Starwood Hotels: Earning Starwood Points (1/5)

–Aloft – Element – Four Points – Le Meridien – Sheraton – Westin – W – St. Regis–

The following is the start of a five part series covering points earned for Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) hotels. The following was written by my brother, an avid travel hacker who has qualified for Platinum Elite Status in the SPG program.


FI Fighter has asked me to share some of my Travel Hacking tips for hotels! I have extensive experience with staying in Starwood Properties: Aloft, Element, Four Points, Le Meridien, Sheraton, Westin, W, St. Regis, and The Luxury Collection.

I’ll cover the following:

  1. Earning Starwood Points
  2. Redeeming Starwood Points
  3. The Value of a Starwood Point
  4. Starwood Elite Status
  5. My Starwood Strategy

Earning Starwood Points

Gift Cards and Bluebird:

ScreenHunter_28 Jul. 02 00.17

I earn Starwood points by buying Gift Cards with an AMEX SPG credit card ($1 = 1 Starwood point).

I pay $3 ($2.95 to be exact for Simon VISA Gift Cards) for each $500 in gift cards, and then I unload the $500 gift cards at Walmart into my Bluebird account.

There is a maximum of $5,000 that you can load into Bluebird in one month.

Then, I use Bluebird to pay off the $5,000 AMEX SPG credit card statement.

At the end of the month, 5,000 Starwood points cost me $30 (10x$3), which is enough for a free hotel night!

The end result is that I’m buying Starwood points at a cost of $.006 ($30/5,000pts), or .6 cents per Starwood point.

The goal is to earn the Starwood points for cheap, but redeem them for much more.

Buy Low. Sell High.

AMEX SPG Credit Cards:

ScreenHunter_28 Jul. 02 00.25

The fastest way to rack up tons of Starwood points is to open both:

  1. AMEX SPG Personal Credit Card
  2. AMEX SPG Business Credit Card

The standard offer is 25,000 Starwood points after spending $5,000 in 6 months. The $5,000 spend can be finished quickly by simply purchasing $500 gift cards as mentioned above. After spending $5,000, you will receive 30,000 Starwood points for only $30 out of pocket.

$30/30,000 = $.001 or .1 cents per Starwood point!

Share Starwood Points:

ScreenHunter_47 Jul. 02 11.38

Starwood allows you to transfer Starwood points between two accounts – as long as both the receiver and the giver share the same household address.

This is a great way to pool together points!

You could sign up your wife, husband, parents, siblings, etc.

This becomes even more lucrative if each individual signs up of both AMEX SPG credit cards!

2x, 3x, 4x, 5x Bonuses:

ScreenHunter_48 Jul. 02 11.46

Once you become an SPG member, every $1 that you spend at the hotel will qualify for an extra bonus!

  • Regular Starwood Member: 2 Starwood points per $1
  • Gold or Platinum Member: 3 Starwood points per $1

But, if you pay with an AMEX SPG card you can get an additional 2 Starwood points!

  • Regular Starwood Member: 4 Starwood points per $1
  • Gold or Platinum Member: 5 Starwood points per $1

Tip: There are foreign transaction fees with the AMEX SPG Credit Cards. Therefore, don’t use them to pay for hotel charges overseas.

Is It Worth It?

If I can generate 5,000 Starwood points in one month with Bluebird, then I can accumulate 60,000 Starwood points in one year. Enough points for over 20 hotel nights!

If I have two Bluebird cards, then I can accumulate 120,000 Starwood points in one year. 😉

Starwood is my favorite hotel loyalty program, and once you reach Platinum Elite Status, it becomes even more lucrative.

Stay tuned… More to come!

ScreenHunter_49 Jul. 02 11.50

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Living Proof

Living Proof is an avid real estate investor with a strong case of Wanderlust. He enjoys talking about his crazy lifestyle of collecting frequent flyer miles and hotel points. Within the next year, he hopes to declare early FI and to travel the world!
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6 years ago

Thanks for the great post! I’m excited for the next one!

Dave @ The New York Budget

Awesome – this is the exact kind of specific travel hacking post that I need (and that’s so difficult to actually find). Thanks!

Mr. Frugalwoods
6 years ago

Starwood is a great brand, and starpoints can be ridiculously lucrative!

When I was traveling a lot for work I was plat, and wow did they treat me well.

I’ve redeemed starpoints with a lot of success in countries where the exchange rate is poor. There’s nothing like 5th night free in the center of London, paid with points! I typically redeemed at around 3.2 cents / point, which is pretty decent. A lot more if you consider the frequent upgrades when I had status. 🙂

Looking forward to your series!

Mr. Frugalwoods
6 years ago
Reply to  Living Proof

Yep, this was in western Europe. Especially with the no blackout dates, there are some real deals to be had.

Kathy @ RentalRealities

What a great idea for a blog series – looking forward to the rest. 🙂

6 years ago

Great ideas! Having issues buying gift cards (Master Card, Visa, American Express, etc.) at Wal-Mart with a credit card. They say they can’t accept credit cards to buy these. Any one else having these same issues? If so what is the work around?

6 years ago

It would be nice if we can do the same, since we are boomers that who are about go on a trip a lot. I had my husband to read this blog to see if he is interested. My hats off to you young savvy guys. My head spins, every time I read this kind of blog–very informative and educational. Thank you for sharing knowledge that we can really use.

The First Million is the Hardest

I love my Starwood Card, the signup bonus they give out is pretty huge too. Took a free weekend trip just with those points!

Living At Home
6 years ago

That’s a pretty cool way to earn some points! Thanks for sharing!



[…] Earning Starwood Points […]

6 years ago

The Bluebird Walmart method seems to be getting harder and harder becoming more of a hassle. First off you need to be able to buy gift cards with a cc and live near a Walmart. Walmart in itself is a hassle. There is always a long line, and now you can no longer use Vanilla gift cards. Also, some Walmart’s are cracking down not letting you use any gift cards at all to load to BB and if you find one that does “they may say only gift cards with your name on them”. Just recently at my go to… Read more »


[…] Earning Starwood Points […]

FI Fighter
6 years ago


Yes, this game is always changing and I guess that’s part of the “fun” and challenge of it.

When Vanilla Reloads were still working at CVS, that wasn’t very straightforward either. Some stores took credit cards, while others didn’t. Some stores had daily limits, but if you were lucky, you could buy $5k in one swoop.

Sooner or later, this will probably stop working at Walmart altogether. Then, we simply move on and find the next thing… the game will live on.

All the best!


[…] Earning Starwood Points […]

6 years ago

Think I can do this exact same thing with my gold amex?


[…] Earning Starwood Points […]

5 years ago

Thanks for great info! Just wondering if this bluebird method at walmart still works (a year later)? :))

5 years ago

ok, I think I am tracking you except for this
you stated….
“If I have two Bluebird cards, then I can accumulate 120,000 Starwood points in one year. ????”
I signed up for Bluebird card tonight, but how do I accumulate SPG points with Bluebird cards?

FI Fighter
5 years ago
Reply to  cindy

Please see this post… YMMV, it has been getting increasingly difficult to earn points via this method: