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Ratings & Reviews

(Program Reviews - Side by Side Comparison - Website Reviews)

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Preferred Guest

(516 ratings)


This program was reviewed and rated by our editors in September 2012. Changes in the program past this date are possible, especially program partner information. We recommend you subscribe to the #1 source of frequent flyer information, Inside Flyer Magazine, to get the most current information possible.

Starpoints for Travelers

Starwood hotels includes nine unique brands: Westin, Sheraton, Four Points by Sheraton, W Hotels, Le Meridien, St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, Aloft and Element.

There are over 1,100 hotels, with over 315,000 rooms, in nearly 100 countries worldwide. Most hotels are located in North America with the second largest concentration in Asia Pacific with over 200 hotels in that region. The oldest of the brands is Westin Hotels, which started out as Western Hotels in 1930 and changed to the Westin name in 1980. The latest to join the group, Aloft and Element, opened their doors in 2008.

Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) was launched in 1999 and made loyalty news with its policy of no blackout dates and no capacity controls--both industry firsts. The program recently almost swept the Freddie Awards for the Europe and Africa ballot, winning Best Customer Service, Best Earning Promotion, Best Elite Level, Best Redemption Ability, Best Redemption Promotion and Program of the Year for hotel programs. The only Freddie Award it did not take home in that region was for the Best Loyalty Credit Card. The program won the most Freddie Awards of any program in all worldwide ballots with eight total.



Starwood Preferred Guest members earn two points, called "Starpoints", for every eligible dollar spent at participating Starwood properties, including restaurant and room service charges, in-room movies and more. Or you may elect to earn miles for your stays in the same way you would when earning points with more than 30 airline partners, most on a 1:1 conversion through the Airline Direct Deposit Program (see spg.com/moremiles). Southwest Rapid Rewards members can earn 600 points per stay.

Even if you're not a registered guest, you can still earn points with food and beverage charges of $10 or more at Starwood hotels' food and beverage establishments when presenting your membership card.

Members can also earn points with an American Express co-branded credit card in the U.S., the U.K. and Canada; car rental partners, merchandise partners and more.



SPG has seven award categories, ranging from "mid-priced, full-service hotels and resorts" to "ueber hotels and resorts offering awe-inspiring surroundings in some of the world's most spectacular destinations." You can spend as few as 2,000 points for a weekend night at a category 1 hotel (3,000 points for a weekday night) to as many as 35,000 points per night at a category 7 hotel. There are no blackout dates for standard room award stays.

A member earning points through hotel stays only would need to spend $1,000 to reach a free night at the lowest level, which is the same amount needed to earn a free night with Priority Club Rewards (not including their discounted PointBreak awards). Marriott Rewards and Hilton HHonors members can earn a free night after $750 in hotel spending (not including Marriott PointSavers).

Members can get the fifth night free when redeeming for four consecutive nights at category 3-7 hotels for between 38,000 and 140,000 points.

SPG allows members to redeem a combination of points and cash, starting at 1,200 points plus $25 for a stay at select category 1 hotels, up to 15,000 points plus $275 for select category 7 hotels.

Members can also choose to redeem their points for room upgrades from eligible rates, starting at 1,000 points up to 2,750 points, and suite upgrades starting at 3,000 points up to 35,000 points. Plus, you can redeem 1,000 points and receive a 50 percent discount on regular rack rates in any hotel category.

With Nights & Flights, members can redeem points for a vacation package that includes 50,000 airline miles and five free nights at a category 3 hotel (60,000 points) or category 4 hotel (70,000 points).

SPG Flights allows members to redeem points for the cost of a flight (including taxes and fees) on more than 350 carriers worldwide. There are no blackout dates and you can travel whenever you can find seats. Redemptions start at 10,000 points for a flight ticket price up to $150. A flight with a value between $735 and $800 would require 60,000 points. SPG lists the price to point conversion on their website at spg.com/flights.

SPG members can transfer Starpoints to airline miles, most at a favorable 1:1 exchange ratio. United MileagePlus is one of the few exceptions, with its lower valued 2:1 ratio. LANPASS is the only program offering two miles per one Starpoint and El Al, Iberia and Southwest Airlines, although partners, do not offer a transfer option. For every 20,000 Starpoints transferred, you'll get a 5,000-point bonus. There is a minimum SPG point transfer requirement of 2,500 points for all non-elite members, 1,500 points for Gold members and no minimum for Platinum members with most airlines.

SPG Moments allows members to use their points to buy and bid on "money-can't-buy experiences and events" at spg.com/moments. This includes members-only acoustic performances, private skills clinics with the leaders in sports, chef's table dinners with the world's leading chefs, and much more. Points can also be redeemed for merchandise, donated to the American Red Cross and UNICEF and spent for Instant Awards that vary by hotel and are available at check-in.



Starwood has 33 airline program partnerships, including Aeroplan, Air France/KLM, Alaska, American, ANA, British Airways, Delta, Emirates, Lufthansa, Singapore, US Airways, United and Virgin Atlantic.

