A couple of years ago, I took out the Starwood Preferred Guest AmEx when the sign up bonus was 20,000 SPG points. This was a great deal, not least because you get a 5,000 mile bonus if you convert them to an airline programme if you didn’t want to use them for hotel nights.
I topped up my account with an AmEx membership rewards transfer of 48,000 MR points at the rate of 2:1, and a further small purchase to reach 48,000 SPG points.
When redeeming for hotel nights, you get 5 nights for the price of 4, so I was able to look at hotels in the 12k per night bracket.
This was around the time of our trip to New York and Washington; our first big miles and pints holiday. We stayed at the Westin by Grand Central which was great. I had booked a hotel at Times Square but changed on the advice of friends and colleagues. As it was a points booking, this was possible at no cost.
This was definitely better value for me than the 70,000 Avios I could have got by transferring the points in a different way. I had plenty of Avios in the bank and the cash cost of the hotel was over $250 a night, so this was a real cash saving.
Fast forward to now; the sign up bonus is only 10,000 SPG points. I have about 25,000 MR points, so would be able to combine them and have 6 nights in a Category 2 or 2 nights in a Category 4 hotel like the Westin Grand Central.
Examples of Category 2 hotels include the Sheraton Munich Airport and Le Meridian Chang Rai resort, pictured below.
But… these are not places I am desperate to go; I’ve been to Chang Rai before, so would want to go somewhere else in Thailand, and I would want to stay in Munich centre if I was visiting.
So at the moment with the 10,000 points sign up I don’t think I’m going to be jumping in. There is no specific redemption that I have my eye on and don’t want to take a dip on my credit rating unnecessarily. The card costs £75 a year and gives some small benefits when staying in the hotel, such as a later check out and higher priority for an upgrade.
If the bonus returns to 20,000 as it has been before, or even 35,000 points currently on offer in the US, then my thinking would be different.