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TPG reader Alex email me to ask about Starwood elite benefits:
“Which SPG 50 night benefit would you choose? I wasn’t impressed by the suite night awards I chose last time, as they never cleared. I’m also not worried about re-qualifying next year, so the 5 nights of elite credit aren’t worth much to me.”
When Starwood introduced choice benefits for 50-night Platinum members in 2015, the new options were a bit lackluster. Apart from gifting SPG Gold status and the Suite Night Awards (which had been available previously), none of them were worth more than about $100. However, Starwood refreshed the list earlier this year with some much more valuable benefits, so picking among them is a bit more interesting.
I still prefer the 10 Suite Night Awards, but of course they’re only valuable if they actually go through, and if you wouldn’t have already been upgraded anyway. It’s a bit counterintuitive, but I think the best way to use these awards is to try not to maximize them. You’ll have better luck redeeming for shorter stays, and I like to use them at mid-tier or lower-tier properties that aren’t in the most popular destinations, since there’s generally less competition.
If I had to pick from among the other benefits, I’d take the free night award or the Silvercar rental. The free night is an easy win for me, as there are some great Category 4-5 properties that cost more than $300 per night. It might not be the absolute best value, but I know I’ll use it. Silvercar tends to be more expensive than your average rental, but the company offers a quality product to justify the higher price. A five-day rental can easily cost more than $350-$400, so that’s a great option if you already rent from Silvercar or if you’re interested in trying it out.
One dark horse candidate is the 40% discount on Westin Heavenly Beds. Those hotel beds can cost more than $2,000, so that benefit could be your best option in terms of pure dollar amount. However, it’s only a deal if you were already going to buy that bed (or a comparable one) to begin with, and the store does offer public discounts from time to time.
Starwood Gold status offers some decent value, so offering it to someone who wouldn’t qualify otherwise makes for a nice gift. However, The Platinum Card from American Express also offers SPG Gold status, and that extends to authorized users (along with a lot of other valuable benefits). I’d rather pay to add a friend or family member to my account and get them perks like Centurion Lounge access and a Global Entry application credit. Gifting status could be useful in the right circumstances, but I wouldn’t choose it myself.
For more ideas about how to earn and maximize Starwood elite status, check out these posts:
- The Award Traveler’s Guide to Starwood Preferred Guest
- Starting 2016 Off Strong with Starwood Preferred Guest
- What Are Some Tips for Earning SPG Platinum Status?
Featured image courtesy of the Westin Berlin.
The Platinum Card® from American Express
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