One of the single best loyalty programs out there is the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) program from Starwood Hotels. Starwood isn’t the biggest brand, but it does likely have the best loyalty program of any hotel chain out there. Most of this has to do with their transfer partners. In the world of airline points and miles, having points that can be transferred to any airline is a huge advantage, and Starwood has more options than any credit card out there.
As you can imagine, the key here is to build your points balance with SPG. One way to jumpstart things is to make use of the Starwood branded credit card issued by American Express. This is best used as an everyday spender since it only earns 1 point per dollar on all purchases with exception of those earned on Starwood stays and purchases at the hotels, and really there are better cards to cover the hotel stay charges at Starwood hotels.
There a number of ways to earn more points for your SPG account, including promotional bonuses that many hotel chains offer, Starwood has some pretty awesome bonuses that earn me almost as much as my normal stays do. The other item, and the one I want to focus on today is crossover rewards with other companies.
Starwood partners with a number of companies so that you can earn points when you fly with Delta or Emirates, or ride in an Uber car. These can be pretty amazing ways to gain points. For instance, my company recently set me up on a Delta flight much to my dismay. However, my account on Delta is linked to my account on SPG, so I can make the flight work for me in a few different ways. The purchased ticket will gain me some amount of Delta miles that I will eventually make use of, but linking to the SPG account will earn me 1 point per dollar spent on the flight with Delta. So I’ll come aware with just short of 1000 points in my SPG account. It’s a wonderful way to earn points. Do keep in mind that to earn these points you do need to be an SPG Gold or Platinum elite member. The setup is almost identical if you fly with Emirates as well.
These partnerships work in reverse too. If you are a Delta or Emirates elite member, then you will earn points on Delta and Emirates for stays at SPG hotels. Don’t forget that certain elite members on either side will get the benefits of elite status on with the other partner. In the case of Delta, an SPG Platinum elite member gets some perks on Delta… unfortunately I’m only Gold status with SPG, so no benefits for me on Delta.
The one other partner and arguably the most lucrative depending on where you live and if you use taxi services, is the partnership with Uber. Now Uber is a company that is starting to take a bigger role in my life. I hate driving in a new city, it’s not that I’m not capable, but I find public transit to be much more useful, and easier to deal with, especially in foreign countries. Some places are difficult to get to without a car, and that’s where Uber is starting to take a bigger role for me. Las Vegas for instance has crappy public transit, but Uber was just approved to operate at the airport.
Reward points work with Uber similarly to the way they work with Delta and Emirates, $1 spent = 1 SPG point earned. If you use Uber on a daily basis, this would be huge for you. Use the proper card to pay for the fare and you could be looking at 3 ThankYou points per dollar spend, and 1 SPG point per dollar spent. If you happen to be on a stay at an SPG property, then rides during your stay double if you are a standard member, and triple if you are a Gold/Platinum member. On the very odd chance you happen to be in one of the upper tiers of Platinum member (i.e. Platinum with 75 nights) you get 4 points per dollar. So when I stay in Cape Town and Dubai this fall, I’ll earn 3 SPG points per dollar, and 3 ThankYou points per dollar on the same ride.
If you haven’t linked your SPG account with your Uber account yet, go make it happen, the potential earnings are a big deal and taking advantage of every earning potential is a good idea at all times.