An introduction to Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) – earning and using Starpoints in Australia

Starwood Preferred Guest is a very solid loyalty program, with a heap of airline transfers, valuable points, and a stable value with no major devaluation in recent history.

With Starwood hotels being bought by Marriott, that could all change of course – I sincerely hope not. At some point there will be a merger of sorts with Marriott Rewards that could taint all this.

But until then, Starpoints are a great currency, SPG is a very valuable loyalty program, and it’s points are one of the few hotel currencies that are available from credit card spend in Australia.

Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Credit Cards

Using American Express Membership Rewards to earn Starwood Preferred Guest points

There’s no dedicated/branded Starwood Preferred Guest credit card in Australia (unlike in the UK and the US), so the most common option for Starpoint collectors is to pick a card from the American Express Membership Rewards range. You can then transfer points to Starpoints (at 1000 Membership Rewards points = 500 Starpoints).

Transfers from American Express usually take 1 to 2 working days. Starwood Preferred Guest is also a useful program to consider warehousing your points in if you want to close your American Express card, thanks to it’s wide number of airline transfer partners.

I’ve written a full guide to American Express Membership Rewards here, and one of the best cards in the American Express range for Starpoint earning is the American Express Platinum Edge thanks to it’s pumped up earn rate for day to day spend at supermarkets and on fuel.

If you’re only interested in earning Starpoints with your American Express spend, then there’s an effective earn rate of 1.5 Starpoints per $ at supermarkets, 1 Starpoint per $ on fuel, and 0.5 Starpoints per $ everywhere else when using the Platinum Edge.

You can play around with how many points will make it over to SPG from Membership Rewards from the reward point conversion calculator.

Using Diners Club Rewards to earn Starwood Preferred Guest points

There’s also the possibility of earning Diners Club Rewards and transferring them to Starpoints, along with the offer of SPG Gold elite status, with the Diners Club Personal card which comes with a companion Mastercard. The Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status only comes if you take up the expensive Mastercard, but that’s going to be a necessity if you want to earn Starpoints in any volume thanks to Diners Club’ limited acceptance.

Transfers must be in blocks of 3,000 Diners Club Reward points. The transfer rate is 2 Diners Club rewards points to 1 Starpoint – similar to American Express. The earn rate currently on the Diners card is currently 3 Diners points per $ on the Diners Club card, and 1.25 points per $ on the Mastercard.

So for any spend you make on the Diners Club there’s an effective Starpoint earn rate of 1.5 Starpoints per $, and on the Mastercard, 0.625 Starpoints per $.

Compared to American Express, this is reasonable, but the higher annual fee means you’ll want to putting a lot more spend through a Diners Club account to make it worthwhile.

Other Opportunities to earn Starwood Preferred Guest points in Australia

Staying at Starwood Hotels

Of course, Starwood Preferred Guest is a hotel loyalty program, which has a massive global reach. Specifically in the region, there are a wide range of hotels and resorts in Sydney, Melbourne, Gold Coast, Brisbane, Noosa, Cairns, Perth and Fiji at which you’d earn 2 Starpoints per US dollar spent on stays and food (as a standard, non-elite program member).

There’s also a good outlook for Australian Starwood Preferred Guest members with new hotels and resorts opening in the region consistently, such as the Aloft in Sydney in 2017.

Starwood’s frequent flyer program transfer partners

One of the key uses of Starwood is to move points over to it’s wide range of partner airlines globally, including a range of US and European airlines which are otherwise inaccessible to Australia points collectors.

Here are the current list of partners and transfer rates.

Frequent Flyer ProgramsExchange Ratio - Starpoints:Airline Miles
Aeromexico Club Premier1:1
Aeroplan/Air Canada1:1
Air Berlin1:1
Air China Companion1:1
Air New Zealand & Air Points65:1
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan1:1
Alitalia MileMiglia1:1
All Nippon Airways (ANA) Mileage Club1:1
American Airlines AAdvantage1:1
Asia Miles1:1
Asiana Airlines1:1
British Airways Executive Club1:1
China Eastern Airlines1:1
China Southern Airlines Sky Pearl Club1:1
Delta Air Lines SkyMiles1:1
Emirates Skywards1:1
Etihad Airways1:1
Flying Blue1:1
Gol Smiles2:1
Hainan Airlines1:1
Hawaiian Airlines1:1
Japan Airlines (JAL) Mileage Bank1:1
LAN Airlines LANPASS Kms1:1:5
Miles and More1:1
Qatar Airways1:1
Saudi Arabian Airlines1:1
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer1:1
Thai Airways International Royal Orchid Plus1:1
US Airways Dividend Miles1:1
United Mileage Plus2:1
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club1:1
Virgin Australia1:1

Summing up – earning and using Starwood Preferred Guest points in Australia

It’s not hard to earn American Express Membership Rewards points, and given the transfer rate of 1:0.5 over to SPG is respectable – considering the value and flexibility of Starpoints – then it’s certainly possible to get a good stash of points going in your Starwood Preferred Guest account.