Fast-track to SPG Gold status with these five credit cards

By Chris Chamberlin, February 17 2016
Fast-track to SPG Gold status with these five credit cards

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You should seek independent advice and consider your own personal circumstances before applying for any financial product.

Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status usually comes as your reward for spending 25 nights or making 10 stays each year at hotels like Westin, St. Regis, Sheraton and W, but there’s a sneaky way to fast-track to Gold after spending just one night at a Starwood hotel.

That’s thanks to a nifty partnership between SPG and MasterCard where MasterCard World and World Elite cardholders can stay at any Starwood hotel in the Asia Pacific region (including Australia), pay for the stay using their eligible MasterCard and get one year of SPG Gold in return.

SPG Gold unlocks a number of useful benefits when staying at Starwood's worldwide network of hotels including a welcome gift of your choosing, room upgrades where available, a late check-out, bonus Starpoints and more.

Best of all, MasterCard World credit cards come in a variety of frequent flyer flavours in Australia, so whether you’re chasing Qantas, Virgin Australia or even Emirates frequent flyer points in the air, SPG Gold can still be yours on the ground.

Register for this promotion before staying: SPG fast-track offer

Commonwealth Bank Diamond Awards

Diamond Awards, CBA’s flagship personal credit card, offers both an American Express and a World MasterCard on the one account for a single $349 annual fee to maximise your points where AMEX is welcome and your overall card acceptance in the companion MasterCard where it’s not.

Along with your SPG perks you’ll also collect the equivalent of 1.5 Virgin Australia Velocity points per dollar spent on the AMEX via the Commonwealth Awards scheme and 0.625 Velocity points per dollar on the World MasterCard, with points converted to Velocity at your leisure.

Qantas frequent flyer points can also be earned at the same rates for an extra $30/year, with the points being automatically shipped over to your Qantas Frequent Flyer account every month.

CBA’s offshoot BankWest also counts a World MasterCard among its ranks, but which comes only by invitation to existing customers and can’t be applied for outright.

Diners Club + World MasterCard

In a similar fashion to CommBank, Diners Club cardholders can also pair their Diners card with a World MasterCard on the same account, giving them these SPG benefits along with access to a much a larger network of merchants at which they can spend.

For Qantas Points you’ll pay a $260 annual fee covering both cards, returning 1.5 Qantas Points per dollar spent on the Diners Club card (1.25/$1 after charging >$60,000/year) and 1 Qantas Point per $1 on the World MasterCard (0.75/$1 in excess of $60,000/year), plus a bonus Qantas Point per dollar when paying for Qantas flights and Qantas Club membership.

Or, opt for the regular Diners Club card combo to earn points with Virgin Australia plus many other airlines at a cost of $389/year, picking up the equivalent of 1.5 Velocity points per dollar spent on the Diners card and 0.625/$1 on the World MasterCard via Diners Club Rewards with no spend tiering.

Emirates Citi World MasterCard

Australia’s only direct-earning card for Emirates Skywards miles is another with the sought-after World MasterCard branding, slipping into your wallet for $149 in the first year and $299 thereafter and earning up to 1.5 Skywards miles per dollar spent, depending on where you transact.

Everyday purchases within Australia earn 1 Skywards mile per dollar on the first $3,000 every month and 0.5 Skywards miles on spends between $3,001 and $10,000 – but no points for anything further – while all overseas transactions accrue 1.25 Skywards miles per dollar with no points cap.

You can also pick up 1.5 Skywards miles per dollar spent with Emirates on the airline’s website for bookings commencing in Australia and billed in Australian dollars.

HSBC Premier World MasterCard

Look to HSBC’s Premier World MasterCard to earn frequent flyer points, and also to jump to SPG Gold status, but without paying an annual fee.

Cardholders earn 1.25 HSBC Rewards Points per dollar spent at home and abroad, uncapped, and when transferred to Virgin Australia Velocity on a 2:1 basis nets the equivalent of 0.625 Velocity points per dollar spent.

There’s also the option of a Qantas Rewards opt-in for $99/year churning out one Qantas Point per dollar spent: also uncapped but with points automatically credited to your frequent flyer account every month.

