How to Earn & Use Starwood Points: Part 5 – Starwood Elite Status

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I’ve been digging into the Starwood hotel program because of the once-a-year up to 30,000 point bonus on the Starwood personal and business card. These offers end on June 30, 2014.

How to Earn & Use Starwood Points:

Starwood has three membership levels and you get credit for 5 nights and 2 stays credit toward elite status each year by having the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest personal card.

The American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Business credit card also gives you credit for 5 nights and 2 stays towards elite status.

1.  Preferred Elite Status

Link:  Preferred Elite Status

Enrolling in the Starwood Preferred Guest program is free.

SPG Elite Status

SIgn-Up for Free Starwood Preferred Guest Membership!

Preferred Guest members get 2 Starwood points for every $1 they spend at Starwood hotels.

2.  Gold Elite Status

Link:  Gold Elite Status

As a Gold member, you get the same benefits as Preferred, but you also get:

  • 3 Starpoints points per $1 spent at Starwood hotels and resorts
  • Enhanced room at check-in
  • Welcome gift (choice of free internet, 250 bonus Starpoints or 125 points at Aloft, Four Point, or Element hotels, or a free beverage at the restaurant or bar up to $15 or 15 Euro)
  • 4:00 pm late checkout

If you re-qualify for Gold status you get a small gift like double Starwood points for a month or a discount on hotel redemptions.

I wouldn’t expect a suite upgrade with Starwood Gold status, but you may get a nicer room location (so perhaps a nicer view not overlooking the machinery!)

I also like the free internet, but Starwood Gold status isn’t as good as Hilton Gold status (which you can get just for having the Hilton Reserve card) which gets you free breakfast and free internet!

On the other hand, there are several ways to get Starwood Gold elite status.

A.  Stays

You earn Gold status after 10 stays or 25 nights at Starwood hotels and resorts.  Remember that you get credit for 5 nights and 2 stays if you have the personal or business Starwood card.

SPG Elite Status

Free Internet for Gold Elite Members!

B.   American Express Platinum

Link:  American Express Platinum SPG Gold Status

You get Gold elite status with Starwood if you have an American Express Platinum card – including the American Express Mercedes Benz Platinum card, American Express Platinum card, The Enhanced Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN

Just call the number at the back of your American Express Platinum card to activate your free Gold Starwood status!

C.  Spend Your Way To Gold

Link:  American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Gold Elite Status

If you spend $30,000 in a calendar year (January to December) on the Starwood business card, you earn Gold elite Status.

3.  Platinum Elite Status

Link:  Platinum Elite Status

Compared to other hotel chains, Starwood Platinum status has lower requirements.  For instance, Hilton requires 28 stays or 60 nights, Marriott requires 75 nights, and Club Carlson requires 30 stays or 75 nights.

You get Starwood (basic) Platinum status after 25 stays or 50 nights. 

SPG Elite Status

25 Stays Or 50 Nights Gets You Starwood Platinum Status

There are 3 tiers within the Platinum status level and the benefits increase with each tier.

1.  Base Platinum 

  • 3 Starpoints points per $1 spent at Starwood hotels and resorts
  • Upgrades to the best available room including Standard Suites
  • Free Internet
  • Club and Executive level privileges (lounge access)
  • 4:00 pm late checkout
  • Welcome gift (free continental breakfast, bonus Starpoints, or local amenity)

2.  Platinum 50 Nights

All the benefits above and:

  • 10 Suite Night Awards

You use these Suite awards to reserve select suites starting from 5 nights before arrival.

Starwood is one of only two hotel programs (Hyatt being the other) that offers confirmed suite upgrades.

However, the upgrades can only be applied within 5 days of arrival, meaning that this upgrade is a last minute perk, guaranteeing you unsold suites or a premium room which is not a suite.

On the other hand, Hyatt offers confirmed suite upgrades when you make your booking (provided they are available).

2.  Platinum 75 Nights

  • 4 Starpoints points per $1 spent at Starwood hotels and resorts
  • Your24, which lets you check-in at any time and then check-out 24 hours later.

3.  Platinum 100 Nights

You get all the above benefits plus a:

  • SPG Ambassador who helps make reservations and resolve issues

I’d give folks who stay in a hotel for more than 100 nights a little something extra besides a more competent telephone agent, but that’s what you get with Starwood hotels.

