Bad Changes to Starwood’s Cash & Points Redemption

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I woke up to maybe the worst news in the points and miles world (okay, I might be overly dramatic about this, but thank you to reader Joey for sending this to me!)  – the Starwood Cash & Points redemption chart is changing, and for the worst. I personally think that the SPG cash & point redemptions are the best to be had, so hearing that they are increasing will definitely alter the way I value SPG points – I used to not redeem unless I could get at least 3 cents per point, and that was at a minimum. With Cash & Points, there were times I was getting an easy 7 cents per point.

So here is the new reward chart:

  • Category 1: 1,500 points + $30 (an increase of 300 points and $5) – now available to all participating hotels!
  • Category 2: 2,000 points + $35 (an increase of 400 points and $5) – now available to all participating hotels!
  • Category 3: 3,500 points + $55 (an increase of 700 points and $10)
  • Category 4: 5,000 points + $75 (an increase of 1,000 points and $15)
  • Category 5: 6,000 points + $110 (an increase of 1,200 points and $20)
  • Category 6: 10,000 points + $180 (an increase of 2,000 points and $30)
  • Category 7: 15,000 points + $275 (saying the same)
The category 1-3 rates aren’t changing significantly and these are the hotels where you can definitely get the biggest value for your points as you can sometimes get a great hotel that is charging a decent amount per night – especially internationally. It is the category 4-6 hotels that are increasing dramatically in my opinion. This will definitely raise a red flag on how to redeem points.During my previos SPG series, I did a post evaluating which redemption option to redeem at each hotel category – I will be sure to update this post as options could potentially change.
Now, the semi good news. These categories are not going into effect until March 5, 2013. Until then you can still book at the current rate, even for stays after March 5th. Additionally, SPG is putting in place cash and points options to redeem for upgrades and suites – this could actually be good, but I haven’t yet fully evaluated it, more to come on that.
This is definitely going to put a damper on my weekend, what about yours!?

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  1. My weekend not totally ruined as I’ll be burning a bunch of my SPG miles, haha. Bummer about the changes. I do like the addition of cash + points upgrades though. It’ll be interesting to see how that pans out.

  2. Question–If I book a hotel with the current Cash&Points rate and then need to modify the reservation dates after March 5th will I be able to do so at the original rate?

    • @Michelle – If you move to another day then you will probably be moved to a new date. If you aren’t sure on the number of days, then just book one day reservations so you can cancel individual days.

  3. Many, many bloggers had called out the SPG rewards as one of the most attractive deals out there. So it’s no surprise that they’ll be cutting back. From a comparative marketing perspective, SPG was identified as low-hanging fruit and all of the publicity virtually required an adjustment.

  4. Frankly, not nearly as bad as I feared when I read this headline. Still a phenomenomal deal. I’ve been redeeming for a $500 (and up) category 5 room – went from 8.5 cents to 6.5 cents. Yes that’s almost a 25% devaluation, but how can I really complain about a program giving me 6.5 cents. Still the first credit card I will always use. Same with the $300 category 4 room – 6 cents to 4.5 is still a great deal. And when you factor in the savings on taxes…

    • @Jeff – you are correct, still an amazing deal and well worth the cash + points valuation, but still a decline. Overall, still a good deal.

  5. Actually I just looked at my rate for next Xmas. Cat 5 room would be $829. Getting 16 cents/point for my cash and points reservation (more since I’m not counting tax). At 12 cents/point, I will still love SPG just as much.

    (Moderator – can combine this with above post if you want)

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