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Today’s reader question comes from Christina who asks (emphasis and links mine)

I have been lurking on your blog for a while, in part because I have
four kids and have tried to glean advice about traveling with several
kids. There was a post that you wrote once about why you prefer Best
Westerns and every single one of your reasons were reasons that I like
it too.

I don’t have an account with Starwood, mostly because those hotels are
crazy expensive compared to BW or the Holiday Inn Express. I am sorely
tempted though to get their credit card because all travel gurus highly
recommend it. I am not interested in using the points for flying and
pretty much never travel without all of my children. I have looked at
suites at some Starwood hotels in places we are interested in visiting
and don’t think I have ever seen one that is listed as appropriate for
five or more people. (Even though we have four children, my husband and
I have never had objections to sleeping six in a room for five.) I am
trying to convince my husband that we should get this card, but my
arguments are weak since I can’t find any way for us all to stay at
their properties without getting two rooms. Can you give me any advice
as to whether we can use the points for something else useful, or ways
for large families to stay at Starwood properties?

Getting the Starwood cards

First of all, Christina mentions getting the 2 SPG cards, which are temporarily at an all-time high bonus of 35,000 points.  The deadline for signing up for these increased bonuses is Friday April 5th.

And of course, as I always say, you SHOULD NOT SIGN UP FOR A CREDIT CARD JUST BECAUSE SOME GUY ON THE INTERNET SAYS YOU SHOULD!  First figure out where you want to go and only THEN sign up for a card that can help you get there.

SPG hotel cost

I actually find that SPG hotels can be among the cheapest in terms of point cost

spg-award-chart

Category 1 hotels start at only 3000 SPG points AND Category 1 and Category 2 hotels give you a 1000 point discount if you book on the weekends

PLUS, you get the 5th night free on Category 3 and up redemptions!

Finding larger Starwood hotels

Of course, like Christina said, this doesn’t do any good if you can’t find a room that will fit your family.  Thankfully, there are SPG hotels that work for large families. One SPG for large family hotel that our family personally have stayed at is the Sheraton Suites Columbus (Read reviews and compare prices at TripAdvisor).  It has a 300 square feet suite with a separate bedroom that actually has an OCCUPANCY LIMIT of 6.  Now many of you know that at least in the US, I don’t pay a ton of mind to those – in fact, as I write this post, our family of 8 is sitting in a 2 bedroom suite (630 square feet!) that has an occupancy “suggestion” of 5, which is totally ridiculous.

The Sheraton Suites Columbus is a Category 2 hotel as well, which means it’s 3,000 points on weekends or 4,000 points on weekdays.  Here’s a sample booking for a random 5 night period (unfortunately you only get fifth night free on Category 3 and above)

Here is the cash price
spg-sheraton-suites-large-family-points-price

And here is the points price (4,000 points for 3 nights and 3,000 points for the 2 weekend nights)

spg-sheraton-suites-large-family-cash-price

That’s a valuation of 5.92 cents per point for your SPG points, which is a HUGE value!  The 35,000 points you’d get from the signup bonus at that valuation would get you over $2000 in hotel rooms!

If you have the Starwood Preferred Guest(R) Business Credit Card from American Express, you can also get Sheraton Club access, which can be super useful.

Using points for suites

So that would be my #1 suggestion to Christina or anyone else looking to use SPG points for large family, but if you can’t find a hotel that has suites or other larger rooms, SPG will still let you book suites using points.

spg-suite-upgrade-award-chart

Keep in mind that these are the prices in ADDITION to the price of the room.  So it’s essentially like getting 2 rooms, but if you want to all stay in one room, it can be a good option.  You can also use these point amounts to upgrade a cash stay.  It completely varies by the hotel what suite you might get, so you’ll have to shop around.  I’ve also had good luck emailing the hotels to talk through various options.  I’ve had hotels complimentarily upgrade me and also upgrade me for a small cash co-pay.

Transferring your SPG points to Marriott

marriottAnother option is to transfer your SPG points to Marriott [4 reasons to transfer SPG points to Marriott, instead of the other way around].  SPG points transfer 1:3 to Marriott, so the 35,000 points from the current all-time high bonus would become 105,000 Marriott points.  Marriott has a large contingent of Residence Inn properties which are good candidates for larger families.

Don’t forget the airline miles transfer

I know Christina said that she was not interested in using her SPG points for airline transfers.  I’m not sure why that is, but that can be a great option.  If you got the personal and business card you would end up with over 80,000 SPG points

Using SPG Airline transfer partners that would turn into 100,000 airline miles which is almost enough to get a family out to Hawaii.

Hopefully that helps people looking to book SPG for large families

As always, if you have a travel question, feel free to email me at dan@pointswithacrew.com and I will do my best to help!

Readers – do you have any other suggestions for Christina about SPG points?

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