SPG and Barclaycard Points Combo – Save on SPG Points

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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?

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12 comments for “SPG and Barclaycard Points Combo – Save on SPG Points

  1. Kyle
    July 17, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    Wouldn’t you be earning 5 SPG points if you charge the cash portion of the cash & points to the SPG card, which would be better than the 2x points from the Arrival card?

    • Kyle2
      July 17, 2013 at 12:53 pm

      Nevermind.. you don’t earn starpoints on the cash portion

      • July 17, 2013 at 1:18 pm

        I think you only earn 1X SPG points on the cash part.

  2. andreas
    July 17, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    Love the idea to make SPG program work better for us. SPG has been a tough program for me otherwise. I can get more bang for spend with club carlson and Hyatt through UR cards.

    It also depends on the geographies. Club Carlson is pretty awesome in Europe, not so much in US. Is the strenght of SPG program in US cities?


    • July 17, 2013 at 1:25 pm

      Yes, it all depends on your travel destination. SPG is great for one-night stays. Club Carlson is great value but for either 2 night stays or 4 night stays. They are very good in parts of Europe. If I can’t find use for SPG hotels, I’ll transfer to airlines. Many times SPG is the only decent choice and I can get around 2.5 cents + per point.

      • andreas
        July 17, 2013 at 1:30 pm

        I’ve upcoming trips to NYC and LA/Vegas. Vegas is priceline country for sure. What programs will provide good value in NYC/LA? I have a lot of club carlson points but they are not useful in these locations.

        I did a quick search for W westwood and it seemed like it would be be better to pay with the arrival card.

        I get great value out of paid hotel stays with promotions, so the arrival card is pretty awesome.

        • July 17, 2013 at 5:29 pm

          I get special paid rates at times so barclaycard arrival is great. Also it’s good for cheap international properties bc no foreign fees.

          I would consider Hyatt program for NYC or LA. I would waste 2 free nights but would use UR points from chase sapphire preferred or chase ink!

  3. andreas
    July 17, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    oh and if you have the arrival card it’s pretty easy to put a dollar value on these award nights using the 2.2% rate. It’s costing you $242 for the cat 5 hotels. Let’s make sure we can’t find a better deal for that hotel!

    cat $ points $C&P
    1 66 63
    2 88 79
    3 154 132
    4 220 185
    5 264 242

    • July 17, 2013 at 1:31 pm

      Yes, sometimes just straight out cash is better. Depends on the situation and place. Sometimes you’ll want to splurge and don’t forget about elite benefits.

  4. Paul
    July 18, 2013 at 9:21 pm

    Sigh. SPG is a complete waste, no matter what you do. There are MUCH better hotel programs and MUCH better airline programs.

    All you do if you churn SPG is get the ability to get mediocre redemptions with a lot of partners. If you are lazy and not concerned about getting value from your spend, SPG is the perfect card. For the rest of us, SPG isn’t even worth bothering with.

    • July 18, 2013 at 9:49 pm

      Hyatt is a better program for redemption but not everywhere. SPG is useful in various cities. I use SPG as a backup. I’d rather not pay cash if I don’t have to. I try to make travel as affordable as possible.

    • July 18, 2013 at 10:41 pm

      I’m surprised you still read my blog, maybe you could suggest some alternate strategies?

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