50% Bonus On AmEx To SPG Transfers

American Express Membership Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest are two of my three favorite transferable points currencies (along with Chase Ultimate Rewards).

Of those three transferable points currencies, the only “direct” transfer that can occur between them is from American Express Membership Rewards to Starwood Preferred Guest. The catch is that the transfer ratio isn’t especially lucrative — 1,000:333. Admittedly Starpoints are a bit more valuable than Membership Rewards points, but certainly not three times as valuable.

Through November 30, 2014, Membership Rewards is offering a 50% bonus on points transfers to SPG. This offer is available exclusively for US Platinum and Centurion cardmembers. That makes the transfer ratio 2:1 instead of 3:1.

Membership-Rewards-Starwood

The promotion is hard coded into the transfer ratio, meaning there’s no limit to the number of bonus points you can earn.

By my personal valuation, Starpoints are worth ~2.2 cents each, while Membership Rewards points are worth ~1.8 cents each.

I certainly don’t think it’s worth taking advantage of this promotion in general, unless:

  • You have a specific use in mind, and the numbers make sense
  • You’re really Membership Rewards “rich” and really Starwood “poor”

Under what circumstances could it make sense to transfer points?

If you have a specific Starwood hotel booking in mind and no other way of redeeming points for it. Starpoints can be incredibly valuable for hotel redemptions, so if you can find a hotel where you can get 5+ cents per point of value, it could make sense to transfer points (as much as it pained me, I redeemed points for five nights at the St. Regis Bal Harbour last Christmas).

St-Regis-Bal-Harbour-1

If you have the need to transfer points to an airline which partners with Starwood but not Membership Rewards. One of the great things about Starpoints is that you can convert them into airline miles at a 1:1 ratio, and for every 20,000 points you transfer you get a 5,000 point bonus. In other words, if you converted 40,000 Membership Rewards points into 20,000 Starpoints, you could then convert those into 25,000 airline miles.

For example, Starwood partners with Alaska and Japan Airlines, both of which have great programs. Both are more lucrative for longhaul premium cabin redemptions on Emirates than Emirates’ own Skywards program, which is a Membership Rewards transfer partner.

Emirates-A380-First-Class
Emirates A380 first class

Bottom line

I’m excited to see two Membership Rewards transfer bonuses announced in two days (yesterday a 35% transfer bonus to Virgin Atlantic was announced). While I realize it’s unlikely, I wish we’d see a transfer bonus to one of my four preferred Membership Rewards transfer partners —  Air Canada Aeroplan, British Airways Executive Club, Delta SkyMiles, or Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer.

Do you plan on transferring points from Membership Rewards to Starwood Preferred Guest under this promotion?

Comments

  1. I transferred points and did not get the bonus. Then I read the fine print: “You must be a Centurion® Member or a Platinum Card® Member enrolled in Starwood Preferred Guest® in order to participate in this offer.” I am a Gold card holder so did not get the bonus points. May want to update your post.

  2. I just log in to my membership reward but still see the old 1000:333 transfer rate, is this targeted or haven’t started yet? I see the 33% bonus on my Hilton instead.

  3. Did you know you can use this promotion to travel some flights in North America for just 10,000 / 20,000 MR in Economy and Business respectively?

  4. Did I read that right? One of your four preferred Amex MR transfer partners is Delta Skymiles? 😉 What aspirational trip are you collecting SkyMiles for?

  5. @ jeff — It seems that it’s limited to Platinum and Centurion members only, unfortunately. Updated the post to reflect that.

  6. “If you have a specific Starwood hotel booking in mind and no other way of redeeming points for it.”

    Well that’s a first world problem. What vacation spot only has starwood hotel and no other hotels?

  7. @ anon — I’m saying if it’s the only option you’ll consider in a city, or it’s the best option.

  8. Wow it’s not often I feel like Australian Centurion/Plat AMEX cardholders get a good deal, but the standard transfer rate from MR to SPG is 2:1 for us, didn’t realise US cardholders had a worse rate.

  9. Could you explain a bit more on your calculations – how do you estimate that Starpoints are worth ~2.2c, while Amex Points are worth ~1.8c. Would love to see how you come up with these. Thx.

  10. I just transfered 95,000 AMEX points on 9/24…do you think AMEX would give me the extra 20% on that transfer

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