Starwood Preferred Guest is a great loyalty program that offers lots of flexibility for redeeming. You can redeem starpoints for hotels at SPG properties. Also, you now have the ability to transfer starpoints to Marriott Rewards and book Marriott brands due to the merger.
In addition to redeeming points for hotels, Starwood also allows you to transfer points to several different airlines. Transfer ratios vary but many are 1:1.
If you have lots of starpoints and need to book a hotel and flights, their Nights & Flights program may be a good option.
Tip: If you share an address with your significant other, SPG allows you to pool your points together. So if you have 25,000 points and your spouse has 50,000, you could transfer your 25,000 to your spouse’s account bringing the total to 75,000. The request can be made online but it does usually take about 5 business days.
Here’s how it works:
- For 60,000 points, you get 50,000 airline miles and 5 nights at SPG category 3 properties
- For 70,000 points, you get 50,000 airline miles and 5 nights at SPG category 4 properties.
- The airline miles are transferred at the time of booking but can be used at a later date. See Alaska Airlines example below.
Long story short, you can save 8,000 or 10,000 starpoints by booking a Nights & Flights package. I will explain the math in more detail below.
Of course we’re going to look at these numbers to see what kind of deal we’re getting.
I’ll use the Disney Dolphin as an example since it is a category 4 property:
- One night at the Dolphin is 10,000 points.
- Since the 5th night is free on SPG category 3-7 redemptions, this would be 40,000 points for 5 nights
- For 30,000 more points, you can do the category 4 Nights & Flights package (a category 4 Nights & Flights package is 70,000 starpoints)
- This gets you 5 nights at the Dolphin and 50,000 airline miles
- 5 nights at the Dolphin=40,000 points
- It would take 40,000 starpoints to get 50,000 airline miles because remember that for every 20,000 starpoints transferred to airlines you get a 5,000 point bonus.
- 40,000 points for hotel + 40,000 points for airline miles=80,000 miles
- By using the Nights & Flights program you would save 10,000 points since it is 70,000 points for the package.
For a category 3 package you save 8,000 points:
- Category 3 properties are 7,000 points per night
- With a 5th free night, it would be 28,000 points for a 5 night stay
- It would cost 40,000 starpoints for 50,000 airline miles
- 40,000 starpoints transferred to an airline for miles+ 28,000 starpoints for 5 free nights=68,000
- 68,000 (starpoints for hotel and airline miles if booked seperately)-60,000 (price of category 3 nights & flights)=8,000
- You can save 8,000 starpoints by booking a Nights & Flights package rather than booking hotel and flights separately.
Again, you do not have to actually use the airline miles for the trip in which you’re booking the hotel stay. Once you decide on the airline (must be done at the time of booking Nights & Flights package), the starpoints are transferred to the airline and you can then use the airline miles however you please.
It could be worth booking a Nights & Flights package even if you do not need both for a particular trip.
Here’s an example:
- We’re looking to go back to Disney World this year around Thanksgiving. We most likely will book flights through Southwest for several reasons, therefore, we do not need to use starpoints to book plane tickets for this particular trip.
- We have a big trip in the works for next year, and we will need lots of Alaska Airlines miles to make it happen.
- Since Alaska Airlines is a partner of SPG, we can book a Nights & Flights package and save 10,000 points.
- If we were to book 5 nights at the Dolphin, it would cost 40,000 starpoints
- If we transfer starpoints to Alaska Airlines, we get 25,000 miles for every 20,000 starpoints transferred as airline miles. So 40,000 starpoints for 50,000 Alaska Airlines miles.
- This is 80,000 miles total (40,000 starpoints for hotel and 40,000 starpoints for 50,000 airline miles)
- By using 70,000 points for a Nights & Flights package, we get our Disney hotel plus miles for our upcoming trip and we save 10,000 starpoints. This is a no-brainer for us since we know we will be able to use 50,000 Alaska Airlines miles on a future trip.
- Keep in mind that airlines can devalue their points with little to zero notice. In simple terms, this means they can raise the amount of points required for redemptions literally overnight. While this is not common, it has happened before. Usually airlines will announce an upcoming devaluation and/or award chart change though. It is generally not a good idea to transfer until you’re ready to book flights and you’re certain there are flights available for the dates and destination you’re trying to book.
- Transferring points to an airline is usually permanent, not only for SPG, but also for Amex MR and Chase UR.
Nights & Flights Caveats:
- You can only book Nights & Flights over the phone
- Only category 3 and 4 properties qualify for these packages
- Nights & Flights is subject to SPG free night availability. You can check this by searching for availability the same way you would for a free night award stay. I will post a detailed step-by-step for this soon.
- The flights must be airline partners that transfer at a 1:1 ratio
- While the hotel stay points are refundable upon cancellation (subject to the property’s cancellation policy), the airline mile transfer portion of this package is permanent.
- Keep in mind that transferring starpoints to airlines can take up to 5 business days. I have found that I usually get the points in 1-2 days, but this is definitely something to consider. Some airlines such as American Airlines will let you put an award ticket on hold for 5 days while you wait for the points to post. Side note: Ultimate Rewards and Membership Rewards transfers tend to be instant.
See below for 1:1 transfer partners
Note that SPG’s website is a little misleading with their math of the savings. They did not factor in the 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 points transferred to airline miles. See above for detailed explanation, but as stated before this is still a great deal if you’re planning a trip and need flights that can be booked on miles from SPG’s partners.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. I know this is a lot of information! Don’t forget to sign-up for the email list. Also, follow along on Facebook and Instagram!