10 awesome uses of Starpoints

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I figured I’d share 10 great things you can do with Starpoints, ranging from just a few thousand points to 75,000 Starpoints. Also, I’m not focusing on just one type of redemption, but all the different ways you can redeem Starpoints.

In increasing order of the number of points required, here they are:

3,000 Starpoints — a night at the Le Meridien Chiang Rai

While revenue rates are typically reasonable as well, one property I’ve always wanted to visit is the Le Meridien Chiang Rai. Heck, I’m borderline tempted to move there based on how nice it looks. And at just 3,000 Starpoints per night it’s a bargain as well.

Le_Meridien_Chiang_Rai_Rates

10,000 Starpoints (plus $180 per night) — Westin Europa & Regina Venice

Venice is one of the tougher cities out there for redeeming hotel points, given the limited chain option. One good value is the Westin Venice, which is a category six Starwood property. It even has fairly good cash & points availability, making it just 10,000 Starpoints plus $180 per night. Given the revenue rates of upwards of $600USD per night, I’d say that’s a darn good value.

Westin_Venice

40,000 Starpoints — Aer Lingus roundtrip business class between Boston and Dublin

The great thing about Starwood is how many airline transfer partners they have. You can transfer Starpoints to any of over two dozen mileage currencies at a 1:1 ratio, and for every 20,000 points you transfer you get a 5,000 point bonus.

One of those transfer partners is British Airways, and one of the very best uses of their points is for travel on Aer Lingus between Boston and Dublin. They have a distance based award chart, and Boston to Dublin is just under 3,000 miles in each direction, making it 12,500 miles one-way in coach or 25,000 miles one-way in business class.

That means for a total of 40,000 Starpoints (or 50,000 British Airways Avios) you can fly roundtrip business class between Boston and Dublin. You can find more details on how to make such a redemption here.

Aer_Lingus_Business_Class

40,000 Starpoints — five nights at the Walt Disney World Swan

If you have kids and are looking to make them happy, it’s tough to beat the experience or cost of redeeming Starpoints at the Walt Disney World Swan. The Swan is a category four property, making it 10,000 points per night. That being said, when redeeming points for a Starwood stay, the fifth night is free, making it an average of 8,000 points per night, which is an absolute bargain. During high season rates can be upwards of $350 per night.

Walt_Disney_World_Swan

48,000 Starpoints — five nights at the Westin Whistler Resort & Spa during ski season

If you’re into skiing, the Westin Whistler is a great resort, and only a category five property, making it 12,000 points per night. Since the fifth night is free, on a five night redemption you’re paying only 9,600 Starpoints per night. During high season the property goes for over $600 per night, so that’s another amazing use of points.

Westin_Whistler_Resort

60,000 Starpoints — Cathay Pacific one-way first class between the US and South Africa via Hong Kong

Alaska charges just 70,000 miles for a one-way award ticket on Cathay Pacific between the US and South Africa, and they even let you stopover in Hong Kong if you’d like. That’s one of the very best award redemptions out there, given that this gets you two 12+ hour Cathay Pacific flights in first class.

Cathay_Pacific_First_Class

60,000 Starpoints — Qantas one-way first class between the US and Australia

One of my other favorite Starwood airline transfer partners is American, given their lucrative award chart for travel to Australia. They charge just 72,500 miles for first class between the US and Australia, and if you’re lucky enough to snag Qantas A380 first class, that’s a heck of a bargain. Just be sure to book either close to departure or when the schedule opens if you’re hoping to make this redemption.

AAdvantage_Award_Australia

70,000 Starpoints — Nights & Flights redemption at a category four Starwood property

One of the best kept secrets of the Starwood program is the “Nights & Flights” program, whereby you can redeem Starpoints for a package consisting of a five night stay at a category three or four Starwood property plus 50,000 airline miles. The rates are as follows:

Starwood_Nights_Flights

Ordinarily 50,000 airline miles would cost you 40,000 Starpoints (since you get a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 points transferred), so that basically means you’re paying just 30,000 Starpoints for five nights at a category four property, or 6,000 points per night. That’s an amazing deal, and could be redeemed at the Walt Disney World Swan, for example.

70,000 Starpoints — Emirates roundtrip business class between New York and Dubai

Another one of Starwood’s airline transfer partners is Japan Airlines, and they have a fairly lucrative distance based award chart for travel on Emirates.

Japan_Airlines_Chart

For a roundtrip of less than 14,000 miles they charge just 85,000 miles in business class, and as luck would have it, a roundtrip between New York and Dubai is just under 14,000 miles. Score!

