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Starting October 1, 2011, all free night stays count towards your yearly status. Before this date, only paid revenue stays would count. Now, Gold status (which requires 10 nights/25 stays) and Platinum status (which requires 25 nights/50 stays) will be much more obtainable to reach.
Selfishly I am very excited for this enhancement! Now I will absolutely secure Platinum status for 2012. I personally think this is a good addition to the program as it is frustrating when you use points and do not receive the same benefits as a paid revenue stay. For years all Hilton stays (revenue or free) counted towards status and I always enjoyed this method. I am happy that Starwood has finally adopted this into their program.
Also, a reminder for those with the Starwood American Express credit card: Every year you will receive credit for 2 stays and 5 nights towards your yearly status. And, if you have both the personal credit card and the business credit card that will count double (4 stays and 10 nights).
Below are the FAQs posted on the Starwood site. These should clear up any outstanding questions, but feel free to let me know if you have any additional questions!
Q: When does this new SPG member benefit allowing SPG Award stays and nights to count toward elite status go into effect?
A: This benefit will go into effect for SPG Award stays and nights from October 1, 2011, onward. SPG Award stays with checkout October 2 or later (regardless of whether check-in date is prior to October 1, 2011) will count toward elite status. SPG Award Nights on October 1, 2011, or later will also count toward elite status. For example, an Award stay with check-in on September 28, 2011, and checkout October 2, 2011, will have the stay count toward elite qualification, but only one night (the night of October 1) will count toward elite qualification.
Q: Will SPG Award stays and nights prior to October 1, 2011, count toward elite status?
A: No. Only SPG Award stays with checkout on or after October 2 and any nights from October 1 forward will count. No SPG Award stays or nights prior to October 1, 2011, will count toward elite status qualification.
Q: Does this new SPG member benefit affect all SPG members?
A: Yes, this new benefit applies to all SPG members who have an SPG Award stay or night.
Q: Will this change be in effect just through 2011 or ongoing into 2012?
A: This is a permanent change to the program for 2011 that will continue in 2012 and beyond.
Q: What types of SPG Awards now count toward elite status?
A: Regular SPG Free Night Awards, Cash & Points Awards and SPG Award stays such as those earned from promotions (e.g., the SPG Getaway Free campaign Free Resort Night Awards) will count toward elite status. Non-SPG or any other type of SPG Award or Voucher stays, such as Air Canada’s Aeroplan awards, etc., will not count toward elite status.
Q: If I redeem Starpoints for five free nights, does the Fifth Night Free benefit also count toward my elite status criteria?
A: Yes, all nights of your redemption stay will count toward your elite status qualification, including the fifth night of a Fifth Night Free Award.
Q: If SPG has a promotion, such as Stays Count Double, do SPG Award stays now also count double?
A: No. Only eligible paid stays will continue to count double during these types of promotions. SPG Award stays will only count that one time toward your elite status qualification.
Q: Do SPG Award stays count toward promotional earning eligibility?
A: No. Only paid stays will continue to count toward promotional eligibility. For example, if SPG has an offer such as “Earn 1,000 bonus Starpoints for every stay,” you will only earn the bonus Starpoints on eligible paid stays. Cash & Points stays will still not count toward promotional eligibility.
Q: Will I be able to see my SPG Award stays and nights in my Account Summary in the eStatements and on SPG.com?
A: Yes. SPG.com’s Account Summary section will display your elite progress, including all SPG Award stays and nights, starting October 1, 2011, and will count all SPG Award stays and nights after October 1, 2011. This can be found on the SPG.com home page and on your account overview page. However, your “Past Stays” activity within your “My Stays” section of your online profile will not reflect SPG Award stays or nights. If you have any questions involving your SPG Award stay activity, you may contact your nearest Customer Contact Center. Your November 2011 SPG eStatement will reflect any SPG Award stays posted from October.
Q: How do I request credit for a missing SPG Award stay?
A: Contact your nearest Customer Contact Center to report any missing SPG Award stays or nights you believe should be credited toward elite status qualification. Missing SPG Award stays cannot currently be requested on SPG.com.
Q: If I want to gift an SPG Award stay or night to someone else, who gets the elite status credit?
A: If you (giver) decide to gift an SPG Award stay or night to someone else (receiver), the receiver will be given the stay/night credit toward elite status qualification. If the receiver is not an SPG member, he or she can enroll and receive the stay/night credit. You, the giver, will not receive any elite credit for that posted stay.