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Here’s my points collecting strategy for the next six weeks and why it should be yours too

Club Executive Suite at Ritz-Carlton Tokyo

In April, Marriott hosted an event in New York where they unveiled the newly combined Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) loyalty program.

The general vibe from this big reveal was positive. Many had feared a bloodbath, where Marriott implemented everything that was/is wrong with Marriott Rewards and ditching everything that people love about the SPG program. Thankfully that didn’t happen.

You can read a complete breakdown of the new program and the changes in this article.

But there was one particular aspect of these changes that caught people’s attention.

In a nutshell:

Between August and December 2018, you’ll be able to get discounts of more than 40% when you book St. Regis, Ritz-Carlton or Luxury Collection hotels.

Cheap(er) stays at the St. Regis Bali Resort – fine by me!

Sounds too good to be true? For once it actually isn’t. Let me explain…


Marriott’s bringing in a new pricing chart…but not until 2019 

As the image below suggests, Marriott is introducing off-peak and peak pricing as well as a new Category 8 for points redemptions.

However, this new chart is only being fully rolled out at the start of 2019. Meanwhile, the new rewards program already launches in August.

And that means amazingly cheap redemptions at high-end hotels – for a short time only!

 

Currently, top-end Category 7 Starwood properties such as the St. Regis Bal Harbour or Hotel Danieli, Venice cost up to 35,000 SPG points per night.

However, as you can see on the above chart, from August through until the new peak/off-peak charts come in next year, the cost of redemptions will be capped at a maximum of 60,000 Marriott Rewards points per night which is equivalent to just 20,000 SPG points.

When you factor in the fifth-night free benefit that’s available on reward stays, you could pay as little as 48,000 Marriott Rewards points/16,000 SPG points per night at hotels such as the W Verbier and The St. Regis Aspen Resort.

Big discounts at the Ritz-Carlton Tokyo anyone?

Of course, you need there to be reward night availability, but that’s still insanely cheap when you consider that the St. Regis Aspen, for example, can easily cost £1,000 to £2,500 per night in peak season!

To be clear, there is no requirement to actually complete your stay between August and December, rather bookings must be made within that timeframe to lock in the reduced rate! 


How to boost your Starpoints balance – quickly

In order to take advantage of this sweet spot come August, you’ll want to be sitting on a decent-sized pile of Starpoints (or indeed Marriott points).

Here are some of the ways you can look at boosting your SPG points balance in the next few months.

Get yourself a new card

Card welcome bonuses are without a doubt going to be the quickest way to generate a substantial amount of points. In terms of generating SPG points, here are your options:

Preferred Rewards Gold Credit Card (reviewed here) – welcome bonus is 20,000 Membership Rewards points = 10,000 SPG points.

Platinum Card (reviewed here) – welcome bonus of 30,000 Membership Rewards points = 15,000 SPG points.

SPG Credit Card (reviewed here) – welcome bonus of 10,000 SPG points

Refer a friend

Card referrals are king here. If you have an Amex Platinum card, you will receive 18,000 bonus Membership Rewards points (worth 9,000 SPG points) for each friend that you successfully refer. Even if they simply apply for a free card.

That means if you can persuade just two friends/family members to take out the Nectar Credit Card (free for the first year) for example, you’d earn 18,000 SPG points which is practically a free night at any of the top-end hotels we’ve mentioned.

Bring forward bills/payments

I’ve been looking at bringing forward spending that I know will be happening later in the year, with a view to paying with my SPG Amex and getting those extra points in the bank now.

Move work stays to Starwood/Marriott properties

If you are travelling for work or otherwise over the next few months you may want to make an extra effort to stay at Starwood/Marriott hotels to ramp up your collecting efforts.

Get other members of your household involved too

Starwood allows you to transfer points between accounts for free – provided you’ve shared an address for 30 days (I’ve not got many data points over whether this 30-day requirement is in fact strictly enforced or not…).

You can now scale things up considerably.

I.e. refer a family member for a card and bank the referral points. Then trigger the welcome bonus on said card and transfer points to Starwood. Finally, move them across to your Starwood account.

Buy/gift points – new 35% discount launched!

I’m going to be taking a much more in-depth look at this sale next week, but here’s an overview.

Starwood runs periodic promotions offering a discount when you purchase/gift Starpoints. We thought we’d seen the last of these before the arrival of the new program in August, but somewhat surprisingly they have revived the discount – 35% off – which incidentally is the highest level we’ve seen offered in the past.

If you bought 30,000 Starpoints – the maximum amount permitted – it would cost $682 or £518 (at time of writing). Those 30,000 Starpoints will be worth at least 1.5 nights at a top-end hotel from August.

When you consider that hotels such as the St. Regis New York or the Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo can easily have cash rates of £800+ per night during peak season, effectively buying 1.5 nights there for £518 is excellent value.

The link to buy/gift points is here


Verdict

With this huge window of opportunity coming up,  I’m certainly working to increase my Starpoints and indeed my Marriott Rewards points in every way that I can.

Given that we are still a good 5/6 weeks away, there’s still ample time to utilise some of the methods mentioned above to build yourself a healthy balance from which to take full advantage of between August and the end of the year.

Have you got any other tips for earning extra Starpoints?

 

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