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Update: The 30,000-point bonus is no longer available. The bonus is now 25,000 points for the Starwood Amex business and personal cards.The big news in the hotel world this week is that Starwood Preferred Guest members can now redeem for rooms at the brand’s highest Category 7 properties using Cash & Points.
Previously, SPG’s Cash & Points option was only available for Category 1-6 hotels, and to stay at a Category 7 hotel using points, you’d have to spend 30,000-35,000 points for a free night. With the new Cash & Points option in this category, however, you only have to spend 15,000 points + $275. So spending $275 saves you 15,000 points–it’s basically like buying back your points for 1.83 cents each. A decent value considering I conservatively value SPG points at around 3 cents each.
Before you get too excited and start booking luxury rooms all over the world, however, this option is only available at 13 out of 24 Category 7 hotels:
Cervo Hotel, Costa Smeralda Resort
The Chatwal, New York City
The Gritti Palace, Venice
Hotel President Wilson Geneva
The St. Regis Aspen Resort
The St. Regis Bahia Beach, Puerto Rico
The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort
The St. Regis Bali Resort
The St. Regis Florence
The St. Regis Mardavall Mallorca Resort
The St. Regis New York
W South Beach
W Paris – Opera
Still, at least there are some options where there were none before.
So let’s take a quick example to see if it works at the St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort, where I stayed a few months ago. I searched for a couple dates in August, and all I got was either the full payment or full points options. Remember, though, you can select the “Browse Dates/Rates” to pull up a calendar with availability for the different rates.
It was telling me that all the dates in August were available for check-in using Cash & Points, however, when I logged on to actually book the rate, it wasn’t available. For any of the dates I checked in August, September or October. Plus, if you notice in the screenshot, it says that Cash & Points is not available for this hotel.
As you can see, the same thing happened at the W Paris – Opera.
It looks like SPG has only been able to partially update its website so that members can find the dates Cash & Points is available at these hotels, but not to actually book those rates online.
When I called SPG directly at 888-625-4988, they were able to offer me the Cash & Points rate on the dates I had found online, though, so for now, it looks like if you want to book Cash & Points at one of these hotels, you’ll have to call in to book the room directly with an agent – it’s a bit of extra effort but at least there’s no charge for doing so.
Let’s say that I was able to book these rooms hypothetically. That St. Regis room would have cost me $409. Using Cash & Points, I’d be paying $275 + 15,000 points, which would each be worth 0.83 cents. Not a good value. At the W Paris, the regular rate was 320 euros, or $390, so my redemption value would be worth even less!
In order to make a Cash & Points redemption at one of these properties worth it to me, I’d like to get at least 2 cents in value out of my points, which means the room would have to cost at least $575. Granted, rooms at many of these properties do go for that rate in higher seasons, but that also means Cash & Points redemption availability will be much more scarce. For instance, I found a room available for a single night at the end of August at the W Paris according to the rate calendar (though again, I couldn’t book it online at spg.com) that would normally go for 450 euros, or around $550. That would be getting closer to the mark.
As always, when you’re thinking about redeeming your points, calculate exactly what your points will be worth and see if the redemption is a good value for you. Though some of the value you get out of Cash & Points bookings on Category 7 hotels might not be worth it to you, at least there are more options now, and chances are that you can find some pretty great redemption situations if you look.