I recently received the email below from Starwood about their co-branded American Express credit card.
Starwood is a hotel group that offers luxury with the W, St. Regis and Westin chains, midlevel comfort with the Sheraton and Le Meridien brands and more budget-friendly hotels like Four Points and Aloft. The full list is linked here.
The signup bonus for this credit card, until September 3, is 10,000 Starpoints after first purchase and an additional 20,000 points after spending $5,000 in the first six months of card membership. That’s equivalent to an average spend of $800 a month. That amount can be construed as a lot for some folks, but with the ability to spend $1000 monthly fee-free with Amazon Payments, it’s easier than you think!
Let’s just pretend for this blog post that you have spent $5,000 in the first six months of card membership, leaving you with 35,000 Starpoints 🙂
I like Starwood and the Starwood Preferred Guest, or SPG, program for several reasons. First, the many brands give you myriad hotel options for vacation and business. Second, the cash and points policy is fantastic for redeeming at the upscale brands without spending all your points on only one hotel night. Below, you can see the cash and points award chart.
|Cash and Points Award Chart|
Let’s work through some of the cash and point totals together. Since the credit card bonus until September 3 is 30,000 points, you could stay 2 nights in Miami at the Category 7 W South Beach, rather than only one, as well as have 5,000 Starpoints remaining. I made a random booking for a weekend in October and a “Wonderful Studio” was $609 at the W South Beach per night, or $1218 for both nights.
With cash and points, the cash outlay is only $550 – still too expensive for my budget, but definitely more reasonable for a luxe, SoBe hotspot. A further way bring the price down is to go with a friend, which brings the cost back to $275, or $137.50 a night. That is still expensive for me, but I could probably justify the price after quaffing mojitos. Still, Category 7 hotels on cash and points don’t seem to be a great bargain.
Let’s go down to a Category 5 hotel, which include the Ws in Austinand Montreal(my review), the Westin Riverfront Villas in Beaver Creek, Colorado, and the St. Regis Houston. Since I’m going to stay at the W Austin in November, I will use it as my example. The W Austin – on cash and points – costs 6,000 Starpoints and $110 a night. Staying with a friend brings the cost to $55 a night, which is a pretty unbelievable deal, because the night I booked, Friday, November 1, a “Spectacular Room” was going for $579. So, with the 35,000 points you could accrue with the SPG credit card, you could spend 5 nights at the W and pay 5 x $55, or $275, which is still less than half of $579, the out of pocket cost of that Friday night.
Sounds like a deal to me, and hopefully to you.
Let’s say you don’t want to stay 5 nights and/or spend $275. You don’t have to, since a free award night chart exists as well!
|Free Night Award Chart|
You can get 2 nights at the W Austin (and other Category 5 hotels) – even Friday and Saturday night – for free and still have between 3,000-11,000 Starpoints left over, since a free night costs between 12,000-16,000 points per night.
Freesounds like an even better deal to me.
However, I do think the sweet spots for the free night award chart are the Category 4hotels, since you get to book an entire weekend, or Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, for free and still have 5,000 Starpoints remaining. Category 4 hotels include the Westin Spa and Resort in Los Cabos, Sheraton Mountain Vista Villas in Vail and the W New Orleans. Beach, mountains, city – take your pick for a free, fun weekend. There are also several Category 4 SPG hotels in Austin, too, to continue the previous example.
Additionally, there is no annual fee on the credit card for the first year, which means you are beating the American Express coming and going. In other words, you get benefits and pay nothing to receive them. Since it’s AmEx, you also get additional benefits like purchase protection and longer warranties – I’ll link them for you.
Bottom line is that signing up for this card and meeting the minimum spend offers you a hotel for the weekend for free for you, you and a friend/bf/gf, or you and two friends (but don’t tell the front desk about that second friend!). I can’t think of many better deals than that, so if you fancy a mini-vacation, there aren’t many credit cards better!
I must say that all credit decisions you make are your own, so please be responsible and I’m not liable for any purchases or decisions you make.
Thanks for reading – questions tweet me (at) WindowSuite or email me windowseatwindowsuite (at) gmail!