Starwood Preferred Guest, the loyalty scheme for Sheraton, Westin, W, aloft etc – is an oddity amongst hotel programmes. Whilst it works in the same way as other schemes, with different tier levels and an earnings rate based on spending, it is a standout programme for two reasons:
The exceptionally generous transfer rate of Starwood points to airline miles. This starts at 1:1 and goes as high as 1:1.25 if you convert in chunks of 20,000
The ludicrously high redemption rates required for high end properties. A night at the Gritti Palace in Venice (below) will set you back 30,000 Starwood points, for example – you could get 35,000 Avios if you transferred them across instead of taking the free night.
Starwood also has another interesting tweak, which is the subject of this article. It is possible to transfer Starwood Preferred Guest points from one member to another, for free. Any amount, not just multiples of x,000. No need for matching surname. The only rule is that both accounts must have had the same home address on file with SPG for at least 30 days.
(EDIT: this was changed in 2017 and you can now only transfer in multiples of 1,000)
You can do the transfer online with minimum fuss, and it completes within a few days. The link is here. Recent transfers I have done to my wifes account have taken about 5 days.
(Only Club Carlson, AFAIK, offers anything similar. IHG Rewards Club and Hilton HHonors both let you transfer points to someone else, but you have to pay for the privilege ($5 per 1,000 and $25 per 10,000 respectively) and can only move multiples of 1,000 and 10,000. Hyatt Gold Passport and Marriott Rewards let you combine points for free but only if they are being instantly redeemed.)
The obvious reasons for doing this are:
- to reach a targetted award more quickly, or
- to move a handful of points from someone else who will never get enough for a redemption, or
- simply making your household life easier by keeping all points in one persons name.
The key reason for a UK reader, though, is this. It allows you to persuade your partner / parent etc to take out the Starwood American Express credit card, bank the 10,000 SPG points sign-up bonus and then transfer the bonus to you.
20,000 Starwood points can be transferred into 25,000 airline miles as you receive a 5,000 point bonus. This is more beneficial than sending 10,000 SPG points to an airline account which gets you only 10,000 miles.
The SPG card comes with a £75 annual fee – full details in my review of the card here. As with all Amex cards, you can cancel for a pro-rata fee refund at any time.
SPG is also a roundabout way to transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to an airline account in a different name. You would move them from an Amex account to your SPG account, then across to the SPG account of the other person, and then into their airline account. The problem, of course, is the 2:1 conversion rate from Amex which means you lose out compared to converting directly from Membership Rewards to an airline.
(Want to earn more hotel points? To see our complete list of promotions from the major chains, click here to visit our ‘Hotel Promos’ page or use the link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)