Has the Starwood American Express card finally been outdone?

Most looking to maximize their credit card value agree that the Starwood American Express card is the best out there. Well, that’s what I thought as well, until FlyerTalker wanaflyforless gave his credit card presentation on Sunday in Ann Arbor. This credit card has been out there for a while and isn’t really a “secret” tip, so I feel comfortable sharing it (and I see others have already posted about it in public).

Anyway, check out the Asiana American Express card by Bank of America. This is the only card I know of where you earn TWO miles for every dollar spent. While the card has a $99 annual fee and only a 5,000 mile sign-up bonus, this seems like one heck of a card for those that spend a substantial amount of money on their credit cards.

Asiana’s award chart looks similar to ANA’s in that it’s distance based, although seems to be just a bit more expensive. The award chart can be found here. So for example, a 5,000-8,000 mile award, which is basically an east coast US to western Europe award, costs 75,000 miles in business class or 100,000 miles in first class. But since you earn two miles per dollar spent, you really only have to spend $37,500 for the business class award or $50,000 for the first class award.

As the distance of the award increases, the deals become less and less compelling. Nonetheless, for those wanting to travel from the US to Europe on awards, this card is unbeatable. Even for longer trips you can still come out ahead, although keep in mind that Asiana has fuel surcharges.

Comments

  1. Frankly I’m not too concerned, as I think offering two miles per dollar is quite intentional. No one would have this card if it only offered one mile per dollar, so this actually seems like a good strategy on their part.

  2. You can do better. I have a SPG card and a Amex Plat card that I used to get into airport lounges. You can convert Starwood points to Membership Rewards pts at a 1:3 ratio, beating out the 2 miles/$ return on Asiana card. I think all three alliances are represented in Amex’s line up of airlines. ANA is a member of Star Alliance and has a decent award chart.

  3. How do you conver Starwood points to Membership Rewards points at a 1:3 ratio? I’ve never heard of that, and I’m familiar with both cards….

  4. It’s Membership Rewards -> SPG at 3:1, and that’s not especially appealing 🙂

    Meanwhile, this is an outstanding card for a very limited set of circumstances.

    There aren’t too many opportunities to earn Asiana miles as a member based in North America other than credit card spend and by crediting flights (although they do offer very favorable terms under which to qualify for Star Alliance Gold — for up to FOUR YEARS).

    So you either need to decide to be an OZ member for crediting miles, or be able to earn your awards solely on credit card spend.

    And once you do earn those awards, their chart is very favorable for US East Coast – Europe. Indeed, the better value than the 8k mile award is the 10k mile award — only 80k miles in business, or $40k in spend. And that allows up to FOUR STOPOVERS.

    But the greater distance awards tend to increase proportionately in points and become less lucrative. This is not a chart you really want to fly to Asia under. With the 2 miles per dollar on all spen tthe chart becomes barely palatable.

    Personally, since I don’t make Europe my reward goal generally, this isn’t the card for me. But it can have real leverage for someone willing to put all their eggs in this basket, or with enough credit card spend to earn awards with this card AND other cards.

    Personally, I’ll still keep the flexibility that comes with the Starwood Amex. But there’s real punch here…

  5. Gary, I was referring to the other reverse conversion ( 1 SPG pt -> 3 Membership Rewards pts ), then on to ANA or Air France, etc. 🙂

  6. @ Gary — Spot on. I’m not running to get an Asiana credit card because of the fact that there are hardly any partner transfer options, which is a pain, especially when you’re close to an award. for certain people, it’s a great award, though!

    @ Paul — Both Gary and I are *very* familiar with the American Express Membership Rewards program, and I can assure you that’s not an option, but I’d be happy to be proven wrong. Can you point out where you can conver 1SPG>3MR points. I know it’s possible the other way around (1MR>1/3SPG), but that’s not exactly a deal.

  7. Now THAT sounds like a real trick. Do tell. I am not familiar with this option at all. I’d be surprised if it were possible.

  8. @ Lucky, to be fair it *IS* possible to transfer from Hyatt, SPG, and Priority Club to Asiana. My concern is that someone really needs to be earning their miles from credit card spend, rather than the myriad sources of points (promos, iDine, what have you) because the partners are in fact quite limited.

  9. @lucky, alas, you’re right. Called up MR rep and confirmed you can’t convert from SPG pts to MR pts. That’s really too bad.

  10. I have tried everything I can do to find this card. Bank of America tells me they only offer a VISA card–no American Express–and the VISA only offers 2 miles for every dollar spent on an Asiana ticket purchases and some grocery stores. I only gives 1 mile per dollar on other purchases. Can anyone help me find the American Express version that offers 2 miles for every dollar spent?

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