Next to Ultimate Rewards, SPG is my favorite program. SPG is short-hand for “Starwood Preferred Guest”. It is the loyalty program for Starwood hotels which include brands such as Sheraton, Westin, Le Meridien, St. Regis, and more. Much like Ultimate Rewards points, SPG Starpoints can be used in many different and valuable ways. They can be used to book rooms (of course) or transferred to airline programs. They have valuable options such as “Cash & Points”, “5th Night Free”, and “Nights & Flights” that make it possible to get 4 cents (or more) value from each point! In this section I’ll cover how to earn SPG points, and I’ll follow up in other sections with details of how to best to use those points.
Unlike Ultimate Rewards points, there are only a few ways to earn SPG points. The primary ways are through paid hotel stays, credit cards, and credit card referrals.
When you complete a stay at any SPG property, you will earn 2 Starpoints per dollar for your stay (Gold and Platinum elite members earn 3 points per dollar). Make sure your account is setup to earn SPG points rather than airline miles since you’ll most likely find SPG points to be more valuable.
Credit Card Sign-Up Bonus
American Express markets two SPG cards: one for personal use and one for small businesses. Luckily, it’s quite easy for a person with a small business to get the business card: simply use your Social Security Number in place of the Tax ID on the application and select “Sole Proprietorship” as the business type. As a result, each person can get two sign-up bonuses by applying for both the personal and business SPG cards. Sign-up bonuses are usually 25,000 points after $3,000/$5,000 spend in 3 months, but American Express sometimes runs specials with slightly different and better terms. Compared to 50,000 point offers that are common with other cards, 25K may seem quite small, but when you factor in the high value of SPG points you’ll see that this is really one of the best sign-up offers around.
Credit Card Use
Once you have a Starwood card (or two), you will earn 1 point per dollar for all purchases made with the card (or 2 points per dollar at Starwood properties). This is not as exciting as cards that offer 2X, 3X, or even 5X spend categories, but given the high value of SPG points this is still an excellent return.
Credit Card Referrals
Once you have a Starwood card, you will occasionally receive an offer to refer friends and earn 5,000 points for each successful referral. (You can check the Amex Offers section of your account.) Occasionally they increase the offer to 10,000 points for each referral. This can be a nice way to bump up your SPG point total with little effort.
For more info on Starwood Preferred Guest, see:
- Getting to Know SPG Starpoints: Using Points for Stays
- Getting to Know SPG Starpoints: More ways to use points
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