Westpac Altitude Black

Finishing out the top five is Westpac’s Altitude Black duo with an American Express card paired against a World MasterCard for the familiar benefit of maximum points and acceptance: plus, of course, easy Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status.

Cardholders can accrue the equivalent of 1.5 Velocity points per dollar spent on the AMEX and 0.625 Velocity points on the MasterCard via Altitude Rewards, or can switch their rewards option to 'Altitude Qantas' for the same earning rates with the Red Roo.

As with all of the companion card offers, just be sure your eligible Starwood hotel status is paid for using the World MasterCard, rather than the American Express card, even if it means earning fewer points as a one-off exception.

Plus one more: AMEX Platinum Charge Card

Not being a World MasterCard, American Express has its own deal for Platinum Charge Card customers with a direct boost to SPG Gold status before even stepping foot in a Starwood hotel.

That of course comes at a price with the card bearing a hefty $1,200/year annual fee, but is just one of the many perks enjoyed by cardholders – along with points on your spends, of course.

You can earn 3 Membership Rewards points per $1 at most restaurants in Australia; two MR points with airlines, hotels and when abroad; 0.5 MR points with utilities, insurance companies and government bodies and 1 MR point per $1 everywhere else.

Membership Rewards points can also be converted into Qantas and Virgin Australia frequent flyer points on a 1:1 basis and to other airline and hotel programs at varying rates.

Also read: Starwood, MasterCard extend free SPG Gold status offer

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Executive Traveller may receive a commission when you apply for these credit cards via our links.

You should seek independent advice and consider your own personal circumstances before applying for any financial product.

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller, and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Feb 2016

Total posts 4

The Bankwest World Mastercard can be applied for after holding a BW CC for 6 months & holding a credit limit of at least $12,000 (in my experience)

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Nov 2014

Total posts 368

Hi Chris:

What is the exact process to get the SPG gold? Do you need to book through MasterCard's concierge and go through some registration process? Or simply book one night with SPG directly using the above mentioned MasterCard and boom! You are automatically SPG gold and the shinny gold card will just appear in your mailbox?

I've been looking for an answer on this one, unfortunately the credit card's agent doesn't know much about it. 

Hi Michael, the full step-by-step process is covered in the linked article at the bottom of this piece.

Starwood, MasterCard extend free SPG Gold status offer

30 Nov 2017

Total posts 1

this promotion to spg gold status with black world card does not exist anymore?

As covered in the linked article linked above, the promotion ran until July 14 2017, so unfortunately this handy shortcut is no longer available.

(The article you're commenting on is almost two years old, and many things can change in that time.)

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Dec 2015

Total posts 30

I generally don't like SPG's purple color scheme but the membership card is well designed.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Nov 2013

Total posts 481


Any plans to write about the Marriott/Starwood merger? 



24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2445

Mark: we wrote that up when news broke on November 16 last year (Marriott buys Starwood in A$17 billion mega-merger), and we'll wrote more when there is significant news to report.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Feb 2016

Total posts 2

Called HSBC.....they didnt even have a clue what i was talking about.

Hard to sign up for a promo when the bank has no idea!

Did you call the normal HSBC staff or the Premier concierge team? Usually it's the concierge team who can generate the promo code.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Feb 2016

Total posts 2

Premier. Didnt have a clue what i was talking about. 

Sent an email off to my relationship manager now 

That's unfortunate – if your relationship manager can't get things sorted for you, do let us know and we'll get in touch with HSBC and MasterCard to see if HSBC customers need to take a different approach to register for the promotion than those of the other banks.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Jul 2018

Total posts 6

Hi so it's now July 2018 and I have reverted back down from Gold SPG and Gold Marriott that I obtained through my Emirates Citi World Mastercard stay offer - I am thinking of cancelling this card - as I now have QANTAS Club, I use a QANTAS money credit card for QANTAS points earn, and I don't need or use the Citi Emirates lounge vouchers (the last ones were stolen from my letterbox) nor am I accruing Emirates Skywards points on the Citi card as I travel QF on codeshare - So may I ask, are there any new credit card offers one can use to achieve Gold SPG or Marriott Gold? ie with a simple stay? Tah

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