Category

Starwood Preferred Guest

The Benefits Of Having Multiple Accounts

Of all the different types of free Points promotions that happen, my favorite are the ones that happen to be for loyalty programs that allow you to create Family Accounts.

For those of you not familiar, Family Accounts are when you have the ability to pool all your Family’s Miles / Points together into 1 account. This makes the Miles / Points far easier to use since they are all in a single account!

For example when British Midlands (BMI) had a 2,000 Mile New Member Sign Up Bonus last February, I signed up 5 “Family Members” because BMI allowed for Family Accounts. When BMI merged with British Airways, the 10,000 BMI Miles in my Family Account became 10,000 British Airways Avios, which also allowed for Family Accounts.

Similarly when Starwood ran really poorly targeted social media promotions in the Summer of 2011, I got around 30,000 Starpoints by creating 10 new SPG Accounts for my “Family Members” and each Account got 3,000 free Starpoints. A few months later after the dust settled, I quietly merged those 10 Accounts into a few different SPG Accounts that I actually use.

Long story short, a lot of these “Family Member” Accounts that I currently have with Starwood and British Airways have had Points in them but have never had any Flights or Hotel Stays credited to them.

I don’t know how to explain it but for some reason or the other, these idle Accounts seem to consistently generate some awesome targeted offers!

British Airways Targeted Promotions

For example, 5 days ago British Airways sent one of my “Family Members” this email.

This was one of the Accounts I had created for the BMI Promotion, although for some reason I only got 1,000 Miles instead of 2,000.

Anyways British Airways emailed me to say if I updated my Email Preferences, then I could get 2,000 additional Avios!

That is a pretty awesome deal, so I gladly accepted. In my excitement I just assumed that BA had sent this email to everyone.

I have 10 or so British Airways Accounts, so I figured it was an easy 20,000 Avios.

Well 4 days ago, British Airways sent the below email to my real BA Account.

At first I thought it was the same email that my “Family Member” received, but then I read it again and realized that THERE WERE NO FREE AVIOS involved!

British Airways wanted me to change my Email Settings and voluntarily receive their junk mail for free. Umm no thanks!

In the above Email, because parts of the Header are blocked out, “Earn ________ Avios When You ______ ______”, it makes it seem that if you update your Email Settings, then BA will reveal how many Avios you can get. That is not the case.

I was really bummed because this is the Account that I actually use and it doesn’t make sense why British Airways wouldn’t target an actual flyer that has activity in their Account.

Then this Afternoon I was canceling one of my Parent’s Chase Cards for them and noticed in their Inbox an email from British Airways which they didn’t tell me about.

Yes, you are reading that right. 4,000 Avios for updating their Account, which only has 1,573 Avios in it…

As I was trying to figure out why these low balance British Airways Accounts were being targeted, it reminded me of Starwood who seems to also do this.

Starwood Targeted Promotions

Way back in May 2012, I had talked about how 2 of my SPG “Family Member” Accounts had some Points in them but no Stays. For some reason or the other, they both received an awesome targeted offer of Stay 1 Night, Get 1 Night Free.

Well of course I took advantage of that and found a $80 Westin near O’Hare to stay 2 Nights at, and then used the 2 Free Night Certificates to stay at the $600+ St. Regis Washington D.C.

A few months ago those same 2 Accounts got targeted with another offer of 2,000 Starpoints per a Stay, up to 3 Stays!

This was exponentially better than the Q4 Starwood Bonus for normal Members!

As you can see it at the bottom it says “A Special Offer For New Members Only”.

Well since Starwood allows you to merge Accounts if they have the same or “close to same” name, you could easily take advantage of the above promotion and then once the Points post, just merge it with your real account!

How To Get Your Own Targeted Offers

To some extent these Targeted Offers are random, so it is far more of an art than a science trying to figure out why one Account gets targeted and another one doesn’t.

From my experience and as you can see above, the Accounts that have the smallest amount of activity (ie. posting of 1,000 Points or Miles), are the ones that seem to get targeted the most.

If you want to try and get your own Targeted Offers, I’d recommend creating an additional Hotel Account or Airline Account and seeing what happens. With Starwood, you are fairly likely to get something worthwhile because they seem to have a Targeted New Member Promotion, as seen above.

When you make an additional Account, be sure to make it in your name. That way if you do ever get any Targeted Offers, you can take advantage of them and then later merge the additional Points or Miles into the Account that you really use.

