*Updated Oct 18, 2017 – The increased welcome bonus is no longer available. The Personal and Business Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Cards are currently offering 50,000 American Express Reward points after spending $1,500 in the first three months of membership*
For a limited time only, American Express in Canada is offering an increased sign-up bonus on their Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card and Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card. Until October 18, 2017, you can earn 50,000 American Express points as a welcome bonus after charging $1,500 to your card in the first 3 months of membership. That’s the biggest welcome bonus I’ve seen on this card in Canada, and an offer most everyone should take advantage of.
I consider SPG points the most valuable rewards program for Canadians for a number of reasons:
- Ability to transfer to most major airlines at a 1:1 ratio, with a 5,000 mile bonus for every 20,000 SPG points that are transferred
- Some great value redemptions at Starwood hotels, like the time I redeemed SPG points for a stay at the iconic St Regis New York City
- Ability to transfer to Marriott Rewards program for even more great options, such as Marriott Flight and Hotel packages
Highlights of the SPG credit card include:
- 1 SPG point for every $1 on everyday purchases
- 2 SPG points for every $1 on purchases at Starwood or Marriott hotels
- 25,000 SPG welcome bonus after spending $1,500 in the first 3 months of membership
- Upgrade to Starwood Preferred Guests Gold status after spending $30,000 in a calendar year
Ways To Redeem
SPG has a large portfolio of properties all over the globe which can be booked with SPG points. Properties range from limited service hotels to luxury resorts, and everything in-between. Redemptions start at just 2,000 SPG points per night for a weekend night stay at a category 1 property to 35,000 points per night for a category 7 property during peak season:
Starwood offers a 5th night free on reward redemptions (in category 3-7 properties) which lowers the required number of points by 20 percent for 5 night stays. This can also be repeated for longer stays, meaning a 10 night stay would only require 8 nights worth of points!
Airline Transfer Partners
SPG points are transferrable to most major airlines at a ratio of 1:1. Furthermore, SPG provides a 5000 mile bonus for each increment of 20,000 SPG points transferred. So, if you wanted to transfer 20,000 SPG to Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, you would receive 25,000 miles. If you wanted to transfer 40,000 SPG points, you would receive 50,000 miles, and so on. Starwood limits the number of points you can transfer in a day to 79,999, so if you’re planning to transfer a large number of points it’s best to limit yourself to 60,000 per day to maximize the transfer bonus.
This flexibility is great when booking award travel, as you can essentially search all airlines for award space, and transfer the points when needed. There is nothing more frustrating than having a large balance of one mileage currency and finding award space on another airline. It should be noted that SPG transfer times are not instant, and usually require a few business days for the transfer to complete.
Marriott Rewards Flight And Hotel Bookings
I find that SPG is a superior program to Marriott for redemptions with one exception: flight and hotel packages through Marriott. If you’re planning to convert your SPG points to a specific airline, I would strongly suggest exploring this option before proceeding. In many instances, you’re able to transfer the same number of points for the flight and get a 7 night stay in a Marriott property for no additional points. Here’s an example:
Say you wanted to book a roundtrip ticket to Hong Kong from North America on Cathay Pacific in business class. Alaska Air Mileage Plan offers roundtrip business class for 100,000 miles, or 80,000 SPG points (1:1 ratio plus 4 X 5,000 transfer bonus)
Alternatively, you could transfer 83,334 SPG points to Marriott for a total of 250,000 Marriott Reward points and redeem for 100,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles and a 7 night stay in a category 1-5 Marriott property.
What’s best is you don’t have to redeem the hotel stay at the same time as the mileage redemption. Marriott will simply keep a certificate valid for a 7-night hotel stay on your profile that will remain valid for one year.
SPG points are a must have points currency for any Canadian traveller. Not only are they great for hotel redemptions, but they can also be transferred to various airline partners at a 1:1.25 ratio. Furthermore, SPG points can be transferred to Marriott Rewards and redeemed for flight+hotel packages, which can represent phenomenal value. Consider signing up today to take advantage of this limited time offer for the increased welcome bonus.