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I fully admit I’m a rookie at best with miles and points collecting, but I’ve never understood the allure of Starpoints.
In theory, they are like a rare, valuable currency that can get one access to a variety of different airlines and hotel locations. But in practice, are they worth it?
The best signup bonus I’ve ever seen for the SPG Card is 30,000 Starpoints, which translates to 35,000 miles of a whole lot of different airlines. The signup bonus is great, and so is the flexibility. But there are a couple of things about the card that have also irked me.
- After you get the initial 30K, then what? The card has a fixed 1:1 earning structure, except at Starwood hotels. Starwood hotels is a very small category. Even if you were Gold with them and spent $10,000, you’d only get 30K Starpoints for that spend
- I get it. Starpoints haven’t suffered as much as inflation as say, Hilton HHonors points. That is to say, there are fewer Starpoints in circulation, so each one is worth more. But is it? 30K miles on most airlines will get you a R/T domestic trip in economy. But those 100K+ biz class trips that the bloggers like to talk about would require tens of thousands of dollars in spend. Redeeming for rooms is way more valuable, but if you’re gonna go through the trouble, why not just get a Hilton or Hyatt card and be done with it?
- I’m notorious for not really caring about hotels. I have had some lovely experiences at some aspirational properties like the Mandarin Oriental in London and Hilton Waikiki Village (it was aspirational to me at least). But when it’s par for the course, I’d rather rent a charming room off Airbnb or stay with friends. Also, in terms of Ultimate Rewards, if I’m going to transfer 50K UR points, it certainly won’t be for one night in a hotel room. Rather, I’d prefer to save it for a really nice flight. I guess I enjoy the journey more than the destination
- Transfers can be either instant or slow as molasses with Starpoints transfer partners. Who can afford to hold an award booking for 2 weeks (as in the case of Singapore Airlines), or even a few days (more common)? I’m all for searching dates to see what’s available, but I always have the understanding that if I don’t snap it up right then and there, it will probably be gone when I check it again. For this reason, Starpoints seem difficult to plan an award with
- Foreign transfer fees. Ew! I refuse to pay this ridiculous fee. So even if you have the card, it’s advisable to have another one, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, that doesn’t have those fees associated with it. Internationally, it’s better to pay with Starwood hotels with a non-Starwood card? That just doesn’t make sense to me. So if I’m limited to the US anyway, again, I’d rather hit up friends, search Airbnb, or find a Hyatt or Hilton.
All that being said, I do respect the way Starwood pioneered points earning structures and transfers, and redemptions with no blackout dates. LOVE that. I just feel like times have changed since the beginning of the program, but the benefits of this card haven’t evolved to fit the current points market.
Am I alone in this? Is there something I’m totally missing here?
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