Redeem Starpoints For Suites Or Premium Rooms

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It’s interesting to see the policies different hotel loyalty programs have towards redeeming points for premium rooms and suites.

For example, Hyatt Gold Passport is one of the more favorable loyalty programs for award redemptions in suites. They charge an extra ~50% points for suites over standard rooms, with the restriction that you have to redeem for at least three nights.

Hyatt-Gold-Passport-New-Chart

Given that on revenue rates suites can often be exponentially more expensive than standard rooms, that can be a great value.

Park-Hyatt-Zurich
Park Suite at the Park Hyatt Zurich

For this post I figured I’d cover Starwood’s policy when it comes to premium room and suite redemptions and upgrades, as they’re a bit quirky.

Upgrade paid Starwood stays to premium rooms or suites

I’m not a huge fan of Starwood’s program when it comes to upgrading paid bookings. As you can see below, the number of points required to upgrade to a premium room is quite reasonable, while the number of points required to upgrade to a suite is the same as the number of points required for a free night in a standard room at that hotel.

Starwood-Upgrade

The upgrade rates are per night, and they’re based on the hotel category you’re booked in.

The major restriction is that upgrades can only be confirmed within five days of arrival, and the reservation must be booked on a RACK, COR, SET, or BAR rate. The policy of only confirming upgrades at most five days before arrival is the same as their policy for upgrades using Platinum Suite Night Awards.

Redeem points for a suite

If you want to outright redeem Starpoints for a suite, the cost is typically double the number of points required for a standard room (shown below).

Starwood-Standard-Room-Award

You have to call Starwood to make such a booking, and as usual, the fifth night of the award redemption is still free. That’s a rather steep premium in most cases, in my opinion, given that Hyatt charges just a 50% premium.

That being said, in some cases it could still make sense. If you’re traveling for a special occasion and want to guarantee you’ll get a suite, that’s the best way to do it.

Redeem points for a premium room

Here’s something that I almost consider a “sweet spot” of Starwood points redemptions. Starwood charges a very reasonable premium for premium room awards — often less than a 10% premium over a standard room. It’s typically in the range of 1,000-2,750 points per night.

There’s no way to search these awards online and there’s no standardized list of what room you’ll get by paying a certain number of points, so you do have to call.

Why is this potentially valuable?

A standard room isn’t available

I’m sure most of you have seen this dreaded message when desperately looking for a free night redemption:

Starwood-Premium-Room-Award

When you see there’s no standard room availability, I think it’s only natural for the reaction to be “oh crap, I guess if I want to redeem points it’ll cost me an arm and a leg.” After all we are used to the airline loyalty program model of “standard” awards costing a bajillion miles.

But in many cases this means you can redeem points in a premium room for a very small premium.

For example, in the case of the St. Regis San Francisco, a free night can cost as little as 20,000 Starpoints per night. If there’s not standard room award availability, then you can instead redeem 21,500 Starpoints for a Deluxe Room, or 22,500 Starpoints for a Grand Deluxe Room.

Grand-Deluxe-Room

Those are very mild premiums. So don’t let the lack of standard room availability deter you from trying to redeem points.

Sometimes you just want a nicer room

While I do hope for upgrades as a Starwood Platinum member, not everyone has status, and for that matter even when you do have status, often hotels are just sold out and there’s no chance of an upgrade. Even if a standard room is available, it can make sense to redeem an extra 1,500-2,750 points per night for a nicer room.

St-Regis-Bangkok
Redeem Starpoints for a Grand Deluxe Room at the St. Regis Bangkok

Admittedly Starpoints are hard to come by

I know a lot of people like to hoard Starpoints… I’m among those people. The reality is that they’re incredibly valuable and tough to come by. The earnings rates when staying at hotels isn’t amazing in my opinion, and the only other major way to earn Starpoints is through their co-branded credit cards:

So I get that an extra 1,000-2,750 points per night might be a lot more when we’re talking about Starpoints as opposed to other points currencies.

But it’s also at least worth knowing about the possibility.

Bottom line

I do wish they’d put the cost of premium rooms online, as I bet it would encourage a lot more people to redeem points for them (either because they’re sold out of standard rooms or because they just want a nicer room). Then again, I guess that answers why they don’t do it. 😉

All things considered I definitely think premium rooms are a better value on award stays than on paid stays (given the five day restriction on paid stays), and also think the premium for a premium award represents a better value than the premium for a suite.

Have you ever redeemed Starpoints for a premium room reward?

(Tip of the hat to Dan)

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Comments

  1. Just redeemed points for the west in lagunamar Cancun.
    They only have 2 room types a studio suite and a 1 bedroom suite (double the size).
    With 5th night free a regular rooom would have cost 40k point instead we reddened 46k points for the auite.
    ght

  2. I Just called SPG to check my rate options for our Honeymoon at Sheraton or W Retreat Maldives.

    Premium rooms costs 150,000 Starpoints per night. Damn that is a lot.

    If I have to pay cash, it costs around 3000$ per night!!

  3. Just redeemed for a Harborview room at the Westin Bayshore. Nothing else was available. 1000 point premium for the room. Lowest rate was $500. Decent value.

  4. On the earning side, would you agree that all unbonused/manufactured spend should rather be directed to the Club Carlson card? I’ve recently acquired this card and have shifted my spending away from the SPG Amex to it instead because of the 5x earning and the last-night-free redemption.

  5. At first I was also unnerved by the message asking to call in but after getting an explanation I know it just means a more expensive redemption.

    Before achieving Platinum, I’d sometimes upgrade to a club-level room on award stays (was +1,000) but since that’s something I get anyway, I’ve only paid a higher points rate when standard rooms were not available, e.g. paid 11,000/nt at Westin Riverwalk in San Antonio instead of usual 10,000.

    P.S. On an unrelated note, someone needs to convince SPG to make free parking a Platinum perk — after taxes paid almost $38/day for valet parking in SA.

  6. @ Stannis — Thanks for the question. Let me answer that question on the main page of the blog if it’s okay.

  7. Sometimes they can just be a slightly upgraded room which can be nice as you state as long as you know what you’re getting. At the lower end (Sheraton West Des Moines, which used to be a cat 2) I redeemed an extra 1,000 pts/night to get a club room which I considered a fantastic value. So getting a club room out of the deal would be great. Redeeming as many points to upgrade to a suite as a free night costs usually doesn’t seem worth it, unless the room had a second bedroom though typically the rooms I’ve seen have just a single King bed.

  8. Last year we stayed at the “W” in St Petersburg, Russia (loved the hotel). We paid an extra 1,750 points to upgrade from a Wonderful Room to a Spectacular Room…just an upgraded room, not a suite. We needed a rollaway for my daughter and that’s how they handled it.

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