Starwood Cash and Points Chart Changing

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Now it is Starwood Preferred Guest’s turn to announce changes to their rewards program.  They are revamping their cash and points chart, and adding some new cash and points options.  The bad news is that the cash and points reservations are getting more expensive.  However, the news isn’t all bad.  Here is what SPG says about these changes:

Changes will include:

  • Adding the ability to redeem for upgraded rooms such as suites, Club Rooms, Smart Rooms, and rooms with a view, where available.*
  • Adding all Category 1 and 2 destinations worldwide.
  • Updating pricing for standard room redemption, with the intention of expanded availability.

Cash and points reservations can be tough to get, so expanded availability would be a welcome enhancement.  I also like the ability to use cash and points for non-standard rooms and suites – especially for families who have more than just one or two people traveling.

Here is the old award chart that is valid through March 5th

Here is the new chart that will go live on March 5th

In case the charts are hard to read, here is a comparison another way.  I left off non-standard rooms to keep it simple.

Category 1

Old Standard Room: 1,200 pts + $25

New Standard Room: 1,500 pts + $30

New Suites: 3,000 pts + $75

Category 2

Old Standard Room: 1,600 pts + $30

New Standard Room: 2,000 pts + $35

New Suites: 4,000 pts + $95

Category 3

Old Standard Room: 2,800 pts + $45

New Standard Room: 3,500 pts + 55

New Suites: 7,000 pts + $125

Category 4

Old Standard Room: 4,000 pts + $60

New Standard Room: 5,000 pts + $75

New Suites: 10,000 pts + $175

Category 5

Old Standard Room: 4,800 pts + $90

New Standard Room: 6,000 pts + $110

New Suites: 12,000 pts + $275

Category 6

Old Standard Room: 8,000 pts + $150

New Standard Room: 10,000 pts + $180

New Suites: 20,000 pts + $450

Category 7

Old Standard Room: 15,000 pts + $275

New Standard Room: 15,000 pts + $275

New Suites: 30,000 pts + $625

I really don’t like seeing award chart changes like this one as it means all redemptions are more expensive (about an average of 20% more expensive on first glance), but it happens.  See this post about the constant of change.  At least SPG gave almost two month’s notice and most of the changes aren’t terribly painful.  Since I travel as a family, I really like the option of redeeming for a suite at a reasonable price (at least at some of the lower category levels).  Time will tell if availability really is better or not with cash and points availability.  I’m withholding final judgement on this change until we see what happens with cash and points availability.  If the cash and points rates were no longer attractive enough for hotels to make them available to customers with any regularity then keeping rates low but not available didn’t really help anyone.  I would love to see some increased options for earning SPG points like shopping portals or spending bonuses, but for now your best bet is via stays, promotions, and of course getting and using the Starwood Preferred Guest Amex and/or Starwood Preferred Guest Business Amex.

As is posted by SPG Insider on this thread, there will also be properties going up and down in category in early March.  I will be sure to share that list when it is available.  Let’s hope those changes are minimal

What are your thoughts?  Does this change your opinion of the value of SPG points?  Were you finding many cash and points rates in recent months?


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  1. Will you be able to book stays in the future (months ahead or more) with the current rates, if you book before March 5th? Thank you for your help 🙂

  2. The ‘benefit’ of being able to do cash and points for suites is far outweighed by the bad news of both increased points and cash. It amazes me how you can say cash and points is going up by roughly 20% and that this is “not terribly painful”.

  3. It really devalues SPG points. It obviously is nothing but bad news for points plus cash for standard rooms. The idea of opening up the option to use point plus cash for room upgrades sounds positive but, looking at the rates listed for these uprages, especially for the higher end properties, makes this not very appealing, at least to me. I hope this is the extent of their award changes.

  4. wow that is terrible news. It’s now at best slightly better than just redeeming points straight up, but those don’t have capacity controls and have 5th night free

    Agree with @Jay…. putting the CC links in a post like this is pretty self serving. Obvious your goal at the end wasn’t to “remind” us of the best ways to get SPG points, but an excuse to put those links in

  5. What does this mean for already reserved stays with Points + Cash? I made a reservation for May, 2013. Will I be paying at the new rate?