Emirates_A380_Business_Class

75,000 Starpoints — A round the world Star Alliance business class ticket

US Airways is another Starwood airline transfer partner, and they charge just 90,000 miles for travel between the US and North Asia in business class. Best of all they let you route via Europe, and you can even have a stopover there if you’d like. In this post I explain the best way to go about booking a 90,000 mile business class award between the US and North Asia, as I find it a great way to visit multiple cities and also try multiple airlines.

Anyway, those are some of the coolest ways to redeem Starpoints, in my opinion. If anyone has any other “gems,” please share them below!

Links:

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Comments

  1. @Steve, Got bills to pay…
    Regarding, “Nights & Flights redemption at a category four Starwood property”. For another 10k you are giving up another 5 nights at a category 4 hotel. That’s NOT a great redemption.
    In my view 5th night free at a cat4 is a much better redemption than Nights and Flights. For most of us, acquiring airline points is easier than hotel points.

  2. I wish Starwood would add Nights & Flights option for hotels in category 5. With the devaluation most hotels in urban cities in North America are category 5.

  3. Lucky,
    Great post. The only redemption rate I am getting for the Chiang Rai is 4000 points per night. How are you scoring 3000?

  4. Lucky, yesterday I asked you how easy it was to redeem F on EK using AS miles. In your article here, you say to use JL on EK on business. Is it just as easy to redeem F on EK using JL as it to redeem them on AS?

  5. @lucky,

    Great ideas if you’re in the US. How about starting a RTW or an F trip to Australia from Europe? Where are the sweetspots?

    @Moe Safer,
    LM Chiang Rai is a Cat2 property, meaning it’s 3000 Starpoints during the weekend and 4000 during the weekday.

  6. Who in their right mind would transfer 40,000 Starpoints to BA or list it under 10 awesome uses or Starpoints?

  7. Two Nearly Impossible to Book uses of Starpoints:

    Qantas FC to anywhere in Australia with AA miles. Read “Is Qantas A380 first class award space between the US and Australia a myth?” from May 2nd, 2013 on this blog. Just click on Qantas under Categories on the right side of this page.

    Lie flat J seats between Europe and North Asia. Nearly all of the “best products between Europe and Asia” from the linked post above are equally unavailable. Even to Beijing in January when the average high is 36 degrees.

    “Awesome” awards are so last year. Now the best outcomes are the “good work if you can get it” ones. Not to mention “this will have to do”….

    🙁

    Unless one has enough miles and points with many programs to book FC Anytime awards on any airline you choose. And top level elite status with enough hotel chains to obtain suite upgrades wherever you want to stay. In which case, everything is still fine….

  8. Perhaps not aspirational, but extremely practical – 5 night stay at Cat 5 hotel in Manhattan or London. Cost – 48,000 points, or (at Ben’s 2.2 cents/pt valuation) $1056, or $211/night. Much nicer hotels than any you can find (most nights) for revenue rates anywhere near $211 all-in.

  9. If you are heavenly lucky enough to get a Qantas FC seat for a close in departure, I doubt that you can use Starwood points. They take forever to transfer.

    Points are 1;1, no categories or promotions, and you risk a FR from AMEX if you Manufacture Spend, though people do it. I feel that points are difficult to accumulate. And I think (??) it has foreign TXACT fees.

  10. Ben — I like your suggestion of Cathay Pacific one-way first class to South Africa via Hong Kong, but what would you suggest for a return to the US, especially to JFK?

  11. I have the biz card. Can I get the bonus on another biz card I get under someone elses name but with same EIN (different SS# than first biz card)?

  12. Wouldn’t a great use of Starpoints be transfers to airlines that block-off/restrict premium-cabin space for partners, like first-class on Singapore (incl. suites) or Lufthansa/Swiss (first class is available but opens up too close to departure for most regular travelers)?

    That would allow you to get an award ticket on a product that’s normally difficult-to-impossible to obtain because you have to book using “native” miles for ultimate flexibility.

    I live in Houston and still have family in Europe (incl. Russia), so Singapore’s direct flight to Moscow (IAH->DME as part of SQ61: IAH-DME-SIN) is a very convenient (even more now that it flies daily!). Doesn’t make sense to use points on economy flights (due to YQ which is half the cost of an economy ticket) but firt-class is 57,375 KrisFlyer miles (after 15% discount for online booking) which means that you have to transfer 47,375 Starpoints for a one-way first-class (40,000*1.25 + 7,375*1.0). If you have further use for Singapore miles, transferring in full blocks of 20,000 makes it even cheaper.