Recap

Although it is annoying to have to manage and create multiple accounts, the cost of doing so is free. It is for that reason that I’d recommend at least trying it out because you never know what you will get.

The targeted SPG Stay 1 Night, Get 1 Night Free promotion above got us $1,200 worth of Hotel Rooms for $160, and was solely an offer I received because I didn’t use my Account…

Once you do create your new Accounts, just remember to dump all the Logins and Passwords into AwardWallet! It will make your life a lot easier!

Happy fishing!

-Parag

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W Mattress Review + 35% Off W Store

After spending 2 months occupying my Friend’s Living Room (#OccupyLivingRoom), I finally retrieved my W Bed and have set up all my IKEA Bedroom Furniture.

If you ever feel the need to gain a more objective understanding of society through personal introspection, try putting together an entire IKEA Bedroom Set in the span of 1 day.

Short of yelling “Move That Bus”, it was basically “Extreme Makeover: IKEA Edition” and I will tell you I have not felt that kind of sense of self-accomplishment in a long time.

Now that I have slept on my new W Mattress for about 2 weeks, I thought I would review it for anyone who is thinking about getting one.

I purchased my W Mattress way back in October when W Hotel Store was having a 35% off sale for Columbus Day. I chronicled the purchase here.

After the 35% off coupon, I paid $688.35 for a Queen Plush Top Mattress Only. This price included Free Delivery, a 10 Year Warranty, and NO SALES TAX!

Here is the description of the Mattress from the W Store:

“Made exclusively for W Hotels by Simmons. This hotel quality mattress features Visco Memory Foam and Pocketed Coil® springs to give you a wonderful night’s sleep. Designed with excellent firm support to cushion your pressure points in just the right way. Add a featherbed to get that complete W Hotels cloud-like experience. 12 inches thick. 10 year warranty.”

Yes you read that correctly, the Mattress is 12 inches thick, and a good 3 inches are just pure Visco Memory Foam.

Here is my description of the Mattress:

“You are sleeping on a cloud.”

I can sleep almost anywhere, in India I even slept on the floor, but this Mattress is amazing.

Every time I have ever stayed at a W Hotel or Westin Hotel, I have always had an amazing sleep and have always woken up feeling refreshed.

Now basically, I have that experience every day which is pretty awesome.

Although $688.35 might sound like a lot for a Mattress, it is something I will use for at least 6 hours everyday for the next 10 years, so in my opinion that is money well spent.

If you are thinking about getting a new Mattress, I highly suggest considering getting this Mattress.

I was just looking at the W Store, and coincidently there is a 35% sale going on right now!

Best part is if you put the Mattress on your SPG AMEX, like I did, then you get 2x Starpoints!

If you are unsure about committing to purchasing a Bed without trying it, then I suggest burning some Starpoints and going to a W Hotel for the night and trying out the Bed. You will not be disappointed!

Or you can also just read all the positive reviews on FlyerTalk.

If you are reading this at work and are bored, since everything at the W Store is currently 35% off, I suggest taking a look around as there are some really random items available for purchase.

I found this really awesome Cardboard Moose which I want to hang above my Bed or over the Fireplace but it seems to be sold out : (

Happy sleeping and happy shopping!

-Parag

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Searching For Starwood Cash & Points Availability

Starwood Cash & Points redemptions are easily some of the best values out there when it comes to Hotel Stays. Of all the Hotel Redemption options available across all Brands, Starwood Cash & Points is by far my favorite and I have written about it many times before.

For a Hotel that might cost $349 a night or 10,000 Starpoints, with Cash & Points you can get it down to only 4,000 Starpoints + $60 a night.

The reason why this is great is because most people would never spend $349 a night on a room, but have no problem paying $60 a night.

Also by doing Cash & Points, you can significantly stretch the life of your Starpoints, which aren’t exactly very easy to earn outside of the Credit Card. The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card currently offers 30,000 Starpoints after completing the Minimum Spend Requirements but those 30,000 Starpoints can easily be all used up on a 3 night stay. However by using Cash & Points, you can stretch those 30,000 Starpoints into 6 – 10 cheap nights depending on where you are staying.

The number one question / complaint I get from Readers about the SPG Card is that they can’t find any Cash & Points availability.

