Why I am Going for SPG Platinum Status This Year (Instead of Hyatt Diamond)

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I didn’t plan to write about this tonight, but since it came up indirectly in yesterday’s post and comments about some rumored Starwood Preferred Guest benefit enhancements, I figured I might as well end the week off continuing the SPG topic.  😉  When I started off 2012 I made some travel goals for my family.  A few of those goals had to do with airline and hotel elite status.  I’ve said many times I don’t care at all about “being elite” (in fact I kind of hate it when the hotel brings it up at check-in), but I do like the perks that come along with it.  In this post I will talk about my hotel elite status goals.  Specifically, why I am changing my focus from top-tier status with Hyatt to the Starwood Preferred Guest program.

I was generously given Hyatt Diamond Status through my participation in the Star MegaDO 3 in September of 2011.  It was an amazing gift to be given from Hyatt, and I have enjoyed the heck out of my Diamond benefits.  In addition to the 30% point bonus and 1,000/500 point Diamond amenity bonus for each stay, I really really like the free breakfast/lounge access and four confirmed suite upgrades per year.  The free breakfast and confirmed suite upgrades help our family tremendously on family vacations.  We can control the costs of one meal each day and we can ensure we have enough space to be comfortable in our room.  I also have really enjoyed most of the Hyatt properties we have stayed at.  So that being said, why am I shifting my focus to SPG?

The main reason I am shifting my focus to SPG is because since my husband and I both travel a decent amount for work (and fun), it just makes sense for us to diversify our focus with hotel loyalty programs.  He earned Hyatt Diamond status by having about 30 Hyatt stays in 2011 (5 more than the required 25).  There is a Hyatt very close to where he travels most frequently for work, and it makes sense for him to continue to focus on Hyatt.  So, if he retains Hyatt Diamond status, then we can still use his Hyatt elite benefits when we travel as a family.  While I enjoy having Diamond benefits to myself when I travel, we really only need them when we travel as a family, so having us both be Hyatt Diamonds isn’t really necessary.

I already have several Hyatt stays for myself booked in 2012, but am only booking them when it makes the most sense due to location, price, or I need the benefits because I am traveling with C without my husband (like to Disneyland).  I’m sure I will have at least 10 Hyatt stays by the end of 2012, but I already have 15 stays completed, booked, or planned with SPG for 2012 and it is only mid-January.  There is virtually no doubt I will have at least 10 more pop up in the next 11 months.  The two things that make SPG an easier target for me than some of the other hotel loyalty programs are that award stays count toward elite status, and you can earn up four stays just by having the SPG Amex credit cards.  That means you only need to earn 21 more stays in a calendar year to attain Platinum Status.  For me, those four stays makes a huge difference.  I already have the Personal Starwood Preferred Guest Amex, but I will soon be adding the Business Starwood Preferred Guest Amex to my collection as well.  Both have the annual fee waived the first year ($65 in subsequent years) and both award 25,000 SPG points after spending $5,000 on the card within the first six months.  Each card gives you 2 stays/5 nights towards elite status, so it is worth it to me to have both.

Some people have even suggested using the 50,000 bonus SPG points you would get from the two SPG Amex cards and using 42,000 of those to attain Platinum status for free.  You could do that by having 21 weekend stays at a Category 1 hotel for 2,000 points per one-night stay.  You would earn the remaining four stays by having both of the Amex SPG cards.  It could be especially lucrative if you started it early on in a calendar year so that you could enjoy the Platinum status for the rest of the year you earn it in, as well as the subesquent calendar year.  I don’t have the time or points to burn doing that, but it certainly is an interesting idea for some!

The only things I don’t like about SPG are the lack of free breakfast and confirmed suite upgrades.  However, free breakfast is rumored to be in the works and we still will have my husband’s Hyatt Diamond status for when we need to confirm a suite upgrade in advance.  If he wasn’t going to retain Hyatt status, it would make my decision a much harder one to make since I do very much like Hyatt Diamond status.  Who knows, maybe I will end up traveling enough to keep both!

So, if you and your partner both travel, do you also diversify your hotel loyalty program focus?  Which hotel programs does your family focus on, if any?  If you do focus on SPG, do you find the Amex helpful with reaching Platinum or Gold status each year?

 

Disclosure:  I do receive a commission if you are approved for the SPG Amex cards using my links. 

Comments

  1. Few questions (I’m SPG Gold going for Plat):

    1)What’s with the rumor of the new higher than Plat status?
    2) Does SPG do free breakfasts?
    3) Any less well known Gold benefits I probably should use/enjoy but haven’t?

  2. I was curious how many nights you do for travel for pleasure and work? If you were to do the Platinum challenge (18 nights in 3 months) you could hit platinum. If you finished it after March 1st you would have the status until Feb 2014.

  3. You can email the platinum desk for a 15 night challenge in 90 days (only if you haven’t done this before). When you finish the 15 nights, all you need to do is email them again to mention that you did 15 nights and they will give you platinum status. I did this last year in August (0 nights/stays prior to this). I ended the year with 74 nights (yes it became my first home).
    Some spg properties with lounge do provide free breakfast. The Sheraton I stay at has breakfast in the lounge (although its basic things plus a chef cooking eggs your way)

  4. If you challenge SPG you have to use paid stays otherwise without challenge you can use reward stays to meet platinum. I met it last year using phantom reward stays.

