As 2018 begins, I take stock of my various point and loyalty programs and realized, I just barely squeaked by, keeping Platinum Status with Starwood Preferred Guest – earning exactly 50 nights this year (with 24 stays). With the recent merger of Starwood and Marriott hotel chains and the upcoming merger of their loyalty programs, I’m concerned that the new SPG Program will not be as lucrative – it will be more akin to the Marriott Rewards Program. Friends who stay a ton with Marriott talk about never getting proper room upgrades or any other material benefits for their Platinum Status – which is why, I will likely stop chasing Platinum Status once the two programs fully merge – although the exact timing of that change hasn’t been announced yet.
That being said, I do find value in Platinum status with SPG. No only do you get an additional point per dollar spent on SPG stays (compared to Gold Status), I find that when traveling outside the US, I will often get a nice room upgrade. I almost never get a room/suite upgrade in the US though. When you earn Platinum status by staying 50 nights (vs 25 stays) you get to select a special Platinum Benefit. Historically, you’d just be gifted 10 Suite Night Upgrades (basically, an upgrade instrument that when used on an existing reservation, would increase your likelihood of getting a swanky Suite), but a couple years ago, SPG started to give you a choice between several options, including some Uber Credits (not worth it), gifting Gold Status to a friend (depending on the friend, it could be worth it) or donating to Charity.
This year the choices have changed a bit and include: One Free Hotel Night (Category 1-5); Five Elite Qualifying Nights (for current year!?); 10 Suite Night Awards; 40% Off Hotel Bed; Gift of Gold Status; Donation to UNICEF.
While I will never say I have enough hotel points, I’ve got plenty, and I figured choosing the Free Hotel Night wouldn’t work out properly for me – I’d either forget about it, or if I did remember it, I’d end up frustrated because the hotel I wanted to stay at wouldn’t accept the free night (nothing firm to base this on, other than my cynicism).
The Five Elite Qualifying Nights sounded intriguing at first, then I realized they were only for the 2017 qualification year and not for 2018. This would ONLY be helpful if you were within five nights of the next status level – earned at 75 Nights. I’m far from that threshold so this makes no sense for me know.
40% Off Hotel Bed – well, we already have a Westin Heavenly Bed – and I’m not really digging it. This could be a good benefit for you, if you were looking to get a new bed. This really isn’t helpful for me now.
Gifting Gold Status to a friend. Years ago, United use to allow you to gift Silver status to friends and I got a lot of benefit out of this. The friends I’d gift this to just loved it. Gold Status with SPG could be good for a friend, but you only need to have 10 stays or 25 nights – which isn’t all that hard to get. Plus, if you have Status with United, you can get some Status with Marriott (RewardsPlus crossover program), which will transfer directly to SPG. If you have the American Express Platinum Card you also are granted Gold Status. This benefit doesn’t really do anything for me now.
Finally, the UNICEF Donation…don’t get me wrong, I’m all about UNICEF, but I’m also selfish and want something for ME after staying so many nights at Starwood Properties.
That leaves me with just one choice – the 10 Suite Night Awards. I’ve stayed in some amazing suite in Europe and Asia with these Awards and I want to continue that trend. I don’t ever NEED a suite, especially when I’m traveling around Europe or Asia because we aren’t often in the room, but it is nice to spread out a little bit and not be as crowded. As has been the case for several years now, I’m choosing these Suite Awards and hoping that my luck continues during my upcoming travels.
What would you choose? Do you get many upgrades in the US or are you usually racking up the suite stays in Europe too? What’s the favorite SPG Suite you’ve stayed in?