In others sections I have described how to earn SPG Starpoints and how to use them to book Starwood hotel stays. As I mentioned before, Cash & Points awards are often an amazing value. There are other options for SPG points that may be worth considering, though, especially if you’re not interested in staying at Starwood hotels. Most of the information presented below can be found on the SPG website here.
Transfer to miles
To me, this is the most exciting option for SPG points besides using the points for hotel nights. SPG points transfer 1 to 1 to a long list of airlines (see SPG transfer partners here). Unfortunately, points only transfer 2 to 1 to United Airlines so I wouldn’t recommend that option. Alaska Airlines, JAL, and others are much better options. The best part is that SPG will give you a 5,000 mile bonus when you transfer 20,000 points at a time. So, if you transfer 20,000 points to Alaska Airlines, for example, you will end up with 25,000 Alaska miles!
The only catch is that point transfers can take a few days to a week to complete. This can be a real problem if you are hoping to take advantage of available airline awards since the awards may no longer be available once the points transfer. Some airlines do allow free holds on award flights, though, so a good option if allowed is to find an award flight, hold it, and then transfer your SPG points in order to book the flight.
Redeem for flights
Starwood allows you to search for and book flights directly on SPG.com and to use your Starpoints to pay. When you go this route, your points are worth at most 1.5 cents each, but usually less. You can find their pricing chart here. In general, you should be able to get much more value from your points than this, so unless you are cash-poor and point-rich, I don’t recommend this approach.
Bid on unique experiences
Starwood offers one-of-a-kind experiences that can only be had by being one of the highest bidders. Called SPG Moments, the idea is that you bid points in exchange for experiences which include things like dining with a famous chef, back stage passes to a show or concert, a private lesson by a famous athlete, etc. I’ve never tried one of these experiences, but I’m interested in seeing whether they offer good value. Please let me know if you try one out! If you’re interested in using points to bid on experiences, go to auction.starwoodhotels.com.
Redeem for Merchandise
Starwood has a list of partners in which you can redeem SPG points for gift cards (Amazon, Brookstone, Gap, Nordstrom, etc). With this option, SPG points are usually worth about a penny each, or a tiny bit more. You can get much more value from SPG so I don’t recommend this option.
Donate to Charity
SPG gives the option to use points to donate to UNICEF or the American Red Cross. By doing so, your points convert to dollars at 1.25 cents each. To me, this seems like a bad value for your points. Personally, I’d rather give to charity directly (and take a tax deduction) than to use my valuable SPG points at such a low point to cash conversation rate.
Transfer to Amtrak
SPG points can be transferred 1 to 1 to Amtrak Guest Rewards points. Under the new Amtrak program, points are worth more than 2 cents each, so this can be a pretty good option. I used to recommend transferring Ultimate Rewards points to Amtrak instead of SPG points, however the Ultimate Rewards transfer option has ended, thus eliminating that option.
Many Starwood properties offer in-hotel awards such as meals, massages, etc. in exchange for Starpoints. Unfortunately, the value of points for these awards is usually very low. Unless an award is worth 2 cents or more per point I personally wouldn’t consider it.
There are many great uses for SPG points, but to me the ones worth considering are:
- Award nights at Starwood properties (Cash & Points awards, Free nights, 5th night free)
- Transfer to miles. Always transfer in blocks of 20,000 points at a time in order to get a 25% bonus.
- Transfer to Amtrak. This may make sense for some people given the end of transfers from Ultimate Rewards to Amtrak.
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