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 Programs||Exchange Ratio - Starpoints:Airline Miles|
|Aeromexico Club Premier||1:1|
|Air China Companion||1:1|
|Air New Zealand & Air Points||65:1|
|Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan||1:1|
|All Nippon Airways (ANA) Mileage Club||1:1|
|American Airlines AAdvantage||1:1|
|British Airways Executive Club||1:1|
|China Eastern Airlines||1:1|
|China Southern Airlines Sky Pearl Club||1:1|
|Delta Air Lines SkyMiles||1:1|
|Japan Airlines (JAL) Mileage Bank||1:1|
|LAN Airlines LANPASS Kms||1:1:5|
|Miles and More||1:1|
|Saudi Arabian Airlines||1:1|
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer||1:1|
|Thai Airways International Royal Orchid Plus||1:1|
|US Airways Dividend Miles||1:1|
|United Mileage Plus||2:1|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||1:1|
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.