What's Your Favorite Hotel Program for Stays in the US?
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available – Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
TPG Reader Carrie sent me a tweet to ask about hotel programs:
@ThePointsGuy — "What’s your favorite hotel program domestically? I’m mostly a US hotel user, but want to use abroad eventually."
It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of Starwood Preferred Guest. From New York to Miami to the St. Regis Princeville on Kauai, I've had great experiences at a number of domestic Starwood properties. While you won't find quite the same level of coverage that you get with larger chains, Starwood still has about 600 US properties and multiple options in most major cities. Plus, I'll take quality over quantity any day.
SPG is also a great option if you're looking to travel abroad in the future. Aside from more glamorous properties like The Westin Paris – Vendôme, the St. Regis Bali Resort and the Hotel Alfonso XIII in Seville, there are plenty of low-level award options that offer solid value for your Starpoints. It doesn't hurt that I have Starwood Platinum elite status — thanks in part to the bonus elite credits I get from my Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express — but these properties are worth a visit even if you're new to the program.
Of course, I love SPG for more than just hotel stays. You can transfer points to miles with over 30 airline partners, including American and (my latest crush) Alaska Airlines. I've also used Starpoints for some of my favorite awards ever through SPG Moments. There's plenty to love about SPG, and pound for pound I think it's the most rewarding program, which is why I consistently put it at the top of my monthly valuations.
That said, I'm a fan of Hyatt too, and I've recently been pretty impressed with Marriott, where I've been getting great value out of mid-tier Gold status. Marriott has lots of nice brands like the Autograph Collection, AC Hotels and Moxy. I loved the JW Austin during my recent stay at SXSW (review to come), so if Starwood doesn't suit your needs, I'd take a look at Marriott.
The major hotel chains can be found in just about any major destination. However, if there are places you visit frequently, or if you have upcoming travel plans and are looking for something specific, you might check out what's available there to help you differentiate between programs.
For more info on both Starwood and Marriott, check out these posts:
- 9 SPG Properties that Make for Awesome Award Redemptions
- 9 Marriott Properties that Make for Awesome Award Redemptions
- Redeeming Starwood Preferred Guest Points for Maximum Value
- How Much is SPG Elite Status Worth?