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UPDATE: The Starwood American Express credit card offers in this post are no longer available, but check Hot Deals for the latest offers!
Starwood Cash & Points is another way to book award stays at Starwood hotels. It’s a great way to stretch your Starwood points further (and to save money!) for Big Travel. But this option is a little different from regular award stays.
I’ll explain how Cash & Points works. And when you should consider using it!
What’s Cash & Points?
Link: Starwood Cash & Points
Starwood Cash & Points lets you book award stays using a combination of Starwood points and a cash co-pay. And depending on the hotel, you can get a great deal!
Standard rooms with Cash & Points start at 1,500 Starwood points and $30 per night for a Starwood Category 1 hotel.
Starwood Category 7 is the highest category, and includes some of Starwood’s most luxurious hotels in the best locations, like The St. Regis Florence, or W South Beach in Miami. Award nights at Starwood Category 7 hotels cost 15,000 Starwood points and $275 with Cash & Points.
The amount of cash and Starwood points you’ll pay depends on the category of the hotel, and the type of room you want to book.
Why Book Using Starwood Cash & Points?
Starwood Cash & Points can be a good deal if you:
- Don’t have enough Starwood points for a week-long trip you want to take
- Want to splurge on a hotel night for a special occasion, but don’t have enough points
- Want to stretch your points from the sign-up bonus to get more award nights
Cash & Points is different from regular award stays because:
- Bookings do count toward Starwood Elite Status
- There are blackout dates with Cash & Points
Keep in mind you will NOT earn Starwood points for Cash & Points stays, although you will earn stay credits toward Starwood elite status. And they do NOT count toward promotions.
With Starwood Cash & Points, you’ll need half the number of Starwood points when compared to regular award nights.
The Cash & Points rate at the W South Beach in Miami is 15,000 Starwood points and $275 because it’s a Starwood Category 7 hotel. A regular award night costs 30,000 Starwood points.
By using Cash & Points, you’ll pay $275 toward the room rate of $739. Then your 15,000 Starwood points covers the rest of the cost, which is $464 ($739 room rate – $275 cash co-pay). So your Starwood points are worth over 3 cents each. That saves you a LOT of money!
When NOT to Book With Cash & Points
Sometimes Cash & Points is NOT a good idea.
The St. Regis Aspen Resort is another Starwood Category 7 hotel. A night there in October costs $349, or 15,000 Starwood points and $275 with Cash & Points.
After you pay $275, your 15,000 Starwood points are worth just $74 ($349 room rate – $275 cash co-pay). So each Starwood point is worth under half a cent each, which is a terrible way to use your points. Be sure you’re paying the least cash possible, and that you are paying less than the part that’s covered by your Starwood points.
Depending on how you use Cash & Points, you can save a lot of money. As always, check to make sure you’re getting a good deal before you book!
Earn Starwood Points With the AMEX Starwood Card
Link: Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
Link: Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express
Until September 14, 2015, there’s an increased sign-up bonus on the AMEX Starwood cards. You’ll get:
- 30,000 Starwood points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the 1st 3 months of opening your account (personal card), or
- 30,000 Starwood points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the 1st 3 months of opening your account (business card)
- 2X Starwood points per $1 you spend at Starwood hotels (includes Aloft, Element, Four Points, Le Meridien, Sheraton, St Regis, The Luxury Collection, Westin and W brand hotels)
- 1X Starwood point per $1 you spend on everything else
- Unlimited use of Boingo Wi-Fi hotspots (excluding in-flight)
- For small business cardholders, access to Sheraton Club lounges (free breakfast and hors d’oeuvres) for cardholder and 1 guest staying in the same room (3rd party bookings are excluded).
- 2 stay credits or 5 night credits toward Starwood Elite Status
- $95 annual fee, waived for the 1st year
- No foreign transaction fees
- Terms & limitations apply
And if you want more stays at Starwood hotels, Cash & Points is a terrific way to use your Starwood points.
With 30,000 Starwood points for Cash & Points stays, you can get:
- 20 nights at a Starwood Category 1 hotel (plus $600)
- 15 nights at a Starwood Category 2 hotel (plus $525)
- 8 nights at a Starwood Category 3 hotel (plus $440)
- 6 nights at a Starwood Category 4 hotel (plus $450)
- 5 nights at a Starwood Category 5 hotel (plus $550)
- 3 nights at a Starwood Category 6 hotel (plus $540)
- 2 nights at a Starwood Category 7 hotel (plus $550)
Cash & Points can save you thousands of dollars!
