Best Ways to use SPG Starpoints

If you read my post Points Valuation- What are Points & Miles Really Worth? You must have noticed how highly rated SPG Starpoints are compared to other rewards programs out there. At 2.7 cents per point, Starpoints offer the best value you can get when redeeming rewards.

That said, it doesn’t mean that every redemption option that is out there will give you a good return for your points. Booking a flight with an open seat, buying gift cards or purchasing items on Amazon, for example, give you a very low return for your points, and should be avoided at all costs.

In this post, I’ve listed what I consider to be good value redemption options for your Starpoints. But before I dive into that, I’d like to review how you can go about accumulating SPG points.

Earning SPG Starpoints

Starwood Preferred Guest®* Credit Card from American Express

In my Beginners Guide to Travel Hacking post, I mentioned that you can earn 20,000 bonus points by signing up to the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG Card) from American Express and charging $1,500 to the card within 3 months.

The other ways of earning Starpoints include:

  • Hotel stays at 2 – 3 points per dollar depending on your status
  • Transferring Amex Membership Rewards to SPG at a 2:1 ratio
  • Using Uber – every day, or during your hotel stay – at 1 to 4 points per dollar
  • Rental cars at 250 points per rental

The possibilities are quite wide.

Best ways of using SPG Starpoints

Redeeming Starpoints for hotel stays, booking SPG Moments and transferring to air miles represent the best value you can get from reward points. Let’s take a look at these options in more detail.

Cash and Points Redemptions

In case you haven’t accumulated enough points to book your hotel stay, SPG provide the option of using cash and points to book a room or get an upgrade. Cash and points redemption also works if you want to save some of your points for other kinds of redemptions. One thing you should know is that this kind of redemption isn’t available in all hotels.

My advice is to try going for the mid-range category properties like category 4 or 5 for greater return on your redeemed points.  A category 4 hotel like W Fort Lauderdale, Florida, will cost you 5,000 points + US$75 per night, while a category 5 will see you spend 6,000 points + US$110.

Fifth Night Free Redemption

To stretch your points even further, you can opt to redeem your Starpoints for a fifth night free. That means you get 20% more value on your redemption rate. However, fifth night free redemptions are only valid for properties in Category 3 onwards.

If you want to really enjoy the benefits of a 5th night free redemption, try using it when booking for a high-end hotel stay; that said, if you find you’re getting over 2 cents per point for your redemption, then you’re in safe territory value-wise.

A stay in a place like St. Regis New York, a category 7 property, where an SPG free night will set you back 30,000 points for a hotel stay valued at USD $877 per night. That’s a redemption value of 2.9 cents per point which is pretty decent.

The chart below shows what it costs to make free nights and cash & points redemptions:

Category Weekday/ Weekend Free Night Fifth Night Free Cash & Points
1 3,000 N/A 1,500 + USD$30
2 4,000 N/A 2,000 + USD$35
3 7,000 28,000 3,500 + USD$55
4 10,000 40,000 5,000 + USD$75
5 12,000 – 16,000 48,000 – 64,000 6,000 + USD$110
6 20,000 – 25,000 80,000 – 100,000 10,000 + USD180
7 30,000 – 35,000 120,000 – 140,000 15,000 + USD275

 

Room Upgrades

When it comes to room upgrades, the value for money you get depends entirely on your personal taste. Some people care a lot about getting bumped up to a larger room, a suite, a room with a better view, or simply to a room with club access, while others couldn’t give a hoot.

I’ve come to learn that lower category properties are great hunting grounds for upgrades. For 3,000 points you can get a suite upgrade at a Category 1 property like Le Méridien Angkor in Southeast Asia which is a really good deal.

For more details on what suite upgrades in different property categories cost please click here.

Or if you’re confident enough, you can try my $20 hotel upgrade trick and get an upgrade for next to nothing. I’ve used this trick a number of times, and it rarely lets me down. Plus it helps me save on precious reward points.

Nights and Flights Packages

This package offers travellers the option of redeeming five free nights in a Category 3 or 4 hotel together with 50,000 air miles on any airline (using a 1:1 transfer ratio), while saving them up to 20,000 points. A Category 3 package costs 60,000 Starpoints, while a Category 4 property sets you back 70,000 Starpoints. For me, this qualifies as a high-value redemption.

SPG Moments

Booking an SPG Moments package is another terrific way to redeem your Starpoints. SPG Moments gives you access to some of the biggest music, sports, and cultural events in the world, and is one of my favourite ways of using points. I’ve participated in the auction a couple of times now and had the privilege to enjoy the NHL All-Star Weekend – 2016 in Nashville, and 2017 in LA.

Transferring Points to Miles

The most incredible value you can get when redeeming Starpoints is by transferring them to airline programs at a 1:1 transfer ratio. The best part is that you receive 5,000 bonus miles for every 20,000 Starpoints you transfer. However, you can only move 79,999 Starpoints over a 24 hour period, so you’ll want to be careful how you do it to avoid missing out on the bonus points.

For Aeroplan customers, have the advantage of being able to transfer Starpoints to Aeroplan on a 1:1 ratio, makes operating between the two reward programs convenient and cost effective.

Transfer Starpoints to Marriott Rewards

One of the huge benefits since SPG Merged with Marriott is you can convert 1 SPG Starpoint to 3 Marriott points. This gives you more flexibility when redeeming points and opens up lots possibilities as far as Marriott hotels bookings and Marriott Rewards Experiences go.

Conclusion

SPG Starpoints give you great flexibility when it comes to redemption; they’re also one of the few hotel currencies that are easily and efficiently converted into airline miles. Given that it takes some effort to accumulate points, this should be your default option for redeeming points. Still, if you’re looking for other ways to treat yourself, SPG Moments and redeeming for Nights & Flights packages offers a very decent return for your hard earned points.

Would you like to start enjoying the benefits of using Starpoints? It’s pretty easy. You can get 20,000 SPG Starpoints when you sign-up for Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Credit Card from American Express and a whole world of travel possibilities can be yours!