Given all the changes to the Delta SkyMiles loyalty program in the past year, many have questioned if the program still deserves one’s loyalty. The addition of Medallion Qualifying Dollars makes it more challenging to earn elite status. The new method for earning award miles — from one based on distance flown to the amount spent — might reward some high-value customers but could also backfire. Partner benefits have been cut. And creating five award tiers doesn’t necessarily mean more award availability at the lowest level.
Crossover Rewards, a partnership between Delta and Starwood Hotels, can still provide some significant value assuming one is a customer of both companies and has some elite status. This program is different from RewardsPlus, a similar arrangement between United and Marriott that provides benefits in the form of a status match. Rather Crossover Rewards promises benefits similar to those of having status as well as the ability to earn additional points and miles.
Before benefiting from this program, you need to register with Delta and Starwood. For a limited time, SkyMiles Medallion customers will earn double Starpoints at eligible Sheraton hotels in the U.S. and Canada from April 1 through April 30. At least two people on FlyerTalk are also reporting a targeted offer of 2,500 Starpoints for those who haven’t yet registered.
Benefits on Delta Flights
SPG Platinum and Gold members
- Earn 1 Starpoint per dollar spent on eligible Delta flights
SPG Platinum members
- Priority Check-in
- Priority Boarding
- Complimentary upgrades
- First checked bag free
Benefits at Starwood Hotels
SkyMiles Diamond, Platinum, Gold, and Silver Medallion members
- Earn 1 SkyMile per dollar spent on eligible rates at Starwood hotels
SkyMiles Diamond and Platinum Medallion members
- 4 PM late check-out
- SPG elite check-in line
- Complimentary in-room Internet
- Complimentary upgrades (not including suites)
Who Stands to Benefit?
As you can see, there’s nothing for you here if you lack elite status with both Starwood and Delta. However, SPG Gold status is complimentary with an Amex Platinum Card, and the Platinum and Reserve versions of the Delta Amex cards offer bonus Medallion Qualifying Miles when you sign up as well as when reaching certain annual spend thresholds. (Find more information about these on my Best Travel Credit Cards page.)
I think the benefits are greater for those Starwood elites who fly Delta. A frequent traveler spends at least a few thousand dollars on airfare, and given some flyers are hub captives they may be flying on Delta regardless of loyalty to the SkyMiles program. Starpoints can be very valuable not only for free award nights (fifth night free) and Cash & Points awards but also by transferring them to dozens of other airlines, typically getting 25,000 miles for every 20,000 points. The other benefits — checked baggage and so on — can be easily replicated with a Delta credit card and are similar to Silver elite status.
Delta elites who stay at Starwood hotels are earning just 1 bonus SkyMile per dollar spent, and the value of SkyMiles is dubious. The hotel benefits, again, can be easily replicated with a credit card — though in this case a fairly expensive Amex Platinum Card. It may be easier to just earn hotel status the regular way.
In either case the real value is from the bonus points and miles, not the benefits conferred. So if you’re someone like me who rarely flies Delta, then this program isn’t very valuable despite the fact I have SPG Platinum status. If, however, I earned Silver Medallion status with Delta through some credit card bonuses and without even flying, there’s the opportunity to get bonus SkyMiles on all my hotel stays and maybe use them for an award flight down the road.
That’s too many “ifs” for me and probably why Crossover Rewards only awards bonus points or miles if you have status in the other program. But it does acknowledge and reward the road warrior who often needs a place to stay after getting off a flight. I’m still hoping Hyatt and American will team up to offer a program of their own.