Why Starwood Preferred Guest is the best loyalty program

Starwood Preferred Guest or SPG for short is the Loyalty Program offered by the Starwood group of hotels. It is consistently voted as the Best Loyalty program in the market by business travelers.

It is also my personal favorite. Here are 10 reasons why:

  1. Starwood hotels have a very extensive network of hotels all over the world. More importantly, they have hotels in a broad spectrum of price points. Their hotels include well known names like – Sheraton, Westin, W (no connection to a well known ex-president) and the hip aloft.
  2. Very aggressive redemption options for hotel awards. These include – free nights, free 5th night, room upgrades, cash and points (great if you don’t have enough points) and the very interesting 50% off. Rewards start as low as 2,000 points.
  3. Redemption option to directly redeem SPG points for flights, with no black out dates.
  4. My favorite – the ability to transfer miles to a very impressive list of airlines. I have discussed this in more detail in my post on Transferring Miles.
  5. Related to the above – a 5,000 miles bonus for every 20,000 miles transferred from SPG to an airline. Yay, free miles!!
  6. Option to transfer points to Amtrak Guest Rewards for free train travel. Also, option to transfer points to the Avis Car rental program for free car rentals and upgrades.
  7. An excellent affiliated Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express. I have details of this card in my post on American Express Cards. The SPG American Express card also gives one annual 50% off coupon.
  8. Easy to earn Gold status with just 10 stays or Platinum status with 25 stays. You can also earn Gold status by spending $30,000 on the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express in a year.
  9. 50% bonus points for hotel stays once you have earned any Elite status.
  10. SPG participates in Points.com allowing you to buy or transfer points from other programs into the SPG program. You can also directly transfer points for free from the American Express Membership Rewards and Diners Club programs.

This list continues in 10 MORE reasons SPG is the Best Loyalty Program.

Anyone want to add to the list? Add your comments.

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This content is not provided or commissioned by American Express. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of American Express, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express. This site may be compensated through the American Express Affiliate Program.





  1. Starwood is an excellent hotel chain, and I have to say that I love Westin hotels. And even when I was only a Gold elite, I was upgraded to some fantastic suites.

    However, I have three problems with Starwood:

    1) Not all of their hotel properties have lounges where elites can get free breakfast. And I’ve been in some where there’s a live staffer working behind a tip jar. As someone who helps himself to breakfast, cleans up his own mess and puts away his own dishes, I’ve always disliked the guilt trip I felt with the tip jar.
    2) They’re not as ubiquitous as some hotel chains. They’re great in cities, but if you’re a national parks person or enjoy road tripping, good luck finding a Four Points where you need one.
    3) Few people are going to have this complaint: I’m going for lifetime status on Marriott. Starwood doesn’t have a lifetime status. If they did, I’d go for that, instead.

  2. Thanks for sharing. I did not know about lifetime status being offered by Marriott. At what level do you earn it? It is certainly a great feature.

  3. It’s a royal pain to get. Here are the qualifications. The first one’s the worst:

    1) You have to be a Marriott Rewards member for 12 years any level of lifetime status.
    2) You have to obtained that status level at least once. (e.g., if you qualify for Gold, you must have been a Gold once.)
    3) On top of those two:
    Silver: 600 nights AND 1.5 million points
    Gold: 800 nights AND 2 million points
    Platinum: 1000 nights AND 3 million points

    One thing I don’t know is if the 10-15 elite nights given by the Marriott Visa cards every year count toward this goal.

  4. Ted, This is great information. I am planning an article on Lifetime status on airlines. I will have to add lifetime in hotel programs too. Thanks!

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