How Easy is it to Obtain Starwood Stay and Night Credit on an Award Redeemed from Someone Else’s Account?

My stay in Iguazu Falls at the Sheraton was on points, a reservation gifted to me by a friend with more Starwood points than he can shake a stick at.

Points for incidentals at the hotel (e.g. my bar tab!) didn’t post automatically to my account, so I scanned a copy of the bill and sent it in for credit. The points were promptly added to my account.

Strangely, though, my stay and night counter for elite status didn’t go up.

Now, it doesn’t matter a great deal for me. I have Gold status through the American Express Platinum card. I’ll earn Gold status on my own, anyway. And I’m not expecting to hit Platinum as tempting as this year’s changes to the program make it to do so.

But it’s the principle of the thing, plus it’s more nights towards lifetime status. So I followed up.

No dice. I was told that since there were no room charges, I get no stay or night credit.

Dear Gary,

Our records indicate the previous email receive with your attached hotel bill was for incidentals as it did not have any accommodation charges. If you have room accommodation charges please send a full copy of your hotel bill and I will be happy to make the appropriate adjustments accordingly.

We appreciate your loyalty and look forward to your future hotel stays. If you have any further questions please let me know.

Best Regards,

SPG Program Services – Research Specialist
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide

That’s wrong, of course, Starwood now counts award stays towards status. I know this because I broke the story and even posted an internal memo confirming it prior to the announcement. So I really do know this.

I replied quite simply,

There were no accommodation charges because it was an award stay!

But of course award stays still count for stay and night credit.

Please adjust accordingly.

Gary Leff

Now the problem becomes that my wife’s name appeared on the booking (at check-in we had to present both our passports, so she was registered to the room along with me).

Dear Mr. Leff,

Our records indicate that your award reservation was booked under Ms. [name redacted]’s account. As it pertains to this stay we are not able to credit your account with stay and night credit due to it being under Ms. [name redacted] account. However, your account has been credited for your incidentals.

We appreciate your continued loyalty with Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc. If you have any further questions please let me know.

Best Regards,

SPG Program Services – Research Specialist
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide

Of course, nothing ever touched her account and neither Starwood nor the hotel ever had her account number.

I admit, I was starting to show some frustration. And I let them know this.

Seriously, what does it take to get Starwood Preferred Guest to apply its own rules correctly?

My wife, [name redacted], was listed on the reservation at check-in. That’s because the hotel requires all guests to be registered, and they verify with passports. My wife was with me, so her name appeared. But her Starwood number was never provided. The reservation was NOT “booked under her account.”

It wouldn’t matter anyway!

The reservation was booked using my friend [name redacted]’s points. BUT STARWOOD RULES ARE THAT THE GUEST WHO ACTUALLY STAYS receives the stay and night credit, not the person from whose account the miles are pulled.

Again, I am due stay and night credit for this hotel stay. I expect it to be credited to my account….

Do you think that solved it? If it did, I probably wouldn’t be writing a blog post!

Here’s the new hurdle I faced:

Dear Mr. Leff,

I apologize for any disappointment this may caused you. However, As per the terms and conditions of the Starwood Preferred Guest program, members must have reserved the room in their name, stay at the hotel and "pay" for the room for any reservation to be credited to their account. If any condition is not met, the stay would not be eligible for stay or Starpoint credit. As stated in your previous Mr. [name redacted]’s paid for this room with his starpoints. The only eligibility towards this stay would be your incidentals which I have credited your account with.

We appreciate your continued loyalty with Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc. If you have any further questions please let me know.

Best Regards,

SPG Program Services – Research Specialist
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide

Oh boy. Now I’m really frustrated, because the agent isn’t just confused, they actually don’t understand the rules of the SPG program. So I had to explain to them that award nights count towards status for the person who actually stays in the room.

And I admit, I’m not proud of my frustration here. I’m certain this person means well. They don’t deserve my snippiness. And yet as normally controlled as I am, I’m not sure my response was as measured as it should have been.

