Taking Advantage of a New Award Chart — Reader Success Story
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
Today I want to share a story from TPG reader Chang, who saved 60,000 points by rebooking a hotel reservation. Here's what he had to say:
Back in July, I booked 15 nights at the Sheraton Grand Taipei Hotel using Starpoints I earned from the sign-up bonus and spending on the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express. Using the fifth night free benefit I was able to book the whole stay for only 120,000 points (12 nights at 10,000 points per night, plus three free nights).
After SPG and Marriott Rewards combined in August, each Starpoint became three Marriott points. When I logged into my SPG account after the merger, I saw my existing reservation was also converted to 360,000 points instead of 120,000.
Due to the merger issues I read about on TPG and other travel sites, I went on the reservations website to make sure my reservation was still intact. To my pleasant surprise, I saw the redemption rate for the same room was reduced to 25,000 points per night instead of 30,000. That meant my 12 charged nights would only cost 300,000 points instead of 360,000!
Of course, when I tried to cancel and rebook my reservation online, the website refused to work. I had to call and have a customer service rep make the changes for me, and then the 60,000 points I saved were credited to my account in less than 24 hours. Anyone who made a SPG reservation before the merger should check it again to see if there's an opportunity to save points.
Hotel programs routinely shuffle properties from one award category to another — sometimes with adequate notice, and other times with no notice at all. These category changes incite a scramble to book before higher rates take effect, but they also create opportunities to save if you have an existing reservation and the cost of your stay is going down.
If you book a room far in advance, I recommend re-checking award rates close to your trip. Make it a priority if the period between booking and check-in overlaps the beginning of the calendar year, since that's when hotel programs tend to schedule category changes and other updates. Confirming reservations is a good practice anyway, so verifying the cost of your stay should take minimal extra effort.
Fifth night free benefits (along with IHG's new fourth night free benefit) offer an easy way to stretch your points. One standout aspect of Marriott's offer is that you can stack it like Chang did for multiple free nights. At a property where even the flexible member rate is often above $200 per night, getting a few nights on the house put a lot less strain on both his wallet and loyalty account.
I love this story and I want to hear more like it! To thank Chang for sharing his experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending him a $200 airline gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own award travel success stories to email@example.com; be sure to include details about how you earned and redeemed your rewards, and put “Reader Success Story” in the subject line. Feel free to also submit your most woeful travel mistakes, or to contribute to our new award redemption series. If your story is published in either case, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure.
Safe and happy travels to all, and I look forward to hearing from you!
Photo courtesy by Sheraton Grand Taipei Hotel