Starwood Preferred Guest points are arguably the most valuable points among all hotel and airline programs. However, they are the hardest to collect because there are no category spending bonuses. It is simply 1 point per $1 spent, unless you spend at SPG hotels. SPG properties also require a high amount of spending to redeem for a free night. However, SPG’s cash and points redemptions require a lesser amount of cash. Since the cash portion is coded as travel, you can pay the cash portion with the Barclaycard Arrival World Mastercard and request for a statement credit for the amount spent on travel. If you are traveling internationally, this card is a great option to pay for the cash portion because of no foreign transaction fees. Using the SPG and Barclaycard points combo, you can potentially lessen the required spending needed to redeem for a free night as shown in my previous post.
Below are the points and cash & points required to redeem for SPG properties from Category 1 to 7 to refresh your memory.
|Category 1||Category 2||Category 3||Category 4||Category 5||Category 6||Category 7|
|Free Night||3,000||4,000||7,000||10,000||12,000 — 16,000||20,000 — 25,000||30,000 — 35,000|
|Cash & Points||1,500 Starpoints + $30||2,000 Starpoints + $35||3,500 Starpoints + $55||5,000 Starpoints + $75||6,000 Starpoints + $110||10,000 Starpoints + $180||15,000 Starpoints + $275|
I personally only redeem for SPG hotels Category 5 and under because I don’t think it is worth spending so much for a hotel. Note that SPG increased its cash and points rewards earlier this year. Even so, I think cash and points can still be a good deal when paired with Barclaycard Arrival. Below is a table showing the spending requirements when using the SPG and Barclaycard points combo.
To explain the chart more clearly, you can see that spending SPG points only is pretty self explanatory at a 1 point earned per $1 basis. However using both the SPG and Barclaycard Arrival cards for spending, you potentially can spend less when using a cash and points award. This is because the Barclaycard Arrival earns 2X off every purchase.
|Spend Required on AMEX SPG||$ 3,000||$ 4,000||$ 7,000||$ 10,000||12,000 — 16,000||20,000 — 25,000||30,000 — 35,000|
|Cash & Points SPG Spending||1500||2000||3500||5000||6000||10000||15000|
|Cash & Points Barclay Spending||1500||1750||2750||3750||5500||9000||13750|
|Required SPG + Barclay Spending||$3,000||$3,750||$6,250||$8,750||$11,500||$19,000||$28,750|
|Spending Advantage||$ –||$ 250||$ 750||$ 1,250||$500 or $4,500||$1,000 or $6,000||$1,250 or $6,250|
To explain the chart more clearly, you can see that spending SPG points only is pretty self explanatory at a 1 point earned per $1 basis. However using both the SPG and Barclaycard Arrival cards for spending, you potentially can spend less when using a cash and points award. This is because the Barclaycard Arrival earns 2X points for every purchase.
What About Taxes?
The effect of hotel taxes on the cash portion would be nullified by Barclaycard’s 10% points rebate assuming tax is approximately 10%. I know that the calculation may not be 100% correct, but its an accurate estimate.
Which Categories are the Best Values?
I think Category 3-5 hotels are the best values because properties over category 5 are expensive and I would rather save some points for airline miles or several nights at a lower category hotel. The best value is definitely using the SPG and Barclaycard points combo during high season for Category 5 hotels. Instead of spending $16,000 on the AMEX SPG card, you can use the Barclaycard Arrival + SPG card for a cash&points rate of 6,000 point and $110. The required spending would be $11,500 vs. $16,000. I know that is quite a bit of spending for most people including me, but your points will add up over time. I highlighted the best values in red in the table above.
It’s nice to save a few SPG points and still not have to throw down any cash using the Barclaycard Arrival World Mastercard. I have had both the personal and business AMEX SPG cards, which helped a lot to build up my SPG balance. I will use the SPG and Barclaycard points combo when there is a cash and points rate available. Also it is not a coincidence that my strategy has been shifting my non-category bonus spending to either an AMEX SPG card or Barclaycard Arrival. I’d still like to use my points for first or business class travel mainly, but sometimes SPG has a nice hotel that might be the only points option in my destination. What do you guys think about this strategy?