News You Can Use – Priority Club & Starwood Award Changes, Iceland Air Redemptions, & Staying Healthy with a Points Obsession

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News You Can Use – Priority Club & Starwood Award Changes, Iceland Air Redemptions, & Staying Healthy with a Points Obsession

Million Mile SecretsNews You Can Use – Priority Club & Starwood Award Changes, Iceland Air Redemptions, & Staying Healthy with a Points ObsessionMillion Mile Secrets Team

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1.   Priority Club.   Via Mommy Points, Priority Club announces their new award chart.  And the bargain hotels, like the Priority Club hotels in New York now require more points.

Priority Club hotels include Candlewood Suites, Crowne PlazaHoliday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Hotel Indigo, Intercontinental Hotels & Resorts, and Staybridge Suites brand hotels.

However, TJ on Miles & Points writes that there are some deals to be had like the InterContinental in Tahiti or Bombay for 25,000 points.

Loyalty Lobby has a list of the old award rates.  If the number of points for a hotel has decreased, just cancel your existing award and rebook at the lower rate.

If the amount of points for a hotel which you wanted to book has increased,  call Priority Club (before March 18, 2013) and ask them to book you at the lower rate.

2.  Starwood Cash & Points Award Change.   One of the best hotel deals is the Starwood Cash & Points awards where you can book a room at a Starwood hotel with a combination of Starwood points and a cash co-pay.  These awards let you stretch out the value of your Starwood points, and Emily and I spend a lot of time in Europe after I graduated thanks to cash and points awards.

Starwood hotels include Aloft, Element, Four Points, Le Meredien, SheratonSt RegisThe Luxury Collection, Westin and W brand hotels.

Loyalty Traveler has crunched the numbers and says that there is a 25% increase in the cash co-pay and a 17% to 25% increase in the amount of points required.

And Loyalty Lobby has a nice chart summarizing the changes.

Many folks are disappointed with the change, but it doesn’t make sense to expect the award chart to remain the same indefinitely or to decrease.  Award charts almost always devalue and it is worth reminding yourself of that when you hoard miles and points!

You will also be able to use Starwood points for upgraded rooms and suites which is great when you want to surprise your travel partners.  Or if you’re like me, hope to surprise them, but then realize that the suite confirmation was sent to their email address. 🙂

However, you can book hotels at the CURRENT (lower) “cash & points” rate up to March 5, so it doesn’t hurt to book hotels within the next 12 months before March 5 since you can always cancel your reservation for free.  But check the cancellation policy before you book.

3.   Iceland Air Redemptions.   Online Travel Review writes that you can use Iceland Air miles to book flights on Alaska Air to Hawaii and other Alaska Air destinations again!  However, the redemption rates have increased so this isn’t as great of a deal as it was the first time.

4.   Staying Healthy with a Points Obsession.   Million Mile Secrets reader Cathy wrote an article called The Mileage Junkie’s Guide to Staying Healthy.

My mouse hand has been acting up lately, so I wonder if this is a sign of Repetitive Stress Injuries from filling out credit cards applications online as she suggests!

Here’s an excerpt from her article:

Gathering points can be stressful. While a fun hobby, any of the following can contribute to stress of the points hobbyist:

  • Losing sleep over how to  meet credit card spend
  • Fighting with reconsideration representatives
  • Trying to find available award space
  • Keeping track of all your programs and credit cards
  • Fretting over whether your latest flight out of RGN will be honored
  • Arguing needlessly about various bloggers
  • Talking to a representative on the phone from US Airways
  • Trying to use in a meaningful way

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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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Great piece. As a long time SPG cardholder, I’m teetering on the Starwood card now. Any advice?

I’m able to funnel >$50k/yr into whichever card we’re focusing on and last year got status at SPG this way. Also recently enjoyed upgraded accommodations at St Regis overseas, making the return/dollar the best I’ve ever experienced. Getting the “Thank you for being a Gold status member” upgrades (and early/late checkins/outs) at SPG hotels everywhere has been a very nice perk, too. Finally, I also enjoy the flexibility of the point for miles trasnfer option SPG has.

Given these factors, do the upcoming changes make another points program better than SPG? Or for a user like me is it still the best? Thanks!

Million Mile Secrets

@Stevarino – Only you can tell if being in SPG makes sense for you. I personally prefer Hyatt and their Diamond status, but Starwood has a lot more hotels. But you don’t have to spend to get SPG Gold, when you get it for free with the AMEX Platinum card. However, the SPG card is good as an everyday spending card because of the bonus for mile transfers in increments of 20K. I prefer earning points in Hyatt, Hilton and SPG so that I have more choices when it is time to redeem.

So if I am reading this clearly the SPG program is not changing the amount needed for regular award bookings? It is only changing the amount needed if you are using “cash and points” Is this correct?

Million Mile Secrets

@Jsto – That’s correct. As of now, the redemption for cash and points bookings are increasing, but the other awards remain the same price.

I just got off the phone with Priority Club. They do not book you at the old rates – they add points to your account so that you can effectively get the old rate. For example, I wanted to book two nights at the old rate of 25,000 points + $70 per night. The new rate was 30,000 points + $70 per night.

They added 10,000 points to my account and booked me at the new rate of 30,000 points (effectively costing me 25,000 points per night out of my account). It shows up on my PC account as a “GOODWILL” earning of 10,000 points.

Million Mile Secrets

@Jen@WanderOneDay – Thanks for the update and glad it worked out! You can always buy a few points using the Priority Club points & cash trick. Have fun in Amsterdam!

I’ve been holding off on booking hotels for our mother/daughter Europe trip this summer until I was more sure of our itinerary, but now I need to get my butt in gear and book our Amsterdam hotel before March 18! The rate did go up. Guess I need to make the phone call now! Thanks for the link to the old award rates.

If I had a few thousand extra points though, at the new rates it would be worth it to book at the Intercontinental instead of the Crowne Plaza – they are both 40k/night at the new rates.

This is pretty good.. earn bonus points for Hilton for spending at hotels, local businesses and various attractions.

Up to 50,000 bonus points every 90 days for spending $5k at participating businesses.

Million Mile Secrets

@Scott – I agree that there isn’t much use in keeping the card if you’re not a big spender or don’t want/need the elite status credits, but SPG points are still useful for hotels.

@TravelBloggerBuzz – I wonder if she wrote “Arguing needlessly about various bloggers” with you in mind. j/k. 🙂

@James – It depends. Hilton points and gold elite status is much easier to obtain than starwood points. But 1 starwood point is more valuable than Hilton or marriott points.

@JonCski – Thanks for the tip!

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