How to Earn & Use Starwood Points: Part 4 – The Best Kept Secret of Nights & Flights

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I’ve been digging into the Starwood hotel program because of the once-a-year up to 30,000 point bonus on the Starwood personal and business card.  These offers end on June 30, 2014.

How to Earn & Use Starwood Points: 

The Best Kept Secrets of Nights & Flights

Link:  Nights & Flights

Link:   Starwood Category 3 Hotels

Link:   Starwood Category 4 Hotels

Nights & Flights is a great redemption for long category 3 and 4 hotel stays.

5 free hotel nights AND 50,000 airline miles will cost you:

This may seem like a lot of Starwood points, but remember that you will get 35,000 Starwood points (30,000 from the sign-up bonus and 5,000 for the minimum spending) with either the personal or business Starwood card once you complete the minimum spending requirements.

Don’t forget that you can transfer Starwood points for free (as long as you share the same address), so your partner could apply for 1 card and you could apply for 1 card and you’d have 70,000 Starwood points!

Nights and Flights

60,000 Starwood Points for 50,000 Air Miles AND 5 Nights in a Category 3 Starwood Hotel

50,000 airline miles would ordinarily only cost you 40,000 Starwood hotel points (remember that you get 5,000 extra points transferred with every 20,000 Starwood points).

50,000 miles transferred to American Airlines or US Air will get you 2 coach round-trip tickets within the US or 50,000 of the 60,000 miles needed for 1 round-trip coach ticket to Europe or South America!

In my opinion, the best transfer partners are American Airlines and US Air because they don’t charge fuel surcharges for international redemptions and have relatively decent award availability.

British Airways could also work for short-distance flights within the US on American Airlines.

The miles are transferred to your airline account and you don’t have to use it along with your hotel stay.  You can use those miles at any time!

You normally get your 5th night free when you redeem Starwood points for 4 nights.  So you’d normally pay:

  • 28,000 points (7,000 points X 4 nights) for 5 nights in a category 3 hotel
  • 40,000 points (10,000 points X 4 nights) for 5 nights in a category 4 hotel

But, with Nights and Flights, you’re paying:

  • 20,000 points for 5 nights at a category 3 hotel (otherwise 28,000 points)
  • 30,000 points for 5 nights at a category 4 hotel (otherwise 40,000 points)

This means that you get a:

  • 8,000 point discount (29% discount) for 5 nights in a category 3 hotel
  • 10,000 point discount for 5 nights (25% discount) in a category 4 hotel

So you’re saving 8,000 or 10,000 Starwood points when you use Nights & Flights!

Example:  W San Diego

Let’s see how this works with an example.

Link:  W San Diego

The W San Diego is one of many Starwood hotels and resorts in downtown San Diego.

As a category 4 hotel, you could book a Nights & Flights hotel and airfare package at the W San Diego for 70,000 Starwood points.

Nights and Flights

W San Diego

The retail cost is $415 a night with taxes or $2,077 for 5 nights at the W San Diego for a random 5 day stay next summer.

Nights and Flights

$2,077 for 5 Nights At The W San Diego

And you’d pay $571 for airfare for 2 from Kansas City to San Diego from June 13, 2014 and returning on June 18, 2014.

Nights and Flights

$571 for 2 Roundtrip Tickets To San Diego From Kansas City

So the total retail cost is $2,648 ($2,077 for 5 nights at the W in San Diego and $571 for 2 fights  to San Diego.

Instead, you’re paying 70,000 Starwood points!

Of those 70,000 Starwood points:

  • 30,000 of your Starwood points go for the 5 nights hotel stay
  • 40,000 of your Starwood points get you 50,000 airline miles

Remember that the miles are transferred to your airline account and you can use them whenever you want.

Stays Longer Or Less Than 5 Nights

You can add more nights to a Nights & Flights package, but you will pay the standard rate of 7,000 points for a category 3 hotel & 10,000 points per night for a category 4 hotel.

You can’t stay less than 5 nights when using Nights & Flights.  And leaving early will not get you a refund of your points.  You may even be charged early departure fees, but usually no one notices if you just leave the hotel without checking-out.

