I love Starwood points. I’ve mentioned this before. Of the hotel loyalty programs, I think Starwood has the most valuable currency. It doesn’t hurt that I also happen to like their hotel chains, have their American Express, and have linked my Uber account to my SPG account so I get free Starwood points for every Uber ride.
I consider my Starwood Amex my second most valuable credit card behind my Chase Sapphire Preferred. It’s the card I use for most general day-to-day purchases (unless I have a card that earns more points per dollar in certain categories like travel and gas stations).
And unrelated to my small crush on Starwood, I’m a HUGE Chicago Cubs fan. I am also one of those nerds trying to see a baseball game in every ballpark in the country. And it just so happens the Cubs, for the first time in years, have decided to grant mercy on their loyal fans and actually be competitive. Since my son was born (and yes I take full credit for this win streak) they’re winners of 9 in a row and 15 of their last 16 games.
And so when I was flying out to Chicago for a conference in June, there was one thing I knew I had to do: Use my Starwood points to get two tickets to a fancy suite right behind home plate for the Cubs vs. Dodgers.
Maybe the Cubs aren’t your thing. Here’s the not so secret, secret: That’s OK- because Starwood offers you the chance to use your SPG points for concerts with back stage access, the best seats at sporting events, and more! You just have to know where to look!
But first, let’s talk the Cubs experience.
How much did it cost?
12,500 starpoints. That’s only half the amount of points I received in the sign up bonus for the SPG Amex! Note: Until September 14,2015, American Express has increased the sign up bonus from 25,000 points to 30,000. Get in on the deal here!
What did this provide?
I got two tickets in SPG’s Suite 37, situated almost right behind home plate.If you’ve never watched a game in a suite, it’s a surreal experience. You’ve got seats outside, but there’s also an inside area with air conditioning.
Some of the indoor section of your seating options.
But the other huge perk in this affair shocks me still: Unlimited food and drink.
Standard hotdogs, some BBQ brisket, popcorn, and other goodies were more than enough!
For those more health inclined.
This is what happens when you wait until the 7th inning to “do your work” and document the experience… most of the beer is gone. They had Bud Light, Heineken, Goose Island 312, Angry Orchard Cider, in addition to a red and white wine, and tons of nonalcoholic options. Pretty good offerings!
As Laura can tell you, I have slightly weird (and childish) weaknesses in this world: Fruit Roll Ups and… Caramel Apples. So I was happy as hell when the dessert cart came by, and I was informed dessert was also on the house.
At the end of the day, the game was fun as could be for me. For starters, I barely get to see the Cubs play, live or on TV. And so that alone was a treat. But they also played against my hometown Dodgers, who I have adopted as my “I’ll cheer for you when it doesn’t hurt the Cubs” team. And so it was players on both teams I really enjoy watching play. But the other exciting part of the experience is who else was in the suite with us. I’m not talking about the Cubs brass (even though I saw them two boxes away from us), I’m talking about fellow miles and points enthusiasts. The couple sitting next to me were from LA, and they bought the tickets with points, their hotel with points, and found a cheap airfare that also pushed them over the elite status threshold. I was like a kid in the candy shop, my favorite teams on the field, a caramel apple in my lap, beer at my side, and someone to talk miles and points with for hours on end.
Wrigley has changed a lot since I last was there. For example, they have a giant screen now in left field!
What other SPG Moments exist?
SPG has a whole range of moments. Backstage tickets to see John Legend. Tickets to a Knicks game (they should be giving those away right about now). And so much more! Check out the opportunities for yourself.
How can I earn Starpoints?
- Get the SPG Amex.
It’s one of three credit cards I plan to keep in my wallet, annual fee be damned. It’s the card I use most often because I use it unless I have another card in my wallet that has a good category bonus. It has a 25,000 point signing bonus (30,000 points through September 2015) comes with free boingo wifi plan, no foreign transaction fees, and more! I also love it for earning airline miles. If you accumulate 20,000 points and decide to transfer it to one of their popular airline partners, you often get a BIG bonus. For example I transferred 20,000 Starpoints to American, I’d earn 25,000 AAdvantage miles. That’s lucrative. That’s why I LOVE my SPG Amex!
- Stay at SPG properties.
SPG has a big portfolio of properties spread out across 10 brands of hotels. They don’t have as big a footprint as Marriot, IHG, or Hilton, but it’s still big. And they’ve got everything front trendy Aloft hotels (one of my favorite) to the business standard Sheratons to fancy Westins. The portfolio is diverse and often times people stay at a property not even realizing it’s part of a loyalty program that can earn them points and miles.
- Travel with Uber.
Uber and Starwood teamed up, and while the points aren’t a huge amount, we subscribe to the idea that every point counts. Link your Uber and Starwood accounts and earn Starwood points when you grab an Uber!
- Enjoy their crossover rewards with Delta.
If you’re an elite member of Starwood, did you know you can earn points for many of your flights on Delta? And if you’re Delta elite, you may be entitled to certain benefits for SPG stays. Checkout Crossover rewards if you’re a Delta frequent flyer because, well, let’s face it, you might as well get some sort of consolation prize for being part of such a horrible frequent flyer program.