When it comes to hotel loyalty programs, the Starwood Preferred Guest program is truly in a league of its own. It’s because the points are so versatile, so easy to transfer, and so incredibly valuable. Let me explain.
First, let’s talk about how you earn Starwood points to begin with. You can sign up for the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express. The signup bonus on this card is 25,000 points when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months your account is open, plus 10,000 additional points when you spend $2,000 more in the first six months (a limited-time offer). In this article, we’ll typically assume you earn the standard bonus, and not the limited-time offer of the extra $2,000 points, though you should definitely try to earn that too! Also, the $95 annual fee is waived the first year on this card. You also earn 1 Starpoint per $1 spent on the card, and up to 5 starpoints per $1 spent at hotels participating in the SPG program. Got it?
So, let’s say you sign up for the card and hit the minimum spending requirement. Now you should have at minimum 28,000 Starpoints since you earned at least 1 point per dollar spent on the $3,000 plus the 25,000 point sign-up bonus. You’re one smart cookie. But wait. Shouldn’t your spouse do the same? I think so. Once they sign up and reach their spending requirement for the bonus, you’ll have at least 56,000 total Starpoints, which is a lot.
Starwood Preferred Guest Hotel Stays
If you want to use your Starpoints for hotel stays, you’re in luck. The SPG program divides its resorts into 7 different categories that require a certain number of points for a free room. (If you want to browse resort options by category, you can do so here)
|Starwood Hotel Category||Points for Redemption|
|Category 1||2,000 weekend, 3,000 weekday|
|Category 2||3,000 weekend, 4,000 weekday|
|Category 5||12,000 off-peak, 16,000 peak|
|Category 6||20,000 off-peak, 25,000 peak|
|Category 7||30,000 off-peak, 35,000 peak|
As you can see, the hotel redemption rates are more than fair, and those Starpoints you’ve earned can go far. But wait; it gets better. The Starwood Preferred Guest program also offers the 5th night free if you book four consecutive nights at SPG resort in categories 3 through 7. This means that you can book a category 4 hotel (10,000 Starpoints per night) for seven nights instead of 6 and enjoy a whole week of relaxing vacation bliss. It’s hard to beat that.
Starwood Preferred Guest Nights & Flights
If you need to fly to the destination of your choosing, the SPG program offers some pretty sweet options through a program called Nights & Flights.
- With Nights & Flights, you can redeem 60,000 Starpoints for 50,000 airline miles and five free nights at a Category 3 hotel or resort.
- With Nights & Flights II, you can redeem 70,000 Starpoints and receive 50,000 airline miles and five free nights at a Category 4 hotel or resort.
Those airline miles can then be transferred to the airline loyalty program of your choosing, usually with a 1:1 ratio. Here are some of the most popular airline loyalty programs that accept SPG transfers:
- Air Berlin
- Air France
- American Airlines
- British Airways
- US Airways
Starwood Preferred Guest Mile Transfer Bonus
If you don’t need accommodations and would prefer to turn your Starpoints into airline miles, the SPG program offers an extra incentive to do so. For every 20,000 Starpoints you transfer to an airline, they throw in an extra 5,000 miles. So, transferring 20,000 Starpoints will actually net you 25,000 airline miles. Likewise, transferring 40,000 Starpoints will net you 50,000 airline miles, and so on. Obviously, this is an incredibly attractive option for people who want to earn a lot of airline miles fast.
Finding Your Sweet Spot
The truth is, there really is no “wrong way” to use your Starpoints, and the best redemption option depends entirely on your goals. Obviously, the first step is signing up for the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and earning the sign-up bonus. In the meantime, you can start daydreaming about how you’ll spend those points.
Do you have a Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express? Have you ever considered getting one? Where would you go if you had the chance?