Today I am going to move away from the broader tips I usually provide and share with you something that I really do myself. In the past, I have shared posts on traveling cheap or free by getting credit card points and miles. Today, I am going to share one card that I carry in my wallet every day, the Starwood Preferred Guest from American Express.
The major benefits of this card come in two waves. First, the amazing signup bonus. Just for signing up and meeting the minimum spend requirement, you get 25,000 Starwood points worth $575! That is enough for one free round-trip domestic plane ticket right off the bat.
Star points are the gold currency of the miles/points world. They can be transferred to airline miles (with a 5,000 mile bonus when you move 20,000 miles at a time) 1:1 on most airlines. You can also use the points for rooms at upscale Starwood properties or book flights through the Starwood Preferred Guest website.
Signup bonus aside, you get 1 point per $1 spent on the card, or 2 points when spent at Starwood hotels.
The Best Use of Points
I have only cashed in on Starwood points once so far, and it was for a very good cause. I converted 20,000 Starwood points into 25,000 American Airlines miles.
I have also looked into using the cash + points redemption options for higher end properties. Cash + points generally gives you the highest value per point in dollar terms compared to booking a room with 100% points. Here is more info on how cash + points works.
Recent Use of Travel Miles
My most recent use of miles included those 25,000 American airlines miles I converted from 20,000 Starwood points. I was able to combine miles from various sources, including my Starwood Preferred Guest card, to piece together quite an itinerary.
This May, I am going round trip from Denver to Tel Aviv with my lovely girlfriend. Our round-trip flights cost $140 each including all taxes and fees. Thanks to the points and miles from cards like this, I was able to afford to take my girlfriend to Israel with me, and back, without worrying about the cost.
Other Starwood Benefits
- Free nights and stays toward upgraded Starwood Status (5 nights and 2 stays)
- Automatic gold status at $30,000 annual spend