The Best Ways to Use 35,000 Starpoints for Hotel Stays and More
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Last week, American Express unveiled a bigger and better welcome bonus on the SPG Amex: Both the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express and the Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express gave new cardholders the chance to earn up to 35,000 points. You’ll earn 25,000 points when you spend $3,000 in the first three months on the personal card (or $5,000 on the business card), plus another 10,000 points when you spend an additional $2,000 in the first six months from account opening (or an additional $3,000 on the business card). So how can you maximize 35,000 Starpoints? Here are several ideas:
13 Nights at a Category 1 Hotel
If you really want to stretch the points from this bonus, you could redeem them at a Category 1 Starwood hotel at a rate of just 2,000 points per weekend night and 3,000 points per weeknight.
You could redeem 33,000 Starpoints for a 12-night stay at a Category 1 property, with the award reservation starting on a Friday to maximize the lower weekend rate. And just because these hotels fall under the SPG program’s lowest tier doesn’t mean they all offer rock-bottom cash rates; at the Aloft Beijing Haidan, for example, you’ll pay $103 per night for a stay in early May, giving you a per-point value of 3.4 cents for weeknights and a whopping 5.1 cents for weekend nights — well above TPG’s 2.7-cent valuation of Starpoints.
Here are some other Category 1 Starwood properties you might want to consider:
- Aloft San Jose, Costa Rica: This hotel isn’t located in the thick of the tourist action in Costa Rica’s capital, but it’s ideally situated if you plan on visiting Escazu or if you have an early-morning flight. Amenities include a lounge/restaurant, the W Xyz Bar and a self-serve cafe. Rooms in mid-March are going for $104 a night, giving you a redemption value of 3.5 cents per point during the week and 5.2 cents per point during the weekend.
- Le Meridien N’Fis: Located in a garden-filled area of Marrakech, this hotel boasts an impressive outdoor pool and rooms with Moroccan decor. There are five restaurants and bars on site, including one that serves local cuisine. In late March, a room will set you back $94 a night — equal to a redemption value of 3.1 cents per point during the week and 4.7 cents per point during the weekend.
- Sheraton Mustika Yogyakarta Resort & Spa: If your travels take you to the city of Yogyakarta on the Indonesian island of Java, this Sheraton is a great choice. It’s a short drive from two UNESCO World Heritage sites, and there’s a full spa with multiple treatment rooms on site. Rates in late April are $64 per night, getting you 2.1 cents per point during the week and 3.2 cents per point during the weekend.
Nine Nights at a Category 2 Hotel
Category 1 hotels aren’t the only low-level Starwood properties you should consider if you want to book a longer stay with your points. Category 2 SPG hotels require just 3,000 points per weekend night and 4,000 points during the week. So if you maximize the lower weekend rate by beginning your award stay on a Friday, you could book nine nights at one of 202 Starwood hotels.
Some standout Category 2 properties include:
- Aloft Liverpool: This hotel is located near attractions such as the Albert Dock and the Museum of Liverpool, and it offers the standard Aloft amenities such as a gym, lounge and self-serve breakfast cafe. A stay in early May will set you back $139 per night, which gets you a redemption rate of 4.6 cents per point during the weekend and 3.5 cents per point during the week.
- Le Meridien Angkor: If you head to Siem Reap, Cambodia, consider booking an award stay at this property, where TPG enjoyed a stay a few years back. There’s a lovely outdoor pool, and the temples of Angkor Wat are just a 10-minute drive away. Rates in late April go from $97, giving a redemption value of 3.2 cents per point during the weekend and 2.4 cents per point during the week.
- Le Meridien Chiang Rai Resort, Thailand: You’ll enjoy scenic surroundings at this resort in northern Thailand, and staff can help you book customized excursions and tours. There’s also an outdoor swimming pool and the full-service Parvati Spa. For a stay in mid March, you’ll pay $87 per night — equal to a redemption value of 2.9 cents per point during the weekend and 2.18 cents per point during the week.
Three nights at a Category 5 Hotel
This redemption option takes into account the points you’ll earn from purchases as you work toward the Starwood Amex or Starwood Business Amex’s minimum spending requirement to get the welcome bonus. To earn 35,000 Starpoints with the personal card, you’ll need to spend a total of $5,000 in the first six months, which means you’ll end up with at least 40,000 points (more if you make purchases at a Marriott or SPG property). So you’ll have more than enough points to book a three-night stay at a Category 5 property, which ranges from 12,000 (in the low season) to 16,000 points (in the high season) per night.
Here are some examples of redemptions available for 12,000 points per night:
- Hotel Skeppsholmen, Stockholm, A Member of Design Hotels: This Design Hotels property boasts a central location in the Swedish capital, near the Museum of Modern Art and Gamla Stan (the city’s old town). In early May, rooms will set you back $318 or 12,000 points per night, so you’ll get 2.65 cents per point in value.
- Sheraton Kauai Resort: This hotel sits on the south side of the island, offering access to Poipu Beach and plenty of activities such as snorkeling and scuba diving. Rooms are going for $281 or 12,000 points per night in mid-April, which gives you a redemption value of 2.3 cents per point.
