Starwood Preferred Guest

Searching For Starwood Cash & Points Availability

By December 5, 2012 December 10th, 2013 No Comments

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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