How to get some SPG Platinum benefits without status

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SPG Platinum benefits include a killer feature not found in any other major hotel chain program:  “An upgrade to best available room at check-in — including a Standard Suite.”  When a guest with Platinum status checks in, the hotel is required to upgrade that guest to a standard suite if any are available.  Of course, some hotels wiggle out of this responsibility by severely limiting the number of suites they consider “standard” or by pretending that no suites are available upon check-in.  Still, on the whole, SPG Platinum elites often report enjoying fantastic upgrades.

SPG Platinum benefits St Regis Abu Dhabi Junior Suite

SPG Platinum Benefits

SPG Platinum requirements and benefits are detailed here.  In short, SPG Platinum status requires 25 eligible stays or 50 eligible nights in a calendar year.  Unlike Hyatt, SPG award nights count towards status as do a second and third room booked for the same stay.

The benefits of standard Platinum status include:

  • Earn 3 points per dollar for stays (vs. 2 points per dollar for standard guests)
  • Choice of welcome gift upon arrival (bonus points, continental breakfast, or local amenity)
  • An upgrade to best available room upon check in – including a standard suite
  • Complimentary health-club, Club-level and Executive-level access.
  • Premium Internet
  • And more…

Additional benefits are granted to those who have earned 50 eligible nights, 75 nights, and 100 nights.  Again, details can be found here.

No silver bullet

With Hyatt, all you need are a bunch of points and a friend with Hyatt Diamond status in order to enjoy top tier perks.  With SPG, there’s no similar silver bullet.  Instead, we’ll identify other ways to obtain some of the key features of SPG Platinum status:

  • Club-level access
  • Premium Internet
  • Room upgrades
  • Suite upgrades

The SPG Business Credit Card

The SPG Business card offers free access to Sheraton club lounges.  It’s important to note that this is a feature only of the business version of the card, and that this benefit is limited to Sheraton properties only.  Still, it’s a nice easy way to get lounge access if you stay at Sheraton hotels.

SPG Gold Status

There are a couple of easy shortcuts to get to SPG Gold Status.  One option is to get a SPG card and spend $30,000 within a calendar year.  Another option is to signup for an Amex Platinum card either as a primary cardholder or an authorized user (see: Amex Platinum Checklist).

Gold status offers:

  • Earn 3 points per dollar for stays (vs. 2 points per dollar for standard guests)
  • 4pm late checkout
  • An upgrade to an enhanced room
  • Choice of welcome gift (bonus points, premium in-room internet, or a beverage)
  • Premium internet when you book directly with SPG (this is in addition to the welcome gift)
  • And more…

As a Gold elite I have received upgrades to rooms with club access a number of times, but there is no guarantee.

Upgrade with points

Starwood lets you upgrade paid or award stays with points (details here).  Interestingly, cash stays can’t be upgraded until 5 days prior to arrival, but award stays can be booked into an upgraded room from the get-go.  So, there’s a real advantage to booking an award stay if you also want to secure an upgrade in advance.

Here are the prices for upgrading your room (but not to a suite):

SPG Platinum benefits via SPG room upgrades with points

And here are the prices for upgrading to a suite:

SPG Platinum benefits via SPG suite upgrades with points

As you can see above, room upgrades are quite reasonable.  Worst case, you’ll pay 2,750 points per night for a better room.  I checked options for upgrading at the Category 7 St. Regis Princeville (in Kauai), for example, and found that an additional 2,750 points per night would guarantee a premium ocean view room.  And, if you take advantage of SPG’s 5 nights for the price of 4 award, they’ll charge the upgrade price for only 4 nights.  That works out to a total of 11,000 points for securing a premium ocean view room for 5 nights.  If you have the points, it’s probably worth it to ensure that you get that ocean view for your stay.

Note that the types of room upgrades available will vary by hotel (call SPG to find out what’s available for the hotel you want to book).  SPG lists the following examples of room upgrades:

  • Larger rooms
  • Suites
  • Rooms with different view types
  • Rooms on specific floors
  • Club Rooms
  • Corporate Club Rooms
  • Westin Guest Offers
  • Smart Rooms
  • Rooms on Club Lounge or Concierge Services floors

Its very interesting that they list Suites as an example of a type of room upgrade!  I can’t imagine that too many hotels offer that option.  Upgrades to club lounge floors are probably more common.

Suite upgrades, on the other hand, can be extremely expensive at high category hotels.  In fact, the upgrade price is exactly the same as the cost of a second room on weekdays:

SPG award chart weekdays

While suites will usually be much more luxurious, if your goal is to make room for more people you may do better booking a second room.

Summary

Room upgrades, club level access (sometimes), and premium internet are all achievable without Platinum status.

Room upgrades can be secured by upgrading with points or simply by having Gold status (but then you won’t know what room you’ll get in advance).

Club level access is also sometimes achievable through the same means.  In some hotels, a points upgrade will get you into the club.  And, often, Gold status is enough to get you upgraded to club access.  When staying at Sheraton properties, club access can be secured simply by having the SPG business card.

Premium internet is also easy to get with either an SPG credit card or Gold status.

Suite upgrades, unfortunately, are tough to get without Platinum status.  You can use points to upgrade, but at high category hotels the price is prohibitive.

Also note that some hotels offer extra perks to Platinum members beyond the guaranteed perks.  For example, some offer free hot breakfast.  There may be some instances where you can get a room upgrade with points that includes breakfast as part of the package.  Otherwise you’d be out of luck.

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