Refunds

You can make changes to your hotel reservations if there are standard rooms available.

If you cancel your reservation, you get a refund of the points paid for the hotel part of the reservation only:

  • 20,000 points for a category 3 hotel or
  • 30,000 points for a category 4 hotel

There is no refund of the 40,000 Starwood points which you transferred to 50,000 air miles.  The air miles will remain in your account and you don’t lose them for canceling the nights and flights award.

If you’ve already booked your flights with miles, you will usually have to pay a fee to cancel the flights and get your miles back.

Category 3 Starwood Hotels

Link:  Starwood Category 3 Hotels

Check out the category 3 Starwood hotels in the link above.  One of our favorite hotel stays was a Category 3 Starwood hotel.

Nights and Flights

A Former Monastery Converted Into a Hotel in Evora, Portugal Was a Category 3 Hotel When We Visited

Category 4 Starwood Hotels

Link:  Starwood Category 4 Hotels 

Check out the category 4 Starwood hotels in the link above.  You can use a Nights and Flight package to get 5 nights in Disney World plus 50,000 miles (good for 2 low-level round-trip coach flights within the US).

Nights and Flights

The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin are Category 4 Starwood Hotels!

Booking Details

You have to book night and flight awards on the phone and there is no fee for calling.  You can’t book these online.

You have to order a Nights and Flight award at least 14 business days (30 days for  non-US airlines) before your hotel check-in date to allow time to transfer the miles to your account.

That said, I’d make your transfer as soon as possible so that you have the most time to make your bookings.

You don’t earn Starwood points for the 5 nights hotel stay, but the 5 nights will qualify as an eligible stay towards earning elite or lifetime status.  However, it won’t count as a “stay” towards any other promotion.

Bottom Line

Nights & Flights can be a great use of Starwood points when you want to redeem for both a hotel stay and for airline miles.

2 cards can get you and your partner 5 nights in a category 3 Starwood hotel and 50,000 air miles which is good for 2 round-trip coach flights within the US!  Remember that you can transfer points for free to anyone else’s Starwood account (as long as you have the same address).

You pay only 60,000 Starwood points for 50,000 miles (2 domestic airline tickets) and 5 nights at a Category 3 hotel.

70,000 Starwood points will get you 2 domestic airline tickets and 5 nights at a Category 4 hotel.

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47 responses to “How to Earn & Use Starwood Points: Part 4 – The Best Kept Secret of Nights & Flights

  1. What do you mean by this “once-a-year 30,000 point bonus on the Starwood 30,000 point personal and 30,000 point business card”?

  2. @Johnny – The regular bonus on the card is 25,000 points, but AMEX has had a 30,000 point promotion, for about a month each year, for the last 4 years.

  3. Hi,

    Thanks for the detailed blog on SPG card..I have recently got chase sapphire preferred and I am thinking of applying for SPG card However I am having little dilemma on when to use chase sapphire preferred vs SPG card…do you have any thoughts on this? Is it good to have both cards? If so, when to use them?

    Thanks

  4. Is it possible to make the hotel reservation and bank the frequent flyer miles for later use, or do you have to book a flight and hotel together and on the same trip? This was very confusing to me. Thanks so much, love the blog!!

  5. Just too clarify, they transfer the airline points within 14 days after your booking (domestic airlines)?

  6. @Chandra – Use the Chase Sapphire Preferred for all international spending, and travel and dining. Use the SPG card if you want to collect other airline miles (like US Air or AA) and Starwood hotel points.

    @Joshua B – They just transfer the miles to your airline account and you can use it whenever you want. You don’t have to use it in conjunction with your hotel stay.

    @Brian – It can take up to 14 days, but sometimes it is quicker.

  7. Great detailed explanation on how this works! I would definitely try to make this work. Thanks!

  8. its a good catchy name but doesnt offers any added values. I though they would combine hotel and flight and give you some discount but the math is the same when you do it separately. I dont see any benefit by doing both.

  9. @Kathy C – You’re welcome!

    @choi – You save 8,000 to 10,000 Starwood points if you book a 5 night hotel stay and transfer 40,000 points to 50,000 miles than if you did it separately.

