As the calendar year slowly comes to an end, I know many of us are looking at doing some last minute mileage runs and mattress runs to get us over the next elite threshold.

If you’re short on Starwood stays or nights, it’s worth remembering that both the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Card from American Express offer two stays and five nights towards status annually. That means if you have both cards (as I do), you start the year off with four stays and 10 nights towards status, which sure is a nice boost.


If you apply for either card (or both!) now, you should still be able to get those credits towards status this year, and they’ll post again early next year.

This is a great benefit for those going for hotel status, given that it essentially lowers the threshold for Platinum status to 21 stays or 40 nights (compared to 25 stays or 50 nights). Previously I qualified on stays, though last year I finally qualified on nights as well thanks entirely to these cards.

Starwood updated their program last year to include a new suite night award benefit for Platinum members with at least 50 nights, making Platinum status more valuable if you qualify on nights versus stays. Those members get 10 suite night awards which can be used to confirm an upgrade five days before arrival, and that’s an extremely valuable benefit, as every suite night award I’ve applied to a reservation has “cleared.”

Suite at W Taipei using suite night award

SPG also offers additional incentives for Platinums spending either 75 or 100 nights in a calendar year:

SPG Elite Status

While I love the Suite Night Awards you receive after 50 nights, I don’t feel that the marginal benefits for staying 75 or 100 nights are generally compelling.

The exception, however, is the 4 Starpoints per dollar for those spending 75 nights. If you have 65-70 nights this year, and know that you’ll have a similar amount of travel next year, it’s well worth picking up the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and/or the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Card from American Express. Considering how valuable Starwood points are, this can be incredibly valuable.

At any rate, if anyone is in the same situation I am in, and is needing a boost in stays or nights to qualify for elite status, this is certainly an easy alternative to mattress running!


(In the interest of full disclosure I earn a referral bonus for anyone approved through the above links — thanks for your support!)

  1. November 13th, 2013 at 11:12 am

    FP said,

    And, as always, a reminder that Amex Platinum card holders get automatic SPG Gold status (well, you have to call Amex to activate it, but it doesn’t cost any extra).

  2. November 13th, 2013 at 11:50 am

    Andy said,

    I agree with you that the marginal cost versus benefits for 50+ night stay annually is not very compelling. However, IMHO, if you aim at stardood lifetime platinum, it may be worthwhile if you have always maintained your spg plat for more than 5 years.

    I personally hate the spg term that requires 10 years plat status to qualify for lifetime plat. If spg changes its term int night and points requirements as marriott is, I would go for 50 or 75 nights each year.

  3. November 13th, 2013 at 11:54 am

    Starwood Guide said,

    The best shortcut is a challenge. They are pretty easy with Starwood.

  4. November 13th, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    Andy said,

    @Starwood Guide,
    Are we allowed plat challenges more than once? For example, I took the plat challenges in Jan 2012 to earn my plat and stayed 25 nights in 2013. If I skipped 2014, am I eligible to take plat challenges again in 2015?

    Second question: Hyatt diamond challenge gives me a status match right from the beginning when/if I start diamond challenge. Does Starwood give a status match (with marriott or hilton) at the beginning when I start the plat challenge?

    What I am seriously considering is, skip 2014, stay 21 nights in Jan and Feb 2015 to maintain my plat well into Feb 2017. The purpose, while maintaining my plat status but seldom using it, is to count my years towards lifetime spg plat – I have 3 years (2012, 2013 and 2014) so far, and it needs 10 years. Any comments on this strategy?

  5. November 13th, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    FM said,

    Can you get elite nights/stay credit for opening more than 2 cards? Let’s say I have different corporations each with unique tax ID numbers.

