also not receive a Choice Benefit, which you get for earning 50 elite qualifying nights in a year (Choice Benefits include five Suite Night Awards).

The real cost of $75,000 of spend on the SPG Luxury Card

Personally I value points in the new program at about 0.8 cents each, and you’re earning two points per dollar spent in non-bonused categories. Using my valuation, your return on spend with this card is equivalent to about 1.6%.

When deciding on how much you’re really “paying” for Platinum status, you have to decide the opportunity cost of that spend.

Personally I think I can achieve an average of about a 2.5% return on other cards:

I value Membership Rewards and Ultimate Rewards points at 1.7 cents each, so that’s like a return of up to 2.55% on everyday, non-bonused spend.

I should also mention The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express, which has no annual fee and offers 2x Membership Rewards points on the first $50,000 spent per year. I won’t use that for opportunity cost purposes though, since it’s a business card, and since you’re capped on earning 2x points on $50,000 of spend per year. However, you can certainly use that for your calculations based on your spend patterns.

So taking Platinum status out of the equation, I’d earn about $1,200 worth of rewards on the SPG Luxury Card, by my valuation. Using another card that offers a return of ~2.5%, I’d potentially earn $1,875 worth of rewards.

That means the opportunity cost of that spend is about $675 per year, which is really what you’re paying for the Platinum status. Everyone can decide for themselves whether or not that makes sense.

I don’t expect everyone’s math to be the same. The above assumes that:

  • You value these points at ~0.8 cents each (some may value them more, others may value them less)
  • You value the return you can earn on other cards at ~2.5% (some can get a better return than that)
  • You have the ability to spend $75,000 in non-bonused categories per calendar year (obviously not everyone can do that)

Should you factor in the annual fee in the cost?

When you calculate the cost of the rewards you earn on a credit card, you also have to factor in the annual fee. However, in this case I think the card can be justified even without factoring in the ability to earn Platinum status. To me, the $450 annual fee is justified based on the following:

  • The $300 credit can be earned based on any qualifying spend at Starwood and Marriott hotels, so as long as you charge at least $300 to a Marriott or Starwood folio every year, you should get close to face value from that
  • Personally I think the anniversary free night certificate valid at a hotel retailing for up to 50,000 points per night is worth at least $150

I’m using round numbers here, and won’t personally put any value to the complimentary Gold status, the Global Entry fee credit, the Priority Pass membership, and more. I’m just saying that to make the math easy.

The point is that I don’t think you have to allocate any of the annual fee to the ability to earn Platinum status. If you disagree, you can crunch the numbers based on your valuations.

Platinum benefits

Platinum members in the new program can expect to receive the following benefits:

  • A 50% points bonus
  • Guaranteed 4PM late check-out, except at resorts (where it’s subject to availability)
  • A welcome gift of points, breakfast, or an amenity (breakfast isn’t an option at EDITION, Gaylord, and Ritz-Carlton)
  • A room upgrade subject to availability, including suites
  • Executive lounge access


Platinum members receive executive lounge access at most brands

Bottom line

The above is intended to give you a framework for deciding whether or not it makes sense to put spend on the SPG Luxury Card in order to earn Platinum status. By my valuation, you’d end up “paying” about $675 for Platinum status using this method, assuming you can easily spend this much on a credit card, and assuming you’d otherwise get a return of ~2.5% on everyday, non-bonused spend.

While I personally don’t plan to take advantage of this, I am happy to see that there’s a reasonably compelling credit card spend option for earning Platinum status in the program.

Anyone plan on achieving Platinum status in the new program through credit card spend?

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Comments

  1. In a word, NO! Even my dentist who moves $25,000 per month on cards through his business wouldn’t be tempted by this bad value proposition. So many other better ways to invest $75,000 in credit card spend with better returns on that investment, better hotel loyalty programs and lounges.

  2. Does qualifying for platinum via the 75000 spend on this card count towards the lifetime platinum requirement of being platinum for 10 years (obviously it doesn’t count towards the nights requirement)?