If you re-qualify for Platinum status you get a small gift like double Starwood points for a month or a discount of hotel redemptions.

Platinum Challenge

Starwood does not do status matches, but offers a one-time Starwood Platinum Status Challenge.

You must not have had Platinum status within the last 5 years and have never completed a Platinum challenge.

Email Starwood at [email protected] to request the challenge.

You must stay 18 nights within 3 months (you select which 3 months).  Only paid eligible nights count towards the status challenge.  Award nights, Cash & Points reservations, and reservations booked via third-party sources do not count towards the 18 nights.

Lifetime Status

Starwood also offers lifetime elite status.

1.   Lifetime Gold

Link:  Lifetime Gold Status

You earn Gold status for life once you’ve reached 250 nights and 5 years (doesn’t have to be continuous) of elite status.

SPG Elite Status

SPG Lifetime Gold After 250 Nights And 5 Years Elite Status

2.   Lifetime Platinum

Link:  Preferred Elite Status

You’ll earn Lifetime Platinum status after 500 nights total and any 10 years (doesn’t have to be continuous) of Platinum Starwood status.

SPG Elite Status

500 Nights And Any 10 Years Of SPG Platinum Status Earns You Lifetime Platinum Status

However, Lifetime Platinum status does not come with confirmed suite upgrades.  You have to earn the confirmed suite upgrades each year by staying at Starwood hotels.

How To Earn Status Credits Quickly

There are a few additional ways to earn elite status.

1.   Starwood Credit Card adds 5 nights & 2 stays

You get credit for 5 nights and 2 stays credit toward elite status each year by having an American Express Starwood Preferred Guest personal card.

The American Express Starwood Preferred Guest business credit card also gives you credit for 5 nights and 2 stays towards elite status.

2.   Award Stays And Cash & Points Count Towards Status

Starwood allows award night stays (including Cash & Points) to count towards elite night and stay credit.

3.   Starwood Double Stay Credit

Starwood occasionally offers double stay credit promotions, meaning each eligible stay counts as two stays.

Bottom Line

Starwood has some of the nicer hotels out of all the hotel chains, so Starwood elite status helps get nicer rooms and suites.

That said, I wouldn’t go out of my way for Starwood Gold elite status (though the free internet is helpful!), but only Platinum status because you don’t get much for being a Starwood Gold member.

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31 responses to “How to Earn & Use Starwood Points: Part 5 – Starwood Elite Status

  1. Don’t forget that just by having the Starwood Credit card you get Preferred Guest Plus, which entitles you to some Gold benefits like late check-out.

  2. No way of spending your way to platinum? That would make this much more tempting.

  3. SPG Website: Gold status is reached after completing 10 stays or 25 nights in a calendar year (Jan 1 – Dec 31). Darn, I need to find an extra room to stay at somewhere before the year is over.

  4. How often can you apply for the Business Card and get the spend bonus? I applied a little less than a year ago and met the minimum spend requirement. Once I received the points I cancelled the card. Any time requirement like there is for Citi AA cards between reapplying and eligible for the bonus points?

  5. This confirms it….I should have gotten the Hyatt card.

  6. I think SPG gets a bad rap. I’ve been Gold a few years now due a combination of spend & travel (thanks to SPG for adding cash & points stays to the algorithm) and while free internet might not be a big deal to you, when you’re on the road for 20 nights, that’s $200.

    I’ve used the Gold status to get late checkout – maybe not 4pm, but later than usual – when it just hasn’t been offered to anyone else.

    The separate Elite check-in line at hotels has saved time and been valuable in those cases when we arrive at a major city in the summer or during another peak time.

    The Gold help line has been insanely helpful. One time I desperately needed to make a reservation and for some reason my points weren’t showing up. I thought I was SOL but the agent took care of it. Another time, I was 212 points short of an award. I bought points to cover (there was a sale, so it was totally worth it) and when I called panicked because the points weren’t showing up, AND I was suddenly not seeing award availability – they totally went above and beyond to make sure I got my award room.

