I love Starwood Hotels! Some of their properties include; The Westin, Sheraton, Aloft, W Hotels, and Four Points.
Starwood is running a “5 night – flight and hotel” offer, called Nights & Flights for two. How the offer works is you pay 70,000 Starwood points (also called SPG points) and you will be able to stay at any level four property for 5 nights. Starwood will also transfer 50,000 miles to the airline of your choice, for example, Delta, Alaska, American, etc. Those 50,000 miles, included with your 70,000 SPG point purchase, will cover two round-trips in the lower 48 with any major carrier. I am going to show you a little trick to maximize those 50,000 airline miles so you can get to Hawaii (from West Coast) and stay 5 nights at the Sheraton Kona Resort on the big island. (for less than $300 total, airfare included)
You probably don’t have 70,000 Starwood points lying around, if I had to guess, I know I sure don’t. The way to rack up those points is for each person to sign up for the American Express Starwood (SPG) credit card. This credit card offers 30,000 bonus points upon spending $3,000 in 3 months and has no annual fee for the first year. You and the other person that goes with you must each sign up for the card and then combine the points. I know, that only amounts to 60,000 points but stay with me, we will get to 70,000 and not break $300 for the trip (airfare and hotel), I promise.
Starwood will allow you to combine your award points with any other SPG account that shares your home address. For spouses, this isn’t a problem. If you and a friend who don’t live together are going in on this deal, one of you will have to get ‘creative’ when you create your SPG account and input your address. (if you know what I mean). Your SPG account is just a loyalty account so it doesn’t really matter what address you use. When you sign up for the credit card you will want to use your actual residence since they will be mailing the card there. (and no, your SPG account and the credit card addresses don’t have to match)
Okay, so you and your spouse/buddy sign up for the Starwood credit card, what next? You each have to spend $3,000 points in 3 months. That is only $1,000 per month per person. That shouldn’t be hard to do using plastiq.com to pay bills, even mortgage and rent, with your credit card. You can pay bills in advance, such as cell phone, internet, and car insurance. You can also buy Mastercard debit gift cards in $500 denominations at your local grocery store, then use those in the future for day-to-day expenses after you meet your minimum spend. If you really wanted to hit your minimum spend quick, buy some Mastercard debit gift cards and use those to buy money orders to yourself. You can cash the money orders and then pay off your credit card that way.
Once you each hit your minimum spends, you will have 33,000 points a piece. You earn 1 point per dollar even as you are working on your minimum spend. Combined you will now have 66,000 Starwood points, only 4,000 shy of the total needed. At this point, if you need 4,000 more points (assuming you both started at zero), you can purchase the points from Starwood at a rate of $35 per 1,000 points. That means it will cost you $140 to accumulate the additional 4,000 points. Your other options to get the 4,000 additional points would be to spend $4,000 more dollars on your card or transfer 12,000 Membership Reward Points (from Amex). They transfer at a 3:1 ratio into your SPG account.
Now you are ready to combine your two accounts into one account for a total of 70,000 SPG accounts. Start by requesting the transfer from one of the accounts here. It doesn’t matter which account you combine the points into; however, if one of you has status with the hotel, you will want to use that account to book the “nights and flights”. Read more here on how to make the “purchase” of the nights & flights once you have your grand total of 70,000 points in a single account.
Which airline should I have Starwood transfer the 50,000 miles to? This is where it gets fun. British Airways is a good option for transfer since they use ‘distance based’ awards, that means the number of miles needed for a given flight is flat depending on the distance from A and B. British Airways will let you redeem your miles for flights with their partners; American Airlines, US Airways (soon to be American), and Alaska Airlines. If you live within the lighter area of the map below, your flight with any of those three airlines, booked through BA, will only cost 25,000 points round trip. You will fly on the actual airline, not British Airways, by the way. The flight, in order to qualify, has to be a “low level” flight meaning you probably won’t be able to fly the day before Christmas or around Spring Break. For comparison, if you transfer the points directly to Alaska, Delta, American, and company, they will require 35k-45k points for one round-trip to Hawaii from the lower 48. (hence why I recommend British Airways for this partner airline trick, only 25k miles from the West Coast). You will want to book non stop flights as British Airways goes off the total distance flown.
To Check if your flight is low level you will go to either aa.com or alaskaair.com and look for flights with the lowest possible points needed. To get to the Sheraton Kona you will fly to either Kona or Hilo (KOA or ITO). When checking Alaskaair.com look for flights that are 20k points one way and with American flights that are 22.5k one way. (US Airways flights from Phoenix will show on American’s site also). Once you have found your two flights you will call British Airways and have them book over the phone or sometimes you can book on BA’s site if the flight appears there. (Alaska award flight have to be booked over the phone, just keep the flight numbers handy when you call)
So let’s do a little recap of this deal:
• You get 5 nights at any level 4 property, doesn’t have to be in Hawaii, you can see a map of these hotels using awardmapper.com. Look for Starwood properties that are 10k points per night (level four). Another good redemption option is The Westin Beach Resort in Fort Lauderdale.
• You get 50,000 miles to send to almost any airline, enough for two round-trips in the USA.
• Keep in mind, the Sheraton Kona Resort does have a $31 a night resort charge. That includes free Wi-Fi, Yoga classes, use of local trolley, and free parking, etc. (parking is usually $25-ish a night at resorts anyway) I did account this resort fee in your “under $300” total, don’t worry
Let’s add up what you will pay to get this deal:
$140 to purchase 4k additional points
$155 total for resort fee (you don’t pay taxes on hotel stays booked with points, yee-haw)
How much this would be if you purchased airfare and hotel with cash:
Hotel room rate in Feb ’16 = $245 per night (includes taxes and resort fee) x 5 nights = $1,225
Round-trip flight about $550 per person = $ $1,110
$2,325 – $ 295 = $2,030 in savings