How to Earn & Use Starwood Points: Part 7 – Using Starwood Points for Upgrades

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I’ve been digging into the Starwood hotel program because of the once-a-year up to 30,000 point bonus on the Starwood personal and business card. This offer ends on June 30, 2014.

HOW TO EARN & USE STARWOOD POINTS:

Room Upgrades

You can also use Starwood points to upgrade your paid stay in a Starwood hotel.  However, this can’t be done for stays booked through a third-party like Priceline.  In general, you can only upgrade a stay that earns Starwood points and stay credits.

This isn’t a great value, but could be useful for some.  Starwood also lets you use points to upgrade to a premium room or suite if you pay the number of points needed for a free night and the points for an upgrade.

You also have to make your upgrade within five days of your hotel stay and you must call (888-625-4988) to apply the upgrade.

You have to pay extra points per NIGHT of your stay, so this can get very expensive.  In contrast, Hyatt lets you upgrade to a Club Room for only 3,000 Hyatt points total for up to 4 nights and to a suite for only 6,000 Hyatt points total for up to 4 nights.

SPG upgrades

Room Upgrades Start at 1,500 Points & Suite Upgrades Start at 3,000 Points

One “Room Upgrade” gets you 1 room category or one price-bracket higher than what you booked (though some hotels could be more generous).

You can usually find out the different type of rooms on a hotel’s website.  Click on “Rooms” or “Rooms and Suites” or “Guest Rooms” (depending on the hotel).

SPG upgrades

Click the “Rooms”, “Rooms and Suites” or “Guest Rooms” tab to see Room Types

Or you can make a “dummy” cash reservation and to see rooms listed in ascending order, starting with the lowest category room and moving up towards the highest, as seen in the photo below of the Prince De Galles Paris.

To make sure you’re seeing all possible room types, search several dates a few months in advance.  This allows you to make sure you’re not missing anything because the hotel is sold out of certain room types because of holidays, conferences etc.

SPG upgrades

Different Room Types for the Prince De Galles, Paris

Let’s see what kind of point per dollar “value” we could get by using our points this way.

At the Prince De Galles, Paris (a category 7 hotel) we could upgrade an Art Deco Room into an Art Deco Balcony Room for 1,500 points in low season and 2,750 points in peak season.

The price difference between these two rooms is $133, so when we divide that by 1,500 points (low season) and 2,750 points (peak season), we get 4.8 cents to 8.9 cents per point.

If you want a specific room, but don’t want to pay the cash price, you can book a room which is 1 category cheaper than the one you want and upgrade the room using points.  

Suite Upgrades

Or you could use a suite upgrade.  The interesting thing about a suite upgrade is that it is the SAME price as a regular room redemption using Starwood points.

So you could get 2 rooms or 1 suite for the same number of Starwood points!

SPG upgrades

A Suite Upgrade Costs the Same as a Room Upgrade!

You’ll have to do a little investigating to decide whether or not the suite upgrade is worth more to you than a second room would be.  For example, perhaps a suite comes with lounge access or is much bigger than two single rooms.  If you’re a family, perhaps you’d prefer for the kids to have their own room instead of sharing a suite with you.

You can always email the hotel in advance to inquire about what kind of suite you would receive with your upgrade.

Using the Prince De Galle hotel in Paris, let’s see what the point value would be for a suite upgrade if we book the Art Deco room, and use a suite upgrade for a Mosaic suite.

The price difference between these two rooms is $1,017, so when we divide that by 30,000 points (and 35,000 points) we get a value of 2.9 to 3.3 cents per point.  

This is much lower than the value we get for just a room upgrade. 

Do some research before applying a suite upgrade.  Perhaps the room one upgrade above a basic room is a club room which gets you the lounge access you want.  Or perhaps their lowest category suite is huge.  Look for the upgrades that will get you the most, but don’t expect to upgrade to something like the Presidential Suite since specialty suites are excluded.

Also when upgrading a room to a suite you could just get a junior suite (i.e. a living area not in a seperate room).  Make sure to check out the room categories of a hotel first by doing “dummy” searches for paid stays on a few nights in the future to avoid missing the room options that are sold out.

For example, when searching 6 months in advance for a room at the Chatwal New York City  a junior suite is the lowest level suite.

