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A Question about Starwood Cash and Points

A question for OTR readers:

I’m looking at booking a Westin using Starwood points for a trip this summer (details unimportant). The property I’m looking at is giving me 2 options for my stay:

Option 1: 6 nights free in exchange for 100,000 Starwood points
Option 2: 6 nights using cash/points for 48,000 Starwood points plus $900

The question is whether 1 of those is a better deal than the other. I generally value Starwood points at about 2 cents each, so it seems like this is a wash. Another way of looking at it is that i’m buying 52,000 Starwood points for $900. I feel like it doesn’t matter which way I go (in which case I’ll keep the cash and use the 100k points).

I’m curious what the readers think — which way would you go? Answer the poll below and/or let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Should I use all points, or go with the cash and points option?

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16 Comments.

  1. My vote was for all points. Since it seems to be a wash, using points would be a no-brainer to me since points can be devalued at any time and offer less flexibility than straight-up cash. I tend to earn and burn unless I am saving for a very specific goal where future needs offer way more value. Heck, $900 would buy me 6 nights for a future trip without needing any points whatsoever (but a very different travel style compared to this reader’s implied preferences).

  2. Remember, you also accrue points for the $900 you are spending, so depending on your status and if you get in on a promotion, you are actually buying 70K+ points for $900

  3. What is the price you would pay for the stay if you were using cash only, including all fees and taxes? This generally makes a big difference on whether C&P is a better offer than points alone.

    • It was about $2100 to pay all cash.

      • So it’s 2.1 cents per point if you pay with just points.

        It’s 2.5 cents per point if you pay C&P.

        Since this is just a negligible difference I would pay will all points.

        There are times when C&P returns a much higher value than points alone. The best usage tends to be on Cat 4 properties, at least based on my analysis.

        Take the Sheraton LaGuardia for example. It’s a Cat 4. An average rate is $225 per night with taxes. For a five-night stay it’s $1125. Points alone, with the 5th night free is 40,000. C&P is 20,000 points plus 300 (no 5th night free).

        1125/40000 = 2.81 cents/point
        (1125-300) / 20000 = 4.12 cents/point

        Even without the fifth night free you are basically paying 20,000 points for $825. This is close to as good as you get.

        But then again, who the hell would ever stay at this property anyway……..but it’s just an example of how powerful C&P can be at Cat 4 properties.

  4. I would take the C&P option in an instant. The way I see it, 52K SPG points = 62K miles in a whole bunch of airlines, which is enough for a one-way first class trip to Europe or N.Asia, depending on the program. Worth way more to me than $900.

    In general, SPG points are quite valuable and you can get good redemptions using the C&P option. I would hold on to them unless cash is a big concern. It is quite hard to earn 52K SPG points unless one were a big spender with the SPG Amex (or one were regularly staying at Starwood hotels)

  5. Point value has to do with where you’re staying and how much it’s worth to you. If the value (instrinsic vs cost) is intrinsic as in it’s a great place or it’s a great WESTIN use your points. If the points would have a better value for you somewhere else sooner OR later keep the points and pay the cash plus points.

  6. I think it is 1.73 cents per point. It shouldn’t be hard to use those points later at a better redemption rate. I would do cash and points.

  7. $900 will roughly net you about 3600 points on a future stay but with promotions and such could easily net you up to 7200 or even more if you have status with Starwood. So I think the difference is as clear cut as spelled out above, and this argument adds to the “use 100k” option.

  8. if you have the 100 then you should have the puddin!!!

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