What is Starwood Platinum status?
Starwood awards Platinum if you stay 25 stays or 50 nights in a calendar year. The biggest benefits are suite upgrades (when available) and free breakfast (if chosen as on-property amenity and club access).
I have been a Platinum member for 2 years now and the treatment especially outside the US is fantastic. Much better than a Hilton Diamond and maybe not as good as a Hyatt Diamond. Though this depends a bit on your personal preferences.
While 25 stays aren't that many you have to book your stays through SPG.com.
What's the trick?
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express will give you a credit of 2 stays / 5 nights per year. This isn't new and has been a benefit of the card for a long time. I received 2 credits when I had both the Starwood Personal card and the Starwood Business card some time ago.
What we have all missed though is this: You can get the credit as often as you want per year as long as you add a new SPG account each time!
What do I need to do?
a) Find as many friends as you can who have the card (or are willing to apply for it).
b) Let's assume you find 10 like-minded people. Note down all the SPG numbers (log into SPG.com to find out).
c) Make a call to American Express (use the number on the back of your Starwood American Express card) and ask to change the SPG account linked to your credit card. Update it with the SPG account number of Friend 1 so Friend 1 will receive the extra credit. Meanwhile Friend 1 uses your SPG account number to update his card account.
d) Wait a couple of days until the credit is issued. Starwood Preferred Guest will send you an email that looks like the picture above.
e) Once the credit issues to your friend go on to Friend 2.
f) You and your friends should stick to that weekly schedule until you have the 50 nights credit issued.
After about 10 weeks all of you should be Platinum! This requires no actual hotel stays.
Does it really work?
There are a number of reports that it actually works. American Express agents may ask you why you keep changing your SPG number (though they should not really track all changes normally).
Will this cost anything?
It just costs the time you need to make that weekly call (about 5 minutes).
Will my account be shut down?
Yes, this might happen. While the terms & conditions do not expressively prohibit it, SPG and AMEX may subsume it as a violation of their T&Cs and your account might be shut down.