Disclosure: We get a commission for links on the blog. You don’t have to use our links, but we’re very grateful when you do. American Express, Barclaycard, Capital One, Chase, and US Bank are Million Mile Secrets advertising partners. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or endorsed by our partners. Here’s our Advertiser Disclosure.
Update: One or more card offers in this post are no longer available. Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers.
I’ve been digging into the Starwood hotel program because of the once-a-year 30,000 point bonus on the Starwood personal and business card. This offer ends on June 30, 2014.
HOW TO EARN & USE STARWOOD POINTS:
- Part 1: Earning, Transferring, and Preventing Your Points From Expiring
- Part 2: 11 Ways to Use Your Starwood Points
- Part 3: The 9 Best Airline Transfer Partners
- Part 4: The Best Keep Secret of Nights & Flights
- Part 5: Starwood Elite Status
- Part 6: Regular Starwood Hotel Redemptions
- Part 7: Using Points for Upgrades
Link: Regular Redemption Chart
The simplest way to use Starwood hotel points are for hotel redemptions. You can book them easily online and can pay in full using points. You don’t pay taxes on award nights when you use your Starwood points, though some hotels may charge a resort fee.
Starwood hotels have no blackout dates, so if there is a standard room available for sale, you can book it using points!
Hotels are divided into 7 categories. However, some hotel categories cost more points on weekdays and some hotel categories (category 5 & above) charge a different number of points depending on whether you book in peak season or not.
The Sheraton Sharm Hotel, Resort, Villas & Spa in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, is an example of a Category 1 hotel. It sells for ~$130 a night, but costs only 2,000 points on weekends and 3,000 points on weekdays.
On the other end, the Prince de Galles, Paris is a Category 7 hotel and costs ~$1,000 a night and 30,000 to 35,000 points per night.
I wouldn’t redeem Starwood points for the high end hotel categories, and prefer to use my Hyatt points (instead of Starwood points) where the top hotel categories cost only 30,000 points a night.
Starwood points are good for the lower and middle category hotels. That said, Starwood has some of the nicest top-end hotels and could be worth a splurge if you have the points.
How To Book A Starwood Hotel
You can book Starwood hotels with points online or via phone.
Step 1 – Enter Your Search In The box
Sign-in to your Starwood hotel account, and enter your destination and dates of travel in the search box.
Step 2 – Click On “Compare Rates.”
Click on the “Compare Rates” tab.
The price in points will be displayed in a column to the right called “SPG Free Nights” as shown in the picture below.
For example, I searched for hotels in New York City at the end of September and found the following hotels.
If your preferred hotel says “Please contact us to redeem your Free Nights,” try searching for a standard room using cash. If you can buy an entry-level room with cash, you should be able to use your points for a free night (though it may require a phone call to do so). That’s because Starwood guarantees no blackout dates for an entry-level room if you pay in full using points.
If there are no standard rooms available for cash it could mean that the hotel is sold out, so try changing your travel dates.
Step 3 – Select Your room Type
Select your room type.
You can usually cancel Starwood hotel night redemptions for free up to a day or two before-in. But be sure to check the fine print when you make your reservation, because some hotels require more notice to cancel a reservation.
Starwood Hotel Pros
Starwood hotels has a strong presence in many major world cities. And sometimes there are nicer Starwood hotels in a city than any other type of hotels. Starwood hotels has lots of hotels in Paris, Rome, Bangkok, Hawaii, etc.
When searching for hotels in Rome, Italy, I found 5 Starwood hotels…
…and no Hyatt hotels (just a suggestion to stay in Nice ~300 miles away!)
2. New York City
In New York, Hyatt has Category 6 hotels for 25,000 a night and a Category 5 hotel for 20,000 points.
Starwood seems to have nicer hotels than most other top-end hotels, but Starwood’s mid tier hotels are still quite nice.
The St. Regis hotels are very nice, but for 35,000 points you’ll be paying for that quality!
What Can Starwood Points Get Me?
On the other hand, you can stay in Disney World and redeem your points at The Swan or Dolphin. One night costs 10,000 SPG points or ~ $240 after taxes.
Using 10,000 Starwood points saves you $240. So 1 Starwood point is saving you 2.4 cents if you would have paid cash for the room ($240/10,000 Starwood points)
There is no rule of thumb for what makes a good redemption. To me, the best redemptions are the ones which wouldn’t have been possible without miles and points. Going to see family in Ohio is as worthwhile a hotel redemption as going to Paris (I’ve used points for both).
I usually try to get at least 2 cents towards the retail cost of a hotel, per Starwood point, if not more.
This means that if you take the cost of the room (say $200) and divide it by the number of points required (10,000 points), you should get at least $0.02 (2 cents).
But part of what makes a hotel great, is the location, not just the price tag. So if you’re a family going to Disney, it could make sense to book a Starwood hotel for even less than 2 cents per point if it means saving time and having a better vacation.
Why Do I Try To Get At Least 2 Cents Towards The Retail Cost Per Starwood Point?
Because Starwood points could save a lot more money in other places. London is a great example because it’s such an expensive city.
For example, The Park Lane Hotel, London sells for $550 (360 GBP) or 12,000 Starwood points. I’m getting 4.6 cents towards the retail cost ($550/12,000 points).
I’m paying 2,000 more points compared to the 10,000 points needed for 1 night at the Swan in Disney World.
But I’m getting a room that’s more than double the price of a room in Disney.
On the other hand, this doesn’t matter if you don’t plan on visiting London, but want to visit Disney.
Do what you’re comfortable with and what makes sense for you! Use your points in the way that matters most to you!
5th Night Free
You get your 5th night free (in category 3 to 7 hotels) if you book 4 nights in a Starwood hotel using points.
To book online, you simply select 5 nights and that’s it.
The price should automatically be adjusted. In the picture below, the Bangkok Le Meridien is normally 7,000 points…
but the free 5th night free comes through in a reduction in the number of Starwood points you pay for 4 nights.
Note that if you book 4 nights, you will pay the regular price for 4 nights.
And if you book 3 nights in one hotel and 2 nights in the same hotel after a few days, you won’t get the 5th night free. You have to book 5 consecutive nights to get the 5th night free.
Using Starwood points for hotel stays can save you lots of money and make lots of happy memories.
But Starwood points aren’t the best to use for their highest category hotels because you need a lot of points!
* If you liked this post, why don’t you join the 10,000+ readers who have signed-up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 email per day!) or in a RSS reader …because then you’ll never miss another update!