  10. It’s a great deal if you’re planning to transfer your miles to an airline
    and stay in a Category 3 or 4 hotel. Unfortunately in only works
    in those two categories. Personally I really don’t like W hotels
    because of their silly “hip” approach, when I call reception I much prefer
    to hear “hello” than “whatever whenever…”. Somehow I haven’t had much
    luck with cat 3 and 4 hotels… In Europe they are mostly found in Germany,
    nowhere else.

  11. Terrific – thanks again for an informative post about this…I have around 120K Starwood miles that I’ve banked so far. I always forget that I can get a bonus when I transfer them to miles!

  12. Just got approved for a personal and business card. Nights n Flights is just one of the great ways I will use my points. Thanks so much Daraius!

  13. love spg, how long till you can re-apply and get the bonus again? do you have to wait 12 months until you closed the card?

  14. I applied for the personal card using your link. Thank you for the great blog!

    Are the 30,000 bonus points available without any minimum spending requirements?
    What is the minimum spending for the additional 5,000 points?

  15. Have you had any luck getting the personal and business version of the card on the same day?

  16. @John - You have to spend $5,000 within 6 months to get the 30,000 points. You’ll get 5,000 points for spending the $30,000 as well.

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  18. To transfer 50000 points from SPG to an airline without Nights and Flights requires 40000 SPG points.

    Assuming that you are already planning to transfer SPG points to airlines, you would effectively be spending 20k points for 5 nights in a Category 3 or 30k points in a Category 4 hotel, as opposed to 28k points and 40k points (buy 4 nights get 5th free), respectively if you make a normal award booking.

  19. The small savings are why this isn’t a super exciting perk. Its not quite like Marriott’s where their flight and hotel package suddenly turns not very valuable Marriott points into much more valuable miles.

  20. Can you split the 50000 air miles between two programs? Ex: 40k to Alaska and 10k to US Air?

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  22. @Matt – Unfortunately, you can’t!

  23. How many family members are included in the nights and flights program? Just me and my wife? Or how many children can also be included?

  24. I have the Amex biz gold and the personal spg. What do you think should be better: to try to reache the 30k on amex gold to earn 15k amex points or put 20k spending on spg? Amex points do not transfer to AA and I heard that sometimes there are promotions to transfer to BA or Hawaiian Airlines with better rates. Or should I not even bother with the AMEX GOLD BIZ?

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  28. I applied today through your link and it said I could not get the bonus points because I already had an AMERICAN EXPRESS card, not even specifying SPG! Is there a way to get around this?

    Thanks!

  29. @MMS Since booking the lowest awards tix on us air or AA isnt the easiest how would we use this for nights and flights. We have to book rooms 1st right then they deposits the 50k to airline of choice? How can we book this and use the lowest award tix

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  33. I am confused about nights and flights, is this on the Starwood website? I have never heard of it,wondering how to maximize points this way…. what about cash and points option instead for hotel stay? would that be a comparable option?

  34. @JM – You have to call to book a nights and flights award. It is worth doing if you’d transfer points for airfare. If you only want hotel stays, Cash and Points could be better!

  35. hmmmm I am taking a 2nd look at this….. say I want to stay at a cat. 4 hotel, but cash and points option isn’t available….. I could potentially stay for 5 nights,using 70k points….. this would be a deal b/c of the points in the airline account…..may I ask,what happens to the points in the airline account (say I just use the hotel part now) are they transferable to any other program,or are they ‘stuck’ now? just curious….

  36. @JM – Once you transfer the points to your airline account, they are stuck in your airline account and have to be used on that airline. You could transfer them to other hotels based on the airline transfer rules, but you will usually get a poor value for transferring.

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  38. Do the starwood cards charge foreign transaction fees?

  39. Can you use 5 nights at different hotels or just in one?

  40. @ted – Unfortunately, they do.

    @ Alex – It has to be in the same hotel.

  41. @Million Mile Secrets
    interesting. but please explain how you determined these #s:

    “But, with Nights and Flights, you’re paying:
    20,000 points for 5 nights at a category 3 hotel (otherwise 28,000 points)
    30,000 points for 5 nights at a category 4 hotel (otherwise 40,000 points)”

    thanks

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