Posted by Ric Garrido

Starwood Preferred Guest Cash & Points is adding upgraded rooms and suites as a redemption option beginning March 5, 2013. This change opens up another potential avenue to savings for SPG members who want to redeem points for a suite.

The change also likely means fewer upgraded rooms and suites will be available across the Starwood Hotels system for SPG elite complimentary upgrades at many hotels as Cash & Points upgraded room bookings increase.

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New SPG Cash & Points Awards chart effective March 5, 2013.

SPG Cash & Points analysis of changes March 5, 2013 (Part 1) examined the 25% increase in points cost for the Cash & Points Standard Room and the 17% to 25% increase in the cash component of these awards.

Category 1 and 2 hotels worldwide will participate in Cash & Points awards beginning March 5, 2013. My analysis in Part 1 shows this change adds only an additional 40 hotels out of about 280 hotels in Category 1 and 2.

Do the new SPG Cash & Points Awards choices offer “good” value?

This post looks at the new SPG Cash & Points standard, upgrade and suite awards. I personally still want to find a redemption value of $35 per 1,000 points I redeem for SPG award nights.

I created tables to show what the Starwood Hotel room rate must be to get that $35/1,000 points redemption value from these new SPG Cash & Points award choices.

My goal is to save at least $35 cash for every 1,000 points redeemed for SPG awards. This means if I spend 3,000 points redeeming points for an award stay, then I want my points to save $105 compared to the published room rate for that Starwood Hotel. I have not lowered my valuation of Starpoints with the SPG Cash & Points changes. For me, the changes mean there might be fewer Starwood Hotels where I will get good value hotel stay awards.

SPG Cash & Points Standard Award vs. Hotel Published Room Rate

Redemption value = $35 per 1,000 Starpoints.

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Table shows the room rate needed to make the points spent on SPG Cash & Points Standard Room Award a good redemption value at $35 cash saved for every 1,000 Starpoints redeemed. (Click on image to open large format in new window).

Finding SPG Category 2 and 3 hotels with rates higher than these will be common. $530 for a category 6 hotel room rate is getting into the high rate zone where many SPG category 6 hotels will not have standard room rates over $530. Yet, some category 6 and 7 hotels will have rates this high.

SPG Cash & Points Upgrade Room Award vs. Hotel Published Room Rate

Redemption value = $35 per 1,000 Starpoints.

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Table shows the room rate needed to make the points spent on SPG Cash & Points Upgrade Room Award a good redemption value at $35 cash saved for every 1,000 Starpoints redeemed.

The SPG Cash & Points Upgrade Room award actually looks like a good value award for someone without elite status. A question to ask is whether these awards will result in less complimentary upgrades for SPG elite members? Another question is will the room upgrade category be confirmed and known by the member at time of booking?

These SPG Cash & Points upgraded room awards look like potentially good deals compared to the Standard Room Cash & Points and a total price point far lower than booking a Cash & Points Suite Award.

SPG Cash & Points Suite Award vs. Hotel Published Room Rate

Redemption value = $35 per 1,000 Starpoints.

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Table shows the room rate needed to make the points spent on SPG Cash & Points Suite Award a good redemption value at $35 cash saved for every 1,000 Starpoints redeemed.

I look at these suite rates and think that there are not many hotels where I will find that kind of value in high category hotels.

Lowering my redemption value goal of $35 per 1,000 Starpoints to $25 per 1,000 points redeemed is reasonable if I am truly seeking a confirmed suite upgrade for a specific hotel. 

The $25/1,000 Starpoints Consideration

Some readers probably have far higher earning ability in Starpoints and do not value them so highly. For these credit card earning and Starwood truly frequent guests I created tables showing the room rate needed to get $25 per 1,000 Starpoints redemption value from SPG Cash & Points awards.

SPG Cash & Points Standard Award vs. Hotel Published Room Rate

Redemption value = $25 per 1,000 Starpoints.

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Table shows the room rate needed to make the points spent on SPG Cash & Points Standard Room Award a fair redemption value at $25 cash saved for every 1,000 Starpoints redeemed. (Click on image to open large format in new window).

SPG Cash & Points Upgrade Room Award vs. Hotel Published Room Rate

Redemption value = $25 per 1,000 Starpoints.

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SPG Cash & Points Suite Award vs. Hotel Published Room Rate

Redemption value = $25 per 1,000 Starpoints.

$25 per 1,000 Starpoints is a fair redemption value, and possibly a good value, when you really desire a room upgrade or suite for your hotel stay.

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Table shows the room rate needed to make the points spent on SPG Cash & Points Suite Award for an upgraded room a fair redemption value at $25 cash saved for every 1,000 Starpoints redeemed.

Basics of SPG Cash & Points Awards

  • Cash & Points are capacity-controlled and there are blackout dates.
  • Cash & Points award stays do not earn Starpoints on the cash portion paid.
  • Cash & Points award stays do not earn credit for SPG promotions.
  • Cash & Points award stays earn elite night and stay credit for SPG Gold and Platinum qualification.
  • Cash & Points award stays earn Starpoints on incidental hotel spend during the stay (e.g. restaurant and other incidental charges to your room folio).

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Effective March 5, 2013 SPG Cash & Points have upgraded Rooms and Suites option.

Thoughts on the SPG Cash & Points Award Changes

My Cash & Points award stays over the past five years typically saved $30 to $60 per 1,000 points I redeemed. I don’t want to start spending my points for Cash & Points suites at a rate of $15 to $20 per 1,000 points for suite upgrades. The option to upgrade rooms looks like it has potential.

SPG Cash & Points awards are one of the best hotel stay values in loyalty programs. The 20 to 25% added cost for these rewards means the awards will be less of a bargain. Looking at the price points for room rates in the SPG tables I created convinces me there will still be plenty of hotel rate savings opportunities after the price increase in March 2013.

SPG Data Point: I held SPG Platinum status from 2003 through 2011. During that time I was totally happy with the rate of complimentary upgrades on my Starwood Hotel stays. I received an upgraded room probably 90% of the time to high floor, corner room, specialty room. I received a junior suite or suite about 25% to 35% of the time depending on specific hotels I stayed each year.

SPG allows members to buy up to 20,000 Starpoints per calendar year at the rate of $35 per 1,000 points. SPG sold Starpoints for $28 per 1,000 points for much of Q4-2012. 

When you can buy Starpoints for $28 per 1,000 and get redemption value of $35 to $50 per 1,000 points through Cash & Points award stays, then the value proposition favors the frequent guest staying in Starwood Hotels.

In general the cash spent to save Starpoints for Cash & Points awards is always a discount rate compared to paying full points for the Standard Award rate. This is true for SPG, Priority Club, and HHonors award stays.

Club Carlson operates a little differently and I do not think Points & Money are always a better deal for their hotels compared to paying the standard award rate.

In my opinion spending as few points as possible on hotel free night awards makes paying a cash component for a hotel award stay a better deal than spending points for standard award nights.

I try to conserve my hotel points for other hotel discount award nights. This is a good strategy unless you are the rare bird who travels or spends enough to build up more loyalty points than you are able to spend.

 

Ric Garrido, writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler, shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests. You can follow Loyalty Traveler on Twitter and Facebook and RSS feed.

7 Responses

  1. great series, very informative, I will definitely bookmark.

    Comment by longtime reader on January 19th, 2013 at 11:51 am
  2. SPG sold Starpoints for $25 per 1,000 points in the years before 2012.

  3. @kalboz – must have been many years before 2012. Starpoints sold for $50 per 1,000 points up to about 2006. I don’t ever recall them selling for $25 per 1,000 points.

    Comment by Ric Garrido on January 20th, 2013 at 5:59 am
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