  6. Thomas, yes.
    I agree with those who don’t like to see this change!
    Tom, well compared to the recent Wyndham 281% increase and today’s Priority Club increases that is averaging around the 40% range for many popular properties, 20% doesn’t seem as bad…especially if availability actually increases. I don’t like it at all, but it isn’t as outrageous as some other recent examples so perhaps I am a bit hardened to it. I agree it is absolutely a devaluation.

  7. I’m 75% of the way through doing a plat challenge, I’m considering just calling it quits and dropping it. The main reason I liked Starwood was because of cash and points.

  8. “20% doesn’t seem as bad…especially if availability actually increases”

    Sigh… availability isn’t going to increase out of the goodness of SPG’s hearts. It’s going to increase because hotels will be more inclined to offer it when it’s more expensive

    It’s not so much an “enhancement” of the program as it is a natural effect of the devaluation

    If you quadruple the prices of C&P, SPG will probably “enhance” C&P so that they’re 100% available!

    • Steve, totally agree. But if many hotels weren’t offering it because it wasn’t in their best interest financially based on the old rates then leaving the rates too low to be useful wasn’t helping anyone. I still found some cash and points, but not near as much as even a year ago.
      Zz, Hyatt remains my favorite….though I really think time will tell in terms of how bad this is or isn’t. If availability really increases it won’t be near as bad as if it doesn’t.

  9. The way I see Starwood Cash & Points is that they basically give you the Priceline price + a nominal number of points and you get an elite night credit and your elite benefits

    Take the Westin Palace, Milan for example. Cat 5, so 4800 pts + $90 under the old pricing. And the cash price matches up quite closely with what they sell it for on Priceline. I took this from

    Nov 2012 Nov 3 – Nov 4 (Weekend trip) $86 / night
    Nov 2012 Nov 2 – Nov 3 (Weekend trip) $99 / night
    Oct 2012 Nov 2 – Nov 3 (Weekend trip) $100 / night
    Oct 2012 Oct 25 – Oct 27 (Weekend trip) $92 / night
    Jun 2012 Oct 25 – Oct 27 (Weekend trip) $92 / night

    So now they want significantly more than the priceline price – 6000 pts and $110. I think I will just take the Priceline option.

  10. If it’s not really a much better deal than straight up using points, then it doesn’t really matter how widely available it is

    When you factor in a 15% or so tax on the cash portion, I would never use C&P at category 1,2,5,6,7 anymore – so don’t really care how widely available it is there

    Even 3’s and 4’s are at best a slightly better deal, and only if it’s for less than 5 nights

  11. For example, category 5’s, if you a night costs 12k points, and you assume a 15% tax on any cash portion, you’re essentially “buying” 6K points at over 2.1 cents a point

    Any cities with a greater than 15% tax, you’re buying them at even more

    Plus no 5th night free, plus capactiy controls

    Nothing short of a huge devaluation. In some cases where it now “never” makes sense to use it, they might as well have gotten rid of the benefit

  12. I guess this gives more reason to transfer to airline miles.

    For every 20,000 points you transfer you earn a 5,000-point bonus. That means you’re essentially earning 1.25 miles per Starwood point

    • @Ric, I know, but if you just wanted an easier way to compare side by side thought it might be helpful. If not, just click the charts. 😉

  13. So if you can upgrade to a suite with cash & points I wonder where that places is the Platinum suite upgrade night Awards. Who has PRIORITY ? Will these paid for upgrades trump complimentary Platinum upgrades and if so, what added value is there for Plats on upgrades?

  14. @Drew

    Correct, that is now unquestionably the best use of Starpoints now.

    And if that’s the case, then SPG Amex is probably not the best card to put general spend on anymore

  15. Very sad news, indeed. But it may also explain why I have found almost no C+P availability of late–both in the US and Europe.

  16. It’s amazing but Club Carlson seems to be slowly rising to the top. The other hotel programs are making CC more attractive with every change.

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