Inside Look at the Starwood Preferred Guest Program

With a sexy bonus on Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, it’s definitely worth taking a look at the card. The offer expires on September 3rd, 2013.  Now is the best time of year to look at getting this card.

The Starwood Preferred Guest program has been really good to me.  Redemption is a piece of cake, the hotels are luxurious, beds are soft, and you feel like a Bad-A walking out of a nice hotel in the morning.

You get 10k miles for the first purchase.  Plus an additional 15k once you’ve spent $5000 on the card within the first 6 months.

Hotels in the SPG Family

You might not have heard of Starwood Preferred Guest, but you’ve probably heard of the hotels in their family.  There are 1134 hotels in the entire family.

  • Sheraton
  • Four Points by Sheraton
  • Westin
  • Aloft
  • Element
  • W Hotels
  • Le Meridien
  • St Regis
  • Luxury Collection

I’ve camped enough nights in the Starwood properties to get Gold Status this year.  Although they don’t usually offer free breakfast or free Internet, they’ve got super soft beds, and they’re really clean.

Redemption of  your Starpoints

Starwood Preferred Guest has seven tiers of hotels.  The abundance sit within category 3 & 4, but I really find the sweet spot to be in the Category 2. Whenever possible, I recommend you use the category 1 or 2, which will make your points last much longer.

I try to plan vacations based on how many Category 2 hotels are in the area.  My Alpine Europe trip in April of last year was really designed around the hotels where I could stay for free.

Other Starwood Redemption Options

Transfer Starpoints to other airlines.

Here are the ones that I think are worth looking at:

  • Alaska Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Delta Airlines
  • US Airways

Your points all transfer 1:1 to these airlines.  The only additional thing to consider would be if you transfer in blocks of 20,000 they bonus you an additional 5000 Starpoints.  So for every 20,000 airline miles transferred, you’ll get 25,000 with the airliner.

Transferring them to these airlines probably isn’t the best use of the bonus points if you ask me.  The hotels are nice enough that you really want to be catching your ZZZ’s at one of their properties instead.

Fifth Night Free

hotel points

What a great way to vacation for free.  Unfortunately this option doesn’t work on the category 1 or 2 hotels, but it’s great for a category 3 or 4.  Because I have been diagnosed with Travel ADHD, where I can’t stay in one place for more than 2 nights, this probably isn’t for me.

My wife can attest to the fact that I’m almost always on the move.  Even on my “relaxing” vacations.

Nights and Flights

Starwood Preferred Guest

This promotion is also for the traveler who doesn’t have travel ADHD.

With two SPG cards you could score yourself five nights in an incredible category 4 hotel within the USA, and enough miles to make it there.  Considering the fact that the limited time bonus is 30,000 (deal expires September 3rd 2013), you could get the card for yourself, and your wife, and theoretically have the 70,000 miles (including the 5k spending requirement on both cards) required for this special offer.

The way that it works is they give you five nights at the hotel and 50,000 airline miles that you can transfer to one of the partners to book your flights.

This promotion saves you 8,000 points for a Category 3 redemption and 10,000 points for a Category 4 redemption.

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13 Responses to Inside Look at the Starwood Preferred Guest Program

  1. judd says:

    Question: if you have and used a card like this and then cancel it, can you reapply for the card? Is there a time limit then you can apply for the card again? Just curious cause I love the Starwood card

    • Sheldon says:

      I can’t promise, but I read another post by someone else that said, “I closed my 9-year old SPG personal card two months ago and received a new one a couple weeks ago. I sent a secure message to inquire about whether I would receive the bonus, and got a positive… ”

      You could always get it in your wife’s name, or get a business card too. According to that person, they said you would qualify. Let us know if you give it a shot.

      • Judd says:

        OK man thanks…. I have a big trip planned to the East coast next month and I’m burning up those fabulous starwood points…I love to use them but hate it too haha

        • Sheldon says:

          Hahaha. I can relate. Burning them has such a bittersweet feeling. It is always worth it though. How exciting about your upcoming trip. Have fun out there!

  2. Amanda says:

    I was looking at applying for the SPG card, but noticed the disclaimer stating that if you have an American Express card, you could forfeit the 30,000 bonus points (which totally defeats the purpose of applying for the card if you have an Amex). I have had a basic American Express for several years that I haven’t used-just kept it open for some lame reason-have you had experience with them to know if they will honor the points where it is with SPG and not just a basic American Express? Just curious.

  3. Devin says:

    Question: I just applied for the SPG card (my first card as I’m a wanderlust rookie) and should be receiving it in the mail any day now. I’m planning to use the points in December 2014. If I cancel the card before my one-year anniversary in August, is there any way to keep my points? If I book in July, for example, does it burn my points immediately or wait until my stay occurs? Thanks again for motivating me to try this out. I’ve learned a TON about my credit score and such thanks to you!

    • bradleyjai says:

      Hey Devin, We are excited to have you enlisted in our army. With Starwood, even if you do cancel, once you’ve obtained your points, you will keep them. They will expire, however, if you don’t have “activity” every 12 months. That might mean booking a hotel, transferring some points to a partner, or earning more points.

      The points come off your balance when you book, but if you ever cancel, they go back to your balance.

      Where are you headed?

      Thanks for wanderlusting with us!


      • Devin says:

        Well, we’re actually headed to Disneyland – no laughing… ;). We have had a Disney Visa for a couple years though, so our tickets will be free as well. You’ve inspired me to try and make the whole trip “free” (minus food of course), so when I saw this card, I jumped on it. If all goes well, the wife and I have been eyeing a trip to England or Italy…

        • Sheldon says:

          @devin- We won’t laugh at you as long as your next trip isn’t to Hawaii. Then we’ll be forced to laugh. Sounds like you’ve got a fun trip planned. Best of all it looks like you won’t be paying much to do it either.

          There are great ways to do both England and Italy. SPG for Italy and CC for England are both great ways to go. Can’t wait to hear about your Disneyland trip!

  4. bradleyjai says:

    Amanda- Where are you seeing that disclaimer? I don’t see it anywhere, but it does sound concerning. I know if you’re using the same browser that you always use to login to your AMEX account, it will often say the offer is unavailable. That said, I get offers in the mail all the time. I’d say take a screenshot of the offer as you apply for it and they’d have a hard time denying the points to you.

    I have recieved bonuses on numerous American Express cards – Delta, SPG, and Premier Gold. I’ve never had to forfeit the points. I’ll look around, but that doesn’t sound right.

    In terms of your old AMEX card, if it doesn’t have an annual fee, you’re best off to continue to leave it open because it will extend your average credit history.

  5. Did you know that there is a short cut to Starwood Gold status with just one stay in Asia-Pacific? It comes in handy for everyone who will loose status in March. We outlined it a couple of weeks ago (just search for Starwood Gold on mightytravels dot com)

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