We’ve truly entered the realm of the bizarre….

You write that “per the terms and conditions of the Starwood Preferred Guest program,” because the room was paid for with someone else’s points, and I stayed in the room, I am not eligible for stay/night credit – I am only eligible for points on incidentals.

This is simply false. Please see the Starwood Preferred Guest FAQ on award stays/nights counting for status. The recipient of an SPG free night award receives stay and night credit towards elite status qualification per Starwood policy!

    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.

AGAIN, please credit my account with the appropriate stay and nights as requested. This issue has taken three additional emails after the credit didn’t post on its own…

I guess once they finally ran out of objections it was ok to give me the credit. This last email seems to have done it.

Dear Mr. Leff,

Your account has been credited for stay and night credit from your stay at the Sheraton Iguazu Resort and Spa.

We appreciate your continued loyalty with Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc. If you have any further questions please let me know.

Best Regards,

SPG Program Services – Research Specialist
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide

I’ll rarely ever give up. I almost always prefer to deal in writing, it helps avoid a moving target and also means I can forward previous correspondence especially if and when I don’t hear back as expected.

Question, though: having had to go through back flips to get Starwood’s policies honored, should I be compensated with some Starpoints for the trouble? What say you?

Update: I did email asking for points for the trouble. They haven’t replied, but posted 500 points to my account. Meh.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. An apology would have been a start. I can’t believe this wasn’t included in their final e-mail. It’s almost as if they still didn’t believe you and were crediting you with the stay just to make you ‘go away’.

    I also think some Starpoints should have been given out of respect for your wasted time and energy.

  2. While I agree that a written trail is excellent, I had a problem at FTU. I was double charged for my room. As opposed to writing, which didn’t get me very far, except frustrated, I called the platinum line and they took care of it posthaste. I’ve found the platinum line to be the way to go as opposed to trying to deal with the hotels directly. The platinum line calls the hotels and the hotel seems to know they should take care of it. I know this won’t help you because you are gold, but hopefully it may help some of your readers. I love SPG but clearly their service is inconsistent from property to property and via various forms of communication. That said I will stick with them as they have given some of my best hotel memories via upgrades.
    Oh and yes you should be given some points, which I see you were, and 500 is typical to placate those who have seen less than stellar service. But if you don’t ask you don’t get (an unwritten SPG policy)

  3. @JimL Maybe I’m wrong, but 500 feels no better than 0, and they didn’t even tell me they posted the points let alone apologize. I suppose I would have been happier with a genuine apology (not “We’re sorry for your inconvenience”) than with points. But if an actual real apology isn’t forthcoming then 2500+ points strikes me as in order 😛

  4. They’re wrong, and you deserved the credit, but it wasn’t worth your time. You won but you lost.

  5. Has SPG become so very heavy on enforcement these days that they forgot about customer service? If so, they should actually KNOW their rules, and consistently misapplying them is a serious oversight. After your second reply, they should have taken the time to review their own rules before responding. The customer should NOT be the one with the superior knowledge of their own program and required to call them out. Very sad. More than 500 points is warranted. SPG strikes me as very stingy all around.

  6. Great job! Clearly, there is a computer glitch here and my guess is no one gets the credit.

  7. Good to know the official policy here, though I benefited last year from Starwood misapplying it. Booked a stay for a family member in Europe and was pleased to see the stay credit post to my account. For me, getting credit for stays on my points but where I’m not at the hotel is more valuable than VV, though it seems I shouldn’t assume that will happen. Did your friend also get credit, by chance?

  8. That roughly approximates my experience in trying to get them to acknowledge my BRG claim when the spg website showed the hotel sold out and I booked via Platinum guarantee with Platinum Concierge who booked high rack rate, and then found that Expedia had the room for over a hundred less. They would not honor the BRG.

