Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status usually comes as your reward for spending 25 nights or making 10 stays each year at hotels like Westin, St. Regis, Sheraton and W, but there’s a sneaky way to fast-track to Gold after spending just one night at a Starwood hotel.
That’s thanks to a nifty partnership between SPG and MasterCard where MasterCard World and World Elite cardholders can stay at any Starwood hotel in the Asia Pacific region (including Australia), pay for the stay using their eligible MasterCard and get one year of SPG Gold in return.
SPG Gold unlocks a number of useful benefits when staying at Starwood's worldwide network of hotels including a welcome gift of your choosing, room upgrades where available, a late check-out, bonus Starpoints and more.
Best of all, MasterCard World credit cards come in a variety of frequent flyer flavours in Australia, so whether you’re chasing Qantas, Virgin Australia or even Emirates frequent flyer points in the air, SPG Gold can still be yours on the ground.
Register for this promotion before staying: SPG fast-track offer
Commonwealth Bank Diamond Awards
Diamond Awards, CBA’s flagship personal credit card, offers both an American Express and a World MasterCard on the one account for a single $349 annual fee to maximise your points where AMEX is welcome and your overall card acceptance in the companion MasterCard where it’s not.
Along with your SPG perks you’ll also collect the equivalent of 1.5 Virgin Australia Velocity points per dollar spent on the AMEX via the Commonwealth Awards scheme and 0.625 Velocity points per dollar on the World MasterCard, with points converted to Velocity at your leisure.
Qantas frequent flyer points can also be earned at the same rates for an extra $30/year, with the points being automatically shipped over to your Qantas Frequent Flyer account every month.
CBA’s offshoot BankWest also counts a World MasterCard among its ranks, but which comes only by invitation to existing customers and can’t be applied for outright.
Diners Club + World MasterCard
In a similar fashion to CommBank, Diners Club cardholders can also pair their Diners card with a World MasterCard on the same account, giving them these SPG benefits along with access to a much a larger network of merchants at which they can spend.
For Qantas Points you’ll pay a $260 annual fee covering both cards, returning 1.5 Qantas Points per dollar spent on the Diners Club card (1.25/$1 after charging >$60,000/year) and 1 Qantas Point per $1 on the World MasterCard (0.75/$1 in excess of $60,000/year), plus a bonus Qantas Point per dollar when paying for Qantas flights and Qantas Club membership.
Or, opt for the regular Diners Club card combo to earn points with Virgin Australia plus many other airlines at a cost of $389/year, picking up the equivalent of 1.5 Velocity points per dollar spent on the Diners card and 0.625/$1 on the World MasterCard via Diners Club Rewards with no spend tiering.
Emirates Citi World MasterCard
Australia’s only direct-earning card for Emirates Skywards miles is another with the sought-after World MasterCard branding, slipping into your wallet for $149 in the first year and $299 thereafter and earning up to 1.5 Skywards miles per dollar spent, depending on where you transact.
Everyday purchases within Australia earn 1 Skywards mile per dollar on the first $3,000 every month and 0.5 Skywards miles on spends between $3,001 and $10,000 – but no points for anything further – while all overseas transactions accrue 1.25 Skywards miles per dollar with no points cap.
You can also pick up 1.5 Skywards miles per dollar spent with Emirates on the airline’s website for bookings commencing in Australia and billed in Australian dollars.
HSBC Premier World MasterCard
Look to HSBC’s Premier World MasterCard to earn frequent flyer points, and also to jump to SPG Gold status, but without paying an annual fee.
Cardholders earn 1.25 HSBC Rewards Points per dollar spent at home and abroad, uncapped, and when transferred to Virgin Australia Velocity on a 2:1 basis nets the equivalent of 0.625 Velocity points per dollar spent.
There’s also the option of a Qantas Rewards opt-in for $99/year churning out one Qantas Point per dollar spent: also uncapped but with points automatically credited to your frequent flyer account every month.
Westpac Altitude Black
Finishing out the top five is Westpac’s Altitude Black duo with an American Express card paired against a World MasterCard for the familiar benefit of maximum points and acceptance: plus, of course, easy Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status.
Cardholders can accrue the equivalent of 1.5 Velocity points per dollar spent on the AMEX and 0.625 Velocity points on the MasterCard via Altitude Rewards, or can switch their rewards option to 'Altitude Qantas' for the same earning rates with the Red Roo.
As with all of the companion card offers, just be sure your eligible Starwood hotel status is paid for using the World MasterCard, rather than the American Express card, even if it means earning fewer points as a one-off exception.
Plus one more: AMEX Platinum Charge Card
Not being a World MasterCard, American Express has its own deal for Platinum Charge Card customers with a direct boost to SPG Gold status before even stepping foot in a Starwood hotel.
That of course comes at a price with the card bearing a hefty $1,200/year annual fee, but is just one of the many perks enjoyed by cardholders – along with points on your spends, of course.
You can earn 3 Membership Rewards points per $1 at most restaurants in Australia; two MR points with airlines, hotels and when abroad; 0.5 MR points with utilities, insurance companies and government bodies and 1 MR point per $1 everywhere else.
Membership Rewards points can also be converted into Qantas and Virgin Australia frequent flyer points on a 1:1 basis and to other airline and hotel programs at varying rates.
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About Chris Chamberlin
Chris lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, an opera ticket and a glass of wine!