Starwood’s Best Hotel Redemption Option May Not Be Available Online.

Related: Starwood AMEX Linky (Best credit card out there!)


The thing I love about Starwood is exactly what confuses so many. There are just so many ways to use Starwood points that it’s hard to know which usage is best.

This much I can tell you, on stays of less than 5 night the Cash & Points redemption option is awesome.
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Background information (SPG experts, feel free to skip this part!): There will always be a debate on whether you are better off using your Starwood Starpoints on hotel stays or transferring them into miles.

When you transfer them into miles you get a 25% bonus, so 20,000 Starpoints becomes 25,000 miles on dozens of airlines. You are better off earning Starpoints with credit card spending than earning miles on traditional mileage credit cards as you will earn more miles by transferring Starpoints into miles than you will by just earning miles. Plus you’ll have the flexibility to choose from dozens of airlines. And there are some crazy mileage redemption options like where 20,000 Starpoints will net 50,000 LAN kilometers, enough for 4 round-trip tickets between London and Paris on BA or 3 round-trip tickets between NYC and Toronto or Montreal without any fuel surcharges. Or 20,000 Starpoints can become 25,000 Air France/KLM Flying Blue miles, enough for a Round-trip ticket to Israel during promo periods, albeit saddled with a few hundred dollars of European-style fuel surcharges. Or pump them into AA to help you get to your goal of lifetime elite status with free systemwide upgrades….I can go on and on but for that you’ll have to check out dansdeals.com/forums

Yes, there are truly tons of mileage options, and with each airline having dozens of partners it can definitely get overwhelming.

Or you can redeem for hotel stays that can be even more lucrative then miles. And they’re often fully refundable until the day of the stay!

-The traditional Starpoint hotel usage allows you to book a room at any hotel without any capacity controls. Even if it is peak season (think Vancouver during the Olympics!) and rooms are a small fortune, you can still redeem the same amount of Starpoints for a room, starting at just 2,000 Starpoints per night depending on what category (1-7) the hotel is in. Plus when you redeem 4 nights with points in this manner, the 5th night is free!

-Another variation is the nights and flights option where you get 5 free nights and 50,000 miles for less Starpoints than it would normally cost to book both separately. A great option for those needing miles and hotel rooms.

-Finally there is one of my favorites, the Cash And Points option which is often a bargain. I’ve gotten $500 rooms for just 2,800 Starpoints + $45 for a night with Cash And Points. Do the math, that’s a value of over 16 cents per Starpoint! ($500-$45=$455/2,800 Starpoints=16.25cpp. And that’s not even counting the upgrade from the room into a 3 balcony suite normally costing over $1,500 per night!) There are some truly amazing values out there with Cash And Points.

The only problem with Cash And Points is that unlike with the traditional Starpoint hotel usage the rooms are capacity controlled.
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Unfortunately Starwood’s website, SPG.com, will often not display Cash And Points nights even when they are available.

Case in point, I was just trying to book a night for my brother at the Sheraton Detroit/Novi for tonight. The lowest available prepaid rate is $170 with tax. The traditional Starpoint rate for the Category 2 property is 4,000 points, or a value of 4.25 cents per Starpoint, not bad. SPG.com showed no availability for Cash & Points, in fact it says “Cash & Points is currently unavailable at this hotel.” Participation in the Cash & Points program is indeed voluntary for Category 1 and 2 properties.

However my brother called the hotel which confirmed that they do participate in Cash & Points. A phone call later to the Platinum concierge desk and he was booked for just 1,600 Starpoints+$30. That’s a value of $170-$30=$140/1,600 Starpoints=a whopping 8.75 cents per Starpoint!

Yes, it would be nice if SPG.com would show the correct availability, but don’t forget to call up Starwood to see if Cash & Points is available for your dates! With rates starting at just 1,200 Starpoints + $25 they can be too good to pass up!

Even if Starwood over the phone tells you that there is no Cash & Points availability, I would still recommend calling up your desired hotel and ask for the reservations manager. Try to appeal to them to open up a Cash & Points room for you. If they are not full, there is a good chance they’ll do it for you. Anecdotal reports on the Dansdeals Forums show that members have had success with this tactic.

Good luck and keep on earning and spending those Starpoints wisely!

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36 Responses to “Starwood’s Best Hotel Redemption Option May Not Be Available Online.”

  1. David Says:
    1

    Just did the same in Milwaukee WI. It was a category 2 and cash and points was not showing online. I called SPG and they were able to book it for me: $30 and 1600 points. I still had my $25 SPG gift cheque which they gave out last year to gold members and was set to expire at the end of the month. In all, i paid $5 and 1600 points for a room that would have cost me $120.

    ReplyReply
  2. Dan/Ctownbochur Says:
    2

    @David:
    Nice! Thanks for the confirmation that this wasn’t a one-time fluke!

    ReplyReply
  3. me Says:
    3

    Great post. I should jave tried this in the past… Good to know for the future 🙂

    ReplyReply
  4. chaim Says:
    4

    Any tips on getting platinum status?

    ReplyReply
  5. avigayil Says:
    5

    wow daniel!
    thanks for this wonderful update!
    I’m wondering whatever happened to the us mint as a way to rack up points…. will the purchases post as a cash advance?
    can you update us on that please?

    ReplyReply
  6. avigayil Says:
    6

    its not even that i want to just quickly deposit the $$ at the bank….
    I want to pay the rent using coins instead of check in order to gain a few thousand points a month lol and then let my awful landlord deal with those coins!