  3. May I ask how you know the $75k spend Platinum will not earn the choice benefit SNA’s? I couldn’t find that answer anywhere I looked.

  4. @Lucky would love to get your thoughts on this one: Ritz Carlton Card; spend $10,000 in a “member year” and get Marriott Gold Status. If am reading this correctly, this will translate to Marriott Platinum – at least in the transition happening later this year. So that $10K in spend (plus the $450AF of course before benefits) would get someone like me 16-18 mos of Platinum status?

  5. IMO you have to have true loyalty and stay with SPG/Marriott a lot on annual basis To justify the oppprtinity cost of 75K spend on the card. If that’s the case you probably reach plat status based on stay alone so why bother with the spend. To me $30k spend on the old Spg card to get gold status makes sense because of the points earning from the spend. Not the 75k spend on the new card.

  6. In the age of the CSR, CFU, AMEX Biz Plat, Aspire card, etc, to put $75K on a single credit card — any card and not just this new “premium” AMEX card — simply to earn elite status (at any level) in a hotel loyalty program has a very strong deterrent: a PROHIBITIVELY huge ‘opportunity cost’.

  7. If you’re traveling enough to make the whole loyalty thing worth it, you’re probably spending enough time in hotels to hit 35 nights in a Marriott/Starwood hotel without a problem. That makes me wonder if this card is worth it at all, compared to the cheaper Chase card, since most of the other perks are going to be available with any if the other $450+ premium cards, so the only big advantage it offers is the free night.

  8. This all assumes Marriott points are still worth 0.7c – on your previous valuation, a 45k point cat 9 was equivalent to a $315 cash rate (seems about on par with what I’d value them at). We haven’t seen the new hotel tiers yet but I’d venture that Marriott is going to stuff plenty of the New York/London/LA luxury cat 9 hotels into cat 7-8, so that same $315 hotel room is going to value points at 0.4c-0.5c under the new redemption rates. So really a 2 points per dollar spend is worth ~1c now.

    Sure you could say Ritz Carlton’s and SPGs were more points and that’s coming down, but if you were maximizing your points, the optimal redemptions for the luxury/upscale people on this blog was the 40k-45k major metro area Marriott hotels which is how I value them.

  9. @JBTx – Marriott Gold will become Marriott Platinum only for the rest of this year starting August. So if you go the Ritz card route, you would have Platinum for roughly 6 months.

  10. the Hilton Aspire is better in so many ways than this card if wanting to get a “luxury” hotel card.. unless you’re a die hard Marriott/SPG loyalist I think many people would switch to Hilton because of the Aspire.

  11. @Lucky any insight into the existing Ritz Carlton rewards cc? At $75k spend per year, I have earned Platinum Status (which works for me based on about 45 nights a year between RC and Marriott). With the downgrade of Platinum status (loss of a few things, notably the 48-guarantee which has come in handy a few times), are the existing RC card members getting Platinum Premier?? Will definitely have to look elsewhere if that is the case.

  12. One point of clarification, does the Executive Lounge Access by Platinums extend to Ritz Carlton Properties? If I am not mistaken it doesn’t, might want to correct that. If this has changed, then I’m very surprised and happy!

  13. What about FrequentMiler’s proposal on spending from now til August 1st on the SPG consumer card, then upgrading to retain the spend history so there isn’t an opportunity cost (or as much if any?)

  14. I mentioned this yesterday but I really think for many people the opportunity cost is much less. My business spends about $125k-150k per month (all non-bonus) and I intend on putting enough spend on the SPG card to cover 15-20 nights in higher end properties for my vacations, which I would have done with or without the new Luxury card since even with the decreased earning on spend it is still going to be cheaper than paying cash and most of the higher end places in Europe. I am sure there are others in this situation as well. For me at least I see the cost as $150 for the Platinum status so even if I don’t get a single upgrade it is worth the 30-40 breakfasts my wife and I will get.

