Around our home, we’re always dreaming about (and planning) our next trip.
In 2012, we’re planning on doing a lot of traveling, and of course I don’t want to pay a lot for our travels. We’ve got a decent amount of Starwood points that we’ve earned from the Starwood American Express, but not enough to cover all our our nights. So I decided I would explore the possibility of using Starwood Cash and Points instead of making the full booking with Starwood points. But, which is the cheapest option –Starwood Points or Starwood Cash and Points?
Here are some facts and assumptions of hotels up to category 4. (If you want to see the terms and policies for all cash and points, click here.)
|Category||Points Reqd.||Cash + Points||Est. Value*|
|Category 1||2,000 weekend
|1,200 + $25**||$100|
|Category 2||3,000 weekend
|1,600 + $30**||$125|
|Category 3||7,000 per night
5th night free
|Category 4||10,000 per night
5th night free
|4,000 + $60||$175|
*Complete guess without any empirical foundation. However, the value amount doesn’t affect which is cheaper – all points or cash and points.
**Offered at Asia Pacific, U.S., and Canadian hotels only
Should You Book with Points or Cash and Points?
So, for this little experiment, let’s assume you were taking a vacation to Asia Pacific for five nights. 3 nights would be over a weekend, and the 2 other nights are weekdays.
|Total points||Value per point||Cash and points||Value per points|
|Category 1||12,000||4.1 cents per point||6,000 + $125||6.25 cents per point|
|Category 2||17,000||3.67||8,000 + $150||5.93|
|Category 3||28,000||2.67||14,000 + $225||3.75|
|Category 4||40,000||2.19||20,000 + $300||2.88|
Thus, in each and every case, your points are more valuable when you use them as cash and points instead of doing a full booking with your points.
Factors to Keep in Mind
- If you have a virtually unlimited supply of Starwood points where you have enough to continually book everything with full points, that obviously makes the most sense.
- From my research, it seems like both have similar cancelation policies, but you will want to check with your actual hotel. At the time of booking, your points will be removed from your account and you will pay the cash portion when you check in.
- Neither a full points or a cash and points option allow you to earn credits for your stay.
- The best way to get Starwood points fast is with the Starwood American Express.
The Ultimate One-Two Punch: Starwood Cash and Points + Venture Rewards
I mentioned last week about the Venture Rewards 110,000 potential credit card bonus. If you didn’t do it right away, it might just be too late since they are only going to give away a billion miles.
However, if you use cash and points, you can use your Starwood points to cover the points requirement and then the credit from your Venture Rewards card to cover the cash portion. Sweet!
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