Friday, January 15, 2016

Think car rentals, free stays, and more.

Following the Starwood-Marriott merger, all eyes are on the SPG loyalty program and how it might change. For now, that outlook is pretty optimistic.

Though the merger itself has yet to be fully finalized, Starwood is continuing to expand its loyalty program on its own terms; for travelers, that means more perks and more forms of redemption.

Today, the company is upgrading their 50 Night Benefit program, which lets travelers who spend 50 qualifying nights at Starwood hotels to pick a reward of their choice. What that used to mean: a donation to UNICEF, a gift of gold SPG status for a friend or family member, or 10 Suite Night Awards, which let you get an upgrade to select premium rooms and suites if those rooms are available.

Now, those who meet the 50 night criteria can pick from four new reward choices—which are all worth getting excited about. They are:

  • Up to 5 days of a free rental with Silvercar
  • One free night at any Category 1-5 hotel or resort
  • Five Elite Qualifying Nights to help you re-earn elite status
  • 40 percent off your favorite hotel bed, including the iconic Westin Heavenly® Bed

There's no easy way to quantify the value of Elite Qualifying Nights, but 40 percent off a Heavenly bed is nearly $1,000—and though SPG hotels and resorts are on a seven category scale, a free night at a Category 5 property can include Luxury Collection resorts in Mexico, Italy, and beyond. As for the Silvercar benefit: it may just be the most fun. The company only rents Audi A4s that can be unlocked with your smartphone, with customer service that'll never make you want to look at a run-of-the-mill rental counter ever again.

Think car rentals, free stays, and more.

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