Starwood offering 40% discount to AmEx cardholders

If you have any credit or charge card form American Express (a CreditCardForum advertising partner), Starwood has a special offer for you — 40 percent off your second night when you stay at least two nights September through December 2017.

Obviously, there’s fine print in this offer and, obviously, we’re going to guide you through it. There’s also another step you need to take to make to ensure that this offer is the best way to save on your Starwood stay.

How the offer works

Simply put, for every two nights you book at Starwood with an American Express card, you’ll get a 40 percent discount on the second night. So, if you stay two nights you get one night 40 percent off. Book four nights and get two nights at 40 percent off. This applies to any American Express credit or charge card, from the no-annual-fee Everyday card to the much pricier Platinum card.

And now for the fine print:

  • Your stay must be in North or South America. There’s a list of properties participating in the promo, and all are in those regions.
  • You must click through from the offer page to get the discount.
  • You must stay at least two consecutive nights.
  • Not all nights are valid for this promo — there are blackout dates. We ran a couple of test dates through and got “invalid” messages for some bookings. Million Mile Secrets notes that this promo isn’t valid for most weekday bookings — you must arrive on Thursday, Friday or Saturday.
  • You must prepay your stay. This is not the kind of flexible booking that lets you cancel 24 or 48 hours before your stay. Reservations can’t be changed and are non-refundable.
  • This offer can’t be combined with other offers.
  • The discount is based on the best available unrestricted retail rate. This is significant and will be explained below.

A good offer?

If you’re comfortable with prepaying your stay and are staying at least two nights, this offer can be a great opportunity for a discount.

But don’t book anything without comparison shopping first. Here’s why: The discount is based on the “best available unrestricted retail rate,” which let you cancel up to 6 p.m. two days before scheduled arrival). These rates tend to be higher. Starwood also offers prepay discounts for SPG members, and those may be comparable — or better — than the rate you get with the 40-percent-off deal.

For example, say you are booking the Westin Michigan Avenue Chicago.

When you click through from the offer page, you get a rate of $271 per night:

That per-night rate comes from taking the unrestricted nightly rate of $339 and deducting 40 percent off the second night. Forty percent of $339 is $135. Divided over two nights, that discount is $68 off per night, bringing the effective nightly rate to $271.

A $135 discount isn’t too shabby, but this is where things get interesting. If you navigate away from the offer site and go directly to Starwood, you’ll find a prepay rate available to SPG members of $268 per night ($3 cheaper than the rate above):

If you have to prepay anyway to get the 40-percent-off deal, why not book the member rate and get a slightly better rate?

To be fair, the member rate isn’t always better. Let’s look at another property, this time the Aloft Orlando Downtown. In this case, the 40-percent-discount offer gets you a rate of $143 per night:

If you check the member rate, this time it’s higher — $161 per night:

So, is the 40-percent-discount offer a good one? The answer is that it’s not always the best one. To make sure it is (or isn’t) you need to take the additional step to shop the rates on SPG’s regular booking site in addition to clicking through from the 40-percent-off offer page.

If you want to get more discounts on Starwood hotel stays, consider the Starwood Preferred Guest credit card. It lets you earn bonus points on Starwood stays (and at Marriott stays, thanks to the merger). It’s also an American Express card, so you’ll be eligible for the 40-percent-off special, should you choose to utilize it.

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