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Starwood Preferred Guest has an interesting redemption option called “Nights & Flights,” and while I’ve touched on the value a few times, I don’t think I’ve ever written about the program in detail.
How does SPG Nights & Flights work?
Effectively, Nights & Flights is a discount on five night hotel award stays, combined with a transfer bonus to an airline partner. This is only valid at Category 3 and 4 Starwood hotels, and only with airlines with a 1:1 transfer ratio.
- 60,000 SPG points can be exchanged for five nights at a Category 3 and 50,000 airline miles
- 70,000 SPG points can be exchanged for five nights at a Category 4 and 50,000 airline miles
Nights & Flights awards can only be booked over the phone, and the hotel you’re interested in has to have standard rooms available over your dates. The Starwood agent will book your hotel room for you, and will then manually initiate the airline transfer. You must book 14 days in advance if you’re transferring to a US airline, and 30 days in advance for international airlines.
It’s worth noting that award availability doesn’t have to be available with your airline partner. You can transfer points to an airline and use them for an award down the road, if you prefer.
However, the transfer cannot be reversed. If you cancel your hotel stay, you will receive a refund of the points used for the hotel stay, but NOT the points transferred to the airline. So you’ll only receive a Starpoint credit of 20,000 for a Category 3 and 30,000 for a Category 4.
Why is this a good deal?
Let’s break down the math.
Typically, you receive a 20% transfer bonus when moving 20,000 point increments to an airline partner. 20,000 Starwood Preferred Guest points becomes 25,000 airline miles; 40,000 becomes 50,000, etc., provided the airline is a 1:1 transfer partner (and most are).
For hotel redemptions, keep in mind that the fifth night of an award stay is always free with SPG.
- So five nights at a Category 3 would require 28,000 Starpoints
- And five nights at a Category 4 would require 40,000 Starpoints
Those are already good values on their own, but through SPG Nights & Flights you save even more.
For a Category 3 property, a Nights & Flights award costs 60,000 SPG points. If you were to book a five night award stay and transfer 40,000 points to an airline partner (before the 20% bonus), you’d pay 68,000 starpoints.
Nights & Flights saves 8,000 Starpoints in this case.
For a Category 4 property, a Nights & Flights award costs 70,000 SPG points. If you were to book a five night award stay and transfer 40,000 points to an airline partner (before the 20% bonus), you’d pay 80,000 starpoints.
Nights & Flights saves 10,000 Starpoints in this case.
What hotels should I stay at?
The Category 4 hotels are the better value, and there are a few properties in particular that I think seem interesting for a longer stay, or that I’ve had good experiences at:
- The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin, which are a great option for using points at Disney World in general
- Palacio del Inka in Cusco, Peru
- The Westin Grand in Berlin, Germany
- Sheraton Lisboa Hotel & Spa in Lisbon, Portugal
For Category 3 hotels, my struggle is that the rack rates are often so inexpensive it doesn’t seem worthwhile to redeem points. I’ve had surprisingly good stays at a few of them, though five nights seems a long time to spend at most of the hotels in this category:
- Sheraton Old San Juan Hotel & Casino
- Le Méridien Cairo Airport
- The Westin Nagoya Castle
- Sheraton Porto Hotel & Spa
With the exception of the Le Merdien Cairo Airport, of course, because I could live there.
And there are also a ton of hotels in the US that might be valuable in some situations, so it’s worth checking out the full lists:
This is of course a great use of points earned through the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express. Each offers a 25,000 Starpoint sign-up bonus after spending $5,000 within six months, so if you get both cards and complete the minimum spend you’d have 60,000 Starpoints, which is enough for a Category 3 Nights & Flights package.
In general, this is only something I’d do if you were already looking at staying at one of the included hotels, or were already planning on transferring points to an airline partner.
In those situations, this can be a great way to stretch your SPG free nights.
Has anyone redeemed for Nights & Flights before? Where did you stay?