Earning SPG Platinum Status on the Cheap and Easy
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It's been a good long while since I went out of my way to earn elite status. I mean, elite status comes into play when making some of my travel decisions, but rarely is it the only consideration in making a booking. However, for every rule there are exceptions, and when Starwood targeted me for a double stay credit promo, the fact that I only had 4 of the needed 25 annual stays to earn SPG Platinum status with less than three months to go in the year became a minor issue instead of the usual non-moveable roadblock. I had a few stays already on the books, a few that I could easily shift to SPG, and then some I would need to create out of thin air.
Throw in the Amex Offers I had on multiple Amex cards that essentially saved us 20% on the cash part of this 'status hunt' and the math became pretty favorable. So, as of today, I am officially the world's newest (and possibly least valuable) SPG Platinum member.
The reason we went for Starwood status was purely because of anticipated Starwood travel from now through early 2019, when the status will expire. Status is only worth what you get out of it and because of some planned longer award trips to some pricey SPG resorts during that timeframe such as Westin Whistler, Hotel Talisa in Vail, Westin Grand Cayman, Westin Snowmass, and more, there is a lot of value I think our family will get from having SPG Platinum status. Having SPG Platinum also unlocks Marriott Platinum, and if I didn't already have United Silver status, it would unlock that door as well through having Marriott Platinum.
While some chains have moved away from allowing you to qualify for elite status based on stays instead of nights, for me, it is always easier qualifying based on a lower number of stays (aka check-ins). It does result in sometimes changing hotels every night to trigger a new "stay" as you can't check out and back in to the same hotel on the same day and expect it to count twice, but hopping hotels is easier (er, cheaper) for me than racking up lots of nights. Had I wanted to earn SPG Platinum status via nights, I would have needed 50. When I decided to go for SPG Platinum status I was at just four stays for the year (two of which came from just having the co-branded SPG card and two of which were award stays), and needed to get to 25 stays before the end of December. Here's how we got it done in less than two months on the cheap and easy.
- Spend the night in Houston at the Westin Houston Downtown right next to the Astros playoff game instead of driving home in the middle of the night. Since I had the targeted double stays promo on my account, that was 2 more stays down, 19 to go.
- Head to a conference in Dallas and hotel hop each night. One night was spent at the Aloft Dallas Downtown then one at the Sheraton Dallas Downtown. That's 4 stays down in just two nights on a work trip, 15 to go.
- Instead of having my folks stay at the Gaylord Texan with us as we did all things holiday a few weeks ago, we saved over $100 and had them stay just minutes away at the Element Dallas Fort Worth Airport. I checked everyone in and we were squared away. Money saved, free breakfast in the bellies, and another 2 stay credits earned. 13 to go.
- Visit in-laws in Kansas where hotel rooms are cheap and everyone does well when we have our own space. We got two connecting rooms for Josh, the girls, and me at the Aloft Wichita Northeast for the first night of our trip and enjoyed spreading out. This was a status chasing splurge instead of all sharing one room, but we really enjoyed it. Another 4 stay credits earned, 9 to go.
- The second night of our trip to Kansas we booked three rooms at the Category 1 Four Points by Sheraton Kansas City Airport. Three is the max number of rooms you can earn elite status credits for at the same time with SPG, so we went all in on this one purely for status. Once that check-in was complete we earned 6 stay credits and had just 3 to go.
- On our third and final night in Kansas, Josh and I returned to the Aloft Wichita Northeast and stayed in one room. Two more stay credits in the books, and just 1 to go.
- For the final stay credit we had planned to stay at a hotel in downtown Houston last weekend after attending a fancy wedding in the area, but ultimately we have both just been on the road too much so we booked a cheap hotel stay we didn't actually need, did a mobile check-in, and crossed the magic threshold over 25 stays. We technically ended with 26 stays Starwood year-to-date.
We do have one more planned SPG stay before this year ends at the Westin Whistler, but I wanted Platinum status before that stay so we can enjoy Platinum perks like included breakfast for at least Josh and me, and maybe a small upgrade out of our bottom of the barrel room booked on points. Technically suites are in play for complimentary SPG upgrades, but during peak season I'm not holding my breath for too much in that department. Based on a previous visit to that property, I know how valuable free breakfast even for just the two of us will be as things get pricey in a hurry. Last time we were there, kids under 5 ate for free in the hotel restaurant, so fingers crossed that is still the case.
What helped get this quest to Platinum status done in a relatively reasonable manner was obviously first and foremost the targeted double stays promo. It wouldn't have happened otherwise, end of story. Next, having planned travel, some to one of the cheapest parts of the country in Kansas, was a key piece of the puzzle. The fact that award stays count towards status with SPG and you can earn credit for up to three rooms at once was also very important. The well-timed Starwood Amex Offer didn't hurt either, nor did getting two freebies stay credits just by having the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card. If I also had the consumer Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card, I would have had a total of four stays credits in my account before I even did anything.
I don't recommend most families go out there and chase elite status by doing what we did, but when the promos, planned travel, and math work out in your favor, I do think it is on rare occasion worth considering. Josh had SPG Platinum status a few years ago, but it has been a couple years since we had that tool in our bag of travel tricks, so I'm happy to have it back and will keep you posted as having it (hopefully) helps us save money and score upgrades for the next 14 months.