Do the Elite Nights From the SPG Amex Count Toward a Status Challenge?
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"Reader Questions" are answered twice a week — Mondays and Fridays — by TPG Senior Writer Julian Mark Kheel.
SPG Platinum status remains one of the more popular and valuable hotel elite status levels, and you can get it with just 25 stays or 50 nights at SPG properties within a calendar year. But TPG reader Marland wants to know if you can combine two shortcuts to earn that status faster...
[pullquote source="TPG Reader Marland"]I'm aware the SPG Amex gives night credits towards status for Starwood. My question is do these nights apply the same if doing a Platinum challenge where they've decreased the threshold to 18 nights?[/pullquote]
Let's go through each of these shortcuts one at a time. First, one of the features that comes with both the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express are 2 elite stays and 5 elite nights that can be applied toward your progress for SPG elite status. These elite credits can even be combined if you have both cards for a total of 4 stays and 10 nights, which is roughly 20% of the way to SPG Platinum.
But Starwood also offers an elite status challenge program to speed up the process. If you sign up for the challenge and stay either 9 nights for Gold or 18 nights for Platinum within three months (there's no option to qualify with stays in the challenge), you'll earn status for the rest of the year and potentially the following year as well if you start your challenge after March 1 (though the official terms for 2018 challenges haven't been published by SPG yet).
So that leads us to Marland's question — can you sign up for the status challenge, and then apply the 5 elite nights from one or both SPG Amex cards to your challenge requirement? Because if you can, that could make earning either status a much easier lift.
Unfortunately though, the terms and conditions of the SPG challenge specifically note that...
Platinum Status Challenge participants must complete 18 Eligible Paid Nights at hotels and resorts that participate in the SPG program within their Challenge Period. Gold Status Challenge participants must have nine (9) Eligible Paid Nights within their Challenge Period. SPG Award Nights do not count as Eligible Paid Nights for the purpose of the Status Challenge. Only eligible paid nights consumed within the selected Status Challenge period will count toward the Status Challenge. [emphasis added]
The key word here is "paid" — the elite nights from the Amex cards are considered to be eligible nights, but not eligible paid nights. It's a similar delineation as SPG makes when calculating lifetime elite status, which requires 250 nights for Gold or 500 for Platinum. In that case, SPG provides the following examples...
And just in case you're wondering, yes, SPG's computers do apply this rule as it's written, so you won't get the benefit of an IT programming error if you're hoping to get your SPG Amex nights to apply to the challenge. Also, note that unlike when it comes to earning SPG status the normal way, when it comes to the challenge, award nights do not count.
So while the SPG challenge can be incredibly useful as a way to get SPG status quickly, you'll need to pay and stay the actual nights for the challenge. Thanks for the question, Marland, and if you're a TPG reader who'd like us to answer a question of your own, tweet us at @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or email us at email@example.com.