One of the primary decisions to make when traveling is whether to burn cash or burn points. Earning points primarily through credit card spend may give less consideration to paid stays. Other travelers want paid stays for elite status and hotel stay promotion bonuses. I primarily earn points from hotel stays.
For my Chicago April 2014 trip planning I compared the paid rate using Starwood Hotels Birth Rate promotion to the availability and cost of SPG Cash & Points awards.
Pay Your Birth Year is a rate for the second and third night based on 19xx where xx is your year of birth. My birth year is 1960 or $60 per night for the second night and some hotels offer this rate for a third night. The first night is a fixed rate that tends to be a higher rate than might otherwise be available.
Many hotels only allow the second night at Birth Year rate. Some hotels add an extra $100 to the birth year rate. This is the case for the two W hotels in Chicago.
Starwood Hotels Pay your Birth Year rate for North America hotels
Travel Objective: 7 hotel nights in Chicago in April 2014 for $700 or so while earning $500 in rebate value.
My search started with Kayak.com and SPG.com to gauge rates at downtown Chicago hotels during the first week of April.
Only three Starwood hotels under $200 per night for a 7-night stay:
Aloft Chicago City Center, SPG Category 4, $174 (AAA) $170 (nonrefundable)
Four Points Magnificent Mile, SPG Category 4, $173 (nonrefundable)
The Tremont Chicago Hotel At Magnificent Mile, SPG Category 3, $110 (nonrefundable); $127 AAA.
Birth Year Discount Rates for Starwood Hotels in Chicago
Aloft Chicago City Center $189 Night 1 + $60 Night 2 and $60 Night 3.
- $319 for three night Birth Rate stay with no penalty cancellation until day of arrival.
- $510 nonrefundable rate
- $522 AAA rate.
- 30,000 points for Standard Reward.
Save over $230 after tax with Birth Year rate and reduce nightly rate from $174 to $107 with Birth Year rate.
Four Points Magificent Mile $199 Night 1 + $60 Night 2 and $60 Night 3.
- $329 for three night Birth Year rate + tax.
- $519 nonrefundable rate
- $576 AAA rate
- 30,000 points Standard Award (I don’t have that many).
- $225 + 15,000 Cash & Points for 3 nights (I have this many)
One of the big differences is the Starwood Birth Rate is eligible for the current SPG offer for 2,500 bonus points every 5 nights. Cash & Points award stays do not count for this SPG promotion bonus points offer.
Is Starwood the best Chicago value?
These two hotels provide options to significantly cut the nightly rate for a downtown Chicago hotel to a rate closer to $100 per night rather than over $200 per night.
Availability of Starwood Birth Year rates was wide open for these two hotels.
$648 for six nights at Aloft Chicago Downtown and Four Points Chicago Magnificent Mile is only $108 per night when most hotels in similar market segment are over $140 to $175 per night. These Starwood stays earn 2,500 bonus points after 5 nights with the current SPG Bring on the Nights promotion and about 2,000 base and elite bonus Starpoints. That is about $100 to $150 in points rebate value.
The Starwood hotel rates are good, but I think I can do better with higher value promotion bonuses with Marriott, Club Carlson and IHG hotel brands while staying seven nights in Chicago in April 2014.