7 Fun Travel Goals Once You Have the Starwood Card

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Update:   One or more card offers in this post are no longer available.  Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers.  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.

How To Use Starwood Points
You Can Use Starwood Points at Excellent Hotels, Like the Le Meridien Tahiti. But There Are Lots of Other Things You Can Do, Too!

I’ll give you some fun ideas for spending your Starwood points!

Top Starwood Hotels Series Index

How to Use Starwood Points

Link:   Ultimate Guide to Starwood Points

Link:   Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

Link:   Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express

Link:   Limited Time:  Best-Ever 35,000 Point Sign-Up Bonus With AMEX Starwood Cards Returns!

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.

How To Use Starwood Points
Team Member Keith and His Wife Used Starwood Points During Their Stay in Bali Last Year

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.
How To Use Starwood Points
You’ll Find Starwood Hotel Brands in Many Popular Destinations or Major Cities

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:

How To Use Starwood Points
The Westin Dublin Costs Between 12,000 and 16,000 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.

How To Use Starwood Points
Hotel Redemptions Start at 2,000 Starwood Points

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)!
How To Use Starwood Points
Team Member Joseph Used American Airlines Miles to Fly to Barbados and Stay in a Huge Airbnb Tree House

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).

How To Use Starwood Points
Use Points to Do Something You’d Never Do Normally – Like Book Expensive Business Class Seats!

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! 

That’s because Starwood has 5 hotels extremely close to Disney.  Two of them (Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin) are inside Walt Disney World Resort, between Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios!

To book an award stay, you’ll spend:

Staying at Disney’s Swan or Dolphin resorts are a great way to save money and get the most of your Disney experience (like Disney transportation and Extra Magic Hours).

How To Use Starwood Points
The Swan & Dolphin Resorts Are in the Middle of the Disney Magic

Other nearby hotels are:

Check out my guide to a Disney vacation using miles & points!

5.   SPG Moments

Did you know you can use Starwood points for backstage passes at concerts, an NCAA Final Four MVP experience, and much more?

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:

  • Culinary
  • Cultural
  • Music
  • Sports

Some SPG Moments are auctioned off to the highest bidder.  And some you can buy for a fixed amount of points.  Check out the SPG Moments page and see if anything interests you!

How To Use Starwood Points
That Norway Expedition With National Geographic Looks AWESOME, as Indicated by the Bidding Price

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

Because of the Marriott Starwood merger, you can link your Marriott and Starwood accounts and transfer Starwood points to Marriott at a 3:1 ratio.  Meaning 3 Marriott Points = 1 Starwood point.

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!

How To Use Starwood Points
Save Lots by Transferring Your Starwood Points to Marriott and Redeeming Them 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 can also get Big Travel by transferring your Starwood points to Amtrak!  Starwood points transfer to Amtrak at a 1:1 ratio.  And there’s a 5,000 point minimum transfer.

How To Use Starwood Points
If You’ve Never Been on a Train, I Recommend It! I’ve Taken Trains Through Europe and Enjoyed the Scenic Experience

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.

How To Use Starwood Points
Take the Empire Builder Route Through Big Sky Country and Glacier National Park!

To transfer Starwood points to Amtrak, you must call Starwood at 888-625-4988.  Starwood says transfers can take up to 14 days.

Bottom Line

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!

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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