Gold or Platinum status in the Starwood Preferred Guest hotel loyalty program normally comes as a reward for spending 25 or 50 nights in hotels each year, but there’s a sneaky way to fast-track that process and Go for Gold (or Platinum) in less than half the time.
It’s done by registering for the 2018 SPG Status Challenge, which unlocks Gold-grade membership after staying for only nine nights, or a lofty Platinum card after 18 nights, which is then yours for at least a year: or if you’re savvy about it, until February 2020!
Both memberships provide perks such as late check-outs, room upgrades, welcome gifts and premium in-room Internet at hotels like St. Regis, Westin, W Hotels and Sheraton, with Platinum cardholders also treated to executive lounge access and daily breakfast with every stay.
Best of all, this isn’t a ‘status match’ as such, so you don’t need a shiny card with another hotel chain to qualify – it’s open to everybody, from occasional travellers through to seasoned road warriors.
Here’s how to take advantage of this promotion for yourself and fast-track your own way to SPG Gold or Platinum.
Step 1: Choose your SPG Status Challenge, and register
First things first: you’ll need to choose whether you’re aiming for SPG Gold or SPG Platinum – you can’t shoot for both at the same time, and there are different eligibility rules for each tier.
For example, you won’t be eligible for the SPG Gold challenge if you’ve held SPG Gold or Platinum status at any time over the past five years (being 2013 and onwards) – but for the SPG Platinum challenge, you’re only disqualified if you’ve held SPG Platinum during that time, not SPG Gold.
This means current SPG Gold members aren’t barred from registering for the SPG Platinum challenge: they just need to meet the same requirements as everyone else completing the challenge to earn a Platinum card.
You’ll also be disqualified from both challenges if you’ve previously completed an SPG Status Challenge at any time, with one exception: if you successfully complete this particular challenge to reach SPG Gold, you’re allowed to subsequently register for this SPG Platinum challenge too.
Next, you’ll need to choose a consecutive three-month period in which to complete your challenge – which, to recap, requires nine paid hotel nights for SPG Gold or 18 paid hotel nights for SPG Platinum (stays booked using SPG Starpoints don’t cut the mustard here).
The three-month period can either include the current month or begin in the following month, so if you decide to register in February, for example, you might ask that your challenge be from January to March – counting any stays you’ve already made during that time – from February to April, or from March to May, inclusive.
If you fulfil the requirements of your challenge on or before February 28 2018, you’ll have your status until February 28 2019… but, if you complete your challenge on or after March 1 2018, that same status is valid until February 29 2020 instead, giving you an extra year to enjoy those perks!
Once you’ve decided on the months that work best for you and which challenge to take, register by calling SPG customer service on 1800 072 525 in Australia. Ask to be enrolled in the ‘SPG Status Challenge’, and have your Starwood Preferred Guest membership number handy.
If you encounter any difficulty, you could also try calling SPG’s main customer service line in the United States, being +1 888 625 4990, although international call charges may apply – but in either case, registration closes on June 30 2018.
Step 2: Spend 9 or 18 nights at Starwood hotels
Once registered for your challenge, all that’s left is to spend either nine or 18 nights (in line with your desired status) at Starwood hotels.
These include St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, W, Westin, Sheraton, Le Meridien, Tribute Portfolio, Design Hotels, Aloft, Four Points by Sheraton and Element hotels – where any room rate normally eligible to earn Starpoints in the SPG program counts as one of the nights you need.
Just be sure to book your stay directly with Starwood or the hotel in question, such as via the Starwood Hotels website, SPG app, reservation line or the hotel reception desk, as nights booked through some travel agents like Expedia are normally ineligible to earn Starpoints, and by extension, ineligible to earn the ‘nights’ you need under this promotion.
Also, be aware that hotel stays booked using SPG Starpoints don’t contribute to the nights needed for this promotion. While these bookings do still earn ‘nights’ in the SPG program which count towards earning status the old-fashioned way, those nights don’t boost your tally for this particular challenge, so you’ll need to pay for these stays in full.
After completing your ninth stay for SPG Gold or your eighteenth stay to reach SPG Platinum, your membership will be upgraded to the level you’ve earned within 5-7 days of that final stay being credited to your SPG account (which typically takes a few days), so allow 1-2 weeks overall.
If you don’t meet the requirements of your challenge, you’ll remain at your current SPG tier – but if you call back again before June 30 2018, you can actually register for the same challenge once more for a second chance at Gold or Platinum.
We should also point out that you can be boosted to SPG Gold by simply holding the American Express Platinum Charge Card and opting-in for this benefit via the AMEX website. The card does carry a $1,200 annual fee, but doesn’t require any Starwood hotel stays to activate the benefit, giving you Gold from your very first stay.
Step 3: Enjoy your new perks with SPG Gold or Platinum
Kicking back with your newly-minted SPG Gold card? You can look forward to earning 50% more Starpoints on hotel stays, guaranteed late check-out of 4pm at most hotels, complimentary upgrades to ‘enhanced’ rooms such as on a higher floor or with a better view, and a welcome gift on arrival of your choosing.
Typically, the options given are bonus Starpoints (on top of your higher earning rate as a Gold member) or a free drink during your stay – on top of which, you’ll also get free premium (highest-speed) in-room Internet, while SPG Platinum offers all of this and more.
For starters, the options provided through the Platinum welcome gift are more generous with a choice of complimentary daily breakfast or a ‘local amenity’, in addition to the usual option of extra bonus Starpoints, and room upgrades also extend to standard suites, not just ‘enhanced’ rooms.
Your Platinum card also unlocks hotel Executive and Club lounges (where available) at no charge when staying in any room type, plus hotel fitness centres at properties where extra fees would normally apply.
Finally, thanks to the merger between Marriott and Starwood, you can also link your Starwood Preferred Guest membership with the separate Marriott Rewards program, which gives you instant status with Marriott, on top of your shiny SPG card.
SPG Gold members are matched to Marriott Rewards Gold, while SPG Platinum members are marched to Marriott Rewards Platinum, for comparable benefits at hotels like Ritz-Carlton, JW Marriott, Autograph Collection, and of course, Marriott.