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How I Traveled for Free: A Weekend in Massachusetts Using SPG Points

Jan. 12, 2019
Loyalty Programs, Reward Optimization, Travel, Travel Credit Cards
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This points collector booked a pair of rooms in Cambridge for her sister and herself so they could attend Family Weekend at Harvard.

The cardholder

Name: Andrea Rotondo
Age: 49
Occupation: Editor and small business owner
Home: Amelia Island, Florida
Credit Card: The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

The stay

Hotel: Le Meridien Boston Cambridge in Cambridge, Massachusetts
Dates of stay: Oct. 26 – 29, 2017
What kind of room: Deluxe Non-smoking King Bed

Q: What amenities did you take advantage of?

A: I used the free Wi-Fi and received 500 bonus Starpoints per day for each day I declined housekeeping services. We were barely in our rooms except to sleep so this was a no-brainer.

Q: Did you travel alone or with someone?

A: I traveled with my sister and we booked two rooms. My niece had just started her freshman year at Harvard and her mom and I were attending Family Weekend. Massachusetts Institute of Technology also hosted their family weekend simultaneously and hotel rooms throughout Cambridge and Boston were expensive. The cheapest paid room I could find (and it wasn’t close to Harvard) was $495 per night. I ended up booking two rooms at Le Meridien Boston Cambridge using Starpoints. It was ideal since the hotel was just one subway stop from the campus.

The card and loyalty program

Q: What card/loyalty program did you use to get a free stay?

A: I used the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and the Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty program.

Q: How long were you a cardholder/member at that time?

A: I’ve probably had the SPG-branded AmEx credit card for about 10 years.

Q: How long were you planning this stay?

A: We decided to go on this trip about a month out, and I used my stash of existing points so I didn’t need to save up.

Q: What’s your favorite perk of this card/program?

A: Starpoints are valuable because so many hotel awards are priced right. It’s a terrific use of points to book most hotels that are in the program.

Redemption and booking

Q: Did you take advantage of promotions while earning points for this trip?

A: No.

Q: How did you book?

A: I booked online.

Q: How many points did this cost?

A: 12,000 points per night per room.

Q: Did you book in conjunction with a promotion or deal?

A: No.

Q: Any surprises?

A: No surprises and my request to have two rooms on the same floor was granted.

What’s your next travel rewards goal?

I’m planning for a big rewards trip right now. My husband and I are taking 10 family members to Barbados to celebrate our 25th anniversary. We’ve rented a beach house and are paying for it with our Chase Sapphire Reserve® in order to get a nice bunch of points from the purchase.

I’ll use miles and points to book award flights for our guests. I’m relying on a combination of Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles, British Airways Avios points, and American Airlines AAdvantage miles to book half the award flights on American Airlines’ flights and JetBlue TrueBlue points for the rest of the gang to fly JetBlue.

Photo via Andrea Rotondo.

How to maximize your rewards

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About the author