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When it comes to award travel, there are plenty of brand partnerships to leverage. One of the most lucrative options is Starwood’s Crossover Rewards, which awards SPG elites perks when traveling on Delta and Delta elites benefits for staying at its properties. Below, TPG Senior Points & Miles Contributor Nick Ewen shows you how to get the most out of this program.
Over the last few years, we’ve seen more and more travel providers joining forces to offer additional perks to members of their respective programs. Uber has been a big part of this, launching partnerships with Starwood Preferred Guest, Capital One and American Airlines, among other brands, but we’ve also seen unions between Hyatt and Mlife, United and Hertz and SPG and Emirates. Today, however, I want to focus on another one of SPG’s and highlight how to maximize the Crossover Rewards partnership with Delta.
Let’s start with a quick overview of the program, which was launched back in 2013. In its most basic form, it allows elite members of both Delta and Starwood Preferred Guest to earn bonus points or miles when staying or flying with the other, even if you don’t have elite status in both programs. Here are the details:
- SPG elite on Delta flights: 1 bonus Starpoint for every dollar spent on eligible Delta flights (base fare)
- Delta elite on SPG stays: 1 bonus mile for every dollar spent at eligible room rates at all global Starwood hotels
SPG Platinum members on Delta flights:
- Priority check-in
- Priority (Zone 1) boarding
- Unlimited complimentary upgrades (though at the bottom of the upgrade priority list)
- Free first checked bag
Delta Diamond/Platinum Medallion members on SPG stays:
- Elite check-in line
- 4pm late check-out (subject to availability)
- Enhanced room at check-in
- Complimentary guest room Internet access
Unfortunately, the program is only open to Starwood Preferred Guest elite members and Delta SkyMiles Medallion members, so you’ll need to obtain one of those levels to begin participating. However, there are many ways to boost your elite status qualification with both programs, and if you happen to have status with both programs, you can earn bonus Starpoints on your Delta flights and bonus SkyMiles on your SPG stays.
So how can you make the most of this partnership? Here are some suggestions:
1. Link your accounts
This may seem like the most obvious thing to do, but in order to utilize the partnership, you must link your Starwood Preferred Guest and Delta SkyMiles accounts. You can do this by signing into your SPG account and then adding your SkyMiles number or by signing into your Delta account and adding your SPG number. Note that you only need to do one of these options; linking from the SPG page will automatically enroll you in the program.
If you’re unsure whether your accounts are linked, follow the instructions above like you’re trying to link your accounts for the first time. If you’ve done it previously, you’ll see a message like this on SPG.com:
Or like this on Delta.com:
Again, this is hopefully something you’ve already done, but it’s a critical first step. You’d be surprised at how many people miss out on points or miles by not signing up for programs or partnerships like this — don’t miss out on these rewards by not signing up.
2. Get elite status
The second key step is to actually earn elite status with one (or both) of the programs. Once again, this is a pretty obvious step, as the Crossover Rewards program is only open to elite members of SPG and Delta. As a reminder, here are the qualification thresholds for Starwood Preferred Guest:
- SPG Gold: 10 stays or 25 nights
- SPG Platinum: 25 stays or 50 nights (While you do get added perks with SPG for hitting 75 and 100 nights, the benefits on Delta are the same for all Platinum members.)
Here are the qualification thresholds for Delta:
- Delta Silver Medallion: 25,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) or 30 Medallion Qualification Segments (MQSs) plus $3,000 Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs)
- Delta Gold Medallion: 50,000 MQMs or 60 MQSs plus $6,000 MQDs
- Delta Platinum Medallion: 75,000 MQMs or 100 MQSs plus $9,000 MQDs
- Delta Diamond Medallion: 125,000 MQMs or 140 MQSs plus $15,000 MQDs
Fortunately, there are a few ways to boost your elite status qualification prospects with each chain. With SPG, you can open the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express and/or the Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express. Each of these cards offers you 2 stays and 5 credits toward elite status every year, so if you carry both in your wallet, you’re 40% of the way to Gold status. You can also earn automatic Gold status by spending at least $30,000 on either card in a calendar year.