  15. @Lucky,

    Don’t you think you’re being a little premature with the valuation of the points in the combined program? If points are like a currency, you need to know the prices of what those points buy before you can assign a value to them, and the category allocations have not yet been announced.

    Here’s a metric to go by: currently, ~71% of all Marriott hotels are in categories 1-5, and ~69% of all SPG hotels are in categories 1-4. If about the same (let’s say 70%) of the hotels in the combined program are also in categories 1-5, then the shuffling can be considered fair. Otherwise, Marriott will have pulled a fast one, giving us a decent program on the earn side, but screwing us on the burn side.

  16. @jack, no platinum status does not get you club floor access at Ritz properties. The RC cc does give you 3 Club Floor upgrades per year though (up to 7 days), but the room rate is not the cheapest rate available. Would have to weigh the costs vs another card (ie Citi Prestige with 4th night free).

  17. I feel like there is a story here that hasn’t been properly addressed. Due to confusing nomenclature, let’s call old Gold/new Platinum “Plat 50” and old Platinum/new Platinum Premier “Plat 75”.

    I could get Plat 50 with the Ritz Carlton card for $10K of spend. It now will take $75K of spend on the new AMEX card to get Plat 50.

    If I spent $75K on the Ritz Carlton card, I could get Plat 75, which also got me United Silver and Delta Crossover. It also got me the highest published level in the Marriott program.

    Now, unless by some miracle the Ritz Carlton card continues to exist and will give you Plat 75 with $75K of spend (unfortunately highly doubtful, since Marriott basically said that the new AMEX and the Ritz Carlton cards will provide the same or similar benefits), there is no way to obtain Plat 75 on credit card spend alone.

    So the status I receive with $10K of spend with the Ritz Carlton (Plat 50) will cost me $75K of spend with the new AMEX card, and the status I receive with $75K of spend with the Ritz Carlton card (Plat 75) will now be unobtainable with credit card spend. I will also lose United Silver and Delta Crossover.

    Now let’s look at it another way. There will be also be no way to use credit card spend to get to a higher level above Plat 50 since the 1 elite night per $3K, which is a feature of the Chase Marriott card, is going away. So I can’t combine nights in rooms with credit card spend to reach Plat 75 under any circumstances. I need to spend 60 nights a year in Marriotts. Under the current program, I could combine the 15 nights with the Marriott credit card (really 16 with the annual birthday elite night gift) with actual nights in rooms, and supplement it with spending on the Marriott card to generate enough elite nights to get me Plat 75.

    Any idea why there are some of us (i.e., those who are not road warriers) who are not very happy with these changes to the Marriott program?

  18. @Chris M – AGREED. Hilton’s premium card compared to Marriott’s means i’m shifting my business. (I probably stay 30 hotel nights per year, so can’t “earn” status the hard way). Hilton diamond via 1-time card application = lounges @ Conrads & breakfast @ W=A’s. Marriott Plat via ongoing enormous spending = zero benefits @ Ritz’s and who-the-heck-knows at other Marriott brand resorts.

  19. Hey Lucky, regarding the $300 credit. you stated it apply to qualifying spend, but under “Rates and Fees & Terms and Conditions” it looks like it only for Incidental charges

    “Eligible SPG or Marriott Rewards property purchases must be made directly with the participating SPG or Marriott Rewards property and charged to your Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury Card account for the benefit to apply. **Incidental charges (including charges made at restaurants, spas and other establishments within the hotel property) must be charged to your room and paid for with your Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury Card at checkout in order to be recognized as SPG or Marriott Rewards purchases. “

  20. Bottom line – Marriott has prioritized road warriors and heavy travelers that spend lots of time in hotels over credit card based elites. Very rational business decision – no need to pretend otherwise. It makes absolutely no sense to spend $75,000 on this card just to get status if you are saying in Marriott hotels for 10 nights a year.

