Introduction to Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG)

Update 2019:  SPG NO LONGER EXISTS!! On August 1, 2018, Marriott, SPG, and Ritz-Carlton Rewards were combined into one program. As a result of the merger, SPG is no longer a program.  Any Starpoints you had prior to August 2018 were converted to Marriott Bonvoy points. Read more details here.  

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westin whistler
Whistler Village

Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) are my top three loyalty programs.  I put most of my everyday credit card spending on cards that earn points in these 3 programs.  All of these programs earn points that are flexible.  This means that they can be transferred to different airline and/or hotel loyalty programs.  In this post I will talk about the Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty program.

Unlike Chase UR and Amex MR which are bank loyalty points, SPG is actually a hotel loyalty program that also gives you the ability to transfer points to airline programs (many at a 1:1 ratio).  This means that you can redeem starpoints (SPG’s loyalty currency) for both hotels and flights.


The SPG hotel portfolio includes brands such as Westin, W, and St. Regis.  Starwood and Marriott have recently merged.  Although you cannot yet use starpoints to book Marriott brands, you can transfer starpoints to Marriott Rewards.  You can then use Marriott Rewards to book Marriott hotels.

Starwood Preferred Guest
Starwood and Marriott Hotel Portfolio

At the time of this post (May 2017), you can transfer starpoints to Marriott at a 1:3 ratio.  Yes, you read that right. For every 1,000 starpoints, you get 3,000 Marriott points. Sounds like a great deal, which it can be, but remember that not all points are equal and I value starpoints significantly higher than Marriott points.  Also, you can transfer Marriott points to Starwood at a 3:1 ratio.

Westin Whistler Village
Whistler is our favorite ski destination! Lucky for us, there is a Starwood property right next to Whistler mountain and the ski lifts.

A few ways to redeem starpoints for hotel stays:*

*Remember to calculate the value you’re getting when redeeming points!

  • Redeem for free nights
spg redeem starpoints
Redeem starpoints for free nights

Save points by booking a Nights & Flights package

Starwood Preferred Guest redemption
SPG Nights & Flights


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In addition to redeeming points for hotels, Starwood also allows you to transfer points to several different airlines.  Transfer ratios vary but many are 1:1.

Reasons we prefer to put everyday spending on this card rather than an airline cobranded card such as Citi AAdvantage:

  1. We can redeem starpoints for flights and/or hotels.
  2. For every 20,000 points we transfer to an airline, SPG gives us a bonus of 5,000 points. So technically we can earn 1.25 points per dollar rather than 1 point per dollar.*
  3. We are not locked into one particular airline when we’re ready to redeem points to book a flight. For example, if an American Airlines award seat is not available on a certain date and all we have are AA miles, we’re kind of out of luck. But with SPG points, we have several airline options.

*Remember that the best deal is to transfer 20,000 miles at a time to get the 5,000 bonus. An exception to this would be if you’re just needing to top off an account. For example, if you have 22,000 miles in your Delta account and need 25,000, it might make sense to only transfer the 3,000 starpoints even though you will not get a bonus.

Whistler blackcomb
Save money on ski trips by learning how to maximize your points!
Whistler Blackcomb
Whistler is so instagrammable!

Earning Starpoints

SPG points can be very valuable when redeeming, but they are not as easy to earn as Ultimate Rewards and Membership Rewards. There is no shopping portal to earn bonus points and most purchases using the Amex SPG credit card are 1 point per dollar. Other than bonus points for spend at their hotel properties, there are not really any bonus categories.  For example, you will not earn 2-3 points per dollar on travel and dining like the Chase Sapphire cards.

Most Common Ways to Earn Starpoints:

  1. American Express Starwood Preferred guest credit card welcome bonus. (Update 2019: The SPG Amex no longer exists.)
  2. Hotel stays (at SPG properties). While Marriott stays do not yet earn starpoints, you can transfer points earned from a Marriott stay to SPG but it would be a 3:1 transfer ratio. So you’ll get 1,000 starpoints for every 3,000 Marriott Rewards points.
  3. Everyday spending on the SPG Amex credit card.

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28 thoughts on “Introduction to Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG)”

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  3. Stephanie Rodriguez

    I love the blog and am excited to get and redeem some miles! I have a question.

    I go to Disney twice a year and am excited to go back in July. I also am planning to go to Europe sometime next year. Which card do you think I should get first to start out? SPG or Chase Sapphire?
    Thanks, Steph

    1. Thanks!! That is a great question, but a tough one to answer. Both are great, so you can’t go wrong. SPG is definitely better for Disney since you can do the Swan/Dolphin with SPG points. Chase Sapphire is probably better for flights to Europe though, especially since their sign-up bonus is 50,000 points. Plus the Sapphire gets you 2 points per dollar on dining and travel, and you can shop through the Ultimate Rewards portal. In other words, UR are easy to earn! I think if I were you I would start with the Sapphire and then when you’re ready for a second card get the SPG.

      1. Stephanie Rodriguez

        Thanks Laura! What’s the difference between Chase Sapphire Preferred and Reserve? Which one do you recommend? I love your new website, thanks for sharing!!

      2. Another great question! The short answer is they’re both great, but the Reserve comes with more benefits. The catch is that it comes with a 450$ annual fee. The Preferred is a 95$ annual fee but the current sign-up offer waives it the first year. I know 450$ sounds ridiculous but it could be worth it depending on your needs and goals. I actually have a post comparing the two cards coming by the end of the week!

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