hotel loyalty programs Starwood Hotels Starwood Preferred Guest

Loyalty Traveler Guide to Starwood Preferred Guest

Starwood Preferred Guest Guide includes:

  • SPG overview and basics
  • Buy SPG points
  • Starwood Best Rate Guarantee policy
  • SPG American Express credit card
  • SPG and Delta Airlines Crossover Rewards program
  • Starwood Hotels brands
  • SPG Hotel Stay Earn Rates for Points
  • Fast-track to Elite
  • SPG Restaurants and Bars points when not a guest at the Starwood Hotel.
  • SPG Moments
  • SPG partners.

Starwood Preferred Guest Program Basics:

Starwood Hotels has a reputation for high-end properties around the world with three luxury market segment brands in St. Regis, W Hotels and Luxury Collection(161 hotels), three upper upscale hotel brands (722 hotels) in the workhorse brands of Sheraton, Westin and Le Meridien, and an expanding presence in the upscale brands (268 hotels) with Four Points and 2008 newcomers aloft and element.

Starwood Preferred Guest seems better known to many guests for its SPG American Express card more than hotel rooms. The ability to earn 1 point per $1 with the credit card and the opportunity to exchange SPG points into airline miles at 1-to-1 rate with over 25 airline partners makes SPG points a versatile currency. Transfer 20,000 points and SPG adds 25% more miles: 20,000 SPG points = 25,000 miles.

Elite members report being treated well with frequent complimentary upgrades, elite benefits on award stays and SPG promotions offering opportunities to earn SPG points at a rate quicker than hotel spend earning.

SPG has many ways to redeem points for award stays with Standard awards, Cash & Points awards, Upgrade Awards and Suite Awards.

Personally, I find SPG one of the best programs for getting into a luxury or upper-upscale urban hotel or vacation resort at a price far less than possible with most hotel chains.

Strengths of SPG:

  • Good points-to-miles exchange rate with nearly 30 airline partners
  • Hotels are high market segment hotels.
  • Several award options stretch points redeemed for awards or save significant cash with Cash & Points and Upgrade awards.
  • Platinum elite members frequently upgraded to full suites.

Weaknesses of SPG:

SPG Preferred members do not receive complimentary internet. Internet is only complimentary as a Gold elite choosing internet over other welcome offers like bonus points or local gift. SPG Platinum elites receive free internet.

SPG has an extremely high cost for points awards in category 6 and 7 hotel stays compared to the earn rate for hotel stays. Earning 20,000 to 30,000 in points can be $10,000 in hotel spend or $20,000 to $30,000 in SPG American Express card charges.

Buy SPG Points

Buy Starpoints at $35 per 1,000 points.  Limited time offers reduce this rate to $28 or less during promotional periods two or three times a year. Limit of 20,000 purchased points per calendar year.

Buy Starpoints to achieve free nights, free flights or room upgrades faster.

Starwood Hotels Best Rate Guarantee

Starwood Hotels Best Rate Guarantee link.

Starwood, Hyatt and Kimpton are the only three hotel chains which allow a Best Rate Guarantee claim to be filed prior to booking a hotel reservation. SPG takes 10% off the lower competing rate from an online travel agency like Expedia or others or matches the lower rate  and awards 2,000 SPG points to your account.

Starwood Hotels is a good BRG program since you can seek out rate discrepancies using or and then submit a claim when a rate discrepancy is found. Due to the high cost of Starwood Hotels and the 10% off the lower rate or 2,000 Starpoints, then the BRG claims are typically best for hotels under $150. Other hotel chains like Marriott give 25% off, Hyatt 20% off, Hilton $50, Best Western $100 gift card and IHG or Choice give first night free. SPG Best Rate Guarantee offer of 2,000 points is most useful on low cost hotels.

Hotel stays on Best Rate Guarantee reduced rates offer normal points earning and elite benefits.

SPG American Express Credit Card

Earn Free Nights Even Faster: The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express rewards you with Starpoints every time you spend on the Card. Apply Now

SPG and Delta Airlines Crossover Rewards

Crossover Rewards with SPG and the Delta SkyMiles program. Elite members of both programs earn more rewards when they fly and when they stay. Learn more.


Starwood Hotels & Resorts brands:

1,180 hotels with 347,285 rooms in 100 countries (3-31-2014)

  1. Sheraton – Upper Upscale, 433 hotels; 152,338 rooms.
  2. Westin – Upper Upscale, 198 hotels; 75,542 rooms.
  3. Four Points – Upscale, 182 hotels; 33,008 rooms.
  4. Le Meridien – Upper Upscale; 95 hotels; 25,739 rooms.
  5. Luxury Collection – Luxury, 87 hotels; 17,340 rooms.
  6. Aloft – Upscale; 80 hotels; 13,486 rooms.
  7. W Hotels – Luxury, 45 hotels; 13,021 rooms.
  8. St. Regis – Luxury, 31 hotels; 6,686 rooms.
  9. Starwood Vacation Ownership – timeshares with paid guest nights and discount timeshare sales stays.  14 properties; 7,576 rooms.
  10. Element – Upscale extended stay hotel; 11 hotels; 1,793 rooms.
  11. Other – 4 hotels; 756 rooms.

Hotel Chain Scale Segment 2013 Smith Travel Research STR used to rank hotels is scale based on average daily rate for the brand in the USA and globally.

Geographic Distribution of Hotels

  • North America: 591
  • Latin America: 79
  • Europe: 160
  • Africa and Middle East: 85
  • Greater China: 131
  • Rest of Asia: 134

SPG Loyalty Earn Rate (Points) at Hotels

SPG base members earn 2 points per $1 at all hotel brands.

SPG is a low earning hotel loyalty program for base members compared to other hotel programs.

Elite status at the Gold level (10 stays or 25 nights) makes a big difference in earning ability with a 50% bonus. SPG Gold and Platinum members earn 3 points/$1.

Super Platinum members earn 4 points per $1. This higher earning rate kicks in after reaching 75 nights in a calendar year, so it is limited to the most frequent guests.

Fast-Track to Elite

***** SPG allows members to receive elite stay and night credit for up to 3 rooms per stay when they are reserved and paid by the SPG member. Loyalty Traveler June 19, 2012 post on earning SPG elite credit for multiple rooms.

SPG Restaurant Discount

*** SPG Restaurants and Bars – a new feature offers 10% to 20% discounts for dining and drinking at participating Starwood Hotel restaurants and bars. Loyalty Traveler post April 3, 2012. Depositing Points in the Westin Minneapolis BANK (Feb 18, 2014).

Additional SPG Redemption Offers

  • SPG Moments is your invitation to unforgettable experiences, including meet and greets with A-list artists and athletes, backstage concert passes, pro golf clinics and much more.
  • Partners – Redeem for products and services from a list of SPG partners.

SPG Moments sometimes offer a great deal for small venue hotel concerts and large venue sporting and entertainment events.


This is the first post in a Loyalty Traveler guide series on Starwood Preferred Guest. Links will be added as subsequent posts are published on Loyalty Traveler.

1 – Loyalty Traveler Guide to Starwood Preferred Guest

2 – Loyalty Traveler Guide to Starwood Preferred Guest Award Nights

3 – Loyalty Traveler Guide to Starwood Preferred Guest elite member benefits

4 – Loyalty Traveler Guide to nine brands of Starwood Hotels

5 – Loyalty Traveler Guide to SPG Airline Partners, Transfers and Airline Direct Deposit program


Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.

Loyalty Traveler shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests. Check out current hotel loyalty program offers across all the major chains in Loyalty Traveler’s monthly hotel promotions guide.

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