The popular Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express offers two points per dollar spent at hotels and resorts participating in the SPG program, and one point per dollar spent everywhere else--that's in addition to the points you already earn as an SPG member. Cardmembers receive credit for five nights and two stays toward SPG elite status each year among other benefits. Cardmembers also earn bonus points as new cardholders and pay no annual fee for their first year of cardmembership (a savings of $65).

Avis and Sixt are Starwood's car rental partners, and members earn 50 points per day with Avis at airport locations and 250 points per Sixt rental. Members can also spend 3,500 points for an Avis or Sixt $50 off coupon.

American Express Membership Rewards members can transfer points into SPG: 1,000 Membership Rewards points equals 333 SPG points. Diners Club Club Rewards members can transfer points into SPG: 2,500 Club Rewards points equals 750 SPG points.

SPG members can earn points through Audience Rewards for Broadway shows, and members residing in select states can earn points through Energy Plus.



SPG offers a two-tiered elite program, Gold and Platinum, as well as a lifetime elite program. Both paid stays and award redemption stays and nights count toward earning elite status. To be welcomed into Gold status, a member must complete 10 stays or 25 nights in a calendar year. Gold level members receive three points per eligible dollar spent at participating SPG hotels, which is inclusive of a 50-percent earning bonus, as well as 4pm late checkout, preferred room when available at check-in (except for Aloft and Element hotels), elite customer service phone line and Gold member's choice of a welcome gift with each stay, including points, complimentary in-room Internet access or complimentary beverage.

Platinum status is reached when completing 25 stays or 50 nights per calendar year and includes all the benefits of Gold, plus upgrade to best available room at check-in, including standard suites (not offered at Aloft and Element hotels), complimentary in-room Internet access, Club- and Executive-level privileges where available, guaranteed room availability when booked by 3pm, 72+ hour prior to arrival (other conditions apply), and Platinum Concierge phone service. The welcome gift options include: continental breakfast, points or a local amenity. Platinum members who complete 50 nights in a calendar year will receive 10 Suite Night Awards that can be redeemed for upgrades to suites and premium rooms confirmed five days prior to arrival and those who complete 75 nights in a year will earn four points per eligible dollar spent--a 100-percent bonus over non-elite members--as well as "Your24", the flexibility to choose your check-in. For example, check-in at 9pm and checkout at 9pm day of departure.

Introduced in 2012, the lifetime elite program offers lifetime Gold status if a member completes 250 nights total and any five years of SPG status and lifetime Platinum status if a member completes 500 nights total and any 10 years of Platinum SPG status.



SPG points do not expire as long as you earn, redeem, or purchase points once every 12 months. Points can be transferred for no cost between accounts only by members of the same household. Standard room award nights have no blackout dates or capacity controls. Cash & Points redemptions, however, are subject to blackout dates. Members do not earn points or miles for the cash portion of Cash & Points awards.

Missing points can be claimed online up to one year from the checkout date.

Eligible point-earning charges include room rate, all food and beverage purchases charged to your room, telephone and in-room faxes, laundry/dry cleaning and in-room movie and video game charges. Members can also earn points when dining at SPG hotel restaurants and spending a minimum $10.

Eligible stays include hotels booked directly through spg.com, Starwood-branded websites, customer contact centers and most travel agencies. Stays booked and paid for through third parties are not eligible to earn points or stay and night credit.

Members can buy or gift a minimum of 500 points for $0.035 per point. Up to 20,000 points per year may be purchased or received as a gift into your account in increments of 500.



Via the spg.com website, members can ask a question for instant answers, read an FAQ, email, chat online or even "Click to Call" and request SPG to call them. There are also telephone numbers to call customer service. If you have a simple question that can be answered quickly, the online chat is possibly the fastest way to get an answer. Otherwise, we found the option to request a call from Starwood was a convenient way to cut down on your time on the phone. Another way to contact customer support is through Facebook (facebook.com/spg) and Twitter (twitter.com/spg). Starwood has historically been known for their good customer service.

SPG is a "go to" program for many frequent flyers with its points-to-miles transfers that offer a 5,000-mile bonus when you transfer 20,000 points. The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card by American Express is also popular offering members flexibility when it comes time to convert points to miles. Members appreciate Starwood's lack of blackout dates for hotel awards, and although subject to blackout dates, the 50 percent discount on rack rates for 1,000 points can be a good value. The 50 percent point bonus for the lowest level elite is better than competing hotel programs and the elite program benefits have been improved this year.

Although Starwood boasts a no-blackout-date policy, the policy is restricted to standard rooms and members have experienced difficulty booking awards when standard rooms sell out. Compared to other major U.S. hotel groups, only Hyatt has fewer properties and members may not find a Starwood hotel at their destination.

Starwood Preferred Guest
1111 Westchester Ave.
White Plains, NY 10604

Phone: (888) 625-4988
Fax: (512) 836-4002

  Earning Ability Award Choices Partnerships Elite-Level Rules & Conditions Service Support Online Services Overall Rating
* * * * * * * *
5.89 5.98 5.41 5.76 5.66 5.89 5.80 5.77

(516 ratings)


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