  21. The card is very low value, should give lounge access like SPG AMEX business and should do more nights than 15 which the other cards have, should be 20-25 for that fee.

    I know Marriott and AMEX can do better, this card needs to be improved.

    Honestly I was considering dropping my Sapphire for this card and pairing it w/ Platinum as my cards, that is not the plan now.

  22. Surprising that you would value Marriott points at 0.8 cents while valuing Hilton points at 0.5 cents (and you are higher than many on Hilton points). Doing a straight comparison of the award charts (or the maximums for Hilton), category 1 is 50% higher for Marriott (so points should be worth a third less), category 2 is 25% higher for marriott, category 3 is 12.5% lower for Marriott, category 4 (versus Hilton category 4 and 5) is 17% less for Marriott, cat 5 Marriott vs cat 6 Hilton is 12.5% lower for marriott, cat 6 Marriott is about 11% higher than cat 7 for Hilton, Cat 7 for Marriott is about 9% higher than cat 8 for Hilton, cat 8 for marriott is about 15% higher than categories 9 and 10 for Hilton. Overall, it looks like it will likely be a wash between them, yet you are valuing Marriott points 60% higher than Hilton points? Historically. my experience has been that I have gotten about 30% more for my Marriott points than my Hilton points and that is before what sure looks like it is going to be a devaluation during this process. I see no way you can justify a value of 0.8 cents for Marriott points as hotel points. Perhaps as airline miles they justify such a high valuation?

  23. The amount is mind-boggling. All my expenditures in a year do not add up to $75,000, and that includes some not easily paid by credit card, like condo fees.

  24. 75000 in hotel spend is 225K points on the Chase Sapphire reserve. Which, valued at 2.1 cents a CSR point is $4725 in earnings. Why would you give this up for free breakfasts?

  25. I guess I am the only one that can’t wait for the card to launch. I’ve accumulated way too many points from the various programs to the point I even redeem for Benihana gift cards, terrible value I know, just so I don’t have to hear the wife complain about spending so much when we go lol. Fortunately for me we spend quite a bit on invoices every year for our products and given the timing of the launch of this card I can hit the $75k in a month. So between this and the Hilton Aspire card I have that pretty much covers all of the hotels I travel to either on business or vacation. I can get better value as point out above but for me it affords me flexibility when I travel especially when the family is with me as lounge access with kids is very much appreciated.

  26. @Mooks sez: “I mentioned this yesterday but I really think for many people the opportunity cost is much less. My business spends about $125k-150k per month (all non-bonus)…”

    Of course, anyone whose business spends $125K-$150K per MONTH would not see much of an ‘opportunity cost’ in spending $75 per YEAR on ne CC because the cost would be so small as to be insignificant. In fact, people who spend $125K-$150K per MONTH would or should not care that going forward only 0.67 starpoints/$ will be earned for everyday spend on MR’s new co-brand cards: they’ll still rake it in even with the 33% devaluation because their spend level is so high. There are not “many people” who play the game for whom the opportunity cost associated with spending $75K to earn what is essentially the ‘old’ Marriott Gold Elite status would be less.

  27. The one thing that is “premium” on this card is fee. Why even bother to offer Priority pass, and Global Entry? And the reduced gold level is not worth it either. Sounds like another sign up for bonus and cancel card. What a disappointment…

  28. It doesn’t really matter what anyone spends in total, the opportunity cost calculation does not change.
    I have around $200 K per month in business credit card spend, all non-bonused, and I find this post very useful. My first thought was to get the Amex Lux card and do the $75K per year in order to get Platinum, but I actually think it is not really worth it for me. Better put the spend on Chase Freedom Unlimited and/or Amex Everyday Preferred.
    When you optimize, you don’t just stop. i will also put $25K per year on the Barclay Premier to get 75K “miles” there, which transfer to 52K Quantas miles.

