Hotel elite challenges are a great way for people new to a hotel chain to hit a status quickly to take advantage of all the status has to offer. While some people stay enough at hotels to earn status without a problem, there are many people that want to take advantage of top-tier status for several different reasons – to enjoy the perks for very special upcoming trips, to take advantage of benefits for top-tier guests in typically crowded hotel situations, and many other reasons (sometimes just because they like having the top-tier status!). Whatever the reason, challenges can help get you there quicker – but does it mean they are the best way for everyone?
The SPG Platinum Challenge
Other hotel chains have also offered challenges at various times but the one we will look at today is the SPG Platinum challenge. SPG Platinum is the top-tier status for SPG members in the program. It offers a few benefits over the Gold level (which can be earned by simply having the American Express Platinum card and enrolling the SPG Gold benefit). The ones that would likely be valued the most over Gold are (see the full list of benefits at this page):
- Your choice of welcome gift upon arrival — choose from bonus Starpoints, continental breakfast or local amenity.
- An upgrade to best available room at check-in — including a Standard Suite.
- Complimentary in-room, premium Internet access.
- Complimentary health-club, Club-level and Executive-level access.
- Guaranteed room availability when your room is booked by 3 p.m., 72+ hours prior to arrival.
To earn SPG Platinum, you need 25 stays or 50 nights in a calendar year. But, there is a fast track way to do that and it is with the SPG Platinum Challenge. However, just because it is the fast track way, is it the best way?
SPG Platinum Challenge
To meet the requirements for the SPG Platinum challenge, you need to have 18 qualifying nights in a 90 day span. That qualifying nights part, for the purpose of the challenge, means that they need to be paid nights – no Cash&Points or award nights (like count for regular elite status).
If you meet that 18 night minimum within 90 days, you will have SPG Platinum for the rest of the elite year. While there is no doubt that SPG Platinum is a valuable tier to have if you want to earn the most points possible on stays (and with Uber) and get the most out of your SPG stay, the challenge may not be the best way to go about getting it – for most people.
To get the SPG Platinum Challenge, you cannot have held Platinum status within the last 5 years and you must call (888-625-4990 for US customers) to request the 90 day SPG Platinum Challenge.
Why Earning Platinum The “Hard” Way May Be Better
The challenge really is favorable towards people that have multi-night hotel stays. Since the challenge simply measures nights and not stays (a stay is the entire reservation whether it is 1 night or 5 nights), staying in a SPG property on vacation for 7 nights will get you almost half of the way towards SPG Platinum for the challenge.
The 3 Room Rule
This applies for both the challenge and the regular way of earning status.
Before we start with looking at why the regular way of earning Platinum may be better, there is one other thing that works for both and may be helpful. SPG allows you to book up to 3 rooms for every one of your stays where you get elite credit! That means that if you go with the Challenge, you could do a 6 night stay in one hotel and book two more rooms at the same property to get your 18 nights!
Of course, that kind of thing may be good if you are traveling with a lot of family or friends but not normally the best way to do it unless it is a very cheap hotel and you want to knock out the Challenge quickly. That 3 room allowance also works for regular status earning so it applies for both ways of earning Platinum status (or Gold).
But, if you are like me and do a lot of single night stays, the challenge is really not built for you and earning it the “hard” way (by regular qualifications of 25 stays/50 nights in a year) may be the better way.. Here is why:
Platinum Only Requires 25 Stays
To earn Platinum the “hard” way, you only need to get 25 stays within a calendar year. That means that if you are a single night stay person, any 25 nights in the space of a year will earn you Platinum for the rest of that year and the following year. For the person who does mostly single night stays (or is willing to hotel hop across different SPG properties during a longer stay), that means you only need 7 more nights than the Challenge requires – and you have 365 days instead of 90 days to get it done!
SPG Amex Credits
One of the perks of the SPG Amex cards (you can find them through the links on this page) is that both the personal and business cards award 2 stays and 5 nights of credit towards elite status each year! That means that if you have both credit cards, you are already 4 stays toward Platinum and only need 21 more! This puts you only 3 more single stay nights above what the Challenge requires!
Award Nights And Cash & Point Nights
Another nice thing about the SPG program is that you get elite credit even when you are on award stays or Cash & Point stays! That means you can hit SPG Platinum status without ever paying for a single stay – just using points for award nights! With the lowest category hotels costing only 3,000 points per night (2,000 points per night on weekends), you could hit the full 21 stays remaining (if you have the Amex cards) by spending 42,000 points on weekend, single-night stays!
Your experience would probably require more points than that if you went with point stays all the way since there are only so many Category 1 hotels around, but that gives you an idea.
This post shows that for people with both SPG Amex cards (or willing to get them) and if they do not mind doing single-night stays that the SPG Platinum Challenge may actually be the harder way to get SPG Platinum. SPG has very low requirements for their top-tier status (when compared to programs like Hilton, IHG, and Marriott) and allowing you to get there with award nights as well makes SPG Platinum within grasp of many people.
But, if you want the status and have a few stays lined up with several nights per stay, then the SPG Platinum Challenge would likely be the best way for you to earn SPG Platinum. Of course, then you have the 3rd group where SPG Gold (complimentary to Amex Platinum card holders) may suffice for the amount of their stays at SPG properties. If that is you, do not worry about gunning for Platinum now. At least you know what the avenues towards that status are for now!