With Suite Nights Expiring Unused, What Should I Choose as My Starwood 50 Night Platinum Gift?

Just like Pizza in Motion who is letting all 10 of his Starwood Suite Night Awards expire unused I have to make a selection for my Starwood Preferred Guest 50 night Platinum benefits in the next month — and I don’t know what to choose.

  • Starwood Platinum status is achieved after 25 stays or 50 nights in a year. There are additional benefits for those who stay with Starwood 50 nights versus just 25 stays.

  • This began in 2012 when Starwood introduced ‘Suite Night Awards’ for Platinums who stay 50 nights or more in a year. For 10 nights they allow you to express first-preference for an upgrade, and perhaps more importantly Starwood centrally manages the process between 1 and 5 days prior to check-in rather than relying on the hotel to process upgrades.

Member frustration with using their advance upgrades led Starwood to introduce more choices early in 2015. But those choices were weak. Suite Night Awards seemed like the no brainer. But I really haven’t gotten much use out of mine.

For 2015 the choices Platinums could select from were:

To me the choices – aside from Suite Night Awards – just weren’t that compelling.

For 2016 you still had:

  • 10 Suite Night Awards
  • Gift Gold status to a friend or family member
  • SPG® donation to UNICEF

And they added 4 new selections:

  • Free rental up to 5 days with Silvercar
  • Free Night Award at a property up to category 5
  • 5 Elite Qualifying Nights
  • 40% off your favorite hotel bed (including Westin Heavenly Bed)

You make your selection on the 50 Nights Benefit page. If you don’t make a choice by January 15, they choose 10 Suite Night Awards for you.

A category 5 free night is worth 12,000 – 16,000 Starpoints, perhaps $250 to $350 in value. It has to be used by December 31, 2017.

5 Silvercar rental days are worth ~ $250 – $350 as well (they actually also come with waived $5 fuel refilling fee, though they have to be used in a single rental reservation). The reservation must be consumed by December 31, 2017. I like Silvercar but the problem here is I pretty much never make a 5-day car rental.

If you’re going to buy a heavenly bed the discount is worth even more, since Westin beds are rarely discounted (though W beds are often discounted). The 40% discount on mattress and box spring is valid at Westinstore.com,Whotelsthestore.com, Stregisboutique.com, Luxurycollectionstore.com, or Sheratonstore.com.

Elite qualifying nights will be useful to some that are going for 75 or 100 night elite status (these are 5 elite nights that are credited in 2016 — not help towards requalifying in 2017). Coupled with the two Starwood American Express cards (personal and business) that would total 15 nights towards status in a year.

I love suites, but the Suite Night Awards can be challenging to use for four reasons:

  1. Hotels are full these days
  2. Everyone wants suite upgrades at the same hotels at the same times. No one wants them on solo one night business stays. They want them at resorts at peak times.
  3. Suite upgrades have to be available every night of a stay.
  4. There are hotels that play games with inventory, though my sense is this factor is less important and less prevalent than commonly believed.

If you want Suite Night Awards over the holidays at the Westin Maui, good luck. If you want them at the Sheraton Denver Tech Center you’ve got a shot. I think my choice is between a free night, and a proactive plan to burn them at middling Sheratons. What do you think I should do?

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. Hey Gary,

    Do you think the 50-night perks are worth going out of my way to stay an additional 5-6 nights this year? I’ve re-qualified for platinum with 26 stays but only have 41 nights so far with 3 more coming up. I’ve never had the 10 suite upgrades but judging from your post it seems like they’re mostly useless anyway…

  2. Spg 93 nights here. I have 10/20 SNU expiring also…. They are a joke…. Not even in my wedding night they confirmed!!!! Not even 1 night!

  3. Agree they can be of limited use (I’ll have 4 expire most likely) although I did successfully redeem 4 nights at the Gritti Palace in Venice that confirmed 5 days in advance, which was an excellent use.

  4. can you clarify:
    “Elite qualifying nights will be useful to some that are going for 75 or 100 night elite status (these are 5 elite nights that are credited in 2016 — not help towards requalifying in 2017”

    Say I did 50 nights in current 2016 year & qualify for 2017, and pick “5 elite nights”, these will go toward 2018?

  5. @Gary – I’m in a similar position, and had a question. For Suite Nights earned this year, when do they have to be booked and used? That really affects the value of the benefit. If they can’t be used after the year that they were earned, that lowers the value significantly. In that case I’d likely take the free night.

  6. I think either the suite nights or the room certificate are the best use, although the it’s a toss-up when you have to decide a year ahead of time. I’ve been able to use all of them in thevery past but last year I left 4 unused and so I think I’ll be doing the room cert which I’m almost certain to be able to use at some point this year.

  7. SPG Plat 75 here, I will be using my choice benefit on the free night. Honestly, don’t see much value in SPG suite upgrades. I seem to get them when I don’t really care for them (on business travel), and never get upgrades when I actually do (on personal travel).

    I’ve known I wasn’t going to use them so I’ve been applying them to every reservation I’ve had in the second half of the year and posted a .000 batting average.

    On the other hand, I’ve gone 100% with my confirmed Hyatt DSU’s on stays at the Andaz Napa and 5th Avenue, so I’ve got that going for me.

  8. Not sure about what it is but idea: why not to donate them to something like Luxury Travel Deals or some other charity? They can make small bucks auctioning them off and someone might find use for them. This is, of course, if they can be transferred.

    Just a thought!

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