Redeeming Starwood Points for Free Hotels and Flights

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This is post #4 of a series regarding the Starwood Preferred Guest hotel program. 

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Something that is sometimes overlooked is redeeming points for the Hotels & Flights packages. Before I continue, I want to point out that this option is unfortunately only available for Category 3 and 4 hotels.

  • Category 3 – Redeem 60,000 Starpoints for 50,000 airline miles and five free nights
  • Category 4 – Redeem 70,000 Starpoints for 50,000 airline miles and five free nights

So if you have a five night stay at a category 3 or 4 hotel, is this a good redemption option? Here is the math:

  • For the category 3 award, typically a 5 night stay would require 28,000 points. This means that in actuality you are transferring 32,000 SPG points for 50,000 airline miles. Typically, if you are looking to transfer to airline miles, 40,000 SPG points = 50,000 miles, so this is really giving you an 8,000 mile bonus over just transferring points directly.
  • For the category 4 award, typically a 5 night stay would require 40,000 points. This means that you are transferring 30,000 SPG points for 50,000 airline miles. Using the same math as above, this is giving you a 10,000 mile bonus over just transferring points directly.

The answer to the “is this a good redemption option?” really comes down to how you value SPG points and airline miles. Many people are a fan of the SPG program due to the flexibility of this program to airline miles, while others will only use the points for Starwood hotels. If we were to value SPG points at a minimum 2.5 cents/point, then by transferring the points over you are “losing” over $750 towards SPG hotels. However, this is giving you 50,000 miles which many would value at around $1,000 in airline miles. So ultimately, if you have a 5 night stay at a category 3 or 4 hotel, this could be a great way to maximize your frequent flyer account.

Some things to know:

  • If you cancel the nights portion of the award, you will receive a credit back in the form of SPG points. If it was a category 3 certificate you’ll get back 20,000 points and for a category 4 certificate you’ll get back 30,000 points. The 50,000 airline portion cannot be cancelled as the points are already transferred to a partner frequent flyer account and that cannot be undone.
  • It can take as long as 14 business days to transfer points to a US airline and 30 business days for a non-US airline. You do not book your flights through Starwood, but points are directly transferred to your frequent flyer account and you have free reign to do whatever you want with them.
  • This option is only available with airline partners that have a 1:1 ratio. You can check out a full list of airlines here, but this means the following airlines are excluded: Air New Zealand, El Al, Iberia, LAN, United, VARIG.
  • As all other reward redemption stays, you will earn elite credit for your stay, but not points.

So if both you and your significant other are able to earn 25,000 points each in your respective accounts, this will give 50,000 points required after you meet the minimum spend on the two cards. This gives you close to the right amount of points for a category 3 Night & Flight redemption option if this appeals to you! And yes, points in separate household accounts can be combined!

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  1. Good info. Does one has to use the 5/6 night’s consecutively or we have an option to break it into multiple stays. Also can part of the stay be cancelled like stay 2 days and cancel the rest

  2. Wait, could I redeem for 50k points and 5 free 3 night stays, and then cancel all the nights, and get back 50k? This would mean 60k could be transformed into 100k???

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