Even before there was a hotel loyalty program called Starwood Preferred Guest, I was an elite member of Westin Hotels in the early 1990s. Frequent stays at Westin and Sheraton hotels were my introduction to these brands and elite benefits in the world of hotel loyalty programs.
In 2003, Starwood Preferred Guest became my primary loyalty program for several years while I repeatedly qualified for SPG Platinum elite membership. The greatest value of Platinum elite to me were the frequent upgrades to suites. Upgrades were typically a $100 to $200 benefit in terms of room rates. Occasionally the room upgrades to full suites were rooms that would have cost more than $500 per night over the rate I paid. This was a generous benefit of Platinum elite membership since I usually did not pay over $100 per night for my hotel stays.
Starwood Preferred Guest elite status holds generous benefits.
The addition of breakfast for Platinum members in 2012 was a major improvement to SPG elite benefits. Receiving breakfast at a Four Points for every morning of your stay rather than 250 bonus points is far greater hotel stay value for many Platinum elite guests. The breakfast component of Hyatt Gold Passport may have spurred a catch-up move by SPG.
Hyatt Gold Passport has been a major competitor to Starwood Preferred Guest in the past five years with the addition of benefits that match or even exceed the benefits of SPG. I think the encroachment of Hyatt resulted in the super elite benefit changes at SPG in 2012 and the change to count award stays for elite status.
Comparisons of different hotel loyalty programs always place Starwood at a comparative disadvantage for earning free nights when you look at the 3 points per $1 earning rate and a 30,000 points category 7 hotel award night. The low rate for earning points is true at the high end hotel awards, but SPG is still a relatively good earning program at the low-end hotel award categories between category 2 hotels at 3,000 points per weekend night and Cash & Points awards reducing the points needed by 50% or more for an award stay.
The main rule of thumb I used to argue in years past in favor of SPG points earning rate was my ability to average 1,000 bonus points per night over the base points earning rate of 3 points per $1. This was common throughout a year of Starwood Hotel stays. When my average spend was $100 per night, 300 points was not much in the way of points earning ability. As a Platinum member receiving 500 bonus points per stay for a welcome amenity and promotion bonus points, I felt earning was good for my stays with SPG over several years. In the past couple of years the promotion bonuses have been less generous and the ability to earn points from hotel stays is more of a comparative disadvantage these days for SPG base and Gold members when a $100 hotel stay earns only 200 points and a bonus like 400 points with a double points promotion.
Holding SPG Gold elite status is the primary way to improve your points earning ability for a relatively low investment to reach 10 stays per calendar year. SPG Platinum elite means more opportunity for room upgrades, welcome amenity points or the benefit of breakfast. For many guests, breakfast will be the better value over taking points for your stay.
SPG Platinum-50 ensures suite upgrades when they most count for you. There were several times I checked into Starwood Hotels before the suite upgrades were around and I did not receive a suite upgrade when I desired a large room for entertaining. Suite upgrade certificates allow a member to confirm a suite in advance.
SPG Membership Levels:
- SPG Preferred = fewer than 10 stays or 25 nights in a calendar year (Jan 1-Dec 31).
- SPG Gold = 10 stays or 25 nights in a calendar year (Jan 1-Dec 31).
- SPG Platinum = 25 stays or 50 nights in a calendar year (Jan 1-Dec 31).
- SPG Platinum 50 = 50 nights in a calendar year (Jan 1-Dec 31).
- SPG Platinum 75 = 75 nights in a calendar year (Jan 1-Dec 31).
- SPG Platinum 100 = 100 nights in a calendar year (Jan 1-Dec 31).
SPG award redemption stays and nights count for elite status. One-night stays reduces the number of nights needed to earn SPG elite status through qualifying by the lower number of stays.
SPG American Express card membership earns 2 stays and 5 nights toward elite membership. Members earn this elite bonus credit with both the personal and business SPG Amex cards and with both cards the elite credit is 4 stays and 10 nights each year.
SPG Gold Elite Benefits
Gold status is reached after completing 10 eligible stays or 25 eligible nights in a calendar year. Eligible paid stays and nights and Award redemption stays and nights count toward elite status earning. As a Gold member, you’ll receive all the benefits of Preferred, plus more:
- Three Starpoints for every eligible U.S. dollar spent – a 50% bonus over base-level membership.
- 4 p.m. late checkout,1 so you can sleep in, relax by the pool or see more of the local area you’re visiting.
- An enhanced room at check-in, when available.2
- Special elite customer service telephone line (available in most countries).
- New! Your choice of a welcome gift with each stay. Choose from bonus Starpoints, complimentary in-room Internet access or a complimentary beverage.
