Finding a way to stay for 100% free is not always easy. Hotel cost is often underestimated when budgeting for your trip, fortunately this one credit card bonus can help.
The Starwood SPG credit card from American Express gives you 25,000 points after spending $3,000. If you are thinking that 25,000 bonus points doesn’t sound like much, consider that a free SPG hotel night starts at just 2,000 points!
We recently stayed at the Element Amsterdam and had a great experience. The hotel is a category 3 property meaning you’ll need 7,000 points per night. One of the best, often unknown, uses of SPG points is “5th night free”. For SPG hotels in categories 3-7, pay for 4 nights with points and receive the 5th night free!
The SPG credit card earns you 25,000 points plus you will earn another 3,000 points after spending $3,000 within 90 days. With a grand total of 28,000 points, you can stay at any SPG category 3 property, like The Element Amsterdam, for 5 nights without spending a dollar (or Euro).
A typical nightly rate at the Element Amsterdam is going to run you about $100 Euros before tax. After tax you’d be looking at 535 Euros, or roughly $565 USD if you paid cash for 5 nights. That means one credit card sign-up bonus can easily get you over $550 in value since it will cost you ZERO dollars when redeeming your 28,000 points for 5 nights. Keep in mind the 5 nights must be consecutive.
The Element hotel is not in downtown Amsterdam, it is in a neighborhood called ‘Zuid’, a few miles outside of town. The reason this is not an issue is due to Amsterdam’s great public transportation system. From the hotel you can walk 5-6 minutes to the A.J. Ernststraat Station to catch the #5 Tram. The #5 Tram, the busiest route in AMS, will take you by all the popular stops on the way to Amsterdam Centraal Station, the final stop.
A 48 hour tram pass can be had for only 12.50 Euro, or about $13.00 (other day intervals are available as well). That 48 hour pass gives you unlimited access to trams, buses, and the metro in Amsterdam. You can purchase your passes on the tram from the driver, just make sure to have cash handy.
Another thing I really liked about the Element is the proximity to shopping. Attached to the hotel is a mall with many clothing stores as well as a large grocery store. Element hotels almost always include a kitchen which makes the grocery store that much sweeter. Grocery prices are very similar to the US and the kitchen is stocked with all your cooking utensils.
I thought the design of the hotel and rooms was very chic and modern. The entire hotel felt very clean and new, everything worked flawless in the rooms – from the lights, hot water, remote etc. Speaking of hot water, our room had a waterfall shower which was great after spending a day out in the cool Amsterdam air.
In addition to your kitchen, you will also have access to a free breakfast spread every morning from 7:00AM to 10:00AM. They offered cereal, deli meats, cheeses, waffles, pastries, granola, yogurt, juice, and a fancy coffee machine. The first floor dining area overlooks the lobby and had plenty of space even when the breakfast bar became crowded. (In Europe, the first floor is the floor above the ground floor, which is called floor zero)
The rooms were very modern and well-appointed. The beds were extremely comfy and the corner chaise lounge was a huge hit! We also really liked the discrete refrigerator and dishwasher.
Overall, we really enjoyed our stay. The proximity to the tram station as well as the Zuid train station made access to the city very quick and inexpensive. From the airport you can take the inter-city train for $4 one-way, a quick five-minute ride to the Zuid station. Considering a single credit card offers enough points for five free nights, you can’t go wrong!