  9. I understand the frustration, but still, take the high road in your communications with them, and don’t get pulled into snippy comments by the agent’s incompetence! You could’ve made the same points in each email just as cogently without using the phrases “But of course…” “Seriously, …” “Entering the realm of the bizarre,” various use of all CAPS, etc. I realize you admit to some of this already, but still–you know you’re correct and that you’re going to ultimately get what is owed to you, so be exceedingly polite while making that case!

    And if 500 points feels like 0 to you, please go ahead and transfer those 500 points to my account, since I can use them and you’ll apparently be none the worse off 🙂

  10. Way to go! I don’t agree with politeness. Morons should be treated in their own moronic language. I think we have become a society of wimps. Credit should be due where it is and a moron should be reminded about their ignorance accordingly!

  11. @Carl I’ve been burned by Expedia last minute reservations, they will confirm you but when you get to the hotel they have no record of it, say they are overbooked and blame Expedia. Of course you can exploit this.

  12. I understand your frustrations too. I technically agree with Andrew but also appreciate it can be hard in the moment not to let frustrations boil over. I have actually found SPG customer service to be … well as you put it so well, “meh” – and that is at Platinum level. I think it’s kind of similar to AA where if you reach EXP the EXP desk is great but the rest are very hit and miss, and with SPG unless you are a 100 nighter with your own ambassador then it’s also hit and miss with more misses. I will say that the social media SPG Lurker who frequents FT and MP is very helpful with this kind of thing and if I had started running into a brickwall like this I’d have reached out to them to deal with whoever was clearly a clown on the other end of the conversation

  13. THANK YOU FOR THIS POST…I just checked on a recent SPG rewards stay for myself, and I did not receive elite credit. Glad I checked after reading your post!!!

  14. Oh, I agree with Andrew completely. As I intimate in my post, I am NOT proud of how I handled myself. But that’s not the point of this blog, to put myself out there as the paragon of excellence, I’m sharing my experiences… I didn’t want to ping William, or for that matter go to Starwood corporate in Stamford. I wanted to push this with the proper channels, it wasn’t about the night credit per se, I just wasn’t going to take wrong answers

  15. well guys.
    there is an easy solution for this.

    you can do this when you arrive at the hotel.
    tell them, that you were gifted the stay, and that you you want them to put your spg number into the booking.

    have at least one beer at the minibar.

    this will get you the whole staycredit, dont let your wifes name be on the checkout folio.

    only your name and your spg number. (they can change it at checkout too (the spg number)

    cheers dp

  16. It’s been well documented that SPG’s own agents don’t know the rules. I fought back and forth with SPG when a hotel charged me for internet months after SPG introduced (with much fanfare) free internet for Platinums. It’s a shame but your experience is certainly not surprising.

  17. i’ve fought with Amex over the bonus points mall (fraught with difficulties, no reconciliation info available anymore) recently, had a 6.5 month stay at the IC Puxi in Shanghai, the spend was c 27K, the bonus points x 3 for plat were c 80K, they had paid 43K points already as the bills at the hotel were four separate bills, there were 37K points owing, they gave 80K, so effectively 43K extra points for the trouble, but for that i had spent three separate conversations probably totaling 1.5 hrs and the emotional stress that goes with it. If i buy an item at the local supermarket and it rings up higher than the marked price, they give you the item free, i think with the points if they award less than correct points, they should double the original points.

  18. I disagree with ANDREW and agree with MRCHU, these people need to understand your frustration and at the very least check the rules of the program. And no real apology? What a crock! 500 points is nothing and you should get at least 2500 for your trouble.

  19. I probably give up before you do, Gary, but I am trying to work towards LT Plat status as well so maybe I’m just fooling myself when I say I’d give up.

    I probably wouldn’t have asked for the points, I don’t like poking the bear all that much.

    But, this is where I think Hyatt has gotten it right. Stay posts wrong, you get a 50% bonus on your Diamond amenity. Not a huge penalty to the properties since I’ve had it happen 4 times in the past 30 days.

