Why SPG Members Should Be Pushing For Lifetime Status

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Marriott’s takeover of Starwood has resulted in quite a few changes for members of both Marriott Rewards and Starwood’s Preferred Guest program but, while we already know what the next 14-18 months are going to look like for both programs, there’s not much that we know about what the final combined rewards program will look like.

I’m a strong believer that if a loyalty program thinks it can get away with making things worse for its members that’s exactly what it will do – Hilton HHonors & Delta SkyMiles are good examples of this but there are a lot more examples too.


I’m already on the record as saying that Starwood elites need to expect the worst when details of the final combined loyalty program are announced (I can’t see Marriott maintaining a good proportion of the benefits they’ve grown accustomed to) and can see Marriott using the combined loyalty program as an opportunity to cut out a few perks of the Marriott Rewards program too….so it’s time to take defensive measures if we can.

One measure could be to move to a whole new loyalty program but, as IHG, Club Carlson and Hyatt all either have poor rewards programs or don’t have enough properties to cover someone who travels widely, that would leave just Hilton…and if Marriott and Starwood elites wanted to stay at Hilton properties they’d already be doing that by now.

For most of us the combined loyalty program will mean having to make the best of whatever Marriott throws our way….. but there is one thing that I think Starwood’s SPG members should be pushing hard for right now – Lifetime  Status.

Marriott & Starwood Lifetime Status

Yes, the combined loyalty program may cut benefits, but having status with Marriott will still be very useful to have if you’re going to continue to stay at Marriott/Starwood properties going forward….and locking in Lifetime Status right now would insure you against any negative changes Marriott introduces to status earning.

Thresholds for Marriott Lifetime Status:


Here’s a link explaining how to find your progress to Marriott Lifetime Status.

Thresholds for Starwood Lifetime Status:

  • Lifetime Gold – five years of elite status during your account tenure AND 250 eligible nights since joining the program.
  • Lifetime Platinum – 10 years of earned Platinum status during your account tenure AND 500 eligible nights since joining the program.

What I Expect To Change

I have no idea what Marriott plans to do with Lifetime Status but I’m prepared to make an educated guess on the following:

  • The number of nights needed for Lifetime Status will be the same as for the current Marriott Rewards program – not an issue for Marriott loyalists but a huge increase for SPG members.
  • As Starwood doesn’t have a point requirement in its lifetime program and, as I can’t see how Marriott could incorporate SPG members into a lifetime program that has a point requirement, I expect the point requirement to be removed.
  • As Marriott will have records showing how long Marriott Rewards members have held their status and, as Starwood already uses this as a metric for Lifetime Status, I expect the combined program to incorporate this element of Starwood’s current program.
  • Marriott will grandfather in those with existing Marriott and Starwood Lifetime Status so as not to antagonise some of their more loyal customers.

So, if I’m right, Marriott Rewards members shouldn’t be too disadvantaged by the new Lifetime Status requirements but Starwood Elites could suddenly find themselves a lot further from Lifetime Status than they are now.



Bottom Line

If I’m right about what I think will happen to the Lifetime program – and bear in mind this is all just supposition on my part – then SPG elites should be doing everything possible to rack up as many nights as they can before the programs combine and hit lifetime status if at all possible.

Just imagine finding yourself stuck on 480 nights when the programs combine (just 20 away from Lifetime top-tier status) and then finding out that new combined program will require the 750 nights that the old Marriott Rewards program required for top-tier status – suddenly needing another 270 nights would be quite a blow to take!

If you’re an SPG Elite and you think you may have a chance at hitting Lifetime Status before the programs combine then you should definitely make an effort to do so. You have at least 13 months before the programs combine (I suspect it will be closer to 15-16 months) and you could find it a lot harder to achieve Lifetime Status after Marriott has introduced the new requirements.