Travel Hacking 101: Transferable Points (SPG)

As highlighted in Travel Hacking 101: Miles vs. Points (and Cashback), there are four transferable point currencies:

In this fourth and final post on transferable points, I’ll highlight Starwood Preferred Guest points.

Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG)

Now I know what you might be thinking… isn’t Starwood Preferred Guest just a hotel loyalty program? The short answer is yes, but it is so much more than that. You can earn points using the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card. This card has a personal and business version.

Use for Hotels

At a base level, you can use SPG points for hotels. Like the majority of hotel points, each hotel is assigned a category. Each category costs a different amount points per night. You can get some pretty good value from using points for hotel stays (especially if you utilize the 5th free night).

Use for Experiences

You can also spend points on “SPG Moments”. These are experiences like sporting events, concerts, and other VIP moments. For sold out events, these can be great deals. I’ve never used SPG Moments, but I have many friends that have enjoyed using their SPG points for these events.

Use for Airfare

Last, but not least, SPG allows you to transfer your hotel points to airline miles. They even give a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 points you transfer. Here is a list of the airlines that you can transfer SPG points to (all of them are 1:1 except as noted):

  • Aegean Airlines
  • Aeromexico
  • Aeroplan/Air Canada
  • Air Berlin
  • Air China
  • Air New Zealand (65:1)
  • Alaska Airlines
  • AlitaliaSPG Transfer Partners
  • ANA
  • American Airlines
  • Asiana Airlines
  • British Airways
  • China Eastern
  • Cina Southern
  • Delta Air Lines
  • Emirates
  • Etihad Airways
  • Flying Blue
  • Gol Smiles (2:1)
  • Hainan Airlines
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Japan Airlines
  • Jet Airways
  • Korean Air
  • LAN Airlines (1:1.5)
  • Miles and More
  • Qatar Airways
  • Saudi Arabian
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Thai Airways
  • United Airlines (2:1)
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Virgin Australia

As you can see, SPG has the most transfer partners out of any of the transferable points. United, Gol, and Air NZ clearly have bad transfer ratios so avoid transferring SPG points to these airlines. However, SPG has many airline partners that the other three transferable points programs do not have access to (i.e. Alaska Airlines and American Airlines).

The 5,000 bonus on 20,000 point transfers means you’re effectively getting a 1 to 1.25 transfer ratio. For instance, I can transfer 20,000 SPG points to Alaska Airlines and I’ll receive 25,000 Alaska miles. However, make sure you transfer in increments of 20,000! Otherwise, you’ll miss out on the 5,000 point transfer bonus.

SPG is one of my favorite loyalty programs because there are so many great redemption options.

Update 11/14/16: Within the past few months, SPG announced a merger with Marriott. This means there loyalty programs may be combined down the road. Currently though you can transfer 1 SPG point to receive 3 Marriott points and vice versa. There is some value to be had if you use the Marriott travel packages.