For example, Emily and I used Cash & Points to stay at the Sheraton Iguazu Resort & Spa in Argentina, a Starwood Category 5 hotel.
Five nights would cost ~$1,603 if you paid cash.
The Cash & Points rate for 5 nights is 30,000 Starwood points plus $550. So your 30,000 Starwood points goes toward the balance after you pay $550, which is ~$1,053 (~$1,603 room rate – $550 cash co-pay). Each Starwood point is worth over 3.5 cents apiece!
Why It’s a Good Deal to Put 1X Spending on Your Starwood Cards
With the AMEX Starwood personal or small business card, you’ll earn 1 Starwood point per $1 spent on purchases.
Some folks prefer to earn cash back on regular purchases with other cards, like:
- AMEX Fidelity (2% cash back on every purchase)
- Citi Double Cash Card (1% cash back when you make a purchase and another 1% cash back when you pay it off)
But if you want to earn Starwood points for award stays with the Cash & Points option, it might be a good idea to use your AMEX Starwood cards for purchases that do NOT usually earn more than 1 bonus point per dollar.
Or you may decide to reserve those purchases to meet minimum spending requirements to earn a sign-up bonus on another card.
Purchases that are not usually in a bonus category include:
- Auto repairs
- Dentist bills
If you spend $5,000 on regular purchases, you’ll earn 5,000 Starwood points. When you add $75 to it, you can get a stay at a Starwood Category 4 hotel with Cash & Points.
Nightly rates at The Westin Memphis Beale Street are $275 in December.
After the $75 cash co-pay, your 5,000 Starwood points cover the remaining $200, which makes each Starwood point worth 4 cents.
When you spend $5,000 on another card, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you can earn 5,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points. You can use them for a $50 statement credit, or ~$63 in travel at the Chase Travel Portal.
You could also transfer the points to an airline or hotel partner, like British Airways or Hyatt, for Big Travel. For example, you can get an award night at a Hyatt Category 1 hotel for 5,000 Hyatt points. Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer to Hyatt at a 1:1 ratio.
But folks who like Starwood hotels might enjoy stays at Starwood hotels with Cash & Points. Especially when you can save lots of money!
Hotels Where Cash & Points Isn’t an Option
Cash & Points offers may not be offered for standard rooms at Starwood Category 7 hotels and some Starwood Category 6 hotels.
Cash & Points is offered in standard rooms and some upgraded rooms and/or standard suites at these hotels:
- The St. Regis Florence
- Cervo Hotel, Costa Smeralda Resort
- The Gritti Palace, Venice
- The St. Regis New York
- The St. Regis Aspen Resort
- Hotel President Wilson, Geneva
- The St. Regis Mardavall Mallorca Resort
- The Lanesborough, a St. Regis Hotel
- The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort
- W South Beach
- The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, Puerto Rico
- W Paris – Opéra
- The Chatwal, New York
- Hotel Danieli, Venice
- St. Regis Princeville
- Prince de Galles, Paris
- Santa Marina Resort & Villas, Mykonos
- Vedema Resort, Santorini
- Westin Ka’anapali
- St. Regis Deer Valley
Cash & Points is only offered in upgraded rooms and/or standard suites and must be booked through an SPG Customer Contact Center at these hotels:
- Hotel Cala di Volpe, Costa Smeralda
- Hotel Pitrizza, Costa Smeralda
- Hotel Romazzino, Costa Smeralda
- Le Méridien Bora Bora
- Mystique, Santorini
- Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa, Dubai
- The Westin Golf Resort & Spa, Playa Conchal
- Sheraton Steamboat Resort Villas
- The St. Regis Bali Resort
These hotels do NOT participate in Cash & Points:
- W Retreat & Spa – Maldives
- The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort
- Sunset Key Cottages, a Luxury Collection Resort, Key West
With this option, you’ll use Starwood points and a cash co-pay to cover the cost of your award nights.
I’ve had memorable stays using Cash & Points! But it’s important to be certain the cash you pay is much less than the portion covered by your Starwood points. Otherwise, you could end up with a not-so-good deal!
Cash & Points is a terrific way to make the most of Starwood points earned from AMEX Starwood personal or small business cards. And folks who like Starwood hotels may decide it’s worth it to keep the cards beyond the 1st year to use Cash & Points for Big Travel!