Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints are one of the most valuable loyalty currencies operating across the globe. They offer tremendous value and are relatively easier to earn compared to the other loyalty currencies. This post will explore the different ways your Starpoints can be used to make the most of them.
With all that time away from home, you might have a whole lot of Starpoints accumulated in the bank. I’m sure you’re looking for the best ways to redeem them for maximum value. Here’s my take on what could be your best choices and which ones you should definitely avoid.
1. Free Nights
Starwood has a reasonable and straightforward free nights award chart across the seven different hotel categories. The rates for special weekends bring down the Category 1 and 2 hotel prices by 1,000 points. Plus you get the fifth night free at the abovementioned and Category 3 properties. Rule of thumb is: If you get a redemption value of 2.5 cents per point or more, go for it!
The Westin Georgetown in Washington D.C. has standard rooms for $365/night. You could pay 12,000 Starpoints instead and earn 3 cents per point in redemption value.
Hawaii is expensive and hence, makes a great option for Starpoints redemption. However, if you use your points at Sheraton Princess Kaiulani in Oahu you will get a meager 1.16 cents per point redemption value.
2. The Upgrades
SPG provides comprehensive award charts for suites and room upgrades. You can redeem your Starpoints to upgrade a room from any category to a better suite or.
For example, Sheraton Miyako Hotel in Tokyo offers standard rooms at $147/night and their executive suites start at $420. At this category 4 hotel, you can redeem 10,000 Starpoints for a suite upgrade, earning 2.7 cents per point as redemption value.
On the contrary, say the Sheraton in Denver Downtown has standard rooms available at $280/night and the executive suite costs $330 on the same night. A category 4 suite upgrade here will still cost you 10,000 Starpoints but this time the redemption value will be a meager 0.5 cents per point.
3. Cash & Points
You can use your Starpoints to pay for a part of your accommodation rates with the remainder covered with a cash payment.
Hotels like The Westin Excelsior, Florence offers standard rooms that start at a whopping rate of $570/night. If you opt for a free night, you would have to redeem 20,000 Starpoints. However, with Cash & Points you only need to redeem 10,000 Starpoints plus a cash payment of $180. You save $390 and 10,000 Starpoints – total redemption value equals 3.9 cents per point!
The same wouldn’t work as well for hotels that fall in the lower categories. If the price portion you cover using Starpoints exceeds 50% of the original price of the night – the redemption value is not a worthy one to go ahead with.
4. SPG Moments
When it comes to splurging on hobbies and interests, the SPG Moments become a captivating redemption option. Your Starpoints can be redeemed for experiences that are no less than a privilege. Who would mind playing golf with Tiger Woods, or enjoy the New York Knicks knockout game from the VIP suites. These moments come either with a fixed price or are put up for auction. Some of them are actually once-in-a-lifetime experiences!
The thing with SPG moments is that for the most part you’re unsure whether these events would reap good value for your Starpoints or not. You could get front row tickets for a concert you wish to attend on your own, without having to use your Starpoints. The same can be used for a luxury vacation to Bahamas!
5. The SPG Flights
Most people confuse this option with the option to transfer Starpoints to airlines. When you redeem Starpoints for SPG Flights, are charged for the revenue cost of your flight in Starpoints. If you wish to redeem maximum value, Make sure the revenue cost of your flight is closest to the points’ ceiling for each level.
If you rush book a flight directly using your Starpoints, you might miss out on a free flight offered by an online program for the same. With 31 different airline transfer partners, you need to make sure that your SPG flight is actually cheaper than the free flights offered otherwise.
Also, I wouldn’t suggest this option of you wish to travel premium. The Starpoints cost is much higher for premium cabins. You’d be better off transferring your Starpoints to one of the airline programs instead.
6. Sixt and Avis Car Rental Certificates/Amtrak Rewards
Frequent travelers have pointed out the receiving great value in exchange Starpoints on Amtrak Rewards especially on the Northeast routes that run between Boston, New York, Baltimore, and D.C. Amtrak Guest Rewards can value as much as 7.2 cents per point if used wisely. Share a roomette with another person ($549 original cost) for a one-zone trip and it will cost you 15,000 Starpoints!
*When exploring this option, you might want to include the extra time it takes to reach your destination by train in your costs.
The $50 car rental certificates by Sixt and Avis cost you 3,500 points per certificate. The redemption value? 1.4 cents per point ONLY! I don’t think that’s a good way to redeem Starpoints.
7. Transfer Starpoints to Airlines
Probably the smartest way of redeeming your loyalty currency is to transfer it to an airline program out of the 31 different programs offered. With every transfer of 20,000 Starpoints you get a 5,000 mile bonus. Here’s what I categorize as good and bad redemption for this option.
Depending on your situation, you can likely get good value out of transferring to these programs:
|AirBerlin||Potentially beneficial every now and then|
|AeroMexico||Combine Starpoints transfer with AMEX bonus and fly TPAC first class at cheaper rates|
|Alaska Airlines||Emirates First Class|
|All Nippon Airways||4 stopovers on redeeming award tickets|
|American Airlines||E.g. Travel Etihad business class NRT-AUH for 25,000 Starpoints|
|British Airways||Short-haul redemptions by Avios|
|Delta||Domestic round-trip flights on 20,000 Starpoints transfer|
|Flying Blue||Make use of the Promo Awards|
|Miles and More|
|Singapore||Fly first class and acquire relatively cheaper suites|
Airlines other than the ones listed above are:
- Offering a meager transfer ratio
- Too expensive
- Or have more efficient ways of being accessed.
Bottom line is that your Starpoints hold incredible value in the form of Cash & Points rates, free nights, and airline points transfers with an additional 5,000 mile bonus. The SPG Moments also make up for good redemption options, but when you can use the same points for travel, it’s always smart to buy your own game tickets – they maybe non-VIP, but they work just fine.