Shakeup in the Top 10

We’ve got our first shakeup in the Top 10 as the Starwood Preferred Guest from American Express drops its sign up bonus from 35,000 Starpoints to 25,000. This drops the value of the sign up bonus from $840 to $600 based on the value we ascribe to Starpoints of 2.4 cents a piece. Because you’re earning one point per dollar for most purchases, it takes an extra $10,000 in day-to-day purchases on the card to earn back the difference in the bonus.

Decreasing in the Top 10

Sheraton Lake Buena Vista Resort – (Current #8; Falls out of the Top 10) The biggest impact to the list is that we see the Sheraton Lake Buena Vista Resort fall completely off. While we love the pools and relative close proximity to Disney Springs, the required resort fee even when you’re paying on points pushes this just outside our Top 10 without the 35k sign up bonus.

Sheraton Park Hotel at the Anaheim Resort – (Current #5; Falls to #7) To the get the same five free nights, it will now take $15,000 in day-to-day credit card spending instead of $5,000. While that does hurt just a little, you’re still getting the 5th night free and $1,225 in value over the five free nights, not to mention it’s within walking distance of Disneyland.

Increasing in the Top 10

Hyatt Regency Orange County – (Current N/A; Joins the list at #10) The only reason this property didn’t make the Top 10 before is the $27 daily parking fee. It’s not quite close enough to walk, so you also end up paying to park at Disneyland or paying the $5 shuttle fee. But, don’t get it twisted as they say, this a four-star hotel that runs around $227 a night with tax. You can get it with the Chase Sapphire Preferred sign up bonus and only $5,000 in credit card spending, getting you total hotel value of $1,135. Not a bad day when you knock over $1k off your Disney vacation!

Other Notes

Walt Disney World Dolphin – (Current #1; Stays #1) You may be wondering why we’re keeping the Dolphin at #1 while the other Starwood properties dropped as a result of the change in sign up bonus. First, the Dolphin is smack dab in the middle of Disney World, right between Epcot and Hollywood Studios, so the location couldn’t be much better. Location is really important at Disney World. Second, the hotel runs over $300 a night. While it has a resort fee, you end up netting $1,400 in value over five “almost” free nights. We’re disappointed to see the Starwood sign up bonus drop down, but this is still our favorite option for using credit card rewards.

Starwood Preferred GuestThoughts on SPG Amex – Although the best card for you depends on your vacation goals, if you pushed us to choose, we might have chosen the SPG Amex while the sign up bonus was 35k. It’s still in our top three, but I’d probably give the edge to the Chase Sapphire Preferred because of the extremely large sign up bonus and flexible ways to redeem points.