The Starwood family of hotels includes the following brands:
- Four Points
- St. Regis
- The Luxury Collection
You can acquire Starpoints that can be redeemed for free hotel stays by applying for and spending on the SPG American Express card. There are business and personal versions of this card. The usual sign-on bonus is 25K Starpoints with a $5000 spend within 6 months, although occasionally there are 30K offers. I got a business card with the 30K bonus about three years ago, and have about 10K points left, which are set to expire in a few months. The “swank” hotels like the St. Regis charge 25K+ Starpoints a night, but a good hotel usually runs about 10k/night. If you look at the retail price of these rooms, it appears that Starpoints are worth about 2-2.5 cents/point. But what are they really worth?
I have an upcoming stay in Frankfurt in June. I will be arriving in the late afternoon from Greece, and my transatlantic home leaves the next morning. I need a hotel in Frankfurt, and it would be convenient, but not necessary to get an airport hotel. As I said earlier, I have a little over 10K SPG points that are set to expire in a few months, with no prospect of earning more anytime soon, so I would like to use these. I used these to reserve the Sheraton Frankfurt Airport. Let’s see what these 10k points are worth. Because hotel rooms booked on points are cancellable, I will not consider non-cancellable fares.
The Sheraton website rate is 174 Eu, and the Priceline (not NYOP) is $170. These prices are almost equal seeing that euro/dollar is almost at parity at this point. At this price, the Starpoints are worth $170/10,000 = $0.017. There is an airport Hilton also with a cancellable rate of $130. There are those that will say the Sheraton is SO MUCH better, but I am price sensitive, so that brings my valuation down to $130/10,000 = $0.013. But wait! Going to booking.com (from whom I make most of bookings when I am in Europe) I see several airport hotels for $60 or less. Perhaps they are dumps, or are inconvenient to get to. So let’s add $30 to our valuation to pay for these possible flaws. That brings us down to $90/10,000 = $0.009. This value of less than 1 cent/ point is what Starpoints are worth to me in cash.
I know others will have their own arguments why they are worth more. My example is not the highest and best use of Starpoints. But I travel for destinations, and stay there weeks at a time, and staying at chain hotels is at the bottom of my priority list.