The recent changes to the SPG Cash & Points awards have really lit up the travel blogsphere the past few days. I haven’t had time to comment as I’ve been hanging out with the family and without much in the way of internet connectivity.
Let’s take a step back and go over a brief summary of what the change actually was. Starwood Preferred Guest has offered an award called “Cash & Points” for as long as I can remember. It’s exactly what it sounds like, a combination of cash & points will pay for a room at one of their properties worldwide. The difference between these awards from a standard free room is two-fold:
1. They represent a discount from a standard free room night when you factor in the price of a Starpoint (most consider the value around 2 cents). There were also some infrequent great deals on C&P if you made your reservation early.
2. These awards were capacity controlled, meaning the hotel could decide when it wanted to offer rooms for C&P. Standard free rooms are NOT capacity controlled, but generally at a slightly higher redemption rate.
Now, for the changes. They’ve essentially raised both the cash and point portion of these awards 25%, while giving members a bit of a break in the highest category (7) from such changes.
If you want to see the full chart on SPG, click here. Good news is SPG will let you book at the old rates until early March.
Everyone talking about it is correct when they say this is generally bad. Higher prices always are. But, I think for people with my type of travel patterns will find this may end up being a good thing.
Because the other change to the C&P program is that these awards will now be available for upgrades and suites. Whether I’m traveling with my kids and need extra space or a romantic weekend with my wife and just want an awesome room, I seldom am striving for a standard room when I travel. And, while it’s no guarantee that availability will improve with the price increase or that upgrades or suites will be readily available, I’ll take my chances with the new changes. They’re also really good for regular members, IMO, since it’s much harder for someone without status to grab a suite at an SPG property without just paying for it out of pocket or spending double the points for a standard room.
For the most part, Starwood has offered incredible value over the life of the program, and they made a bunch of true enhancements for elite members. I’ve been a Platinum member for 6 years and the recent changes are all good for me.
Maybe these changes will ultimately be bad for the future. I’ll be taking a wait and see approach. I’ve certainly seen worse changes than this to other programs.