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Starwood points are some of my favorite points to collect because I can usually get incredible value when I redeem them. And they’re extremely versatile!
You can do so many things with Starwood points, from booking free flights to reserving free hotels to earning backstage passes at concerts.
I’ll give you some fun ideas for spending your Starwood points!
Top Starwood Hotels Series Index
- 7 Best US Starwood Hotels to Book With Points
- 5 Totally Free and Fantastic 5-Day Hotel Stays Using This Limited-Time Bonus
- 5 Top Hotels in Europe to Book With Starwood Points
- 5 Best US Beaches to Enjoy With Limited-Time AMEX Starwood Bonus
- 5 Top Hotels in the Caribbean and Mexico to Book With Starwood Points
- 5 Fantastic US Marriott Hotels to Book Using Starwood Points
- 5 Top Hotels in Central & South America to Book With Starwood Points
How to Use Starwood Points
Through April 5, 2017, you can earn up to 35,000 Starwood points from the personal and small business versions of the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express cards after meeting tiered minimum spending requirements.
With the personal AMEX Starwood card, you’ll earn 25,000 Starwood points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. And 10,000 more Starwood points for spending another $2,000 on purchases within the first 6 months.
And with the AMEX Starwood small business card, you’ll earn 25,000 Starwood points after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. And 10,000 more Starwood points for spending another $3,000 on purchases within the first 6 months.
Note: American Express only allows folks to get the sign-up bonus ONCE per person, per lifetime on ALL their cards.
Here are 7 fun travel goals to set with your Starwood points!
1. Stay at a Fun Starwood Hotel
The most obvious choice for redeeming Starwood points is at a Starwood hotel! You can easily book award nights online. And you don’t pay taxes on award nights when you use your Starwood points (though some hotels may charge resort fees).
Starwood hotels have no blackout dates. So if there is a standard room available for sale, you can book it using points! Plus, you’ll get your 5th night free (in category 3 to 7 hotels) if you book 4 nights in a Starwood hotel using points.
You can use your points for hotels in interesting locations, like:
- The Westin Dublin – 12,000 to 16,000 Starwood points per night
- Palacio del Inka, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Cusco – 10,000 Starwood points per night
- The Westin Turtle Bay Resort & Spa, Mauritius – 10,000 Starwood points per night
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.
2. Round-Trip Coach Flight to the Caribbean
Transferring Starwood points to airline miles is an especially good deal. That’s because for every 20,000 Starwood points you transfer, you’ll get an extra 5,000 airline miles!
For example, if you transferred 40,000 Starwood points to Delta, you would get a total of 50,000 Delta miles (40,000 Starwood points + 10,000 bonus miles for transferring 2 increments of 20,000 points)!
From September 7 to November 14, and April 27 to May 20, you can book American Airlines flights from the US to the Caribbean for 12,500 American Airlines miles one-way in coach. So you could book a round-trip coach flight to Barbados by transferring just 20,000 Starwood points to American Airlines (20,000 Starwood points + 5,000 mile bonus)!
3. One-Way Business Class Flight to Europe
You’ll usually get the best value for your Starwood points by transferring them to airlines for international Business or First Class.
For example, you can book a lie-flat Business Class seat from Chicago to Paris for 57,500 American Airlines miles one-way. Depending on which city you’re flying from, this ticket could EASILY cost $2,500 (and much more!).
And remember, when you transfer Starwood points in increments of 20,000, you’ll get a bonus 5,000 airline miles! So you’ll need to transfer ~48,000 Starwood points to book a Business Class seat with American Airlines (48,000 Starwood points + 10,000 bonus miles for transferring 2 increments of 20,000 points = 58,000 American Airlines miles).
That’s a value of ~5.2 cents per Starwood point ($2,500 / 48,000 Starwood points). You’ll have trouble getting more value from your Starwood points than that!
4. Disney Vacation in Orlando
Lots of our readers love taking their families to Disney World! And if you have Starwood points, you can visit on the cheap!
To book an award stay, you’ll spend:
- Walt Disney World Swan – 12,000 to 16,000 Starwood points per night
- Walt Disney World Dolphin – 10,000 Starwood points per night
Other nearby hotels are:
- Sheraton Vistana Resort Villas, Lake Buena Vista/Orlando – 10,000 Starwood points per night
- Sheraton Lake Buena Vista Resort – 4,000 Starwood points per night (3,000 points on weekends!)
- Sheraton Vistana Villages Resort Villas, I-Drive/Orlando – 10,000 Starwood points per night
5. SPG Moments
Starwood has a program called SPG Moments, which lets you redeem your Starwood points for experiences you wouldn’t normally be able to buy directly.
There are lots of different kinds of “moments” to choose from, like:
I got to experience an SPG Moment during a trip to New York City. And I loved it!
6. Stay at a Fun Marriott or Ritz-Carlton Hotel
That means you can use your Starwood points for thousands of hotels around the world! Including extra fancy Ritz-Carlton hotels. For example, you can transfer Starwood points to Marriott and stay at the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman!
Rooms here can sell for $1,000+ per night. But you can reserve a free night for just 70,000 Marriott points, or 23,333 Starwood points (70,000 / 3). That means you can get a value of 4.2 cents per Starwood point ($1,000 / 23,333 Starwood points)!
7. Ride Amtrak
You will NOT receive the 5,000 bonus points when you transfer Starwood points in 20,000 point increments, like you do with airlines.
Amtrak points are worth:
- ~2.9 cents each for regular train travel
- ~2.56 cents each for travel on the high-speed Acela Express
Because Starwood points transfer to Amtrak at a 1:1 ratio, you’ll get a value of ~2.56 to ~2.9 cents per Starwood point if you use them this way. That’s not a bad deal at all.
To transfer Starwood points to Amtrak, you must call Starwood at 888-625-4988. Starwood says transfers can take up to 14 days.
Starwood points are some of the most flexible points you can earn! That means you can do lots of fun stuff with them, like booking free train rides, tickets to an NBA game, or just reserving a free hotel night.
What’s your favorite way to use Starwood points? I’d love to hear more ideas!