  5. Also, AVI, if you were going to obtain 74 night by year end, it would have been better to just earn PLAT status on your own merit, as the SPG PLAT challenge and only be done once. Especially seeing as you didn’t earn the status until end of the year anyway. You could have kept the challenge option for when you didn’t think you’d retain PLAT status.

  6. You wrote:
    …Hyatt…I need the benefits because I am traveling with C without my husband (like to Disneyland).

    Do you have access to Hyatt perks w/o your DH along? Is this universal among hotel chains like this?

  7. @NYBanker, exactly. 😉

    @amitdelia, when you hit 25 stays or 50 nights you get it for the rest of that year and the next calendar year.

    @Dan,
    1)I don’t know much more other than that is rumored to be coming in the next month or two. Guess we should know soon!
    2) Not officially (unless the hotel has a lounge), but some hotels do offer it. It is rumored to be a coming official enhancement to the program. Fingers crossed….
    3) I doubt it – late checkout, the slight possibility at a better room, the possibility of lounge access, and the extra point per dollar are the main ones.

    @Chris S, I do have a tentative reservation at a Hyatt in that area that was made based on many of the recommendations I received. Can’t wait!

    @Brent, it seems to vary so much, but my best guess would be that I have about 12-15 nights for my 8-5 job in a year. I then have about 10 related to blog stuff (which is really actually more in the fun category), then I have about 10 more for family travel. I don’t really have 18 bunched in one three month period – and I certainly don’t have 18 paid nights in a three month period, so I just have to do it the old fashioned way.

    @Avi, thanks for sharing – that is a lot of night away! They did change the challenge late last year to 18 nights in 3 months, and that is just a bit high for me.

    @Mr. Pickles, yeah I need award stays to count, so I would be out of the challenge race as well. 😉 So what do you think of SPG now that you have Platinum from your phantom reward stays?

    @guest and Brent, correct it changed to 18 nights late last year.

    @MJL, sorry for that not being clear. I have Hyatt Diamond through the rest of this year, so I will be using my benefits on some Hyatt stays this year by myself when needed. (I just will not be “seeking out” Hyatt stays unless I really need the benefits) Benefits do not officially transfer to other family members unless the member with elite status is also traveling on that reservation. Hope that helps some!

  8. Just wanted to mention that with BOTH the Business and Personal STARWOOD AMEX’s you get double the normal credit: Here’s an email I received from them:

    “Because you have a Starwood Preferred Guest®Credit Card as well as a Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card, you have received credit toward elite status for 10 nights and 4 stays1 — that’s double the normal credit of 5 nights and 2 stays! “

  9. @Vivek, hmmm, on my end it shows 10,000 points after first use and then 15,000 additional after spending $5000 in six months (the best offer out there right not). I have found that sometimes with Amex you have to clear your browser history to see the offer correctly if you already have other Amex cards. It is kind of weird, but works for me.

    @worldtraveller2, exactly. That is why I want both! (and recommend both to anyone who is pushing for Platinum and could use the extra stays to get there!)

  10. We stayed (family of 5) @ Hyatt OC this past summer. Instead of a 5 minute shuttle ride to Disneyland like many hotels, it’s 7 minutes. The room was a suite with separate parents room on the left, living area in the center and children’s room on the right, and it was perfect. Stay there- you’ll be happy you did.

  11. Why don’t you like it when a hotel mentions your elite status? I must confess, I am thrilled each time I hear it. I work so hard to get to elite and work hard to stay there. Thank goodness for sites like yours that help me get there.

  12. Generally we put all the spend we can on my cards and accounts. Since she never travels without me, and I sometimes travel alone, this makes sure we maximize the benefits of any elite status with an airline, hotel, or car agency.

  13. @Avi, let’s just say that hotel is a strong contender. 😉

    @Anne, it’s just personal preference on my part. I also don’t like to stand in the elite line. I just want the benefits, but I don’t really enjoy being treated special in any other way. Totally just personal preference on my part.

    @Scottrick, that strategy totally makes sense if your partner never travels without you!

  14. I do both Hyatt and SPG and I’m going to make sure I re-qual for both this year, though with the exit of the Sheraton Palo Alto as a preferred hotel provider for my company, it will be a bit harder for me this year. Still, now that c&p and award redemptions count as stays/night for status purposes, that will make it easier and don’t forget the 4 free stays I get for having both SPG personal and biz amex cards.

    You mentioned D-land. Don’t overlook the excellent Sheraton Park Anaheim (not to be confused with the horribly sub-standard Sheraton Anaheim) for getting stay credits at a hotel that is walkable or easy ART shuttle ride from D-land. IIRC, the Hyatt uses their own “bus”, which is not as convenient as the ART shuttle at d-land. But I highly recommend you stay inside the park at least once (if not here, than at the Swan or Dolphin at D-world) and take advantage of the character breakfasts and 24/7 disney experience for little C. 🙂

    -David

  15. can’t edit my comment.

    4 free stays = 4 free SPG stay credits (and/or 5×2 night credits) for having both the personal and biz SPG Amex. My totals reset to 21/40 stays/nights needed for platinum renewal on Jan 1 because I have both personal and biz cards.

    -David

  16. I am a newby…we have not traveled much but would like to know how to get free nights and the easiest way to get a diamond status…does it count if you transfer ultimate reards to hyatt?

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