- Bonus Starpoints benefit is 250 points per stay for all brands, except 125 points per stay at aloft, element and Four Points brands. The interent access or drink might be better value. Gold elite benefit is applicable to paid and award stays.
SPG Gold members
· Hotel Stay Welcome Gift – Choose from Starpoints (up to 250 points/stay) or free internet or free beverage.
SPG Platinum members
· Hotel Stay Welcome Gift – Choose from Continental Breakfast for entire stay or Starpoints (500 points/stay at all brands, except 250 points per stay at aloft, element and Four Points brands) or local gift.
SPG Platinum Elite Benefits
Platinum elite is reached after completing 25 eligible stays or 50 eligible nights in a calendar year. Eligible paid stays and nights and Award redemption stays and nights count toward elite status earning. As a Platinum member, you’ll receive all the benefits of Preferred, plus more:
- Three Starpoints per eligible US dollar spent, a 50% bonus over the Preferred level.
- Upgrades to best available room at check-in, including Standard Suites.1
- Your choice of a welcome gift with each stay. Choose from bonus Starpoints, continental breakfast (New Option!)2 or local amenities.
- Club- and Executive-level privileges where available.3
- Complimentary in-room Internet access.
- 4 p.m. late checkout,4
- Access to Hotel’s Health Club / Gym where available5.
- Guaranteed room availability when your room is booked by 3 p.m., 72+ hours prior to arrival.6
- Platinum Concierge service7 at 888-625-4991 – always one call away to help you arrange just about anything regarding your visit.
1. Subject to availability at check-in for the entire length of the stay, provided the room was not booked through a pre-paid third-party channel. Specialty Suites such as, but not limited to, premium view, Presidential, Honeymoon, and multiple bedroom suites are excluded. This benefit does not apply to all-suite hotels. Best rooms are identified by each property and may not include upgraded Towers level accommodations unless Towers level accommodations were booked originally. The upgrade benefit is available for one room for the personal use of the Member only, regardless of the number of additional rooms purchased by the Member. This benefit is not offered at Aloft and Element properties.
2. If selected, the continental breakfast option is limited to the Member and one guest if that guest is staying in the same room as the Member.
3. This benefit is limited to the Member and one guest if that guest is staying in the same room with the member. Access to the Club Level when staying at Sheraton hotels or access to the Executive Level when staying at Westin or Le Meridien hotels is available, even when not staying on Club Level or Executive Level floor(s). Lounge access on these levels is not available if the lounge is at maximum capacity or if the lounge is closed for any reason. At Sheraton properties, access to the Club Level does not mean access to the Towers Level, even if there is no Club Level in the hotel and there is a Club Level in the Towers. Access to Towers Level is determined by each individual property.
4. Subject to availability at resort and conference center hotels.
5. This benefit is limited to the Member and one guest if that guest is staying in the same room with the member. Complimentary access to the health club/gym is limited to health club/gyms that are owned or maintained by the hotel. If the facilities are not part of the hotel, this benefit is not available.
6. Applicable to one standard room booked by 3 p.m. local time 72+ hours before day of arrival at participating hotels. Member must pay regular RACK rate. Black out dates apply. Not available at resorts. Room upgrade and Free Night Award redemption do not apply when this benefit is utilized. Minimum length-of-stay requirement must be met.
7. Available in English language only through an overseas telephone number (+65 6836 7357).
SPG Super Platinum Additional Benefits (50 to 100+ nights in calendar year)
· 50+ nights Platinum members only – 10 Suite Night Awards.
This is in addition to the existing and continuing policy of complimentary upgrades upon arrival for SPG Platinum elites that has been a long time competitive edge of Starwood preferred Guest.
· 75+ nights Platinum members only – Earn 4 points per dollar on hotel spend.
Lower tier Platinum members earn 3 points/$1 on hotel spend.
· 100+ nights Platinum members only–
Your24 check-in at any hour and maintain room for 24 hours. Check in at 9pm and the room is yours until 9pm 24 hours later.
SPG Program Elite Benefits Changes (effective March 1, 2012):
SPG Lifetime Gold and Platinum Elite
SPG offers Lifetime Gold status when a member completes 250 nights total and any five years of SPG status. (elite status does not have to be consecutive years).
SPG offers Lifetime Platinum elite status when a member completes 500 nights total and any 10 years of Platinum SPG status.
Starwood Preferred Guest webpage links:
Member Tiers and Benefits – Preferred Base Level.
Member Tiers and Benefits – Gold Elite Level.
Member Tiers and Benefits – Platinum Elite Level.
This is post #3 in a guide series on the Starwood Preferred Guest hotel loyalty program.
Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.
Loyalty Traveler shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests. Check out current hotel loyalty program offers across all the major chains in Loyalty Traveler’s monthly hotel promotions guide.