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I wanted to share what I think is potentially the very best use of the Starwood points in case it may help get your wheels turning on what you could do for your family. Since we are firmly back in the “little kid” stage for many years to come, my mind is mostly off of first class flights and exotic hotel redemptions and instead on more easily attainable family-friendly options.
If you are in a similar position, or even in a totally different phase of life, the Starwood Nights and Flights program is something that might be the perfect way to cover a big chunk of hotel and airfare costs for your next vacation.
SPG Award Nights and Airline Miles via Nights and Flights:
I think that SPG “Nights and Flights” is the most under-discussed gem of all SPG point redemption options. Nights and Flights allow you to redeem SPG points for a combination of frequent flyer miles and hotel nights. It’s kind of like a vacation package of sorts using points. With Nights and Flights, you can redeem 60,000 SPG points for 50,000 airline miles plus five award nights at a Category 3 hotel or resort. With Nights and Flights II, you can redeem 70,000 SPG points for 50,000 airline miles and five free nights at a Category 4 hotel or resort. There are Category 4 hotels located in lots of great cities like: Scottsdale, Avon/Vail Valley, San Diego, New Orleans, Las Vegas, Asheville, Vancouver, Los Cabos, Kailua-Kona, Orlando (on Disney property), Sydney, and Hong Kong.
Let me put this deal another way…you can use the 70,000 points to not only get five free nights at a Category 4 hotel or resort (normally 10,000 points per night), but you also get 50,000 airline miles. If the hotel you want is in the contiguous US or Canada, that means that you and your partner can use the 50,000 miles to each fly for free on saver award tickets on an airline like American Airlines, and then have five free hotel nights at your destination. That is incredibly valuable from roughly just two credit card sign-ups! I think this truly is the “hidden gem” of all SPG redemption options.
Get Over $2,200 in Hotels and Flights From Two Credit Cards:
As an example, if you have been looking to take your family to Disney World you can use SPG points to stay at the Walt Disney Swan or Walt Disney Dolphin Resorts that are located on Disney property and within walking or boat distance of both Epcot and Disney Hollywood Studios.
Via Nights and Flights you can stay at either of those resorts for five nights and then have 50,000 airline miles deposited into your airline account of choice with a program such as Alaska Airlines, Air Canada, American Airlines, Delta, British Airways, and more. You can use the 50,000 airline miles for the same trip as your hotel redemption, or save them for whatever you want to use them on in the future.
I priced out a five night stay in a standard room at the Walt Disney World Swan (a Westin) from April 7 – April 12, 2016, and the lowest price on the SPG website was a non-refundable stay that rang in at $1,655.13. If you wanted a refundable reservation that would cost you $1960. Those are huge numbers!
Airfare for those same dates on American Airlines from Houston to Orlando currently starts at $304 round trip each, so $608 for two people. However, there is saver award availability for 25,000 miles each on American Airlines flights.
In this very random example, using 70,000 SPG points via Nights and Flights would save you over $2,200 in hotel and airfare costs for a Disney vacation
Earn just 4,000 more points between the two of you and you would have enough for five nights of hotel and 50,000 airline miles as described above thanks to Nights and Flights!
Note that Nights and Flights are only available for Category 3 and 4 hotels, they must be requested at least 14-30 days in advance (depending on the airline of choice), and the selected airline must have a 1:1 points transfer option from SPG.
Have you ever used Nights and Flights for a vacation or does it sound like something that might work for you in the future?