    But bottom line here is, this card is just ok (not good) to hold for the free night and $300 credit, and definitely not worth getting in order to put spend on it.
    I have decided, I will not block an Amex slot for this card.
    The Amex Aspire on the other hand is a card I will keep long term for Diamond, and at 7x points for restaurants, it is only second to Chase Reserve for restaurant spend. 14x points for Hilton spend is fantastic too.

  29. @Lars – The size of the opportunity cost does depend on how much one CAN OFFORD to spend because that determines how much more one could have earned if one had not selected use a specific payment option. That should be intuitively the case unless you define ‘opportunity cost’ differently.

    In the example above on up to $150 per MONTH vs. $75K per YEAR, one would be leaving a lot more on the table in the latter case because (this important) the whole point for playing the game is to maximize on every spend in order to be able to afford to do things that one would not otherwise be able to afford.

    Someone whose business charges up to $150K per MONTH (what many in here make a year) likely has no business paying the game…

  30. AmEx Hilton Aspire is much (significantly better) as it guarantees Diamond status. SPG’s new “Platinum” status is really just Gold so there is not much of a win here. Heck, even the Hilton Ascend card will give Diamond after $40K spend.

    I don’t really fault AmEx here as they can clearly make some great offers with a willing partner. Clearly SPG/Marriott was not willing to work with them. I had high hopes for this card but this offering is a big let down.

  31. @Lucky. Although your analysis is very good, I disagree with one major premise of your analysis and that is the value of a Marriott point. In addition to the comments above, such as comparisons to Hilton Honors pricing and others, which do not seem to show a value of .8 cents, and the fact that we really do not have the details of which hotels will be in which categories, I would say the value is probably closer to .7 cents. Given that an airline point is generally worth a maximum of 1.7 cents and that one Marriott point will give you 1/3 of an airline mile plus a 25% bonus (assuming conversion of 60,000 points), each Marriott point is worth .7 cents (1/3*1.25*.017=.007). I do assume that Marriott will highlight that points are convertible into so many airline programs as a major selling point. Given that it will be a very convertible currency, they feel they can get away with it having a lower value than other currencies (such as those of MR, Chase UR and Thank You).

  32. I put $150,000 a month on credit cards so yes for non bonused spend I will, for diversification reasons.

  33. At $150k monthly spend it a pure no-brainer to grab platinum at the biggest hotel chain.

    Also on point value I am staying in Palm Springs on Saturday night in a $500 room. Since points to not get taxed that’s a $550 value, toss in breakfast at $50 for Platinum at $600 spend 35,000 points are worth .017 per. Throw in that most likely would not be even doing this if had to pay cash for the place, mind you cash was taxed etc.

    As an SPG person that makes my points worth just under 5 cents

  34. Yeah, good analysis which confirms my, ok, time to leave SPG/Marriott. Spend off my points that I have earned when it’s needed and I’ll continue my loyalty with Hilton which has great benefits, nice hotels and so far work for me. $75k spend is just nuts!

  35. It really depends of how much money you can spend on CC. People that says that wont do it is because for then 75K spending is too much. I spend close to 1 million a year between personal and business expenses. 75K is not that much of my overal spending. @DCS… spending on the Amex Plat? Really? For 1 MR a $? I use the Everyday Preferred for 1.5 MR

  36. For me personally, whose going to lose out on Marriott’s shenanigans is Amex.

    I’m most definitely going to dump both of my SPG cards after this. I’m probably going to dump my platinum card because after that $100 fee hike (bringing it to $725 with the additional card), losing a great big chuck of one of my most valued benefits is the last straw. And then while the dominoes are falling, why not dump the platinum business while I’m at it? That’s $1365 I can not give to AmEx this year.

  37. @Lucky If one converts/upgrades this year from SPG Personal to the Luxury card will they count the cardholder’s entire 2018 spending or only post-conversion spend towards the $75K for Platinum? TIA.

    If pre-August 1 spend counts, this seems worthwhile for 2018, if I can earn the majority of my points @ the current value.

