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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:
- Part 1: Earning, Transferring, and Preventing Your Points From Expiring
- Part 2: 11 Ways to Use Your Starwood Points
- Part 3: The 9 Best Airline Transfer Partners
- Part 4: The Best Kept Secret of Nights & Flights
- Part 5: Starwood Elite Status
- Part 6: Regular Starwood Hotel Redemptions
- Part 7: Using Points for Upgrades
The Best Kept Secrets of Nights & Flights
Link: Nights & Flights
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Check out the category 3 Starwood hotels in the link above. One of our favorite hotel stays was a Category 3 Starwood hotel.
Category 4 Starwood 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).
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.
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.