Or, consider other cards for 50,000 or more miles or points that transfer into United miles with additional flexibility for your everyday spending.
$750 for air / hotel / car bookings. Or transfer points to United, Southwest, Hyatt, and more.
No annual fee.
One of the biggest reasons we recommend the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express as the best mile credit card overall is the ability to use points for lucrative ‘cash and points’ hotel stays at Starwood hotels like the W, Westin, Sheraton, and more. These cash and points deals let you ‘buy’ a hotel night for a relatively small number of points and cash versus paying all cash for a room.
Deals like $250 hotels for 4500 points + $90, which offer over 3 cents per point in value, were common. But Starwood decided to raise the number of points and amount of cash needed for cash and points stays beginning this month. Their explanation – the higher price would encourage more availability of the rates on more nights.
So did that happen, or did the higher prices kill off the great values?
Blogger ‘Lucky‘ looked at whether overall availability increased with the change (it generally did), but we’re curious whether the new prices would erase good value when you compare them to the actual cost of buying a room.
We searched cash and points availability at top Starwood hotels in over 15 popular vacation destinations during prime periods. Then we compared the cash and points savings to the cash rate you would typically pay during those times. We consider availability ‘wide’ when most dates during peak periods have availability. The results say there are still some very good widely available values…
|Hotel||Typical rate||Cash and points cost||Availability||Savings||Value/point|
|W South Beach||$1,200||15000 point plus...||$275||Wide||$925||$0.062|
|Park Lane Hotel London||$464||6000||$110||Limited||$354||$0.059|
|Westin Riverfront (Vail)||$419||6000||$110||Wide||$309||$0.052|
|Westin Diplomat Fort Lauderdale||$349||6000||$110||Limited||$239||$0.040|
|Westin Key West||$499||10000||$180||Wide||$319||$0.032|
|Sheraton On the Park Sydney||$296||6000||$110||Wide||$186||$0.031|
|Westin Paris Vendome||$442||10000||$180||Wide||$262||$0.026|
|Sheraton Park Anaheim||$205||5000||$75||Wide||$130||$0.026|
|Westin Excelsior Rome||$413||10000||$180||Limited||$233||$0.023|
|W San Francisco||$249||6000||$110||Wide||$139||$0.023|
|W New York||$400||10000||$180||Wide||$220||$0.022|
|W Washington DC||$229||6000||$110||Limited||$119||$0.020|
These are all hotels that you won’t have to apologize to your spouse or family for staying at. Under the new program you can still get a cash and points room during ski season in Whistler, holiday shopping season in New York, summer in Hollywood, winter in South Florida, and anytime (actually just a great points only rate) in Maui.
You may not get 4-5 cents per point in value as frequently as before, but you’re reliably getting well over 2 cents, which is a good deal versus a 2% cash back card.
Some disappointments are at Disney World, where the Swan / Dolphin properties on site have pretty limited availability with the exception of off season months like August and September. European properties in Paris, London, and Rome have good value when you can find cash and points nights, but dates are limited to off season times like August.
So we still love the Starwood American Express. It’s a lot easier to book a cash and points hotel room during peak family holiday times than to find 4 free plane tickets using your airline miles. But airline miles are still important to you, the Starwood American Express gives you the option to transfer your points 1:1 into over 20 airlines.
Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the company whose products are featured on this site. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or evaluations provided here are those of the author\’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the Advertiser. This site may be compensated through the Advertiser\’s affiliate programs.
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