As I keep saying, I’m not normally into hotel elite status and points. I focused most of my early credit card application cycle on airlines to take advantage of earning 50K bonuses for both United and Continental cards before the merger closed that opportunity, and there aren’t a lot of cheap hotels for mattress runs near Seattle like there are in, say, the Bay Area or Washington, DC.
To be frank, I see spending too much time in the hotel as a failure to go out and explore my destination, so things like a suite upgrade aren’t all that important to me. I don’t vacation at hotels. I stay in a hotel so I have a place to sleep while on vacation. I often find it easier to just hack Hotwire or Priceline to get a really cheap room even if that means I have a view of the AC compressor. You can’t see the AC compressor when it’s dark, and that’s the only time I want to be there, anyway. So why have I started to change my tune?
Free 250 SPG Points before February 1
Deals We Like posted a link a few days back on how to get 250 free points from Starwood Preferred Group “just” by friending the Westin Charlotte on Facebook. I say “just” because you never really know what they’re going to do with your information on Facebook. But since I’m never on there anyway (sorry Facebook fans, I’m trying to figure out Twitter first!) it doesn’t matter to me. I’ll gladly sell my soul for 250 points. Act fast! The offer is only good until February 1.
It’s a bit tricky, though, to find the actual sign-up link after becoming a friend. So here’s my simplified process for those of you who, like me, keep your Facebook account active only to sign up for free offers and contests:
- Sign into Facebook. For whatever reason I find this is easier than getting prompted after clicking on the link below.
- Become a friend of the Westin Charlotte. You’re so popular!
- You’re done with Facebook. Now go to this link: http://visitor.r20.constantcontact.com/manage/optin/ea?v=0018wh8d2IyWWr30_k3t2VDhg%3D%3D
- Enter your email address. I’m not sure if it needs to be the same one you use for your Facebook account, but Gmail has pretty good spam filters these days. Then again, I have friends in Charlotte, and they’ve been offering some free nights on their Facebook page lately. So maybe I should pay attention.
- After February 1, you’ll get another email giving you instructions to credit your 250 points to your SPG account.
SPG by American Express 25K Bonus
250 points isn’t much, but it will nicely add to the 30K sign-up bonus for getting an SPG American Express card. This deal is no longer being offered, but there is a 25K offer. This is pretty typical for SPG, so you can wait around for another 30K offer, but it isn’t likely to come soon. You will earn 10K SPG points with your first purchase and another 15K SPG points after spending $5,000 in six months. Yeah, that’s a heavy spend requirement, but it’s definitely doable, and those 25K points can be stretched awfully far.
The benefits of the SPG card and its points are many:
- Points can be used on any hotel with no blackout dates.
- Points can be stretched further (and in my opinion are a better deal) when used for Cash + Points awards. You pay much less cash than for a full-priced room, and much less points than for a normal award night.
- Points can be combined within the same household as long as you’ve had the same address on record for longer than a month. (This is great for me, since I usually pay more attention to my accounts than Megan does.)
- Points can be transferred to certain airline partners, and you’ll earn a bonus 5K airline miles when you transfer 20K SPG points. However, transfers are not instantaneous.
- Obviously, there are bonus points for staying at a Starwood hotel. Two points per dollar for using your SPG Amex, and five points per dollar if you are an elite SPG member.
- However, you don’t get complimentary status for being a cardholder. While Hyatt will give you Platinum status (comparable to SPG Gold), SPG will only give you credit for 2 stays and 5 nights. (You can still get free Gold status by spending $30,000 on the card in one year.)
It’s a decent card, and the SPG points are valuable enough that I saw fit to add it to my wallet. I have enough airline miles and Ultimate Rewards points that I can lay off those for a while and build up a balance with SPG. I don’t earn any referral credit for the sign up links on this page, but if you are interested in getting the SPG Amex, I would really appreciate if you would let me send you a referral by email. I get 10K points, and you get the same 25K offer as everyone else.
Those cash + points awards, and the huge number of Starwood hotels across the price spectrum, make it likely that I could get significant value out of this relationship. I’m still not sure I’m going to go for elite status (and I’ll talk about it more in a future post), but there is enough value here that even a casual hotel customer can earn and burn some points for a good deal.
On occasion even non-elites can get some benefits from the SPG program, like time share sales pitches! They don’t advertise it like that, of course, but why else would they give you such a great discount? Just last month Megan got an email offering her a 5-night stay at the Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas for (IIRC) $850. Plus she would get 7K bonus SPG points and a free car rental. I don’t care if I have to sit in a room and listen to a timeshare presentation for a few hours. That’s a steal. I endure lab meetings and journal clubs at least as bad every week. 🙂 For whatever reason this was an exclusive offer to her only, and I could only go as her companion.
Doesn’t that look wonderful? Unfortunately I’m already going to Hawaii next week, but having a SPG Amex appears to open up some opportunities that I hope to share in the coming year.