  20. I find Harry’s post objectionable and an incorrect observation/statement. We all have a feeling of entitlement when we have earned something by
    the terms and conditions and not received it as promised self included.
    I am sure if we look back at this posters history we may just see a double standard.
    Mr.Leff IMHO had the patience of a saint after being refused repeatedly by SPG agents that lack the training to support the very positive aspects of the award winning Starwood Preferred Guest program is supposed to provide.
    I am grateful to read about the experience and to hear that I am not the only one tired of mass confusion at select times @ the SPG call center which I had myself two days ago trying to get t&C on confirmable upgrades which was also incorrect.I would not only have posted his stay if I worked for SPG based on the rotten customer service but posted him a goodwill gesture bonus for his patience.

    Giving credit where credit is due SPG still has above average call centers when compared to most of the other majors despite the bumps in the road.

  21. You definitely deserve additional points. You would have been out the original points if you weren’t on top of it or just accepted their response. When you have to fight so hard for what is rightfully yours from the start, the bonus points should be awarded to you along with an apology.

  22. I am Starwood Platinum (78 nights in 2012). I also ask for free Internet as my Platinum Gift. I frequently find that when I check my closing bill that I am still being charged for Internet and what I was told was ‘Free Breakfast’ or random other charges ($278 Room Charge?). I would say at least 7/10 of my last stays there was at least 1 item on my bill that should not have been. This is really criminal.

    Further my latest incident with Corporate which took me 1.5 hours to resolve ended with me asking for some sort of compensation for my time due to their multiple (4-5) mistakes. I was told “NO. Corporate does not do this”. Further I asked if they would just do me a small favor. I was told “Corporate works like a legal system and does not do favors.” Wow that is really bad customer service. I’ve stopped recommending Starwood hotels to people, I use to be a “raving fan”. Now I’m dead silent.

  23. World Traveler
    Don’t be dead silent vote with your feet!

    Starwood is simply borderline corrupt when it comes to customer relationship management at the corporate level
    And SPG agents aren’t empowered to fix problems nor offer good will gestures typically either when issues arise that is not fault of the customer.
    That’s not to say all the time but far more then a company that brags about its great hotels,service and program in its advertising. Let the buyer frequent stay guest beware.
    I’ve moved on to Langham, Hyatt Radisson Blu Ritz Carlton
    They know how to treat guests AND DO THE RIGHT THING WHEN THEY BLOW IT!
    The trust is not there with Starwood as strong as it should be. Its one giant cost cutting with a price tag attached in the end customer replacement

    Radisson and Hilton have solid guest assurance policies in place Starwood does not. Other hotel companies that don’t have policies don’t have to be asked by the guest in the first place how to compensate or do a good will gesture. The hotel companies know what to do without being prompted

    As some others have discovered Starwood will frequently be as stingy as possible no matter how bad they mess up create the problem or screw the customer and his or her time.
    Airlines who have worse reputations perform better frequently. I’d debate some US airlines have better customer service for their elite customers than Starwood does when a problem arises for any of their customers

    Starwood lumps all guests together Priceline to 100 plus night guests
    It is the best kept secret for over a decade no matter how much business one does with Starwood

    They will do what’s best for the company not for the guest that has been burned or inconvenienced
    Its one of the reason besides the over priced redemption and cash and points awards
    I have fled the program and their hotels happily for the most part despite liking some of their properties and a program resting on its one great and proud past
    The customer and guest is not valued @ Starwood just there $$$$$$

  24. Do you know if c&p awards can be gifted? Or can I simply just check in and pay if my name was under as the 2nd guest

  25. It’s crazy that in many spg staff are not even aware of the amex platinum benefit to an automatic gold member. They pretend they don’t know anything about it in some spg hotels regions or countries

  26. @Tony – you don’t need SPG hotel staff to know about it — if you have an Amex Platinum you can get Amex’s assistance in having your SPG account upgraded, then it will show Gold to those staff.

  27. Is this still officially applicable? I can’t seem to find the T&C’s on the site anymore. However, I was 1 for 2 in my last two instances of receiving a gifted award without any intervention.

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