While not all SPG Properties participate in Cash & Points, the easiest way to avoid having issues with Cash & Points availability is to simply book far enough out. If you wait until the last second, then most likely Cash & Points options will be full because they are very popular!

Another mistake I suspect many Readers make is that if you are staying for X amount of nights (say 4 nights), and there is only Cash & Points availability for 3 nights, then on SPG.com it will show that there is NO Cash & Points availability during your Stay even though for 3 out of 4 nights there actually is.

Example

When I talked about my upcoming ski trip last month, a few Readers liked the idea and decided to book a ski trip of their own but emailed me when they couldn’t find Cash & Points availability.

In my ski trip example, I had said that I saw Cash & Points availability for President’s Day weekend in January for Sheraton Mountain Vista Villas, Avon / Vail Valley.

However when you search that Property on the dates of 1/18 – 1/21, SPG.com shows that there is no Cash & Points availability but there is Free Night Award space at 10,000 Starpoints a night.

10,000 Starpoints a night isn’t terrible since the Property goes for $349 a night, but that is still 30,000 Starpoints out the door.

However if you click on the “Browse Dates /Rates” button and pull up the Cash & Points Calendar, SPG.com will show you an entirely different story.

As you can see, between the dates of 1/18 – 1/21, for 2 out of the 3 days, there is in fact Cash & Points availability! However because the Saturday night (1/19) is not available for Cash & Points, when you search for 1/18 – 1/21 as a whole on SPG.com, it says no Cash & Points options are available.

Although it isn’t shown on the screen, for this Property it costs 4,000 Starpoints + $60 per a night for Cash & Points.

Basically to work around this “glitch” on SPG.com, when you are searching for Cash & Points, you should always look at the Cash & Points Calendar.

If you run into the situation above where there are some nights available for Cash & Points, but 1 or 2 nights are not available, then simply book the nights that are available for Cash & Points and pay the full award rate for the other nights. So in the example above, I would make 1 booking for 1/18 – 1/19 on Cash & Points, then 1 booking for 1/19 – 1/20 on a Free Night Award, and then another booking for 1/20 – 1/21 on Cash & Points.

Obviously to do this, you will have to make separate bookings, but when you check-in at the Hotel, the Receptionist will figure out what is going on and combine all the reservations together so you don’t have to switch rooms or check-in and out multiple times.

In the Sheraton example above, had you simply taken SPG.com at face value when it said there was no Cash & Points availability, you would have paid 30,000 Starpoints for 3 nights.

However if you used the Cash & Points Calendar, you would have seen 2 nights available for Cash & Points, so you would pay 8,000 Starpoints (2 Cash & Point Nights) + $120 (Co-pay for Cash & Points) + 10,000 Starpoints (1 Regular Free Night Award).

In total instead of shelling out 30,000 Starpoints, with Cash & Points, you only had to spend 18,000 Starpoints + $120. Although with Cash & Points, you do have to pay $120, you are saving 12,000 Starpoints for which you can use down the line on an Award Stay or use it for another Cash & Points redemption.

Hypothetically, say you had such a great time at the Sheraton using Cash & Points that you wanted to come back next year for another ski trip. Since you saved 12,000 Starpoints by using Cash & Points this past trip, you could use those same 12,000 Starpoints for another 3 nights using all Cash & Points at the Sheraton the following year. With 12,0000 Starpoints, you could do 3 nights of Cash & Points at 4,000 Starpoints + $60 a night, so in total 12,00 Starpoints + $180.

That is the real value in Cash & Points! Instead of spending 30,000 Starpoints for 3 nights, you could use Cash & Points and get 6 nights (spread over 2 trips) + $240 co-pay for a Hotel that goes for $349 a night. Those 6 nights would normally cost $2,094, so by using Cash & Points, you are basically only paying around 10% of the actual cost which is a steal!

Recap

If you use Cash & Points properly, the Sign Up Bonus from the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card can really be stretched out and can help you take some amazing vacations for around 10% of the actual cost.

Over the past 3 years, thanks to SPG Credit Cards and various promotions, I have earned around 100,000 Starpoints.  By using Cash & Points, I have stretched those 100,000 Starpoints out to get 40+ nights at SPG Properties. Although I have spent $1,000+ in co-pays for SPG Properties, that is my only expense for 40+ nights in a Hotel!

Not a bad deal!

-Parag

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