    I’m currently 19 nights short and only have 6 nights forecast before year-end. If I could get 10 more nights credited through 2 additional cards (already have credit for 1 personal and 1 business), I could find a way to mattress run the remaining nights

  6. November 13th, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    Boraxo said,

    With all due respect, Lucky, hawking credit cards is not a shortdut to status. A shortcut is Hilton’s (now expired) MVP program or 4 stays to Gold, or Marriott’ Gold for UA elites. SPG does not offer shortcuts which is most unfortunate though it does help to keep the riff raff out of the lounge :)

  7. November 13th, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    lucky said,

    @ FM — If I’m not mistaken with AmEx you can only get one business card per person even if you have different tax IDs.

  8. November 13th, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    Papa Smurf said,

    @FM Yes, you can. I don’t know if you can have multiple business cards but it’s possible to get approved for multiple personal cards. I have two + biz and each one gives me elite stays/nights.

  9. November 13th, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    lucky said,

    @ Papa Smurf — Wow, that’s AWESOME! May I ask what your trick is to getting multiple personal cards?

  10. November 13th, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    Jim said,

    Does anyone know if the Amex 2 stay 5 night bonus applies to a new Amex/SPG card issued by Amex Canada? I cannot see anywhere that it says so on the Amex site.

  11. November 13th, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    Papa Smurf said,

    @lucky Don’t apply for both at the same time :)
    Honestly I’m not sure if there is a trick to it, but I did apply for the second one without entering my SPG account#. This effectively created a separate SPG account which then you can merge with your other SPG account. During the merge the stay/night credit carried over along with the points.

  12. November 13th, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    SAS140 said,

    Lucky, what happens if you cancel the card mid year. For example, January 2014, I’ll start the year with 2 & 5. Then in May 2014, if I cancel the card, will I lose that 2014 stay/night credit on my way to status?

  13. November 13th, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    lucky said,

    @ SAS140 — Nope, you keep the credits even if you cancel the card mid-year.

  14. November 13th, 2013 at 11:18 pm

    MaryE said,

    @Boraxo Actually, I used a Mastercard in Asia at the Westin Seoul one night, and got instant gold status

    @Lucky, I have 13 stays this year. Do I need 10 or 12 more stays to make it to platinum? I’m already two years Gold elite. Might try just to be lifetime gold since I am a leisure traveler, not a business one.

  15. November 14th, 2013 at 9:51 am

    Ivan Y said,

    SPG AmEx cards are a good way to contribute stays/nights towards your totals but, as mentioned in #1, Gold is easily obtained by simply having a Plat AmEx (then you call AmEx who then transfer you to SPG which get your info and apply Gold).

    The downside of obtaining Gold through Plat AmEx is that it does NOT give any stay/night credits to reduce requirements for Platinum status (i.e. they still remain 25 stays/50 nights). So that’s where SPG AmEx cards come in handy.

    Lastly, something to keep in mind is that SPG now allows stay & night credits for up to 3 rooms at the same hotel for same nights as long as you pay for them yourself. So if you are traveling with friends/family, you can book all rooms under your SPG #, pay for them and get them to reimburse you.

    Or, alternatively, this makes mattress running a lot more appealing since you can book 3 rooms at time and rack up stays pretty easily. For example, if you find some cheap weekend rates (e.g. AAA or local packages) and have multiple hotels in your city, you can get up to 9 stays credits: 3 stays in Hotel 1 (night of Fri-Sat), 3 stays in Hotel 2 (Sat-Sun), 3 stays in Hotel 1 (or 3) (Sun-Mon).

    P.S. If you are booked in multiple hotels for the same night(s), SPG will only give stay/night credit once.

  16. November 16th, 2013 at 10:57 am

    Azam said,

    How soon do the two stays and five nights credits towards status hit? Do you get them upon opening the card or do you get them upon hitting the $5K spend within 6 months? Thanks!

  17. November 16th, 2013 at 11:19 am

    lucky said,

    @ Azam — They post before you reach the minimum spend, usually within a few weeks of getting the card.

  18. November 16th, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    Azam said,

    @ lucky Thanks for the quick response!

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