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Now it is Starwood Preferred Guest’s turn to announce changes to their rewards program. They are revamping their cash and points chart, and adding some new cash and points options. The bad news is that the cash and points reservations are getting more expensive. However, the news isn’t all bad. Here is what SPG says about these changes:
Changes will include:
- Adding the ability to redeem for upgraded rooms such as suites, Club Rooms, Smart Rooms, and rooms with a view, where available.*
- Adding all Category 1 and 2 destinations worldwide.
- Updating pricing for standard room redemption, with the intention of expanded availability.
Cash and points reservations can be tough to get, so expanded availability would be a welcome enhancement. I also like the ability to use cash and points for non-standard rooms and suites – especially for families who have more than just one or two people traveling.
Here is the old award chart that is valid through March 5th
Here is the new chart that will go live on March 5th
In case the charts are hard to read, here is a comparison another way. I left off non-standard rooms to keep it simple.
Old Standard Room: 1,200 pts + $25
New Standard Room: 1,500 pts + $30
New Suites: 3,000 pts + $75
Old Standard Room: 1,600 pts + $30
New Standard Room: 2,000 pts + $35
New Suites: 4,000 pts + $95
Old Standard Room: 2,800 pts + $45
New Standard Room: 3,500 pts + 55
New Suites: 7,000 pts + $125
Old Standard Room: 4,000 pts + $60
New Standard Room: 5,000 pts + $75
New Suites: 10,000 pts + $175
Old Standard Room: 4,800 pts + $90
New Standard Room: 6,000 pts + $110
New Suites: 12,000 pts + $275
Old Standard Room: 8,000 pts + $150
New Standard Room: 10,000 pts + $180
New Suites: 20,000 pts + $450
Old Standard Room: 15,000 pts + $275
New Standard Room: 15,000 pts + $275
New Suites: 30,000 pts + $625
I really don’t like seeing award chart changes like this one as it means all redemptions are more expensive (about an average of 20% more expensive on first glance), but it happens. See this post about the constant of change. At least SPG gave almost two month’s notice and most of the changes aren’t terribly painful. Since I travel as a family, I really like the option of redeeming for a suite at a reasonable price (at least at some of the lower category levels). Time will tell if availability really is better or not with cash and points availability. I’m withholding final judgement on this change until we see what happens with cash and points availability. If the cash and points rates were no longer attractive enough for hotels to make them available to customers with any regularity then keeping rates low but not available didn’t really help anyone. I would love to see some increased options for earning SPG points like shopping portals or spending bonuses, but for now your best bet is via stays, promotions, and of course getting and using the Starwood Preferred Guest Amex and/or Starwood Preferred Guest Business Amex.
As is posted by SPG Insider on this thread, there will also be properties going up and down in category in early March. I will be sure to share that list when it is available. Let’s hope those changes are minimal
What are your thoughts? Does this change your opinion of the value of SPG points? Were you finding many cash and points rates in recent months?
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