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The deadline is looming over Starwood Preferred Guest members: On Aug. 18, the program will officially merge with Marriott Rewards. With the change comes a new award chart and fewer ways to use their collected points.
For those who still have outstanding SPG Starpoints, there’s still time to use them at a strong value before the program comes to an official end. Instead of letting those points automatically convert to Marriott Rewards, here are three easy and rewarding ways to use Starpoints at their best value.
1. Combine points to book awards
One of the best SPG benefits is sharing points with household members without transfer fees. When the program gets rolled into Marriott Rewards, you will still be able to transfer points between household members, but it will come with a limit of 50,000 Marriott Rewards points per year and a $10 fee per transfer.
»Learn More: Hidden hotel fees — even on awards — can sour a stay. Here’s how to beat them.
If one or more members of your household have outstanding Starpoints, it may be a good idea to combine them now to book one major award. By combining points for free, members can position themselves to maximize awards before and after the merger.
There are some conditions to consider before combining points. First, points transfers are allowed in 1,000-point increments. Remaining points must either be used or converted to Marriott Rewards. Both members must be active SPG members and share the same residential address for at least 30 days. Those sharing a P.O. Box, APO/FPO address or college or university address can’t share points. Finally, members can’t transfer elite status to other members.
2. Book award nights
With every merger, there is good news and bad news. The bad news is that many current Starpoints awards may increase in price. While most hotels will increase in price between 5,000 and 10,000 points, some will increase by 20,000 points or more.
Before Aug. 17, consider where you plan on traveling. From there, consider which program gives you the most value for your award nights: SPG or Marriott Rewards.
»Learn More: Is the Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card a good fit for your travel habits?
In many situations, the award changes will be negligible: Either the award levels will stay at the same rate, or will change in value by less than 10,000 points. However, some awards will skyrocket in price on Aug. 18. The more notable increases include:
- Domes of Elounda, Autograph Collection, Greece – 40,000-point increase per night
- Sheraton on the Falls, Niagara Falls, Canada – 20,000-point increase per night
- Sheraton Vistana locations near Walt Disney World, Orlando – 20,000-point increase per night
- The Cove Atlantis, Autograph Collection – 15,000-point increase per night
- Walt Disney World Dolphin and Swan locations – 14,000-point increase per night
Booking available awards now can ensure you get the best value for your Starpoints before point changes. Those who wait to book awards may face higher costs and lower return for their points.
»Learn More: Here’s how much your points and miles are worth
As always, award costs and rates may change. Those who have their hearts set on one award should watch award rates daily to get the best rates before the programs merge.
3. Transfer Starpoints to airline loyalty programs
Finally, one of the best advantages of Starpoints is converting points to airline miles at an equal ratio. At most international airlines, 1,000 Starpoints can turn into 1,000 frequent flyer miles. In addition, SPG will add 5,000 Starpoints for every 20,000 transferred at a time, with a maximum of 79,999 in a 24-hour period. Effectively, members can earn 94,999 miles by transferring the maximum number of Starpoints to frequent flyer programs.
When SPG sunsets, many of those award charts will change. Currently, Marriott Rewards transfers to airlines come at a steep price: Some transfers complete at a ratio of five Marriott Rewards points to one airline point.
»Learn More: Nine easy ways to earn airline miles for free.
If you plan on transferring Starpoints to airline loyalty programs, there are some things to consider. First, those without status must transfer a minimum of 2,500 Starpoints to an airline partner, while members have lower minimums. Although Amtrak Guest Rewards is a partner, the 5,000-Starpoint bonus isn’t available on transfers to that program. And only one transfer per partner program is allowed in a 24-hour period.
If you have no other use of SPG Starpoints, consider transferring those points to your favorite airline. Although it won’t turn into status or hotel stays, those points can boost a frequent flyer account to book a free flight, or upgrade into a better class of cabin.
How to maximize your rewardsYou want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2020, including those best for:
- Airline miles and a large bonus: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- No annual fee: The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
- Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
- Premium travel rewards: The Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
- Business travelers: The Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:
Travel loyalty program reviews
How Marriott’s Starwood Overhaul Shakes Out for Members
7 Guaranteed Ways to Find Cheap Hotel Rooms
Feature image courtesy Marriott International