Availability: All Starwood brands: Aloft, Element, Four Points, The Luxury Collection, Le Meridien, Sheraton, St. Regis, W Hotels, and Westin.
Earning Formula: Earn two Starwood points per in-hotel dollar spent. Points expire if you do not earn or spend points.
Redeeming Formula: Award-stay points are based on point "prices" that vary by location, season, and expected occupancy, some as low as 4,000 but mostly in the 10,000–35,000 point range.
Generosity: Stay 10–35 nights (average 23) to earn one award night at a comparable hotel.
Airline Transfer: Starwood points can be transferred to miles on Alaska, American, Delta, Hawaiian, and United, as well as many foreign lines. There is a 25 percent bonus for transferring 5,000 points, which is an outstanding deal.
Membership Benefits: Entry-level benefits are minimal. The first substantial benefits, at Platinum (which requires 25 stays or 50 nights), are room upgrades, complimentary Wi-Fi, access to club/fitness facilities, late checkout, and guaranteed room availability up to 72 hours in advance. Earn 50 percent point bonus at higher elite levels.
Credit Card: Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) AmEx offers an additional two to three points per dollar for in-hotel charges, one point per dollar on all other purchases, and enrollment bonuses of up to 30,000 points. The annual fee is $65 after the first year.