With Delta, there are four credit cards that allow you to boost your elite status without flying. The Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express (and the business version) gives you 10,000 MQMs (plus 10,000 bonus miles) after your first purchase on the card, and you’ll earn another 15,000 MQMs for spending $30,000 in a calendar year and another 15,000 MQMs for spending $60,000 in a calendar year. If you can hit that $60k threshold, you’re essentially getting “automatic” Silver Medallion status just for holding the card.
The other card that gives you MQMs is the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card, which is currently offering a sign-up bonus of 5,000 MQMs and 35,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months. Like the Reserve cards, you’ll also earn a miles boost on this cards, though not as lucrative: 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs when you spend $25,000 in a calendar year and another 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs when your spending reaches $50,000.
By utilizing one (or more) of these credit cards, you’ll increase your chances of qualifying for elite status with either (or both) SPG and/or Delta, which will automatically unlock the Crossover Rewards program.
Of course, there is another credit card that will help in this endeavor, but it deserves its own spot on the list…
3. Open the Amex Platinum Card
Another great way to maximize the Crossover Rewards partnership is by opening The Platinum Card from American Express, which is currently offering a sign-up bonus of 40,000 Membership Rewards points after you use your new card to make $3,000 in purchases in your first three months. The card carries a ton of benefits like a $200 airline fee credit and access to Centurion Lounges, and it also gives you automatic SPG Gold status. You do need to call the number on the back of your card to activate it, and unfortunately you must do this each year to “renew” the status.
Once you’ve activated the status, you’re then eligible to participate in the Crossover Rewards program (note that you can link your accounts prior to getting your Gold status; you just won’t be able to earn bonus Starpoints on Delta flights until your account is upgraded). As a Gold member, you’ll enjoy one bonus Starpoint for every dollar spent on qualifying Delta flights. TPG pegs Starpoints at 2.5 cents apiece in his most recent valuations, so it’s like getting an additional 2.5% return on every flight you take on Delta.
However, there are a couple of other intriguing aspects of the card that will allow you to further maximize the Crossover Rewards program (in addition to the SPG Gold status). For starters, the card grants you access to Delta Sky Clubs when traveling on Delta, so in addition to earning Starpoints for your flights, you can also relax in the lounge prior to taking each flight. This is a great value-added perk that would — when combined with the extra Starpoints you’d earn — likely push you to choose Delta over a competing carrier.
In addition, you’d be earning Membership Rewards points on the Amex Platinum, and these points can be transferred to both Delta and Starwood Preferred Guest. However, the latter of the two only gives you 333 Starpoints for every 1,000 Membership Rewards points, so you’d likely be better off transferring to Delta. The SkyMiles program has seen its fair share of devaluations over the last few years, but the currency is far from worthless and can come in handy when other options just don’t make sense. Even though you wouldn’t earn any bonus Starpoints on Delta award flights, you could still utilize the Sky Club benefit.
4. Take advantage of promotions
Every once in a while, we’ll see a promotion that makes this partnership even more lucrative. For example, right now you can earn 2 SkyMiles for every dollar spent on Starwood stays in the US and Canada, and this is actually open to all SkyMiles members (not just elite members). There was a similar (but more limited) promotion back in April 2014, offering Medallion members double miles on stays at Sheraton hotels in the US and Canada. Delta will also occasionally run promotions, like last month’s discounted business-class awards. These aren’t too frequent, but when they come up, be sure to take advantage of them.
Of course, you’ll always want to sign up for regular promotions that aren’t specifically connected to the Crossover Rewards program, as they can boost your Starpoint or SkyMiles account balances as well. This can be a great way to maximize your points and miles, like the current Triple Up promotion from SPG. You may even get targeted for a promo, like the double elite credits offer that TPG received last month.
It’s great to see how many new marriages have sprung up in the travel industry over the last few years, opening up some great ways to double-dip when you hit the road. The Crossover Rewards program with Delta and SPG is an innovative partnership that leverages the loyalty of both programs’ elite members to drive additional business. It’s interesting that Marriott and United launched a similar program just a few months later, so there’s no telling what will happen once the Marriott and SPG merger is complete. Hopefully this post has given you some suggestions on how to maximize this partnership until then!
Featured image courtesy of the St. Regis Princeville in Kauai.
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