Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Program Review

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Hotel Summary Table

  • Hotel Brands Westin and Sheraton

Branded and Partnered Credit Cards

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

Hotel Overview

Starwood Hotels, known officially as Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Inc., is another of the largest hotel chains in the world. They manage over 1,270 properties in 100 countries and have 11 different brands.

Starwood Beginnings

In 1991, a real estate investment company called Starwood Capital Partners was formed in Chicago, IL. By 1994, they had interests in over 30 properties.

The year 1997 was huge for the company; they purchased Westin Hotels & Resorts for $1.8B and the Sheraton Corporation for a much higher $14.3B.

The Sheraton Corporation was under threat of hostile takeover by Hilton, but Starwood ended up getting an agreement with the company. These 2 chains would become their signature brands.

After the acquisition were complete, the company renamed itself Starwood Hotels & Resorts, which now included over 650 properties in 70+ countries.

Expanding Into Luxury and Creating a Brand

In 1998, Starwood opened up their first W hotel in New York City. This brand was a unique new type of hotel geared toward modern décor and a younger crowd while still offering high-end amenities. This has become an iconic and popular hotel in major cities.

The company began to make headlines with improvements made from 1999 on:

  • Introduction of the Heavenly Bed in Westin hotels, which is their signature bed including pillow tops, a down comforter, and all-white linens.
  • Many different awards were earned, including World’s Leading Hotel Group in 2001 at the World Travel Awards.
  • Starwood Preferred Guest is named program of the year by the Freddie Awards.
  • Introduction of the Heavenly Bath.
  • In 2003, Starwood announced that its Sheraton, Westin, and W hotels will allow dogs under its Love That Dog program. Dogs are given beds and amenities of their own.

This list could go on, but the point is that Starwood Hotels quickly rose to the top of the travel industry, disrupting its competitors and setting new standards of comfort and luxury.

Further Acquisitions and Improvements

Starwood acquired Le Meridien in 2006, and opened its new select-service brands Aloft and Element in 2008. They then undertook a $6B Sheraton renovation project in 2009.

They also jumped on the conservation train and began making their properties more sustainable, offering incentives to guests who would participate in the program.

Overall, Starwood has become one of the favorites in the hotel and travel industry for good reasons: excellent customer service and experience, consistent updates to their portfolio and properties, and a knack for growth.

The Selling of the Portfolio

In November of 2015, it was announced that Marriott decided to purchase Starwood Hotels and Resorts.

The companies will still operate separately for the time being, but the reach of the loyalty programs will be combined. This will now be the largest hotel group in the world.

Expect changes to begin occurring in 2017.

Observing Large Business
Starwood started in Chicago, IL and grew to be one of the biggest and best hotel chains in the world during its much shorter life than the other 2 big hotel groups: Hilton and Marriott.

Starwood Preferred Guest Rewards Program

The Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) program launched in 1999 and operated under a policy of no blackout dates and no capacity controls – a first for the industry.

You can sign up for their loyalty program on their website, and you’ll begin earning points as you stay at their hotels and use their partnerships.

Program Membership Information

SPG has over 21 million users, 32 affiliated airlines, a partnership with American Express, and a multitude of other partners.

When you sign up, you can get credit for stays that occurred up to 30 days before your sign up date; you just have to submit them to be added.

Status is accumulated over the calendar year, and once status is reached, you keep it for the current year, the following year, and through February of the year after that.

SPG Pro and Elite Status

If you’re a travel professional, you should sign up to the SPG Pro program as well, allowing you to earn points for arranging events at Starwood properties. This syncs up with your personal account and expands your ability to earn points and rewards!

In 2012, they launched a program for mega-elite travelers to gain lifetime status in Gold or Platinum, 24-hour check in, and a dedicated Starwood ambassador to ensure their rooms are uniquely tailored.

Starwood Preferred Guest has been named loyalty program of the year 6 times, from 1999-2005. They have also won other numerous Freddie Awards.

How To Earn SPG Points

Starwood offers multiple ways to earn points, and it also has a slightly different approach to its point system that many people like.

Basically, you’ll earn points for each dollar spent on Starwood properties. Starwood does not have a “base” point system, and all elite statuses are earned through stays and nights.

A Points Earning Overview

The following table describes the points you can earn through various channels:

Points From: Preferred Gold Platinum
Stays (pts/$) 2 3 3 (4 after 75 nts)
Uber* (pts/$) 1, or 2 while staying 1, or 3 while staying 1, or 3 while staying (4 after 75 nts)
Delta (pts/$) n/a 1 1
Emirates n/a 1 1
Meetings/Events 1pt/$3 1pt/$2 1pt/$2

*Uber points are accumulated all the time, but you get a bonus while you’re staying at Starwood properties.

The earnings from stays are simple. You can also earn through Uber if you’ve linked your accounts and completed at least 1 qualifying stay.

When you fly with Delta or Emirates, you also have a chance to earn. Delta’s program is called Crossover Rewards, and Emirates’ is called Your World Rewards.

Finally, you can earn when you host meetings and events at Starwood properties.

Additional Ways To Earn Points

Don’t forget to collect your points for your check-in gift! These vary per hotel, but generally range from 500-1000 points per stay.

