Update (3 July 2018): SPG will merge with Marriott Rewards on 1 August 2018. From this date, transfers from Amex to the new SPG/Marriott program will take place at a new rate of 3 Amex points = 2 Marriott Rewards points. Unfortunately, this represents a significant devaluation.
Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) points are an extremely valuable currency for frequent flyers. One can transfer SPG points (or SPG Starpoints, as they’re known), to more than 30 airline frequent flyer programs. Most transfers take place at a 1:1 ratio, and SPG will even throw in an extra 5,000 airline miles for every 20,000 Starpoints converted.
By warehousing SPG points, you can effectively accumulate points with 35 airline frequent flyer programs. When you wish to redeem the points for an award flight or upgrade, simply transfer to your program of choice!
The extensive range of SPG transfer partners includes frequent flyer programs where points are valuable but difficult to accumulate within Australia. So, it’s worth getting to know the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) program!
Earning SPG Starpoints
There are several ways to earn SPG Starpoints…
Stay at Starwood Hotels
Starwood Preferred Guest is the loyalty program of Starwood Hotels. You can earn Starpoints by staying at any hotel brand in the Starwood portfolio including Sheraton, Westin, Le Meridien and St Regis Hotels.
Two Starpoints are earned for every US Dollar spent at Starwood hotels. Gold and Platinum SPG members earn an extra point per dollar. Points are only earned for hotel stays booked directly with Starwood. As with most hotel loyalty programs, hotel nights booked via third party websites such as Expedia are ineligible to earn points.
Transfer from a credit card
Within Australia, both American Express (Amex) and Diners Club offer SPG as a transfer partner. 2 Amex points are worth 1 Starpoint, and 2.5 Diners Club reward points convert to 1 Starpoint.
If you have an Amex or Diners Club credit card, transferring to SPG and then onwards to an airline program can be a clever strategy. This method allows you to earn points in almost any frequent flyer program for your Australian credit card spend!
Transfer from Marriott Rewards
SPG and Marriott Rewards will likely merge in the near future. In the meantime, Marriott Rewards points convert to Starpoints at a 3:1 rate.
You can even buy Starpoints directly from SPG. Starwood sells Starpoints for USD35 per thousand, and regular promotions offer up to 50% discounts on Starpoints purchases! There is an annual purchase limit of 30,000 Starpoints, and you’ll need to be an SPG member for 14 days before you can buy Starpoints.
Redeeming SPG Starpoints
There are numerous ways to redeem Starpoints…
Naturally, you can use Starpoints for hotel nights and room upgrades. Each Starwood property is assigned a category from 1-7. SPG Category 1 hotels require the fewest Starpoints for a free night, while Category 7 hotels are the most expensive.
When redeeming a Free Night Award for five nights at an SPG Category 3-7 hotel, the fifth night is free.
Transfer SPG Points to Airlines
The ability to transfer Starpoints to an extensive range of airline frequent flyer programs is probably the most lucrative feature of the SPG program! Starpoints can be transferred directly to 35 frequent flyer programs. This includes valuable programs like Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. Most of the US-based airlines – including American Airlines, Alaska Airlines & Hawaiian Airlines – are also on the list.
Most conversions take place at a 1:1 ratio, but this does vary. Transfers to United Mileage Plus and Gol Smiles, for example, are 2:1.
Every time you transfer 20,000 Starpoints to an airline, SPG will throw in an extra 5,000 points! So, if possible, always try to transfer Starpoints in increments of 20,000.
Points in overseas programs such as Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer are highly valuable. But KrisFlyer miles can be difficult to obtain within Australia, and Singapore Airlines does not sell KrisFlyer miles. Warehousing Starpoints is one way to get around this and boost your balance with KrisFlyer, or any other frequent flyer program, without setting foot on an aircraft!
Important note: On 1 August 2018, SPG Starpoints will be converted to Marriott Rewards points at a 1:3 ratio. You will still be able to transfer points from Marriott to airlines at the existing rates.