Starwood Preferred Guest’s Cash & Points redemptions are some of the best values in travel. While most hotel points are worth a fraction of a cent and dropping, SPG Cash & Points redemptions can get 2, 3, or even more cents of value from Starpoints.
Cash & Points stays are not pure awards where you use points for a free room. Instead, they are awards where you combine (as the name suggests) some cash with fewer points than you would ordinarily need for a free night–stretching your cash and points farther. Also, unlike free night awards, Cash & Points awards are capacity controlled.
That means, kind of like airline awards, you need to search for space and be flexible to use Cash & Points awards.
Three weeks ago, Starwood increased the cash and points prices of Cash & Points awards. At the time, Starwood claimed there would be an increase in the availability of the awards. Ben and Summer have weighed in, saying they have found increased availability. And I agree. Availability has improved dramatically.
Here’s the new Cash & Points chart.
Where’s the best value?
That depends on your hotel preferences. If you want opulence, and you’d otherwise pay $500 or more per night, then the top tiers might have real value.
If you’re like me–and you like very cheap accommodation–then the best value will be at the bottom tiers–1,500 points and $30 is pretty incredible for four walls and a roof.
Searching for Space
Cash & Points space is capacity controlled. You can search for it on SPG.com here.
These search results are a little messy, though, so I prefer to use the Wandering Aramean’s search tool.
I did several searches for the same July weekend in cities throughout the world, and I found great Cash & Points availability.
Let’s look at some of the Los Angeles properties, which are available the same weekend.
That works out to more than 5.5 cents per point in value from each Starpoint since 5,000 points would save $274 plus tax per night.
The other hotels have less of an eye popping cents per point value. The Sheraton in Anaheim is also a Category 4 that costs 5,000 points and $75.
But since it only costs $209, the cents per point on the Cash & Points redemption is around 2.8 cents.
Sheraton Ontario is a Category 2, so it only costs 2,000 points and $35.
But it only retails for $79 per night, so the 2,000 Starpoints only save about 2.2 cents each (and a 3,000 point Free Night Award is a better deal.)
Cash & Points Value
From Cash & Points awards, you should always be able to exceed two cents in value per point. Even on “bad” redemptions like the Sheraton Ontario, we can get more than 2 cents per point. And on some phenomenal redemptions, we can get 5 cents or more per point.
Cash & Points awards still remain the best use of Starpoints. The second best use remains transferring Starpoints to airline partners like US Airways, American Airlines, and Delta in increments of 20,000 to receive 5,000 mile bonuses.
The average value you can get from Cash & Points awards, even if you don’t value hotels at their retail rate should be over 2.5 cents per Starpoint.
Load Up On Starpoints
The Starwoord Preferred Guest from American Express earns 25,000 bonus Starpoints after spending $5,000 in the first six months. Those 30,000 Starpoints can be used for up to twenty Cash & Points award nights. Even at a conservative 2.5 cents per point estimate, 30,000 Starpoints are worth $750.
Because the SPG American Express earns one Starpoint per dollar, and because Starpoints are more valuable than any other type of point or mile, this is one of the best cards to put everyday spending (that doesn’t fall into other cards’ bonus categories) on.
The card has no annual fee the first year, and $65 thereafter.
Application Link: Starwoord Preferred Guest from American Express
Starwood has increased the amount of cash and points needed for Cash & Points awards, but they’ve simultaneously increased the number of hotel rooms made available for such awards.
Cash & Points awards remain the best use for Starpoints–delivering 2-5+ cents of value per point, and the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express remains the best way to stock up on Starpoints.