  38. @MarkG sez: “@DCS… spending on the Amex Plat? Really? For 1 MR a $? I use the Everyday Preferred for 1.5 MR.”

    I suspect that you are alluding to the statement in my earlier comment that “In the age of the CSR, CFU, AMEX Biz Plat, Aspire card, etc, to put $75K on a single credit card …” has a prohibitively high ‘opportunity cost.’ If so, it should be clear that you just cherry-picked in that statement what you wanted to make your point, but ended up attributing to me a claim I never made.

    Note that I’d said nothing about using the AMEX Plat on purchases that would earn 1 MR/$. The comment was about ‘opportunity cost’, therefore the point of comparison should be on purchases that would leave points on the table because one chose to use a card with a lower ROI. The more apt comparison, thus, would not be vs. AMEX Plat on purchases that would earn just 1 MR per $, but vs. using AMEX Plat on purchases of airline tickets that would earn 5 MR per $.

  39. the real value for SPG cards to me was airline transfer partners anyway. which is now devalued because of Marriotts ration and only earning “2x” per dollar spent. that’s the real buzzkill. Spending 75k wouldn’t be bad on the card had they just gave 3x on everyday spend. especially since it’s a “premium” card

  40. Why can’t I find it anywhere on the anniversary free night – is it hotels up to 50k SPG points or 50k MARRIOT points? Max category 7 SPG is 35k so it doesn’t seem to make sense??

  41. I’ve been with the Amex SPG card even before Starwood bought Sheraton when it was the Sheraton Club International Card by Amex back in the 90s!
    But now I’m leaning toward Hilton and dumping my SPG Amex card
    The new MR program seems fairly stellar on the surface but the credit cards are a clusterF!
    They messed that up really bad
    The premium SPG 450 dollar Amex earns less in restaurants then the business SPG Amex card 2 95 bux?huh
    American Express customer service is also at its lowest level in the past 25 years
    They are seriously a disgrace!
    Added to all that Hilton offers far more competitive pricing on revenue rooms
    than Marriott on average with far less bar pricing scams.
    Hilton has certainly eroded redemption value
    However they are far better than SPG or Marriott when things go wrong with a stay in regards to Guest/Brand assurance which makes me trust them more
    Historically Marriott has been extremely greedy with redemption value
    and seem to always be sold out when I go to redeem
    I expect that only to get worse
    Plus the seasonal rate stuff sucks pretty bad too 🙁
    Another serious blow the lost value of what put SPG Amex on the map was 1 dollar spent equaled 1 point earned or 1.25 miles earned if cashing in 20k for airline miles will now be up in smoke

    Hilton breakfasts overseas/Int seem far more generous than SPG or Marriott offerings. Hilton frequently allows full restaurant or club lounge letting the customer choose one or both at a time!Like Hyatt better too
    I’ve seen Starwood and Marriott get extremely stingy with breakfast benefits especially in their lounges and their restaurants offering the very minimum possible with only some exception properties here and there.The last missed opportunity blown sky high was not offering breakfast to loyal customers at Ritz Carlton etc
    When I add it all up SPG and Amex is bloated and constipated and gotten way to big
    I expect recognition to suffer too with 3 tiers of Platinum in house on a given night in popular cities.Yikes they almost got it right on the program side almost 90% of the way
    They probably should have taken a few more months to sort through the last few remaining issues that put the nails in the coffin as their is still good competition out there
    Sticking with Hilton Hyatt and Inter Con

  42. Yeah, this is a hard no.

    It’s a card for folks with more money than brains, that choose not to read the fine print.

    ( Oh, no sir… it’s a GENUINE cubic zirconia!!! it come with a certificate of authenticity! )

  43. I’m wondering if SPG will count my stay until the end of this year or until August 2018 (when the new SPG/Marriott rule starts). I want to know if I still can get my platinum status for next year by doing 25 stays ‘til end of 2018 or I have to do it before August.
    Thanks

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