    People gush about Priority Club and I signed up for the card since I had a lot of European travel this year and SPG just wasn’t where I needed them to be. I will not renew the card and I will not change my spend once my year of elite status is up. At no point – outside of a tiny town in Spain – was my status at all worthwhile. Very disappointing experience with IHG.

    I think it just comes down to what you like. We like SPG brands so it is worth it.

  7. I’m actually impressed with the 25% off (when reaching Gold) or 35% off (when reaching Platinum), so I wouldn’t necessarily call those “small gifts”. I never understood the appeal of the double points option, but the percentage off racks up a serious number of saved points.

  8. I was waiting for my 1 year hiatus period to end and this offer came up. I used your link so you can get commission! Least I could do to show appreciation for vast range of info you put everyday to this site. Thank you!

    One question. If I have a spg membership and I didn’t put spg # at the time of application, would they give me a new spg account? (I put in different address on application than what I have on spg account)

  9. Another benefit of platinum status is you get access to the club lounge. Free appetizers and decent snacks.

  10. I try to reach gold every year and have been successful at it now for 4 of the last 5 years and my favorite thing is the 4 pm checkout. We easily spend $3000 a month on the card, enough for a weekend night at a nearby 4 points hotel and we will enjoy a Saturday night stay once a month, have a Champagne brunch and go back to our upgraded room to relax before heading home at 4 pm. It makes for a very relaxing and enjoyable weekend and a little treat that we really look forward to.

  11. I just signed up for this card and plan to transfer points to USAirways which flies into our local airport. So thanks for all the info on it.
    I have a question about hotel cards. We do not use hotels the way most of you do. Usually we stay at a hotel on a road trip for just one day or two at the most and do not know from one day to the next exactly where we will be. I looked into a couple of the hotel cards and you have to make your reservations in advance to take advantage of any benefits. Am I missing something here or are there some hotels where you can just walk in or call ahead an hour or two. Anything you can say about this will help me.

  12. Just a heads-up: On the application page there is a block at the top of the application that offers to take you to a shorter application providing you are already an AMEX cardholder. DO NOT USE THIS! After it gives you the opportunity to provide your login credentials, it takes you to an application that DOES NOT have the additional 20,000 point spend bonus. If you complete this application and it is approved, AMEX will not honor the the 20k additional bonus offer. Classic Bait and Switch online tactics. I inquired via secure chat prior to filling out the app if I was eligible for the 10k plus 20k bonuses. The rep indicated that as long as did not have an SPG card in the preceding 12 months that I was eligible.
    After submitting the app and being approved, I called AMEX and double checked that I was eligible for both bonuses, and the rep indicated I that I was. Several hours later I received a call from the same rep and was told that he made a mistake and that I was only eligible for the 10k bonus. I asked to speak with a manger and was told I would receive a call-back. Five days later, no call. I called in again and spoke with a supervisor. They say there is nothing that can be done. Now I’m waiting for another manager call-back. What a bunch of A-holes!

  13. MMS- when completing the Platinum challenge, do you get the status right off the bat, as you do with Marriott? Or must you successfully complete the challenge before you can enjoy the benefits of the status?

    • @Sean – Thanks for using our link! They would likely set you up with a new SPG account (the number will be at the front of your card) and you can call SPG to merge it with your existing account.

      @Diane – You would need to make a reservation in advance of arrival, but if the hotel is small and not sold out, you could make the reservation from the parking lot before going in.

      @Meghanb904 – I believe you have to complete the challenge and will get the status updated after you complete the requirements.

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  16. Also just learned that booking a single night with a World Mastercard gets you instant gold status. Definitely beats the Amex platinum annual fee! Promotion should be good through the end of 2015.

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  21. Can anyone tell me (can’t find it anywhere) if I have both the personal and business card, does SPG add 10 nights and 4 stays to the same account? I just got one card’s night/stays added… was wondering if I can expect that to double if I have both cards.

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  28. WHY DOES UNITED GIVE HALF THE POINTS OF ALL OTHER AIRLINES FROM STARWOOD POINTS CONVERSION?? I’m elite in both programs but never convert SPG points to United because United only gives half the credit for SPG points (1:2) as all other major airlines (1:1). What is explanation and can that change?

  29. Does starwood automaticly combine my starwood business cc account to my starwood personal cc account? I could reach the 30,000 gold status faster this way.