Full Points Rates Aren’t Always Better Than Points and Cash

I’m planning a trip to Australia for next May, since I absolutely fell in love with the country on my previous trip there this past May.

In looking at cities to visit, I’ve settled on stopping at town of Port Douglas, outside of Cairns for a look at the Great Barrier Reef. Among the hotels there, the Sheraton Mirage Port Douglas Resort is one of the best known, so I figured I’d book there.

Rates there start at $208 USD for a prepaid rate, and 5,000 Starpoints plus $75 cash for a points and cash rate. For all points, it’s 10,000 points.

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 7.28.35 PM

So, the question is: Do I choose the cash rate, the cash and points rate, or the free-night rate?

Here’s one way to think of this:

  • The cash rate, for comparison, is $208.
  • The cash and points rate is $75 plus 5,000 points.
  • Since the free-night rate is 10,000 points, the other 5,000 points difference between the free-night and the cash and points rate is worth, at minimum, $75 (the 5,000 points I’m saving is made up with the $75 co-pay).

For comparison, the Westin Atlanta Airport, for the same dates, is pricing out as follows:

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 7.27.56 PM

So, for 4,000 points, I’m saving $199 in cash costs, roughly the same amount that would have been paid for the Sheraton Port Douglas.

If I’m paying $75 to save the 5,000 difference at the Sheraton Port Douglas, that means I could use 4,000 of those points to cover what otherwise would have been a $199 rate at the Westin Atlanta Airport.

Now, several things to keep in mind here:

  • I have no need to book the Westin Atlanta Airport. I’m simply using that as comparison. However, at the rate I travel, I’d likely encounter a similar point redemption scenario that I’d value.
  • In either case, I’d earn Starwood elite status nights/stays – either with all cash, cash and points, or the free-night rate.
  • Cash and points rates are inventory controlled and aren’t always available. Free nights are always available, so long as there is a standard room available for sale.
  • If I used cash to cover the entire nightly rate, I’d save 10,000 points. Those 10,000 points would equate to approximately $400 in savings at the Westin Atlanta Airport, in comparison. So, at a best case scenario, I’m actually better paying off for this stay than using any form of points. That said, I’ve got plenty of Starwood points to burn, and I’d like to make use of some of them to save some cash.

So, in this case, what did I do?

I booked the cash and points rate of 5,000 points and $75. I figured I could use the 5,000 point I was saving with another Category 2 property of 4,000 points a night.

What would you have done in this scenario? How do you value your Starpoints?

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Comments

  1. Ken says

    Usee all points. Simple ms practices with simon vgc’s and a few minutes loading them at wallys onto an amex bluebird, puts 1,000 points at $7.90, or $79 for a 10,000 pts night stay. Its a no brainer, but i also pay cash for hotels <$150/night just to conserve points for the more expensive properties. At $79/10,000 pt cat 4 prpeties, points are a steal.

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