Can I Combine Starpoints with Friends to Book a Room?
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TPG reader AK sent me a tweet to ask about pooling Starpoints:
“If my friends and I sign up for the Starwood Amex card, can we combine points to book a longer stay?”
The award travel game is one where it often pays to join forces. By pooling hotel points with friends or family, you can increase your booking power, share elite benefits and take advantage of programs that offer a discount for longer award stays. However, there are some hoops to jump through, so it's important to know the rules before you start planning.
Some hotel loyalty programs make pooling rewards easy: Club Carlson lets elite members transfer points to any other member, as does Hyatt when you're in the process of booking an award. On the other hand, Hilton HHonors charges a fee, and only allows transfers to/from accounts that have been active in the past month. Starwood Preferred Guest falls somewhere in the middle; you won't have to pay, but you can only transfer to other members who have shared your address for 30 days. They don't have to be related, but their account must be registered under the same roof.
The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express is currently offering a sign-up bonus of 25,000 points after making $3,000 in purchases in the first three months. You and your friends can each get the card, but you won't be able to combine points unless you live together. You can always book separately — the hotel should be able to link the reservations and keep you in one room for the whole stay — though the overall value probably won't be as good.
As an example, suppose you wanted to stay with a friend at a Category 4 property (like the Westin Bayshore in Vancouver) for 10,000 points per night. After meeting the spending requirements for the card, you'd each have at least 38,000 points, so you could cover three nights per person (six total) if you booked separately. By combining points, you'd be able to cover seven nights, plus you'd get one extra thanks to Starwood's fifth night free benefit. That means you'd basically score two extra nights by booking from one account, but again you'd have to share an address to make this possible.
If you're able to combine points, keep in mind that the process may take a few days, so you shouldn't wait until the last minute. If you don't live with your travel companion, avoid the temptation to register a false address just to enable transfers. SPG is on the lookout for this kind of activity, and your account could be shut down if they suspect you're violating the rules.
For more info on how to maximize travel by combining rewards, check out these posts:
- Transferring Points and Awards to Maximize Family Travel
- Rookie Guide to Award Travel: Coordinating Trips with a Companion
- What Strategy Should I Use to Earn Travel Rewards for Two?