by ShannonOur July winner of the $100 dollar gift card is Nick H. Congratulations, Nick! Email your address to Rick so we can get your gift card to you. The winning tip from last week goes to MYRflyer! (Keep submitting your travel tips for a chance to win.) Here’s MYRflyer’s tip:
“When redeeming Starpoints for hotel stays, you can choose the fifth-night-free option and you are only charged for the first four nights.
This option came in handy last year when I stayed at the Sheraton Hong Kong for 12,000 points per night: 48,000 points for five nights = 2000 worth of hotel rooms I didn’t have to pay for.
Another option is to redeem for Category 2 Starwood Preferred Guest hotels on the weekend for only 3000 points vs 4000 normally.
Occasionally SPG offers a transfer bonus. For example, last year they were offering a 35% bonus when transferring starpoints to American Airlines. 40k SPF = 67,500 AA miles.”
Starwood Preferred Guest – Cash and Points
A great way to maximize SPG points and save big on hotel rooms is to utilize SPG’s cash-and-points offer. They allow you to redeem hotel nights using a combination of Starpoints and cash, which in many cases, turns out to be a pretty good value.
Cash and Points Guide: This is just a “guide” they provide and it is not all-inclusive. You must search for your destination and dates individually to confirm availability and to see if the deals really work out for you. Blackout dates do apply to some cash and points redemptions. The hotel list offers only a few examples since there are many, many more hotels in each category. I just wanted to give you a general idea of the hotels that fall under each category.
Note to all: “Guest will not receive Starpoints or airline miles for their reservations; therefore, a Cash and Points stay does not qualify as an eligible stay toward earning elite level or toward any promotions requiring nights or stays.” (Taken directly from www.spg.com.)
Category 1 Hotels (offer valid for Asia Pacific, U.S., and Canadian hotels only) — 1200 Starpoints + $25 per night.
Four Points by Sheraton: Lexington KY , Detroit Metro MI, Charlotte NC, Pittsburgh Airport PA, Manasses Battlefield VA
Category 2 Hotels (offer valid for Asia pacific,U.S. and Canadian hotels only) — 1600 Starpoints + $30 per night.
Four Points by Sheraton - Sacramento Int. Airport CA, Ventura Harbor Resort CA, Cocoa Beach FLA, Orlando Studio City FLA, Boston Logan Airport MASS, Niagara Falls NY, Portland East OR, Houston Airport.
Aloft: Phoenix Airport, Ontario-Rancho Cucamonga CA, Baltimore-Washington Intl Airport, Chapel Hill NC, Chesapeake VA, Green Bay WI
Westin: Dallas Fort-Worth Airport TX, Atlanta Airport GA
Category 3 Hotels — 2800 Starpoints + $45
Sheraton: Brussels Belgium, Zagreb Croatia, Frankfurt and Munich Germany, Athlone Ireland, Bari, Florence, Catania, Malpensa, Padova and Rome Italy, Warsaw Poland, Canary Islands Spain.
Westin: Zagreb Croatia.
Le Meridien: St Julians Hotel and Spa Malta (great for me to find out as my grandparents are from Malta and I still have a ton of family there!), Dresden Germany.
Value of Points Example: Rome Italy, Category 3, Check in 10/17/2011. Check Out 10/21/2011. Cash-and-Points was available for the Sheraton Roma Hotel and Conference Center at 2800 Starpoints + $45 U.S. Dollars. The standard rate was 252 EUROS per night, At our current exchange rate of 1.44 EUR to the US dollar, that’s $362 per night! I think 2800 Starpoints and $45 US dollars is a much better deal. When you subtract the $45 per night from the $362 per night fee, it leaves you with $317. Divide that by the total number of Starpoints required per night — in this case 2800 — and each Starpoint is worth approx 11 cents. That is great when the purchasing value from SPG is around 2 cents per point.
Category 4 – 4000 Starpoints + $60.