    ReplyReply
  7. Anonymous Says:
    7

    Same thing for me last year. I booked sheratot in israel fro my parents. it showed nothing available for cash and points online, but i called and booked a full week for them with cash and points on the phone!

    ReplyReply
  8. Leo Says:
    8

    Just stayed at the Sheraton Lincoln Harbor just outside of NYC. The lowest rate was $179/night. Got it for $60 plus 4000 starwood points. I think that gives a value of .03 cents per point but they also upgraded me to an executive suite. And on top of that, I earned more than 400 starwood points for that stay – not sure why. Maybe because of the $60 I spent.

    Definitely the cash and points option are well worth it. It would just be great if there were other ways to earn Starwood points.

    ReplyReply
  9. Dan/Ctownbochur Says:
    9

    @chaim:
    Get top-tier status at another hotel chain and get matched.

    @avigayil:
    Yes, you can still use the US Mint to get points on most cards. Some cards consider it a cash equivalent and you won’t earn miles, but you won’t be charged.

    If you explain to the mint the reason for wanting more coins they can lift order limit restrictions off of your account.

    ReplyReply
  10. Dan/Ctownbochur Says:
    10

    By the way guys, the same advice holds true for a mileage stuff.
    Don’t trust online or phone availability exclusively, either of those methods can give you wrong availability, you just need to do all your research.

    ReplyReply
  11. Leo Says:
    11

    I just checked my Starpoints account and I am guessing that this only applies to cash and points. The stays count for platinum status whereas if you pay only with points, i would imagine that they would not count for platinum status.

    Maybe Dan can look into this

    ReplyReply
  12. wondering Says:
    12

    dan, whats the easiest hotel to get top-tier status?

    ReplyReply
  13. Queensdeals Says:
    13

    @Dan: Nice Post 😉
    Works like a charm

    ReplyReply
  14. Anonymous Says:
    14

    btw, i signed up for spg amex recently, and received 15,000 points for each new acciunt (personal/business) for me and my wife even though it was only supposed to be 10,000!!

    ReplyReply
  15. avigayil Says:
    15

    Ok so i just called amex and they said that currently its NOT going through as a cash advance, meaning i will get the points
    yay!

    ReplyReply
  16. Brezch Says:
    16

    Dan, Will the mint count for miles against Starwood?

    ReplyReply
  17. avigayil Says:
    17

    2010 Circulating $1 Coin Direct Ship Rolls – Native American – Government – Great Tree of Peace

    Is that what i should buy?
    There was a lot to choose from so im not sure :/

    ReplyReply
  18. Leo Says:
    18

    @avigayil:

    Yes, those are the only ones that you pay $1 per coin

    ReplyReply
  19. dovid Says:
    19

    Do cash and point stays count toward gold status?
    thanks

    ReplyReply
  20. Avigayil Says:
    20

    Thanks

    ReplyReply
  21. d.d. Says:
    21

    Will the Hyatt gold passport program match my starwood platinum status?

    ReplyReply
  22. Dan/Ctownbochur Says:
    22

    @dovid:
    They aren’t supposed to.

    @d.d.:
    Yes.

    ReplyReply
  23. abe Says:
    23

    which Hotel chain is the easiest to get top-teir status?

    ReplyReply
  24. Michael Says:
    24

    How do you get starwood to status match?

    ReplyReply
  25. David Says:
    25

    Would starwood match my hyatt platinum status i got a few weeks ago when they offered it for free?

    ReplyReply
  26. Leo Says:
    26

    @dovid:

    Like I posted before, I just used the cash and points option to stay one night at a sheraton and now my account says i have 49 stays left to reach platinum. So yes, it does count.

    ReplyReply
  27. Leo Says:
    27

    @Anonymous:

    Which link did you use?

    ReplyReply
  28. Leo Says:
    28

    If I sign up for multiple starwood cards, will they post to the same spg account? can I sign my wife up and receive the points on my account?

    ReplyReply
  29. Dan/Ctownbochur Says:
    29

    @Leo:
    Starwood allows free point transfers between accounts with the same address on file.
    So you and your wife can sign up for cards with your own accounts and then combine the points later on.

    ReplyReply
  30. tzvi Says:
    30

    does starwood consolidate accts if you and ur wife have a card?

    ReplyReply
  31. Dan/Ctownbochur Says:
    31

    @tzvi:
    Again, Starwood allows free point transfers between accounts with the same address on file.

    ReplyReply
  32. tzvi Says:
    32

    im not talking about point transfers . im talking about consolidating credit cards so that i wont have to cancel my wifes. i rather sign her up get the bonuses and consolidate hers to mine acct

    ReplyReply
  33. rob Says:
    33

    How mant points is it to upgrade to a “balcony room”. And what is the process, do you first make a reservation and then upgrade?

    ReplyReply
  34. Dan/Ctownbochur Says:
    34

    @tzvi:
    Aha, So you mean to ask does AMEX (not Starwood) consolidate different people’s accounts together.
    I’m not aware of any credit card company that would let you do such a thing.
    Just open the card, get the points, use the card for a year for free, and then cancel. It’s not a big deal. Also many times they will give you points or an account credit not to cancel-see the Forums for more info on that.

    ReplyReply
  35. Leo Says:
    35

    @Dan/Ctownbochur:

    Can this be done online or I need to call them?

    ReplyReply
  36. Dan/Ctownbochur Says:
    36

    @Leo:
    You need to call them.

    ReplyReply

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