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Redeeming points for free hotel nights can be a great value, especially if you manage to nab a room that typically goes for several hundred dollars a night. Scoring a suite can be even better — and TPG Senior Points & Miles Contributor Nick Ewen is here to show you how it’s done within the Starwood Preferred Guest program.

If you’re like me, you try to get the maximum value out of each redemption, and this often involves pursuing first- or business-class seats, as well as hotel rooms beyond the standard accommodations available using points. Fortunately, many hotel chains allow you to redeem your points to book directly into suites, and today I’ll take a look at exactly how to do this with Starwood Preferred Guest.

St Regis Bali pool and beach banner
There are many gorgeous SPG properties around the world, and staying in a suite can make your redemptions even better.

For starters, let me clarify that this post will focus on the formal, published ways to get confirmed into a suite using your Starpoints. It doesn’t include upgrades for special occasions, nor does it include the upgrades given to Platinum SPG members. The benefits of being Platinum include “an upgrade to the best available room at check-in, including a standard suite,” but this is far from a guarantee. If you’re traveling to a popular destination or visiting a property during high season, your only hope at snagging a suite may be booking directly into it.

General Information

In a nutshell, there are three ways to use Starpoints and confirm a reservation directly into a suite:

  1. Redeem points for the full redemption
  2. Pay for the standard room and use points to upgrade
  3. Redeem points for the standard room and use a Platinum Suite Upgrade Award

Unfortunately, there’s very little consistency when it comes to availability of the suites across SPG’s portfolio. Each individual hotel is allowed to determine which type of room is considered a suite and how often to make said suite available as a point redemption. As a result, you might be able to book a simple junior suite using points at one property, whereas another might confirm you into a gigantic two-room suite. In fact, some properties change these designations across different days, so you may wind up having your travel dates dictate what type of suite you get.

In addition, the only way to check availability and to find out exactly how a property defines these rooms is to call Starwood Preferred Guest at 1-888-625-4988. Remember that just because a suite is available on the SPG website doesn’t mean it’s automatically available using points. Each property has its own formula for figuring out when to make these redemptions available.

Though it is a suite, you won't have to redeem the full points to upgrade to a Fantastic Suite at the W South Beach!
You won’t have to redeem the full points to upgrade to a Fantastic Suite at the W South Beach.

It’s also important to note that the first two options listed above apply to both “upgraded” rooms and “suites.” You’ll see below that there are significant variations between these two designations and the number of points required, but some properties actually include suites in the “upgraded” room category. For example, the W South Beach actually classifies a Fantastic Suite as just an upgraded room.

Again, I recommend calling Starwood as you’re planning your trip to figure out exactly how your desired property handles this.

Finally, these upgrades must be requested and confirmed no less than five days prior to the start of your stay.

Now that I’ve given you an overview of the process, let’s take a closer look at each option to see when it makes sense.

Method 1: Redeem Starpoints for the full redemption

The first method to confirm a suite using Starpoints is redeeming points to cover the entire stay. SPG publishes two different award charts for using points for higher-level rooms. Here are the point requirements for both types of upgraded accommodations:

Category

Room Upgrade

Suite Upgrade

1

1,000 – 1,500

3,000

2

1,000 – 1,500

4,000

3

1,000 – 1,500

7,000

4

1,000 – 1,500

10,000

5

1,500 – 2,750

12,000 – 16,000

6

1,500 – 2,750

20,000 – 25,000

7

1,500 – 2,750

30,000 – 35,000

Keep in mind that these points are in addition to the points needed for the standard award reservation. Here’s a chart that breaks down these redemption amounts:

Category

Number of Points

1

2,000 – 3,000

2

3,000 – 4,000

3

7,000

4

10,000

5

12,000 – 16,000

6

20,000 – 25,000

7

30,000 – 35,000

If you combine the two, you’re looking at a range of 5,000 points to a whopping 70,000 points for a single award night in a suite! Although you may get lucky and find a property (like the W South Beach) that puts a suite into its pool of upgraded rooms, you generally need to use the rightmost column if you want to be confirmed directly into a suite.

The Westin Excelsior in Florence
It’ll set you back a ton of points, but booking into a suite at the Westin Excelsior in Florence could be a solid redemption.

In practice, this means that to redeem Starpoints to cover an entire stay in a suite, you need double the points compared with a standard redemption. Put another way, you have a choice between booking one suite or two standard rooms using your points. My personal feeling is that this isn’t worth it.

