Why I am Going for SPG Platinum Status This Year (Instead of Hyatt Diamond)
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here: Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express
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?