SPG upgrades

Showing the Different Room Types and Lowest Suite for the Chatwal

It doesn’t hurt to email the hotel in advance to see exactly what suite they’re willing to offer you, but know that you usually will get only the base level suite.

Bottom Line

It is nice to have the option to use Starwood hotel points to upgrade to a suite, but you have to pay extra points per night of your stay, and you can get an extra room instead of the suite.

In contrast, Hyatt lets you upgrade a stay for a flat rate of only 6,000 points up to 4 nights.

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

18 Responses to How to Earn & Use Starwood Points: Part 7 – Using Starwood Points for Upgrades

  1. Part 7? Really? How many do you plan on doing?

  2. It would be appreciated if you could please elaborate more on 2-standard-rooms-instead-of-a-suite option.
    I have never read/heard of that before, and it sounds pretty fascinating.

    Is that option available online, or do you have to call the hotel/customer service?
    Can you use your suite-upgrade-certificates to get two rooms instead of the points upgrade?
    Is it possible on both, paid and award nights?

    Thanks, good sir.

  3. How do you know that you definitely got the 30,000 point offer? Other than, of course, having the points deposited to your account once you’ve spent $5000. I was just approved for the card and the info on the welcome page still says in the footnotes “If you are identified as a current American Express®
    Cardmember, you may not be eligible for this welcome bonus offer. This
    offer is also not available to applicants who have had this product
    within the last 12 months.”

  4. Hi,

    I got my SPG with 30K offer today. The offer is confirmed when it was instantly approved. However, I have a amex online account with a blue cash everyday.

    When I activate it, do I need to set up a new account to make sure 30K offer after $5000 purchase. Because the rule says “If you are identified as a current American Express®
    Cardmember, you may not be eligible for this welcome bonus offer. This
    offer is also not available to applicants who have had this product
    within the last 12 months.”

    Thanks!

  5. I have applied the room upgrade for a Cat 2 property (Sheraton West Des Moines, Iowa). Regular room was 3,000 points on the weekend. Paying an additional 1,000 points/night got a club level room which other than lounge access was identical. However lounge access for 1,000 points/night was a great deal. SPG online chat was able to tell what room type the upgrade would be into which was helpful in making the decision. Seems like a good use of points to me.. Will look at this option in the future.

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  7. @Cynthia & Peter
    I have numerous Amex cards, and you can have them all linked to one account, assuming Amex is the direct distributor of the card. Example, the Citi Amex card is ran through Citibank, so it must be accessed through their website and not the standard Amex website. Also, every Amex card is different. You could apply for all Amex cards and would be eligible for all the promotions. It is when you start canceling and then reapplying for the same card that the promotions may not be eligible. Example, I have applied for both the SPG Business and Personal cards and received each promotion that was being offered at the time of application. Both applications were within less than a twelve month period. Have fun and I recommend applying for any and all Amex cards you can qualify for. Plus, small business Saturday is approaching which means free spending money. Can’t wait!

  8. @Paul

    Thanks!

  9. @Paul – Please elaborate on free spending money for small business saturday.

  10. Any small business that registers with Amex qualifies as a shop/business that you can spend at using your registered Amex. I am sure Darius will update us as the opening for registration becomes available. H seems to stay up in these things.

    You register your Amex card, once the registration is opened by Amex, and as long as it does not fill to capacity, said card(s) will be qualified for spending on said Saturday. Then you go to a business that is registered and you spend at least $25.00 and automatically receive a $25.00 statement credit for the card(s) used. You can register multiple cards.

    I registered several cards last year and just went and bought between $25.00-$30.00 on items I needed, and some that I wanted more than needed. I will be registering 8 cards (including my wife’s) this year, which means $200.00 in spending capacity. Though the $200.00 will be broken down into 8 separate transactions. Darius had written that online retailers may also qualify, but I only do face to face transactions for this deal.

    It’s my new favorite day of the year.

  11. @Vansh – You can’t use your SPG suite nights to redeem for a separate room. I was pointing out that upgrading a room using points to a suite costs the same as just paying points for another room.

    @Cynthia – You could call to confirm with American Express.

    @Peter – You don’t need a new account, but I’d confirm with the CSR what you’re bonus will be.

    @JeffISU – It can be a very good option in some cases!

    @Paul – Thanks for helping out!

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