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Two of my favorite features in the Starwood Preferred Guest program is the Cash and Points option as well as the fifth night free award redemption. Both of these options allow members to maximize their current bank of Starpoints.
Given the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express is offering Starpoints for each of the Personal and Business cards, I thought it would be a good idea to break down two of my favorite features of the program.
Hotel Award Chart
Redeeming Starpoints for hotel stays is all dependent on the category of hotel. So it is important to first start by understanding the different categories and the required points.
As you can see, each of the categories requires a different amount of points for a free night. One of the best deals in this chart is a weekend night in category 1 or 2 hotel, just 2,000 or 3,000 Starpoints per night!
Check Starwood hotel categories here to determine how many points you’re hotel will require for a free night. Take note of the peak season, as booking a room during that season may increase the amount of Starpoints required depending on the category of hotel.
Now, let’s explore how you can reduce the amount of points for a hotel night in any of the hotel categories to increase the value you get out of your Starpoints.
Cash & Points (C&P)
Starwood’s C&P option allows members to combine points with a cash supplement to redeem for award nights. Members can use the C&P to redeem points with cash for standard, upgraded and even suite rooms. The best part, is if you don’t have enough cash to pay for a room, or don’t have enough points, you can use both and reduce the cost while increasing the value. We’ll share a detailed example on value later in the post. But for now, understand the charts below for the category of hotel redemptions.
The C&P option essentially gives members the option to purchase points. So by using cash, you are essentially buying points at the following rates (assuming peak season):
Standard Room C&P Starpoint Cost
- Category 1: ($30/(3,000 – 1,500)) = $0.02 per Starpoint
- Category 2: ($35/(4,000 – 2,000)) = $0.0175 per Starpoint
- Category 3: ($55/(7,000 – 3,500))= $0.0157 per Starpoint
- Category 4: ($75/(10,000 – 5,000)) = $0.015 per Starpoint
- Category 5: ($110/(16,000 – 6,000)) = $0.011 per Starpoint (Best Value)
- Category 6: ($180/(25,000 – 10,000)) = $0.012 per Starpoint
- Category 7: ($275/(35,000 – 15,000)) = $0.01375 per Starpoint
Fifth Night free detail
The fifth night free gives members a fifth night for free when they redeem at category 3 through 7 hotels for five consecutive nights.
You can see that if you use the fifth night free redemption, you can achieve a point savings of essentially 20%. This often causes a dilemma for us, do we stay 3 or 5 nights in a location. We virtually never stay 4 nights when using Starpoints to avoid the feeling if leaving a free night on the table.
Example Booking Comparing C&P & Hotel Award
In this example, I’ll use a sample booking to compare the C&P option against both lowest standard rate and a award night redemption at the St Regis in Mauritius.
For this example, we’ll use the St Regis Mauritius (since we can no longer go to the Grand Mauritian on Mauritius which burned down a few years ago).
- Lowest Available Standard Rate = ~$558 per night
- Standard Room Night Award Redemption = 20,000 points per night
- C&P Option = 10,000 Points + $180 USD
Since the St Regis is a category six, it only requires 10,000 points plus $180 USD using the C&P option.
The C&P Option essentially saves us 10,000 points at a cost of only $180 USD. This means instead of using the award night redemption at 20,000 points, we could buy the 10,000 points (by saving them and using cash instead) for $0.018 per point. Alternatively, if you only had 10,000 points and didn’t want to pay the $558 rate per night, you could look at it that you would get $0.0378 in value by supplementing cash with 10,000 points and saving $378 off the lowest standard rate.
So as you can see, using the C&P option can really stretch your Starpoints. With 30,000 Starpoints, once could redeem for 3 nights in the St Regis Mauritius for 30,000 points + $180 each night instead of $558 or 20,000 Starpoints per night.
As you can see, there are many places and different ways you can redeem Starpoints. Not all hotel night redemption options are created equal and not all of them make sense to everyone. So consider what redemption options work best for you when looking to redeem your Starpoints.
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