SPG - Starwood Preferred Guest Program Review - More Freddie Awards Won Than Other Programs
Starwood Preferred Guest Program
The Starwood Preferred Guest program is one of the most favorable hotel reward programs around. Members can earn points for every dollar they spend on everyday items. There are also many incentives that come along with being a Starwood member. A few of these incentives include bonus points for certain items, being able to use points for flights and hotel rooms, redeem points with partner companies, and members are even able to transfer miles to fly on any airline you choose. Starting March 1, 2012 there will be even more advantages to becoming a Starwood Preferred Guest member.
Redeeming Starwood points for hotel rooms is so easy and there are many different options customers have to do so. I have booked many rooms using points and the people are so helpful and friendly it makes the process so much easier. All you have to do is call the Starwood number located on the website and the person on the line will walk you through step by step to make your reservations. Some of the options to use your points include using points to cover the entire cost of the room, using points plus cash, 5th night free, and 50% off regular rates. Points plus cash is a great option because it will cut the cost of the room down to a fraction of the original rate. You will also get a 5th night free if you use your points at a category 3 or higher hotel.
Redeeming points with partner companies is very simple as well. You can do it right from the Starwood website. The partner companies are merchandise companies and some of them are Gap, Amazon, Banana Republic, Conde Naste, Nordstrom, and many more. Points will transfer to gift cards to spend at these select locations. This is a very different reward option that not many other credit cards offer.
Transfer Points To Airline Partners - Starwood members are allowed to transfer their points for airline miles for almost every airline. For every 20,000 points you transfer Starwood will add another 5,000 points automatically giving you 25,000 points toward a flight. For platinum members there is no minimum transfer requirement. For Gold members there is a 1,500 transfer requirement and for Preferred Members there is a transfer requirement of 2,500 points. This bonus alone is worth it to become a Platinum member.
How To Achieve Gold Status - SPG has three levels. Ordinary members start at the Preferred tier, followed by Gold and Platinum. To achieve Gold level status you have to stay in a Starwood hotel 10 times a year or 25 nights a year. Gold Preferred Guests get much better benefits than normal preferred guests. Gold Preferred guests earn three points for every dollar spent at Starwood Hotels and automatic room upgrades as long as they are available. Gold members only need to transfer a minimum of 1,500 instead of the minimum 2,500 like Preferred Guests. Morning newspaper, late checkout when available, up to $300 check-cashing privileges, and access to the Gold Preferred Guest special customer service telephone number for reservations and information.
Lifetime Gold Status - From 1st March 2012, SPG is offering members the ability to earn lifetime status. To earn lifetime Gold Status, you need to stay 250 eligible nights and be an elite member for five years. That means that the Gold Status stays with you forever even if you have years where you do not really travel.
How To Achieve Platinum Status - To achieve Platinum level status you must stay 25 times a year or 50 nights. Extra benefits you will receive at this level are automatic upgrades to the best rooms available upon check-in, platinum concierge service, access to hotel gyms and executive clubs at the Westin and Sheraton Hotels & Resorts, and complimentary gifts when you arrive.
Lifetime Platinum Status - To qualify for lifetime Platinum Status, you need to have 500 eligible stays and 10 years of elite status.
Complimentary Breakfast For Platinum Members - Platinum members will enjoy these same bonus rewards as Gold members but they will also receive the option of having the Platinum Continental Breakfast everyday as a welcome gift.
The Continental Breakfast benefit for Platinum members has caused some confusion because Sheraton Hotels already offers a full complimentary breakfast for their guest. Platinum members who stay at the Sheraton will get their complimentary breakfast since it is a standard benefit for Sheraton, and they will get to choose either the extra 500 bonus StarPoints or a local gift.
One thing to note about the complimentary breakfast benefit is that the menu varies from hotels to hotels. Starwood says that a breakfast will usually consists of cereals, breads/pastries, yogurt, juice, coffee and tea. Some hotels will offer their breakfast in their restaurant as an à la carte menu. Some hotels and resorts will choose to offer complimentary full breakfast rather than continental breakfast, which is better.
The complimentary breakfast will be available to the Platinum member and one guest. That means you will have to pay for a third member of the family. For hotels that offer both continental and full breakfast, Platinum members can choose a full breakfast and pay the difference between the price of the Continental and Full breakfast.
Best of all, the complimentary breakfast benefit is good for the entire length of stay and good even for award stays (ie stays that “paid” by Starpoints).
SPG Night Benefits - SPG has also added this feature (that starts from March 2012). If you stay for 50 eligible nights a year, you will get 10 Suite Night Awards. You can use these Suite Night Awards to request for room upgrades on your stays in hotels. You can use them anytime you wish (best to use them for your vacations) subject to availability of rooms for upgrades.
If you stay for 75 eligible nights in a calendar year, you will also be able to earn four points per dollar that you spend rather than three points. You will also get a new Your24 benefit, which allows you to choose your check in time. For example, you can choose to check in at 9pm and leave at 9pm (according to SPG’s website).
This new 50 nights benefit has caused some concern for some Platinum members because in the past, Starwood members have gotten room upgrades more easily than other hotel chains. The worry is that with the new SPG50 benefit, there may be less rooms available for upgrades. Only time will tell how this new benefit will impact upgrades.
Credit Cards - American Express is the issuer of Starwood credit card. One of the perks of having their cards is that you will get 5 nights and 2 stays on your card anniversary. This will help you towards earning elite status.
You also have to be aware that American Express Platinum members get Gold Elite Status every year. And having the Gold Status every year with the Platinum Card counts towards the number of years required for lifetime membership.
Summary - The Starwood Preferred Guest is one of the best hotel reward programs around. Most frequent fliers are also members of SPG and carry the Amex Starwood Preferred Guest. The reason they are so popular is because they were the first program to have "no blackout date" as their policy. The number of airline partners they have and the favorable 1:1 transfer ratio is anther reason for their popularity.