One thing to note: you can switch from earning points to miles if you so choose. To do so, go to their site and enter your airline frequent flyer loyalty information.

By doing this, you will earn miles at the same rate you earn Starpoints.

We don’t recommend this, however, as you can always collect Starpoints and later transfer them to your favorite airlines at a bonus!

Earning Points With Partners: Credit Cards

One of the best ways to earn miles is to use the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express or the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express.

By signing up, you’ll get an immediate point bonus (check the webpage for their current deal), plus 1-2 points per dollar for purchases. You’ll also receive free Boingo WiFi hotspot access, an automatic credit for 5 nights and 2 stays, and premium internet! (Credit card terms apply.)

If that isn’t appealing to you, you can also sign up to a Diner’s Club card. Doing so allows you to earn points through Diner’s Club that you can then transfer into your SPG account.

If you have other cards that earn American Express Membership Rewards, you can transfer points into your SPG account, or simply register your card to earn points directly.

Transferring Points From Marriott Rewards

Because Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest are now combining, you can instantaneously transfer points between these 2 programs.

You must do so in increments of 1,000 at a time, and the transfer ratio is 1 Starpoint for 3 Marriott Rewards points.

Earning Points With Other Travel Partners

SPG also has a partnership with Caesars Entertainment Properties in Vegas, so you can enjoy the benefits offered at the casino while also earning points if you stay at their properties.

If you’re using a rental car instead of an Uber, you can earn 50-750+ points by using Starwood’s affiliate code. See their website for the current deals.

All Other Ways To Earn Points

You’ll obviously earn points for your Starwood room rate, but additional room charges that can earn points include food and beverages, laundry service, telephone service, and movies/video games.

Even if you’re not staying at an SPG hotel, you can earn points for eating at the hotel restaurant or bar, depending on your current elite status (2-3 pts/dollar).

The Green Choice program, offered in honor of Starwood’s sustainability initiatives, earns you 500 points each night you decline housekeeping service. Note, however, that this is not offered on a single-night say, and is only available on nights OTHER than your last night.

Finally, being a lover of Broadway earns you points as well. Check out Starwood’s booking page and buy tickets through them to earn points!

Earning Points the Upgraded Way

Check out our credit card reviews and Maximize Points pages to find more ways to earn points in all loyalty programs.

To earn as many SPG points as possible, check out all our SPG earning pages:

Because you can also earn points in Marriott Rewards and transfer them over, you can use Marriott credit cards as well:

Loyalty Program Credit Card Review Application
Marriott Rewards Loyalty Program Chase Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card Apply Here >>
Chase Marriott Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card Apply Here >>

These articles describe how to earn points with programs that partner with Starwood Preferred Guest. By earning points in these programs, you can transfer them into SPG to make redemptions!

Here is a list of American Express cards you can reference to see if earning Membership Rewards would be your best way to rack up SPG Starpoints:

Loyalty Program Credit Card Review Application
American Express Membership Rewards Loyalty Program The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express Apply Here >>
The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express Apply Here >>
The Platinum Card® from American Express Apply Here >>
The Enhanced Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN Apply Here >>
Gold Card from American Express Apply Here >>
Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express Apply Here >>
American Express® Green Card Apply Here >>
Business Green Rewards Card from American Express OPEN Apply Here >>
The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN Apply Here >>
Blue from American Express® Apply Here >>
Blue for Business® Credit Card from American Express Apply Here >>
Mercedes-Benz Credit Card from American Express (review coming soon) Apply Here >>
Celebrating Earning Points
Get excited! There are plenty of different cards that can help you earn Starwood Preferred Guest points. You can use the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express or any of the Membership Rewards cards.

How To Redeem SPG Points

Redeeming points or transferring them to another partner is where SPG really shines. There are multiple ways to do this, and the majority of your options are high value.

Redeeming Starpoints for Free Nights

The value of redeeming for a free night can vary, but rooms start at 2,000 points. See the following chart from the Starwood website.

Category Starpoints
1 3,000 (2,000 on weekends)
2 4,000 (3,000 on weekends)
3 7,000
4 10,000
5 12,000-16,000
6 20,000-25,000
7 30,000-35,000

When booking rooms, you can always get the best value by booking nights in sets of 5. Every 5th night is free! When you make the booking, SPG will apply a discount equal to 1 night.

Note that this isn’t available at the Category 1 and 2 hotels. Additionally, there are no blackout dates and no limits on rooms available with your redemptions.

You also are not required to pay any taxes or fees for the room, though you’d have to pay for things like parking and any service above and beyond the price of the room.

Upgrades can be purchased with points, starting at 1,000. There is also a cash and points option letting you pay a reduced amount of each. For instance, the lowest-priced option would cost you $30 and 1,500 Starpoints.

Most of these redemptions come in around $0.02 per point, which is always the minimum value we want to shoot for.

Transfer Starpoints to Travel Partners for High Value

Transferring to airline partners seems to be one of the most popular options, and for good reason: for every 20,000 points transferred, you get a 5,000-point bonus! That’s 20,000 Starpoints for 25,000 miles on most airlines.

