The Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) program has the reputation as one of the best flexible points currency in the business. This title is well deserved as SPG points allow you to book rooms at over 1000 hotels worldwide and also transfer into miles with over two dozen airline partners. There are other partners that offer you merchandise and rental cars, but those tend to be rarely used and at disadvantageous redemption rates.
Personally, I've used SPG points almost exclusively to transfer into airline miles because of their very generous policy of giving a 5000 mile bonus when you transfer 20,000 SPG points. So for example, 20,000 SPG points would equal 25,000 American Airline miles. What I didn't realize was that I was missing out on one of SPG's little-known but extremely lucrative redemption options: Nights and Flights.
Just like it sounds, SPG Nights and Flights allows you to redeem your SPG points for 50,000 miles in the program of your choosing plus five nights in a Category 3 or Category 4 property. The former costs 60,000 SPG points and the latter costs 70,000 SPG points. No other categories of hotels are available.
As you can see in the chart above, you can see that the Nights and Flights options give you a decent amount of savings in both category 3 and 4 redemptions. Many in the travel industry value SPG points at 2.5 cents each (I value them closer to 3 cents per point) and even 8,000 SPG points represents a saved value of $200.
One caveat: As a trade-off for decreased price, the Nights and Flights option does limit your flexibility by only offering Category 3 and 4 hotels for booking. Of course, this is all dependent on your travel plans, but I would suggest looking at many of the great Category 3-4 properties in Asia – particularly Thailand, Indonesia, China and Korea.
Many of these hotels go for $200-$300 a night and at an effective rate of 4,000-6,000 points a night, you are getting a great value for your SPG points.
These awards are only bookable by phone and there are some additional restrictions that you should read here, but ultimately, this is yet another great tool to use in your travel hacking toolbag.