Westin: The Westin Grand, Berlin, Munich and Frankfurt Germany; Dublin Ireland; Dragonara Resort St. Julians Malta; Valencia Spain
Le Meridien:Vienna Austria, Brussels Belgium, Lav Split Croatia, Park Hotel Frankfurt Germany, Le Royal Hamburg Germany, Rimini Italy, Warsaw Poland, Penina Golf and Resort Portimao Portugal, Istambul Etiler Turkey (starting Nov. 14, 2011).
Sheraton: Four Points Milan Italy, Rhodes Greece, Lisboa Hotel and Spa Portugal, La Caleta Resort and Spa Costa Adeje Tenerife Canary Islands Spain, Stockholm Hotel Sweden.
Value of Points Example, Europe: I searched for a room in Brussels, Belgium, checking in on 5/16/2012 and checking out on 5/19/2012. Cash-and-Points was available for a Category 3 and Category 4 hotel. The Category 4 Sheraton Brussels Hotel deal was 4000 Starpoints and $60 dollars per night; 10,000 Starpoints or 199 Euros per night ($285.5 US). The exchange is as follows: Using 10000 Starpoints per night, each point would be valued at 0.028 of a dollar or about 3 cents. Using cash-and-points, subtracting the $60 US and dividing the remainder by the 4000 points used leaves each Starpoint at a value of 0.056 of a dollar or about 6 cents. The Category 3 available was the Four Points By Sheraton at 2800 Starpoints and $45 US per night; 7000 Starpoints or 135 Euros( $194.4 US) per night. Starpoints alone: The value would be 0.027 of a dollar or about 3 cents per point. Using cash-and-points as indicated above: The value of each Starpoint was 5 cents.
Category 5 — 4800 Starpoints + $90
Value of Points Example, The Element New York Times Square West: Checking in on 3/6/12 and checking out on3/9/12, the standard room rate is $390 US dollars per night. Using 100% points, it was 12,000 points per night, each point valued at 3 cents. Using the cash-and-points option of 4800 Starpoints and $90 US, each Starpoint was valued at 0.62 of a dollar or 6 cents.
Category 6 – 8000 Starpoints + $150 US per night.
Prince de Galles Paris France, Vedema Resort Santorini Greece, Hotel Danieli Venice Italy, Le Meridien Beach Plaza Monte Carlo Monoco, Le Meridien Picadilly London England.
Value of Points Example, The Hotel Grand in Bretagne Athens, Greece: Checking in on 2/1/2012 and checking out on 2/7/2012, the standard room rate was 245 Euros or $352.8 US per night. Using points alone, the redemption rate is 20,000 Starpoints per night valuing your points at 0.017 of a dollar or just under 2 cents each. Cash-and-points was 8000 Starpoints and $150 US per night, valuing your points at 0.025 of a dollar or 2.5 cents each.
IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card
- Annual Fee: $49 fee waived for the first year
- Foreign Fees: No
- Card Type: Hotel
The IHG Rewards Club Visa is often cited as one of the most underrated hotel credit cards, with good reason. The official offer is for 70,000 points after $1,000 spent within three months, with the first year’s fee waived. The card comes with an annual free night certificate that can be used at any IHG property, including Intercontinental hotels - making this certificate worth upwards of 50,000 points. This is far more generous than some other hotel cards, which limit the categories in which free night certificates can be redeemed.
Cardholders earn 5 points per dollar at IHG hotels; 2 points per dollar at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants; 1 point per dollar everywhere else. Moreover, you’ll get a 10% rebate on award redemptions, up to 100,000 points per year. The card also comes with Platinum status, though that doesn’t get you much with IHG. Still, this is a fantastic card to have in your wallet, with benefits that far outweigh the already low $49 annual fee.
- Earn 70,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months of account opening
- Enjoy a free night of card membership at over 4,700 hotels worldwide
- Earn 5 points for each $1 spent at our hotels
- Earn 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants
- Bonus points redeemable at hotels such as Intercontinental® Hotels & Resorts, Crowne Plaza® Hotels & Resorts and Holiday Inn®
- Automatic platinum elite status, as long as you remain a cardmember
- $0 introductory annual fee the first year, then $49