Here is a list of SPG Airline Transfer Partners:

AIRLINE FREQUENT FLYER PROGRAM EXCHANGE RATIO (STARPOINTS:MILES)

(Terms Apply)

Aeromexico Club Premier 1:1
Aeroplan/Air Canada 1:1
Air Berlin 1:1
Air China Companion 1:1
Air New Zealand & Air Points 65:1
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan 1:1
Alitalia MileMiglia 1:1
All Nippon Airways (ANA) Mileage Club 1:1
American Airlines AAdvantage 1:1
Asia Miles 1:1
Asiana Airlines 1:1
British Airways Executive Club 1:1
China Eastern Airlines 1:1
China Southern Airlines Sky Pearl Club 1:1
Delta Air Lines SkyMiles 1:1
Emirates Skywards 1:1
Etihad Airways 1:1
Flying Blue 1:1
Gol Smiles 2:1
Hainan Airlines 1:1
Hawaiian Airlines 1:1
Japan Airlines (JAL) Mileage Bank 1:1
Jet Airways 1:1
Korean Air 1:1
LAN Airlines LANPASS (in kms) 1:1.5
Miles and More 1:1
Qatar Airways 1:1
Saudi Arabian Airlines 1:1
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer 1:1
Thai Airways International Royal Orchid Plus 1:1
United Mileage Plus 2:1
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club 1:1
Virgin Australia 1:1
Avianca Airlines 1:1

Additional Redemption Options

Getting rooms and transferring points aren’t the only way to spend your points. SPG Moments is a unique way to use your rewards as well!

For varying amounts of points, you can get event tickets, be a VIP somewhere, meet a celebrity, and many more!

You can use your points to redeem stays at Caesar’s Entertainment properties (in addition to earning through them as well).

If you want to fly somewhere but not transfer points, SPG has their own flight portal as well as a Flights & Nights option for getting a flight and a hotel.

Using the latter tool, when you purchase a package, you’ll get free nights and a transfer of 50,000 air miles.

You can also redeem points for gift cards and credit toward the other retail partners listed below. Just remember to check the value to see if it’s worth it for you!

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
  • Earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • Earn 2 Starpoints® for each dollar of eligible purchases spent on the Card at participating SPG® & Marriott Rewards® hotels. Earn 1 Starpoint for all other purchases.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on International purchases.
  • Receive free in-room, premium internet access. Booking requirements apply.
  • Redeem Starpoints® at over 1,300 participating hotels and resorts in over 100 countries and for flights on more than 150 airlines with SPG flights, all with no blackout dates.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Terms and Conditions apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the SPG program? What does SPG stand for?
SPG is the loyalty program for Starwood Hotels and Resorts, and it stands for the “Starwood Preferred Guest” program. This is a free program to sign up for, and it allows you to earn status benefits and points to be redeemed for rewards.

What are the Starwood Preferred Guest benefits? Is it worth it?
The SPG benefits are many. You earn more benefits as you move up the various levels of their elite status, which are Preferred, Gold, and Platinum. Right upon sign up, you get free in-room internet and bottled water, so that’s worth it right away!

Being a member allows you to earn points that can be redeemed for free nights, SPG Moments, and travel with partners. You can also earn points with Uber. Staying 25 nights or completing 10 stays gets you to SPG Gold status.

At Gold, you also get late check out, complimentary upgrades, arrival gifts, Delta Crossover Rewards, and more.

It takes 50 nights or 25 stays to reach Platinum, upon which you’ll earn better arrival gifts, upgrades, internet, and access to lounges where available. You’ll also earn elite status in Delta and Emirates and become eligible for SPG Nights benefits.

What are all the different SPG hotels?
The Starwood hotel brands vary greatly. Starwood hotels and resorts include: Westin, Sheraton, Four PointsElement, W, Aloft, Luxury Collection, Tribute, St. Regis, and Le Meridien.

How much are SPG points worth?
Your redemption value will be different based upon your particular situation. However, the hotel seems to have good value in general, and most people can get around $0.02 per point.

How many points per stay does an SPG hotel cost?
Redeeming points for an award starts at 2,000 points for a Category 1 hotel and goes up to 35,000 for a Category 7 property.

Are SPG points transferable?
Yes. You can transfer to travel partners, other SPG members, charities, or even some other options. To transfer, sign in to your account and go to the transfer page to find the option you want to use.

When do SPG points expire?
Your points will expire after 12 months if you haven’t had any activity on your account. This could include staying in a hotel or earning or redeeming points in some way.

When does SPG status expire?
When you reach an elite status tier, it becomes effective immediately. Your earned status is good for the remainder of that calendar year, the whole following year, and through February of the year after that.

See the qualifying period in the terms and conditions.

Is there an SPG credit card?
Yes, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express are the only 2 branded SPG credit cards.

What is SPG flights?
This is a rewards portal where you can redeem your points for tickets on airlines with no blackout dates.

What is the Starwood Preferred Guest login?
The SPG login can be found here.

What is Starwood Vacation Ownership?
This is Starwood Hotels’ timeshare program. You can buy in and earn a number of points to be spent at timeshare properties around the world each year.