The dark lining to the silver cloud of loyalty programs in the hotel and airline industry is that, with very few exceptions, the elite status you earn on a yearly basis will expire if you don’t keep patronizing a specific brand, generally at or near the end of the calendar year. The new year starts, the counters reset to zero, and those of us that value elite status hop back on the hamster wheel for another year.
Lifetime status is one of the few lasting perks you get based on continued loyalty to a brand. There are varying opinions on the value of lifetime status. My opinions haven’t changed and I’ve commented frequently over the years. When this crazy roller coaster of work travel ends, I want some benefits that I can use with my family.
The thing is, I’ve been pretty lucky when it comes to lifetime status. I had a bunch of spending back in the day when American Airlines counted miles from all sources. It’s a big reason I have millions of miles accrued with American Airlines (fortunately/unfortunately, I’ve spent most of them). And, I’ve made a ton of progress towards lifetime Hyatt Diamond status over the past few years. I’m 600,000 miles away from lifetime United status (unlikely), so that leaves SPG and the package I got in the mail last week.
The card itself is quite impressive. It’s at least as thick as the Chase Sapphire Preferred, the heaviest card I carry. It’s got a great feel, though I don’t know how often I’ll pull it out of the card stack I carry with me. I love the personalization though, and think it’s probably worth whatever it costs SPG to get the wow factor from the average customer. I wish the map was a bit more detailed but that’s a pretty cool touch as well.
Achieving Lifetime Platinum status requires 10 years as a Platinum and 500 nights in SPG properties. Any combination of paid and award nights will work, and I’ve had a decent number of award nights over the course of the last 10 years. I’m already well past 500 nights (heck, I’m past 600) and was just waiting for the 10 year mark to hit. Some of the benefits of Platinum include:
- Room upgrades, subject to availability
- Welcome amenity
- Premium internet
- Higher earning rate on stays, Uber rides
The room upgrades are the one that I’m most interested in, though SPG hasn’t done such a great job with tweaks to that process of late. And, if I want any of the Platinum 50 or 75 night bonuses, I’ll still need to hit that number of nights on a yearly basis. But, it’s great to know I’ve locked up these benefits for life.
The story doesn’t have a happy ending, though (nor a sad one at this point). It’s missing at least the last chapter. See, lifetime status is for the life of the loyalty program, not just your life. You know, whichever croaks first. There’s this small detail of a merger with Marriott.
I think it’s very likely that Marriott will honor lifetime status earned with SPG. While there’s a question of what level they’ll match to, I’m pretty sure they’ll match SPG Plat to Marriott Platinum. While that’s a lot less rewarding than the SPG version, Marriott has said they’re working on it.
I’m skeptical. They made me eat my words a bit at the same time they made themselves eat their own words by botching the launch of guaranteed late check-out. We’ll have to see where things go from here.
With only Hyatt lifetime status on the horizon I’m winding down my pursuit of lifetime status. I guess there’s a chance I end up on some path towards United status, but that’s a conversation for another day.
What’s your opinion on lifetime status?