Via New Girl in the Air, Starwood has made its point expiration policy more customer-friendly.

Previously you needed hotel points-earning activity or points earned via a Starwood Preferred Guest American Express card every 12 months in order to keep your account active.

Now you’ll just need points activity of any kind in your account during 12 months to keep that account active — transferring points to an airline, redeeming points, even earning a handful of points via Audience Rewards trivia will all keep your account active and extend your expiration date by 12 months.

It’s not as big a deal as the across the board improvements to elite benefits (where everyone except Platinums staying fewer than 50 nights are unambiguously better off, and even those Platinums now have an option for free breakfast). But it’s an improvement nonetheless.

Of course Gold and Platinum member accounts don’t have their points expire. So if you’re a Gold you first have to be downgraded due to inactivity before seeing your points expire. If you’re a Platinum you’ll first be downgraded to Gold and then to general member (or Preferred Plus or Corporate Preferred) before the clock starts ticking on expiration.

My understanding is the Lifetime Elites can actually see their points expire though, despite their status — SPG plans to simulate the downgrade process. A Lifetime Platinum without activity for two years would see a 12 month clock towards expiration. That is, a Lifetime Platinum without activity of any kind in their account for 3 years would have their points expire.

  1. Boilers said,

    I was reading in my room that if you eat/drink in a starwood restaurant and the bill is over $10 you can show your card and get starpoints. This may be another option to extend the expiration, but I have not confirmed this.

  2. Gary said,

    @Boilers yes it is, as it’s earning activity

  3. beltway said,

    It’s true that the points from a meal used to be one of only 3 ways (beyond a paid stay or SPG Amex-earned points) to reset the expiration clock. See http://flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=170344

    But as Gary notes, it’s less trouble and cheaper to answer a few Audience Rewards questions, now that any activity will suffice.

  4. David said,

    Hi Gary, how about the other hotel programs? How do they compare to the new SPG policy?

  5. Sean said,

    Question: if you are a Gold but you have no activity for 12 month, you will be downgraded even if you Gold expiration date is not up yet? Then when do the points actually expire?

  6. Guest said,

    Where can you see your point expiration on the SPG website?

  7. Gary G said,

    Received March 6, 2012

    Dear Mr. *******,

    Thank you for taking the time to visit SPG.com and your email concerning SPG account expiration.

    The Starpoint expiration policy has not changed with the introduction of our new benefits. We still require that there be eligible activity on your account to keep your account active. SPG membership requires earning activity either with an eligible stay or by using a Starwood Preferred Guest credit card within the previous 12 months to keep an account active. If a membership expires due to earning inactivity, any Starpoints accumulated are forfeited.

    Mr. *******, should you require additional assistance, simply reply to this email. If you prefer, you may chat with us online or we can call you.

    Best Regards,

    Chris Pinnegar
    Specialist, E-Communications Department
    Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide

  8. Gary G said,

    This was my original message to Starwood.

    SPG Number: ************2024
    Subject: Account/Balance Inquiry

    Comments: Hello. Can you please tell me what your starpoint expiration policy is? I heard that as of March 2, 2012, ANY activity on your account extends any expiration date of starpoints.

  9. Gary said,

    @Gary G the two statements in the email you received are contradictory. The policy has changed, because the terms of conditions have changed, and Starwood has confirmed this as well. The email you quote says “”We still require that there be eligible activity on your account to keep your account active.”

    Eligible activity on your account does keep it active.

    But the policy USED TO BE that eligible activity was either “an eligible stay or by using a Starwood Preferred Guest credit card”

    However, the terms and conditions are now clear that any activity is eligible activity :)

    And that’s new…

    So the person email you is simply uninformed about their own T&C :)

  10. JA said,

    Doesn’t surprise me. Those Starwood “E-Communication specialists” are one notch above Delta telephone agents.

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