I’ve written before about the power of SPG points–how you can transfer the points to over 30 airlines, and do so at a premium ratio (for most airlines) when you transfer in increments of 20K SPG points (for 25K airline points).
Now how will you get the points? If you click on either the business or personal link above, you’ll have to spend $1500 in 3 months (used to be $500 :( ) to get 20K SPG points. Get your significant other to apply, and you can either use it to transfer to an airline point system that will take you BOTH, for example, to Seattle/L.A (long haul flight across North America). Cheapest way is with Aeroplan as the conversion is 1:1 + 5K bonus Aeroplan points when converting 20K SPG points or to United points,–while they have a LOT of availability for Air Canada flights without the high taxes–unfortunately, with SPG, they only transfer to United at a 50% conversion (1:2). It’s unfortunately the only way I know of in Canada to earn United miles (other than RocketMiles, a website that gives you points for booking hotel stays that you can transfer to United, many other airlines, and even Amazon for gift cards--oh, and of course, by FLYING and PAYING for a United flight--what a concept).
A GREAT idea to do with them is switch them to your Marriott account at TRIPLE the value. If you have not linked your Marriott account to your SPG account yet, what are you waiting for? You can switch your points back and forth as often as you need. You can also get your spouse to do so, and with Marriott, you can use your spouse's points if you don't have enough in your Marriott account to cover the stay in points. DON'T be shy to call/email the GM (get the GM's email from the front desk person) at the location you've booked at and explain why you'd like an upgrade (e.g., standard room won't fit your family, your birthday/anniversary, etc.). I love the Residence Inn and TownePlace Suites chains as they have full kitchens in every suite as well as 1 and 2 bedroom suites. Some managers will upgrade you months in advance if it's during low season, and the rare one even at busy times.
United miles are amazing in some cases. For example, YYZ-LAX for next to nothing in taxes with lots of availability. YYZ-TLV on Air Canada, for NO fuel surcharges! If you have a Social Security Number, you’d definitely want to get the Chase United Mileage Visa, that offers terrific features, along with a 50K welcome bonus (at certain times or if you already have a chunk of miles in your account–how many, I’m not sure about). If you sign up for a United Mileage card and then attempt to book a flight, you’ll see the offer going from a 30K welcome bonus + $30 statement credit to a 50K + $50 +5K more for a secondary cardholder. Ahhh, America–you gotta love their credit card offers!