A few weeks ago, I wrote about how I earned over $2,500 in cash rewards through credit card sign-up bonuses. I took most of those bonuses as statement credits and gift cards. Overall, it worked out great. I am super happy with the results and am definitely not planning on stopping anytime soon. However, I do have plans to do something slightly different for at least part of this year. This year, I am going to start churning for travel rewards instead of just cash rewards.
Pursuing Rewards for Travel
Inspired by Jacob @IHeartBudgets, I decided that we would try to earn hotel stays instead of cash this year. Since we are going to try to take at least one kid-free vacation per year and don’t really care where we go, I thought it would be exciting to see what we could earn.
Enter the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Card
The Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Card is currently offering a 25,000 point sign-up bonus if you spend $5,000 within the first 6 months. Therefore, Greg and I are both going to get one. Since it will be a long process, it will also give our credit score a bit of a break, even though we aren’t that worried about it. I already applied for mine, and we will apply for Greg’s once we approach the spending requirement. So, after both of us reach our spending requirement, we will have 50,000 Starpoints to spend. Also, the Starwood Preferred card lets you transfer points between members that live in the same household. Therefore, once we are ready to redeem our points, we will transfer them to either one of us in order to be able to book an entire vacation.
So…What Are Starpoints Worth Anyway?
I’m glad you asked! Starpoints can be redeemed for hotel stays in Sheraton and Westin resorts all over the world. They have hotels grouped in categories based on how expensive the hotel is. Category 1 hotels can be redeemed for as little as 2,000 Starpoints per night! Category 7 hotels can be redeemed for as much as 35,000 points. I am going to focus on Category 4 hotels since they can be redeemed for 10,000 per night. Since I will have 50,000 Starpoints after this churn, I should be able to redeem 6 nights (They also give the 5th night free for Category 4 hotels). Then we will just have to pay for airfare, food, and entertainment. If there is time left in this churn, I may also do some more credit card churning in order to get our airfare free. But for now, I’m just focusing on the free hotel stays.
What Hotels Are in Category 4?
Here are some of my favorite options for Category 4.
Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort and Casino – We have never been to the Bahamas but definitely want to go. This is definitely a possibility for our points. Flights from Indianapolis to Nassau are cheap! On Expedia, they started at $300 each depending on what day of the week we decided to go.
Aloft London Excel – London is on our bucket list of places that we definitely want to visit at some point. Seeing Les Miserables and The Woman in Black live on the London stage are both items on our bucket lists. This hotel is 8 miles from Buckingham Palace and just a cab ride away from all the sites and attractions we want to see. It looks like flights would cost at least $800 each, but it would be worth it!
Sheraton Denarau Villas in Fiji – This hotel looks absolutely amazing. I would love to go to Fiji. The downside to this option is that flights are outrageously expensive, like $2,500 and up. Still, it’s a possibility. I want to go to Fiji, and I’m going to have to pay to get there eventually!
There are sooooooo many other options to use Starpoints all over the world….from Hong Kong to Mexico to Amsterdam. I will start narrowing down a destination once we get closer to time. It will take us quite a while to spend $10,000 with just groceries, gas, and regular spending – but we will definitely get there. I can not wait!
Have you started pursuing credit card rewards yet? Do you plan to? What are your favorite rewards cards?