Starwood cash and points stays is one of the best ways to use Starwood points. Last week, Starwood announced that it was making some changes to the Starwood cash and points program, including adding the ability to book suites and upgraded rooms with points. They also announced that they will be increasing both the number of points and cash co-pays required for cash and points stays, starting March 5th.
What are the changes?
Starting March, Starwood is increasing the number of points required to stay at many of its properties. The old redemption chart is below:
Here’s what the new redemption chart looks like:
As you can see, both the number of points and the cash co-pay is going up for almost all hotel categories. Category 7 is not increasing in price. Also, suites are now available as a cash and points option.
First, I think it’s great that Starwood is adding suites as a cash and points option; this adds huge value for people who would book a suite anyway. However, this is a significant devaluation of the Starwood cash and points program for standard rooms.
Starwood cash and points stays can still be a great deal.
Previously, I posted about redeeming Starwood points and I said that cash and points stays could be a great deal. I still hold that they are a great deal, but now not as great a deal as they once were.
This might be a good thing.
Before you call me crazy on this, hear me out: Starwood is stating that the reason they are doing this is to increase availability of cash and points awards. On the surface, this might just seem like marketing spin, but there might be some truth to this. When you book a cash and points stay, the hotel receives some payment from Starwood for the portion of the hotel stay that you pay for with points. Let’s say that’s two cents per point. So, a hotel that accepts $45 + 2800 Starpoints for a hotel room would actually earn $101 for that hotel room. Under the new cash and points redemption chart, that same hotel would earn $131 for the same room (based on $55 + 3800 Starpoints). If I were a hotel manager, I would be more likely to offer cash and points rooms if I were guaranteed more revenue for those rooms. It is almost impossible to redeem a cash and points award in some markets, such as New York City and San Francisco. If this change means more cash and points availability in those markets, I would be happy to pay a few dollars more and a few Starpoints more when I stay in Ann Arbor. Some FlyerTalkers and bloggers have speculated that Starwood might be requiring hotels to open up cash and points reservations in some cases as part of this change; I wouldn’t put too much stock in that rumor.
Book before March 5th.
If you are planning on booking any Starwood cash and points stays, definitely try to do it before March 5th, when the changes go into effect. You might be saving a few Starwood points and guaranteeing a better rate. Remember, cash and points stays can be canceled up until 24 hours before arrival, so there is really no cost to booking speculatively.
Readers, how do you feel about the changes in Starwood cash and points? Do you believe that this will cause more award availability?