    P.S. In case anyone’s wondering, it took a little under two weeks for my Starpoints to post to KrisFlyer account.

    P.P.S. Lucky, thank you for covering IAH-DME trip in SQ F. That’s how I came across your blog a few months ago when planning a trip for my mom and have been following ever since. My mom’s a very frugal person and she doesn’t mind SQ Y (other than food it’s great – plenty of space and nice IFE) but I used your report & photos to convince her to let me use my miles to treat her 🙂

  13. @ ABC — Sorry, to clarify, you’re saying instead redeeming 80,000 Starpoints for two five night stays (with the fifth night free)? That’s potentially a good deal as well, but if you value airline miles and have a five night stay at a category four hotel, I think the “Nights & Flights” value is tough to beat.

  14. @ Moe Safer — As Mike G notes, 3,000 Starpoints is the weekend rate while 4,000 Starpoints is the weekday rate.

  15. @ Loweeel — 40,000 Avios is the cost for a one-way business class ticket between New York and Dublin. 50,000 Avios is the cost for a roundtrip business class ticket between Boston and Dublin.

  16. @ Wayne — They have access to the same business class award space. Both programs have their pros and cons. Japan Airlines has a distance based award chart but only allows roundtrips, while Alaska has a zone based chart with generally higher costs, though allows one ways and even stopovers on one ways.

  17. @ Travelista — Starting in Europe is a bit tougher as there aren’t any “sweet spots” quite like the one between the US and North Asia.

    However, I do think business class between Europe and North Asia is an absolute bargain at 80,000 miles, and business class between Europe and South Asia is a bargain at 90,000 miles as well. But not really a way to make it a round the world ticket, though.

  18. @ HikerT — Again, everyone’s different. Of course I’d much rather transfer Membership Rewards points to BA when there’s a transfer bonus, but if you’re looking to travel between the US and Europe and only have Starpoints, isn’t that still the best value?

  19. @ Robert Hanson — For what it’s worth I presently have three Qantas first class tickets booked over the coming year between the US and Australia. They were tough to snag, but certainly aren’t impossible to come by.

    As far as flat beds to North Asia go, EVA still has plenty of award space, and Austrian and Zurich are good about releasing space within a few weeks/months of departure, so don’t find the situation to be quite that bad.

  20. @ Jorge — Keep in mind American allows five day holds on award tickets and miles seem to transfer the same day every week, so I find American is one of the few programs where you can reliably transfer Starpoints to book a specific ticket.

  21. @ Craig — Depends where your miles are. Possibly Cathay Pacific first class as well? Or otherwise Emirates first class via Dubai for 100,000 Alaska miles? Another option is South African Airways nonstop business class using 60,000 United miles.

    Africa can be tough for awards, but if planning far in advance shouldn’t be impossible.

  22. @ Raj — To be honest I’m not sure and I don’t want to give you the wrong answer. I’d suggest calling American Express and asking them to be on the safe side.

  23. @ Ivan Y — Happy you found the blog, and well done convincing mom!

    Transferring to programs like Miles & More can be a great deal as well. I guess everyone has to decide for themselves how much they value products like Lufthansa first class in advance, given that between the US and Europe they charge 85,000 miles plus fuel surcharges, vs. 67,500 miles through United without fuel surcharges.

    Singapore is generally a better value, though the thing worth keeping in mind there is that they’re also Membership Rewards transfer partners, and those points are typically easier to rack up.

    Agree with you on both counts, though.

  24. I’d have to agree with Hiker T. If all you have is 40k Starpoints and want to redeem 50k Avios for BOS-DUB then no, you still don’t waste the Starpoints by converting them. Instead you find another way to get the Avios, perhaps via the Chase BA card or the Benz Amex Plat.

  25. @Lucky My bad…

    I was using a website to search for EU to Asia flights that must be secretly owned by Air China, as 60% of what it showed in J was Air China. And no EVA or THAI at all.

    I just saw your post on the UA site now being searchable for EVA, and sure enough, early 2014 has seemingly daily space on EVA and THAI from Paris to TPE. I haven’t even had time to check other routes.

    So Thank You for that…

    As for those 3 Qantas flights you have booked, are those 3 seats on 1 flight or 1 seat on each flight? Because if I went and left my wife at home, I would never hear the end of it. And no, she will not fly over the day after me either. So if you are getting 2 or more seats per flight, I’ll give it a try.

  26. @ Robert Hanson — Hah, those were one seat on three different flights. Though they do *sometimes* release two seats as well.

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