However, there are instances when this could be a good option:

  1. You’re traveling with your young child(ren) and want him/her/them in the same room as you.
  2. You’re cash-poor but points-rich.
  3. You’re redeeming points for a once-in-a-lifetime trip and don’t want to scrimp at all.

Just be sure that you do your research and crunch the numbers to make sure that the redemption makes sense for your unique situation.

Method 2: Pay for a room and use points to upgrade

The second method to redeem your Starpoints for a suite is to pay for the stay in cash (or using your Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express) and then use your points to upgrade. With this option, you’ll only need to pay the above prices for the upgrade, but not the points needed for the actual award stay. As a reminder, here’s the chart for upgraded rooms:

Category

Room Upgrade

Suite Upgrade

1

1,000 – 1,500

3,000

2

1,000 – 1,500

4,000

3

1,000 – 1,500

7,000

4

1,000 – 1,500

10,000

5

1,500 – 2,750

12,000 – 16,000

6

1,500 – 2,750

20,000 – 25,000

7

1,500 – 2,750

30,000 – 35,000

In order to utilize points in this fashion, you must book a flexible rate that’s eligible to earn points and is also eligible for elite status credit. Bookings through a third-party travel agency as well as most group rates typically aren’t able to be upgraded using points.

Screen-Shot-2015-09-20-at-7.25.24-PM
If you reach 50 qualifying nights in a calendar year, you can choose to get 10 Suite Night Awards.

Method 3: Redeem points and apply your Platinum Suite Night Award(s)

The third and final method to use Starpoints for a suite applies specifically to Platinum members who reach 50 elite-qualifying nights in a calendar year. When you hit this threshold, you’ll receive a choice of benefits, but the most valuable option (in my opinion) is the 10 Suite Night Awards that can be applied to both paid and award stays. This includes:

  • Award reservations
  • Cash & Points reservations
  • Flexible rates
  • Prepaid rates
  • AAA rates

However, rates booked with third-party travel agencies and discounted group or conference rates typically aren’t eligible for these upgrades.

Each one of these Suite Night Awards is valid for one night, so you’ll need enough to cover the entire stay. Once you’ve booked the reservation, simply log in to your SPG account and you’ll see a link to apply the upgrade request to your existing reservation. The requests are normally accommodated within five days of arrival (on a space-available basis), and you’ll actually receive notification of the request’s status even if it doesn’t clear.

When I was a 50-night Platinum SPG member, I actually had to let several of these go to waste. I wasn’t successful upgrading a five-night stay at the W Montreal, nor did my upgrade request clear on a two-night stay at Le Meridien Tampa. I did have one clear at the St. Regis Bal Harbour, but since I’d already been upgraded to an even bigger suite before the five-day window, that was actually a downgrade rather than an upgrade.

The incredible value of SPG points makes this hotel card useful, even not at hotels.
Both SPG Amex cards give you stay and night credits toward elite status every year.

Remember that if you’re short of the 50-night threshold to qualify for these Suite Night Awards, both the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card and Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card give you five nights toward elite status every calendar year. If you have both of them, you’re already 20% of the way there!

Bottom Line

As you can see, there are a few different ways to use Starpoints for a suite. Unfortunately, they typically don’t offer you anywhere near the value of standard redemptions like Cash & Points or even transfers to airline partners. However, everyone has his/her own way of figuring out what represents a valuable use of points or miles, so you may feel differently! Again, just make sure to do your due diligence so you know what to expect leading up to your arrival.

Have you used Starpoints to book directly into a suite? Share your experience in the comments.

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

There’s no telling how much longer these cards will be around and available for new applications because of the Marriott takeover, so now might just be the perfect time to apply. Apart from hotel redemptions, you can transfer Starpoints to over 30 airline partners, and now also transfer points from Starwood to Marriott Rewards at a 1:3 ratio, opening up even more redemption options.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • Earn 2 Starpoints® for each dollar of eligible purchases spent on the Card at participating SPG® & Marriott Rewards® hotels. Earn 1 Starpoint for all other purchases.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on International purchases.
  • Receive free in-room, premium internet access. Booking requirements apply.
  • Redeem Starpoints® at over 1,300 participating hotels and resorts in over 100 countries and for flights on more than 150 airlines with SPG flights, all with no blackout dates.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Terms and Conditions apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
15.74%-19.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
Balance Transfer Fee
3.00%
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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