If you want to focus on only loyalty program to maximize your travel rewards, undoubtedly it will be “Starwood Preferred Guest” Program for simple reason “Flexibility in use”.
What is Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG)?
SPG is the loyalty program for Starwood hotels and resorts consisting for 9 Brands totaling more than 1100 hotels across 100 countries.
You can earn “Starpoints” when you stay at any of these 9 brands and may also earn status with the SPG program, if you stay enough nights. There are 3 levels with the SPG program.
Preferred – status for being a member.
Gold – 10 stays/25 eligible nights annually
Platinum – 25 stays/ 50 eligible nights annually
What can you do with Starpoints?
Starpoints are one of the versatile points available in the loyalty programs. Starpoints can be used in many ways, hotel nights, flights, gift cards etc..
1. Award nights at the participating Starwood hotels
Starpoints can be used to redeem for award nights at participating Starwood hotels and resorts. This table details the number of points needed based on the category hotel.
You can redeem Starpoints for as low as 2,000 points and you can also use points for Rom upgrades and Suite upgrades (provided the particular hotel offers the option), however only standard rooms can be online, upgrade awards must be booked over phone.
Another benefit of this program is the 5th night free when you redeem 4 consecutive nights at Cat 3-7 hotels. Award nights at top category hotels can be expensive, but the redemptions at low-mid tier hotels a=offer a great value.
2. SPG flights
You can redeem Starpoints for flight tickets. you are paying with points instead of money, so there are no blackout dates and the number of points needed depend on the price of the ticket.
3. Transfer SPG points to frequent flyer programs and Amtrak Guest rewards
SPG members can transfer up to 79,999 of their Starpoints per transaction per program within a 24-hour period to the 31 frequent flyer programs listed. For every 20,000 Starpoints transferred within the same transaction, Starwood will automatically add another 5,000 Starpoints.
It would be advisable to transfer not more than 60,000 points in one transaction, so the 5,000 points per every 20,000 Starpoints can be maximized
Point transfers are not instant, and it could take about 1 week to complete the transfer.
4. Nights and flights
SPG points can be used for Nights and flights. With nights and flights, you can redeem 60,000 star points for a 5 night stay at Cat 3 hotel and 50,000 miles to the frequent flyer program of your choice within SPG partners
or 70,000 points for a 5 night stay at Cat 4 hotel and 50,000 miles to the frequent flyer program of your choice within SPG partners
Night and flight awards are only applicable for Cat 3 and 4 hotels.
5. Rental Car Certificates
6. SPG Moments
You can redeem Starpoints for SPG Moments. You can bid for special experiences in Cultural, Music and sports categories.
SPG moments start at 1,000 points and the Moments can be fixed price or bid.
7. Gift Cards
You can redeem Starpoints for retail gift cards. There are a variety of gift cards you can get with star points.
Some of the options are Amazon, Banana Republic, Gap, Pottery Barn, ITunes, Starbucks..
8. Transfer Points
You can transfer Starpoints to another SPG member for free of cost. However, both the member should share the same address for at least 30 days at the time of transfer.
I would recommend doing this transfer only within family or friends.
How to Earn Starpoints?
Starpoints are hard to earn, there are not many credit cards that offer huge signup bonus. However, there are few options to earn Starpoints. Here are some of the popular ways
1. Stay at participating Starwood hotels
Members at the Preferred Guest level earn two Starpoints for every eligible U.S. dollar spent at over 1000 participating hotels or resorts booked through Starwood Web sites, hotels, call centers and their travel agent or corporate booking tool. Gold Preferred Guest and Platinum Preferred Guest members earn three Starpoints for every eligible U.S. dollar spent under the same booking criteria
2. SPG Credit Card
You can earn Starpoints with SPG credit card issued by Amex. Current signup bonus for this card is 25,000 bonus Starpoints (10,000 points after first purchase and 15,000 points after $5,000 in eligible purchases)
3. Transfer from American Express Membership Rewards:
You can transfer American Express Membership reward to SPG program at ratio of 3:1, meaning 3 Membership reward points will yield 1 Starpoint, which is not a favorable conversion.
4. Earn with Uber
Starwood Preferred Guest is loyalty program you should get in, Starpoints are very flexible and can be used for award nights as well for flights.
Nights and flights option is a great use of Starpoints. SPG has many properties in India at lower categories, you can enjoy luxury hotels in India for as low as 2,000 Starpoints.
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Editorial Note: Opinions, analysis and any calculations shown are authors alone. Information in this post is not reviewed, approved and endorsed by any airlines, frequent flyer programs or financial institutions