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 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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