- The Library, Koh Samui, A Member of Design Hotels: Another member of the boutique-y Design Hotels portfolio, The Library is a luxury beachfront property with 26 minimalist cabin-style rooms and a striking outdoor red-bottomed swimming pool. You’ll pay $289 or 12,000 points per night in early March, giving you a per-point value of 2.4 cents.
One Night at a Top-Tier Starwood Hotel
35,000 Starpoints is enough for one night at a top-tier (Category 7) SPG property. There are 47 hotels and resorts to choose from, including options in the Luxury Collection, St. Regis and W brands.
Here are some great Category 7 SPG properties you could redeem at:
- Prince de Galles, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Paris: One of the top luxury properties in the City of Lights is bookable with points. In late March, a room will cost you $560 or 30,000 points per night (equal to a 1.87-cent per point value). TPG loved his stay here, and he even scored an upgrade to a luxurious suite.
- St. Regis Bal Harbour: It’s hard to beat this property when it comes to the value you’ll get for your points; rates in early April start at $929 or 30,000 points per night — getting you a great 3.1 cents per point. TPG Senior Points & Miles Contributor Nick Ewen enjoyed his stay at this hotel and found the service to be excellent.
- W Bali – Seminyak: This could be a good choice if you want to redeem points for one night during a stay in Bali. Rooms go for $257 or 30,000 points per night in early May, which doesn’t amount to the most lucrative redemption (0.86 cents per point). Still, the property is beautiful — with a great beachfront location and a huge outdoor pool — and this could make sense if you’re trying to save on out-of-pocket expenses.
Two Nights at a Category 9 Marriott Property
One positive result of the Starwood-Marriott merger is that you can transfer Starpoints to the Marriott Rewards program and vice versa. Points move over from SPG to Marriott at a 1:3 ratio, so 35,000 SPG points would get you 105,000 points toward a Marriott award stay — enough for two nights at a top-tier Category 9 property (45,000 points per night or 40,000 if you can find PointSavers availability).
Here are some standout Category 9 picks:
- Frenchmen’s Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort: Located in St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands, this resort offers beach access along with multiple outdoor pools, and rooms overlook either the water or a garden. Cash rates in mid-April are $371 per night, so you’re getting a redemption value of 0.8 cents per Marriott point at the standard rate of 45,000 points per night.
- Boscolo Exedra Roma, Autograph Collection: This boutique-style property offers a super-central location in Rome’s Piazza della Repubblica, and it has high-end amenities such as a spa, outdoor pool and multiple onsite restaurants. Rates in mid-May are about $375 per night, giving you about 0.8 cents per point in value.
Two Nights at a Tier 3 Ritz-Carlton Hotel
Since you can now transfer Starpoints to the Marriott Rewards program at 1:3 ratio — and since you can book Ritz-Carlton awards with Marriott points — these welcome bonuses could get you a two-night stay at a Tier 3 Ritz property. The 35,000 Starpoints from the bonus are equal to 105,000 Marriott points, and each night at a Tier 3 hotel will cost you 50,000 points.
Here are some Tier 3 options to consider:
- The Ritz-Carlton, Cancun: This is an oceanfront property, so you’ll have easy beach access. There are eight onsite dining options, plus a spa that offers Mayan-inspired treatments. Nightly rates in mid-April are about $734, so you’ll get 1.5 cents per Marriott point with this redemption.
- The Ritz-Carlton, Osaka: This 292-room property is located in downtown Osaka near plenty of shopping options. Amenities include a spa and fitness center, and the hotel even boasts a 450-piece art and antique collection. Rates in early May are about $480 per night, giving you a redemption rate of about 1 cent per Marriott Rewards point.
One non-hotel redemption you might consider is redeeming or bidding points through SPG Moments to enjoy VIP-style access to sporting events, concerts and culinary experiences. Currently available packages include two seats and SPG Luxury Suite access to an LA Kings vs. Boston Bruins game for 25,000 Starpoints and a private dinner at the Girl & the Goat restaurant in Chicago with chef Stephanie Izard starting at 30,000 points. Just note that these packages tend to sell out quickly, so act sooner than later if you find one that catches your eye!
Bonus Option: Marriott Hotel + Air Package
This final option requires more than 35,000 Starpoints, but if you were to apply for both Starwood Preferred Guest Amex cards and earn two 35k bonuses, you could transfer the 70,000 points to 210,000 Marriott Rewards points and book a Hotel + Air package. These get you a lump sum of miles or points with one of several airlines, plus a seven-night stay at a Marriott or Ritz-Carlton hotel. The cheapest packages start at 200,000 Marriott points and get you 35,000-55,000 miles plus a stay at a Category 1-5 hotel.
And if you’re not starting from zero with your SPG account balance, note that you could transfer 90,000 Starpoints to Marriott and book a package that earns you the Southwest Companion pass.
As you can see, there’s no shortage of options for putting the 35,000 Starpoints you earn from the Starwood Amex or the Starwood Business Amex to good use. The best redemption for you will depend on your travel plans, as well as whether nightly rates at your property of choice are affordable or sky-high. And don’t overlook options like a Marriott flight and hotel package or a VIP experience via SPG Moments!
How would you use 35,000 Starpoints?
Featured image courtesy of the Sheraton Kauai.
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