Surely There Must Be More to Starwood’s Announcement?

Granted, the conference call is only two and a half hours away. But the Wall Street Journal came out with news of Starwood introducing a new benefit, SPG Flights, where you can redeem your points for paid airline tickets.

Sure, the redemption rate is better than Amex or Diners Club offers these days, and better than Citi’s Thank You Network variable redemptions. Which is to say you get better than 1 cent in value per point. But it doesn’t look like you can ever do better than 1.5 cents, and so I can’t imagine that I would ever use or recommend this benefit to anyone.

Granted, adding benefits without taking benefits away is a positive thing. I was just hoping for more from the big announcement — something game-changing to take on Hilton which has matched Starwood’s room redemption policies (and Marriott will likely be matching as well).

And Starwood knows they have to do something, that their in-hotel points-earning really is not competitive, and they are no longer meaningfully better on the redemption side. Granted outside of Intercontinental Royal Ambassador, Starwood Platinum is the only elite level that puts suites in the terms and conditions, and that’s a big deal. But hotels vary in their delivery of the upgrade benefit, and too often Platinums are left unrecognized.

I suppose the conference call could unveil something else, not mentioned by the Journal. I’ll be hoping. But I probably won’t worry about making it into the office in time to be all situated for the 8 a.m. Eastern call. Instead I’ll wait to hear about it on Flyertalk or dial-in for the noon…

Update: Indeed, that’s all there is to the big announcement.  Oh well.  I hope there’s more coming in the next few months, because Starwood needs to do something to meaningfully differentiate themselves.

The redemption chart for the SPG Flights benefit is as follows:

Ticket Price* Starpoints
up to $150 10,000
$150-$215 15,000
$215-$280 20,000
$280-$345 25,000
$345-$410 30,000
$410-$475 35,000
$475-$540 40,000
$540-$605 45,000
$605-$670 50,000
$670-$735 55,000
$735-$800 60,000
$800-$865 65,000
$865-$930 70,000
$930-$995 75,000
$995-$1060 80,000
Higher prices (examples)
$2,880-$3,140 235,000
$4,960-$5,220 395,000
$9,900-$10,160 775,000


About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. While not great value this may be of use for getting rid of orphaned points, such as if there is no longer a SPG hotel in the areas you stay.

    These awards are booked as revenue by the airlines, which means you earn some FF miles as well (an easy free way to generate activity on an account to stop mileage expiring).

  2. How are you guys accruing enough points to ever get an SPG Flight award? Are there any SPG point-earning techniques besides Sheraton hotels and the SPG credit card?

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