Spotlight: The Starwood Preferred Guest Loyalty Program
February 14th, 2018
With over 1,500 SPG properties worldwide plus the countless ways of redeeming Starpoints, and not to mention its partnership with Marriott, it’s hard to contest that SPG is probably one of the most valuable programs you should be a part of.
1,500 + properties to choose from in 100 countries
3 Membership Levels (Preferred Guest, Gold Preferred Guest, Platinum Preferred Guest)
Ability to transfer points between SPG and Marriott programs
Redeem points for Hotel/Resorts, Transfer to Airline Partners, “SPG Moments”, and more.
Before we get into the Bells and Whistles of the program, let’s first talk about how we can accumulate Starpoints within SPG. The most obviously way of earning is through hotel stays – spend some nights in a hotel and gain some points. Now, unless you travel for a living and have other people pay for it, this is a slow and arduous process. We’re not interested in that method, right? Let’s take a look at some better options, shall we?
American Express SPG and Business SPG Cards:
Here’s a little recap about the American Express SPG and Business SPG cards. You can earn a Welcome Bonus on the cards for 20,000 Starpoints after spending $1,500 within the first 3 months and they have an annual fee of $120 and $150 respectively. These points can be then be transferred to Marriott Rewards at a rate of 1:3 (20,000 Starpoints = 60,000 Marriott Reward Points). Signing up for both cards will net you 40,000 Starpoints which is equal to 120,000 Marriott Reward Points. What can you do with 40,000 Starpoints? Well, for starters, free stays at hotels start as low as 2,000 points! Care to fly to Hawaii? Redeem 25,000 Starpoints for a return ticket to the Aloha State!
Marriott Rewards Visa:
Signing up for the Marriott Rewards Visa by Chase will earn you a welcome bonus of 50,000 Marriott Reward Points after your first purchase (which is equivalent to 16,667 Starpoints). You’ll also receive No FX fees, an Annual Fee Waiver ($120) as well as an anniversary free night e-certificate every year. To check out more about the Chase Marriott Visa, click here.
American Express Cards:
Amex MR Points and Select Points transfer directly to SPG at a rate of 2:1. It’s not the best transfer but it exists and it is one of the very few ways of earning Starpoints so it’s extremely beneficial and we’ll gladly accept it! It definitely comes in handy when you want to transfer Starpoints over to an airline partner that is not available via Amex MR. Plus, SPG also gives you a 25% bonus when to transfer in chunks of 20,000. Sweet!
Bells & Whistles:
Let’s take a look at the Starwood Preferred Guest Loyalty Program, shall we?
The program itself consists of 3 Membership Levels and the required amount of nights to get to said level are:
- Preferred Guest
- Gold Preferred Guest (10 Stays / 25 nights annually)
- Platinum Preferred Guest (25 Stays / 50 nights annually)
(I’ve highlighted the Gold Preferred Guest since there is an easier way of obtaining it and hint hint, it doesn’t even consist of stepping foot in an SPG Property!)
Some of the benefits associated with the membership levels include some of the following but are not limited to:
Extra Starpoints earned during stays, room upgrades, arrival gifts, late check-out, lounge access and continental breakfast, complimentary internet, and so on. For specific benefits, refer to the chart below.
Now I mentioned a way of obtaining Gold Preferred Guest status without having to step foot in an SPG property. Well if you already read my review on the American ExpressPlatinum Card as well as the American Express Business Platinum Card, (if you haven’t, go check that out!) you would have read that one of the benefits of these cards is automatic Gold Preferred Guest status within SPG. As a bonus, because you can status match with Marriott, automatic Gold Status with SPG equates to Gold Elite Status within Marriott Rewards! Win-Win!
When it comes to cashing in your “hard earned” Starpoints, you’ve got a bunch of options. The most obvious, and to be quite honest, best use of your points are towards Hotel stays as well as transferring to Airline Partners as well as to the Marriott Rewards program.
Redeeming points for hotels is extremely straight forward and needless to say, the options are near limitless. In order to redeem points for a free hotel night, just head over to the SPG website or even the app on your phone. When searching for properties, make sure you check off the “SPG Free Nights” and “SPG Cash and Points” option under “Rate Types”. Another great benefit is that there are no blackout dates and your Starpoints cover taxes and service charges! If a property is showing availability, it’s open for redemption. Last thing and probably a big plus is that your 5th night is free when you redeeming for free nights. Even if you only need 4 nights, tack on the 5th night anyway, either at the beginning or end of your stay and you’ll get yourself an “early” check-in or “late” check out! For the former option, it’s best to let the hotel know you’ll be showing up late (past midnight) on your first night so that they don’t cancel your reservation as a “no-show”.
Hotel redemptions start as low as 2000 points per night at the lower tier properties all the way up to a whopping 30,000-35,000 for your luxurious resorts/properties. You can also choose to pay with a combination of points and cash. This option is called “SPG Cash and Points” and is generally useful when you want to save some of your Starpoints for other redemptions. You will only need to dish out 50% of the required points plus some cash as well. If you play your cards right, this can turn out to offer more value than redeeming using Starpoints alone!
Airline Transfer Partners:
Transferring Starpoints to Airline Transfer Partners is an extremely valuable redemption opportunity. First off, you have access to 30+ transfer partners including, but not limited to: Emirates, Lufthansa, Etihad, Qatar, Cathay Pacific and many, many, many (did I mention many?) more. Secondly, most of the transfers are at a ratio of 1:1 except, United, Air New Zealand, and LATAM. Last but not least, SPG will chip in an additional 5,000 Starpoints (25% extra) when you transfer in chunks of 20,000. This gives you 25,000 Starpoints to transfer to your airline of choosing. Thanks SPG!
Take a look below at all the available transfer partners.
Alongside redeeming Starpoints for free hotel nights as well as transferring them to airline partners, you can also redeem them for SPG Moments. What are SPG Moments? SPG gives you opportunities to cash in your Starpoints for some sweet events and unique opportunities. Let’s take a look at some examples. Want to watch your favourite sports team in action? You can spend Starpoints on that. Care to check out Lady Gaga in London, UK, or The Killers in L.A.? Yup, you can use your Starpoints for that. And last but definitely not least, want to go to the Oscars? Yup, you guessed it, you can use Starpoints for that too.
It’s easy to see how great the SPG program is. To be honest, it’s probably the best program out there due to its versatility and overall value. There’s a ton more to lean about SPG so I invite you to browse the SPG website for more info and how to take advantage of the program.
Don’t forget to apply for the Amex SPG card as well as Business SPG card. They both offer a 20,000 Starpoint Welcome Bonus and with the SPG/Marriott merger, there’s no telling what will happen later in 2018. Don’t miss out! As always, if you enjoy and find value in what you are reading and would like to help support Wandering on Points, I’d be very grateful if you used my referral. ~Keep Wandering