Earn Status With Starwood and Marriott Through AAA
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
Whether it’s late checkout or an upgrade to a room with a better view, having even the lowest tier of hotel elite status can make your travel experience a little bit more comfortable. Best of all, you don’t need to be a road warrior, or even stay a single night at a hotel, to earn low-tier elite status. Most major chains allow you to shortcut to status through co-branded credit cards and partnerships with airlines. What’s less known is that you can also get elite status just by being a member of an auto club.
Today, we’ll take a step-by-step look at how you can utilize your AAA membership to shortcut to SPG Preferred Plus and Marriott Silver.
SPG Preferred Plus Benefits
Although SPG Preferred Plus is a somewhat hidden status tier, you can get it with the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express, in addition to using the AAA method.
Its benefits are nearly identical to SPG Gold status. With the exception of the 50% bonus points and welcome gift upon arrival, you get the same 4pm late checkout (subject to availability at resorts and conference center hotels), upgrades to enhanced rooms (corner room, higher floor or better view) and complimentary in-room internet access as Gold.
Method 1: Call AAA’s Dedicated Starwood Reservations Number
AAA’s website only lists one method of requesting the status: by calling its dedicated Starwood reservations line (1-866-782-7737), providing your membership number and mentioning enrollment code “AAA/CAA.” Note that this number is different from SPG’s main customer care line and the agents there don’t have the ability to assist with this. (AAA reached out to us after publication, to say that "we are working with our partners at Marriott and SPG to better prepare their customer service agents to help members redeem this offer.")
Unfortunately, based on my and several others’ experiences, this method probably won’t get you very far. The agent I was repeatedly connected with had no idea about the benefit and kept transferring me to SPG’s main line. After about 30 minutes of back and forth, I was finally able to convince the AAA agent to transfer me to a supervisor. Unsurprisingly, the supervisor initially also insisted that the benefit didn’t exist, but after I re-explained that it’s listed on AAA’s website — for what felt like the hundredth time — the supervisor was able to miraculously process the upgrade. Although I was eventually able to get the status this way, you'll want to skip the hassle and go straight to method number two.
Method 2: Email Starwood
The much simpler way of requesting to upgrade your account is by emailing Starwood.Preferred.Guest@Starwoodhotels.com. Although SPG’s main customer care agents aren’t able to process these types of requests, the agents in this department can. In the email, you’ll need to state that you’d like to upgrade your SPG account to Preferred Plus through the AAA benefit and include your membership numbers for both programs. You’ll receive a confirmation email within a few hours and voilà, your account will reflect the new status.
Marriott Status Match
As long as you’ve linked your SPG account with Marriott, your new status will immediately be matched with the other program.
While Preferred Plus is not officially considered an elite tier with SPG, it matches to Marriott Silver, which is an elite tier. This means that you technically could also match the status to another hotel chain, but since opportunities like these are typically offered only once per lifetime, you’ll probably want to save them for when you have higher tier status.
If you’re an AAA member who doesn’t hold elite status with SPG or Marriott, and don’t already receive the same benefits through a credit card, there’s no reason not to take advantage of this benefit. Depending on how much you value perks such as upgrades to enhanced rooms and late checkout, this benefit alone could offset the costs of your auto club membership. I personally don’t own a car, and already get roadside assistance thanks to my Chase Sapphire Reserve card, but still joined the club so that I could take advantage of perks like these and get solid discounts on hotel stays
This story has been edited to add the correct email address to contact SPG.