SPG does not award points for combined award and paid nights stay. Why did I not know this?

For many years from 2003 to 2010, I was SPG Platinum and a Starwood Hotels advocate. When people complained the earn rate for SPG points was too low compared to the cost of award nights, I responded that in my case I could figure, on average, I earned around 1,000 bonus points per night through SPG hotel promotions. That meant a free weekend night at a category-2 hotel every 3 paid nights. In 2003 there were a good number of category 2 hotels in SPG. My average hotel night spend has not changed from $100 per night in the past decade.

In the past few years it seems many hotels in the San Francisco Bay Area where I live and tend to frequent hotels opted out of SPG promotion bonuses.

SPG Double Take May 1 – July 31, 2013 – Double points + 500 bonus points for each mobile booking. 8 California hotels not participating

SPG Take Two Sep 1-Dec 15, 2013 had 15 California hotels not participating. Double points + 2,500 points every 5 nights, up to 10,000 bonus points after 20 nights.

SPG Bring on the Nights Jan 5-April 30, 2014. All hotels system-wide participated. Earn 2,500 bonus points every 5 nights, up to 20 nights and additional 5,000 bonus points for 25 nights.

SPG Earn Away May 1 – July 31, 2014. Double points on stays and triple points if Sunday night included. 14 California hotels not participating.

SPG More For You Sep 15-Dec 15, 2014. Double points on 2-night stays and triple points if weekend night included. 21 California hotels not participating.

I see that I was also negative in titling my post of the SPG Earn Away promotion. Yawn! Why Starwood 2x/3x points May 1-July 31 bores me after yesterday’s title on SPG More for You. My opinion on weak SPG More for You Double and Triple Points promotion Sep 15 to Dec 15, 2014. Not very creative titles and I should try and skip title commentary in the future on promotion posts. I realize I could locate the promotions better if I use the hotel loyalty program promotion offer.

Notice though that SPG is not very creative with their promotions. Over the past two years, it is double points or you need to stay five nights to get a bonus. I remember the  SPG promotion offers were better and more creative back in 2003 to 2007 leading up to ‘great recession’ years. The lack of higher value promotions is what has kept me away from SPG for the past couple of years. Meanwhile hotels have continued to climb to higher category levels while the price of Cash & Points stays increased by over 20% too.

Why did I not know award nights combined with paid nights turn the entire stay into an SPG award stay?

I think I have only stayed at Starwood Hotels a handful of times in the past two years since 2012 when I participated in the SPG Amex Stars program. I like Starwood Hotels, but I have not been finding them to be the best value for my travels in recent years.

That is why I was shocked to see the FAQ stating

If part of my stay was reserved using a Free Night Award or SPG Cash & Points, will my stay qualify?

No, Free Night Awards and Cash & Points do not count as qualifying stays for this promotion. Even if part of the stay is reserved using an Award and part is paid, the member will not receive bonus Starpoints for any part of the stay.

Now that I have gone back and researched this issue, I see that term has been in SPG promotion FAQ since early 2013. Somehow, it never registered with me before. Probably because I did not bother with any of the promotions. I have been too busy racking up free nights with Marriott, bonus points with IHG and getting discount extended stays with Club Carlson, Hyatt and IHG.

Starwood Preferred Guest is a great program if your employer is picking up the tab for your 50 nights a year. The SPG Platinum treatment is great.

Loyalty Traveler tagline is ‘Hotel Value for Frequent Guests’. Turns out I have found plenty of hotel programs also offer great value through hotel loyalty promotions with a selection of fine hotels besides Starwood Hotels.

I still like Starwood Hotels. And I’ll keep staying in Starwood Hotels.

Still, I think this is a poor decision on the part of SPG to deny points for paid nights if they are in conjunction with award nights. Seems like irrational logic to me.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined in 2008.

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  1. I’ve had trouble with IHG for the same. Their service center cleaned things up after the fact (which was nice, given the pile of promos I had counted on for the one paid night).

  2. What happens if the reservations are broken up into two confirmation numbers, one night with points and the other two paid? Will I get points for the two nights?

  3. I wonder if it’s a technical issue, i.e., they can only debit OR credit points to an account and don’t want to deal with a situation requiring both.

  4. That is the point of this post. I used to do this as a strategy for cutting hotel costs. Starwood Lurker, the official spokesperson for SPG on FlyerTalk stated that consecutive nights at the same hotel made under award reservations and separate paid reservation numbers will be combined into one reservation. The paid nights will not earn base points if they are in the same stay as award nights.

    I have never heard a SPG member complain about not receiving points before in this situation of consecutive award nights and paid nights at the same hotel.

    I was always under the assumption that paid nights would simply be processed normally and the award stay would be different. I can’t recall a specific time when I did this, although I thought I had done it several times before. The one time I recall for certain following a hotel award stay with a paid stay was ten years ago and as I thought about it more, I recalled that it was my wife who had the paid stay and we extended our stay in the same room using points from my account. She got credit for the paid stay.

    After searching FlyerTalk I did find someone who mentioned only getting points for incidental spend like dining when they combined award nights and paid nights.

    The statement has been in the SPG promotion FAQ for over a year now, however, there is no indication in SPG Terms and Conditions stating this situation. Looks like SPG T&C should be updated to reflect this. It is not only promotion bonus points that are not earned when award nights and paid nights are combined. According to William (Starwood Lurker), no base points are earned for room rate on paid nights if they are in the same stay (consecutive nights at same hotel) as award nights.

    I am amazed that I have never heard anyone complain about not receiving points on a paid stay before. I would have if it had ever happened to me.

  5. Similarly, if you book a free nights reservation on points, but then pay for an upgraded room when you check in, you don’t get any SPG points for the price of the upgrade. Not sure why they bother with these restrictions — letting us earn points on all hotel charges (room, dining, even resort fee!) would make us all happy and even more loyal, and it would cost them just about nothing to do.

  6. for private stays i always try to combine payed and award stays. in north america i never had problems getting promotional points as stays posted atomatic and the staff never cares about it, e.g. 3 single nights get 3 stay credits plus 500 pts welcome amenity per stay=night. i asia or europe hotels try to combine all nights in one stay. maybe the problem happen, but never had this issue.

  7. @Kay – I have no doubt that you have been able to get three separate stays for award and paid nights, but one thing is for sure. If SPG policy is to combine different reservations for consecutive award nights and paid nights into one hotel stay, then the reservations computer technology will soon be developed to prevent 3 single consecutive nights posting as three separate stays.

    I think your example is why so many SPG members are unaware of the SPG policy that award nights and paid nights booked as consecutive nights at the same hotel make the entire stay an award stay.

    Not enough members have experienced a loss of points from paid nights to spread the word that according to SPG policy the member will have their paid nights treated as an award stay and not earn base points or promotion credit for paid nights that are in the same stay with award nights.

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