Learn how to earn Starwood SPG Points and the best way to maximize their value. Our guide covers using Starwood points for air travel, Amtrak, hotels, including transfer values.
Starwood Hotels is well-known for providing a diverse and flexible rewards program. Their Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Starpoints are not only usable for Starwood’s 10+ different hotel brands, but they’re also transferable to a significant number of partnered airlines, hotels, and other travel organizations.
In this guide, we’ll cover how you can flex Starpoints to earn the maximum bang for your buck.
The easiest way to earn a nice chunk of Starpoints is to sign up for the Starwood Preferred Guest credit card through American Express. The card gives you 25,000 Starpoints after spending $3,000 over three months. Historically this offer has been as high as 35,000, but those are rare opportunities. And even 25,000 Starpoints can go a long way.
If you’re a business owner, you should also consider the SPG Business credit card. Be aware, however, that the minimum spend is significantly larger. You’ll earn 25,000 Starpoints for spending $6,000 over three months. You can also earn an extra 10,000 Starpoints if you spend an additional $4,000 within the first six months of owning the card.
The SPG credit card also gives you 2x Starpoints when you make purchases at Starwood properties or Marriott properties. Marriott acquired Starwood a little over a year ago, and the Marriott-Starwood relationship has increased the flexibility of transferring Starpoints.
You can also transfer Marriott points to Starpoints at a ratio of 3:1 (conversely, Starpoints can transfer to Marriott points at 1:3). So if you’ve been sitting on a big pile of Marriott points or have recently earned the 80,000-point bonus for the Marriott credit card, you can easily increase the amount of Starpoints you have to work with.
Starwood hotels have always been a sought after reservation for consumers. The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express is a great way to take advantage booking quality hotel stays, and the card currently offers it’s staple bonus; 25,000 Starpoints.
- Bonus: Earn 25,000 Starpoints after spending $3,000 in purchases during the first three months of card membership.
- Rewards: Double Starpoints are earned for each dollar spent at participating SPG and Marriott Rewards Hotels. Single Starpoints for each dollar spent are earned on everything else. Starpoints can be redeemed at over 1,300 locations in over 100 countries.
- Fees: There is a $95 annual fee, but it is waived for all first year cardholders. When making purchases abroad, there are no foreign transaction fees.
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Starpoints transfer to an incredible 30+ airline partners. This makes them some of the most flexible redemption options available for air travel. Furthermore, Starwood gives you a bonus 5,000 airline miles for every block of 20,000 Starpoints you transfer.
For larger transfers, therefore, you’re effectively getting a 1:1.25 transfer rate, which already beats out a lot of airline credit cards that earn 1 mile per dollar. Note that you can only transfer 79,999 points in a day, which means that you really only want to transfer 60,000 in one day to maximize the bonuses you’ll receive.
Given the wide variety of airline partners, you’ll generally find the most value out of the traditional higher tier international flyers. Alaska Airlines, Asiana Airlines, Korean Air, Qatar Airways, and Singapore Airlines all offer incredible travel experiences when flying business or first-class, with some flights including stopovers in choice destinations. You’ll certainly maximize the value of your points by booking a top-tier reward flight on one of those international airlines, where flights can routinely run many thousands of dollars.
An arguably more practical choice is using your Starpoints to top off or add to domestic airlines in the United States. For these, I really like American and Delta, as they offer flexible redemptions with wide availability across the country. United is a less favorable choice because Starpoints transfer at a 2:1 ratio.
Yes, Starpoints transfer to Amtrak to use for train tickets! This is great for a number of reasons. First, Amtrak is a very difficult transfer partner. Chase Ultimate Rewards no longer transfer to Amtrak, and only a handful of other hotel partners currently do: Hilton, LaQuinta, and Wyndham.
Starpoints transfer at a 1:1 ratio to Amtrak points, and can then be used to purchase Amtrak’s “Value” level of fares at a rate of 2.9 cents per point. That’s a great value for a travel partner that’s historically difficult to apply points toward.
Naturally, Starpoints can be used to book stays at Starwood’s own brands, including Westin, Sheraton, Four Points, St. Regis, and many others. Starwood categorizes their properties into seven tiers, ranging in point value from as low as 2,000 to 35,000 for a weekend night. Finding the best redemption here will be dependent on where you want to travel and which properties are available there
Category seven hotels include $1,000+ per night properties in valuable destinations like NYC, Paris, and Hawaii. Starwood’s website makes it very easy to find properties by destination and determine their point value.
Keep in mind that Starpoints also transfer back and forth with Marriott points, at a 1:3 ratio. You can therefore use Starpoints to stay at Marriott and Ritz Carlton properties worldwide, and can conversely use Marriott points (that you can acquire through Marriott’s current credit card bonus) to boost your Starpoint capabilities.
Another fun redemption option is Starwood’s “Nights & Flights” program. You’ll need to call in to redeem this, but it’s essentially a full vacation package that includes a discounted 5-night stay combined with a transfer bonus to an airline partner. You can save between 8,000-10,000 Starpoints by using this option on a category 3 or 4 property.
Starpoints are one of thee most flexible rewards points available today. They can be transferred to dozens of different airlines and are redeemable at hundreds of hotels and resorts worldwide. By looking at your destinations and aligning them with the right airline and hotel partners, you can get great value out of your Starpoints and Marriott points.
Topics: Credit Cards
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