Sep022008

Starwood Program Enhancement – SPG Flights

Starwood Program Enhancement – SPG Flights

Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) has become the first hotel loyalty program to allow members to use Starpoints for booking an airline ticket on virtually any available flight with their SPG Flights redemption option.  The redemption value is a simple Starpoints for cash exchange at a rate that ranges from $15.00 per 1,000 starpoints to rates as low as $10.00 per 1,000 starpoints.  Most tickets will give the user a redemption value between $12.00 and $13.00 per 1,000 Starpoints.

How Many Starpoints?

up to $150 = 10,000 points

$150 – $215 = 15,000 points

$215 – $280 = 20,000 points

$280 – $345 = 25,000 points

$345 – $410 = 30,000 points

$410 – $475 = 35,000 points

$475 – $540 = 40,000 points

$540 – $605 = 45,000 points

$605 – $670 = 50,000 points

$670 – $735 = 55,000 points

$735 – $800 = 60,000 points

and so on in $65 intervals.  Terms and Conditions for SPG Flights.

I typically find my SPG redemptions are in the $50/1,000 Starpoints range when I use them for Cash and Points hotel room awards which is substantially higher than when used for SPG flights.

Poverty Jet Set Travel

The redemption value for SPG flights is generally a poor use of Starpoints.  SPG flights is an option for the SPG member who has sufficient points to redeem for a flight, and is willing to use Starpoints at a poor redemption value in lieu of cash.  I am thinking when you want to help a relative or friend, but don’t want to fork over cash.  SPG flights is an aid package for the poverty jet set.

Let me illustrate redemption value for Starpoints and the reader can be the judge.

 

W Honolulu, Hawaii for October 3-8, 2008 (5 nights); SPG Category 5 Hotel

Best online room rate = $247.50 night + 11.96% tax (AAA rate) = $1,385.51

 

Starpoints 5th Night free Award = 48,000 points required for a 5-night stay using the SPG 5th night free option (low season at 12,000 points/night).  $1,386/48,000 Starpoints

= $28.86 redemption value per 1,000 points.  This is nearly $29/1,000 Starpoints which is double the redemption value for most SPG flights redemptions ($12-13/1,000 Starpoints).

 

Starpoints Cash & Points Award = 24,000 points + $450 Cash 

The Cash & Points option reduces the cost of the Hawaii 5-night stay by $935 in cash for an exchange of  24,000 points.  $935/24,000 Starpoints = $38.96/1,000 Starpoints

 

Three options for this W Hotel Starwood Hawaii vacation.

1)      Pay $1,385.51(paid rate will likely earn between 4,000 and 5,000 Starpoints).  

2)      Redeem 48,000 Starpoints with a redemption value of $29/1,000 Starpoints. 

3)      Pay $450 and redeem 24,000 Starpoints with a redemption value of $39/1,000 Starpoints.

A savvy loyalty traveler will easily get triple the value for Starpoints redemptions than what is available using Starpoints for SPG flights.  48,000 points can pay for your 5-night Hawaii hotel stay or you can use the points to get up to $605 in airfare for 45,000 points.  The poverty jet setter may find it advantageous to pay for a flight with Starpoints, but I’ll still be saving my points for hotel room stays.

The value of Starpoints for airline tickets maxes out at the 10,000 Starpoints for a ticket under $150 or $15/1,000 Starpoints.  For most members the value of Starpoints are much higher when used for hotel room redemptions like a Cash & Points award night where it is not unusual to get a redemption value of $50/1,000 Starpoints.

One advantage of SPG flights is the ability to earn frequent flier miles on a Starpoints airline ticket.  For most SPG members the feature of SPG flights is of minimal value.  For this loyalty traveler I would be unlikely to ever redeem my Starpoints when the value is at most $15 per 1,000 Starpoints.  I typically get about $500 in redemption value for 10,000 Starpoints.

Using points for redemption of hotel rooms is always a better value than SPG flights when the room rate (with taxes) is more than:

Category 1 weekend 2,000 points = $30

Category 1 weekday (Sun-Thur) 3,000 points = $45

Category 2 weekend 3,000 points = $45

Category 2 weekday (Sun-Thur) 4,000 points = $60

Category 3 7,000 points = $105

Category 4, 10,000 points = $150

Catyegory 5 12,000 points = $180

Catgegory 5 peak season 16,000 points = $240

Category 6 20,000 points = $300

Category 6 peak season 25,000 points = $375

Category 7 30,000 points = $450

Category 7 peak season 35,000 points = $525

 

The Value of Starpoints for a High-End Hotel Redemption can be much higher than SPG Flights.

St. Regis New York for one night on Wednesday Sep 17, 2008

35,000 points or $945.25 (AAA rate) + $129.97 tax = $1,075.22 for a room at the St. Regis New York.

Redemption value = $30.72 per 1,000 Starpoints for the St. Regis New York.

35,000 starpoints will only buy a $475 flight using SPG flights.

 

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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