1 card signup = 7 Free Orlando Hotel Nights

So, you’re thinking about going to Disney or Universal in Orlando, either in the near future or somewhere further down the road.  Guess what?  It’s an expensive proposition.  Ticket costs alone will bring you to tears, and significant discounts on them are hard to find.  If you’re flying, then you’ll get pummeled by airfare as well, unless of course you are using points or miles.  And unless you plan to sleep in your minivan, you will need a place to stay.  Today, I want to show you how a single credit card signup can make that last portion of your trip a LOT less painful and save you hundreds of dollars.

Now, let me clear something up straight away.  I am not describing how to stay in luxurious $300-$500 per night hotels in this post.  I promised you 7 nights, so it won’t be in the highest dollar hotels.  If you’d be happy with 4 or 5 nights at a much nicer hotel, then you can read about that here.  So, let me cut to the chase: the two hotels to which I am referring in this article are the Four Points by Sheraton Orlando Studio City and the Sheraton Lake Buena Vista Resort.  If you want to spend more time at Universal Studios, then the Four Points is your better option in terms of proximity.  If you plan to do more Disney, then opt for the Sheraton Lake Buena Vista.  And of course, you can switch hotels mid-trip if you want to do a Universal / Disney combo vacation.

Your ticket to 9 free nights at either of these hotels is the Starwood AMEX 

lake buena vista

​Okay, let’s start with the math that gets us 7 free nights and then see how much you’re saving, and remember that those 7 free nights do not all have to be in one trip, which is part of the beauty of this whole deal. The Starwood card will give you 1 point per dollar on every dollar you spend.  If you are approved for the card and spend $3,000 in 3 months on the card, then you will get those 3,000 points plus a 25,000 point bonus.  So, what does 28,000 Starwood points get you in terms of these two hotels?  Well, I did a search for the first week in April of 2016, since that is Spring Break for a lot of people.  Here is what I saw:

This view shows you the standard cash rate as well as the points rate.


The first thing that jumps out at me is that you are getting around 4 cents per point (e.g. $144 / 3666 points), which is tremendous value.  But what you guys should care about is that each hotel is only 3,666 points per night.  This is an absolute steal.  So, simple arithmetic: 28,000 / 3,666 gives you 7 free nights with 2,338 points left over (so if you put another another $662, you will have 8 free nights).  If you used your points for 7 nights at the Sheraton Lake Buena Vista Resort, you would save about $1118 if you factor hotel taxes of 11%.  Again,  nothing says you have to use all of your points for a single stay.  Go back in a year or two and use the rest of your points!

The Sheraton Lake Buena Vista Resort, as the name suggests, is more of a resort experience.  It has two onsite restaurants and a market.  It also has a fitness center (with spa services) and gameroom.  It has two pools (one with a 75 foot water slide), and they are more exciting pools than the one at the Four Points.  Best of all, this hotel is a Disney Good Neighbor property, meaning you are close to the Disney action and theme park shuttle service is provided.  There is a resort fee of about $20 per night, but I personally would pay it i a heartbeat on a free stay.  You still won’t pay hotel tax on a free stay.

So, neither hotel is one that you are going to say “We stayed at the _____” and make your friends envious.  But both can save you hundreds of dollars, and when you are paying for flights, car rentals, gas, meals, tickets, and souvenirs, “free” has a very nice ring to it.

One thing to always keep in mind with free nights is that award rooms can fill up quickly, so if you are looking at Spring Break 2016, you’ll probably want to get busy.

So, what do you think?  Does this sound like a good deal to you, or would you prefer to go ahead and pay $2000 for 4 or 5 nights during Spring Break at a Deluxe Disney or Universal hotel?

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