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I value Starpoints at ~2.2 cents each, which is the highest I value any individual points currency on a per point basis. The reason for that is because of how versatile Starpoints are.
They can efficiently be redeemed for hotel stays (including Fifth Night Free and Cash & Points stays). But part of what I love about Starpoints so much is that they can also efficiently be converted into airline miles. While most hotel loyalty programs will let you convert points into airline miles, it doesn’t typically represent a good value.
So I figured I’d talk a bit more about Starwood mileage transfers.
SPG airline mileage transfer partners
Starwood has over two dozen airline transfer partners, including the following:
|AeroMexico Club Premier||ANA Mileage Club||Emirates Skywards||Qatar Airways Privileges Club|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||American Airlines AAdvantage||Etihad Airways Guest||Saudi Arabian Airlines Alfursan|
|airberlin Top Bonus||Asiana Airlines Asiana Club||Gol Smiles||Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer|
|Air China Companion||British Airways Executive Club||Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles||Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus|
|Air France/KLM FlyingBlue||Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||Japan Airlines (JAL) Mileage Bank||United Mileage Plus|
|Air New Zealand Air Points||China Eastern Airlines Eastern Club||Korean Air Skypass||Virgin Atlantic Flying Club|
|Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan||China Southern Airlines' Sky Pearl Club||LAN Airlines LANPASS Kms||Virgin Australia Velocity|
|Alitalia MilleMiglia||Delta Air Lines SkyMiles||Lufthansa Miles & More|
For a vast majority of programs, points transfer at a 1:1 ratio. The exceptions are Air New Zealand, LAN, and United.
Maximize the 5,000 point transfer bonus
There’s an added bonus on top of the 1:1 transfer ratio. For every 20,000 Starpoints transferred you get a 5,000 point bonus, which means you’re really earning 25,000 airline miles per 20,000 Starpoints, or 1.25 airline miles per Starpoint. Of course this assumes you transfer points in increments of 20,000.
This is part of what makes the SPG Personal Amex and SPG Business Amex so lucrative. For example, a lot of people use American’s co-branded credit card for everyday spend, assuming that’s the best way to earn American miles.
Really if they want to maximize the number of American miles they earn for everyday spend they should use an SPG card instead, since they’d earn an average of 1.25 American miles per dollar spent, rather than just one mile per dollar spent. We’ve even sometimes seen transfer bonuses on top of that in the past, like last August.
As I said above, I value Starpoints at ~2.2 cents each. Part of that valuation is based on being able to earn 1.25 airline miles per Starpoint. That’s basically establishing a value of ~1.76 cents per airline mile, which seems fair to me.
For example, Alaska frequently sells miles for ~2.1 cents each, which I consider to be a great value, and is something I often take advantage of. Those are miles I could have also transferred over from Starwood.
Redeem Alaska miles for travel in Emirates first class
Restrictions on converting Starpoints into miles
There are a few things worth noting when it comes to converting Starpoints into airline miles.
First of all, the mileage account and SPG account need to have the same name, though keep in mind you can make Starwood household transfers. As long as members are registered at the same address you can transfer points between accounts, which is a great way to transfer points from multiple SPG accounts to a single mileage account.
Second of all, Starwood lets you transfer at most 79,999 Starpoints to a mileage account in a 24 hour period. Since you get 5,000 bonus miles for every 20,000 Starpoints transferred, in practice you won’t want to transfer more than 60,000 Starpoints per day. That shouldn’t be an issue, but it is something to be aware of.
Lastly, converting Starpoints into airline miles isn’t an instant process. It can take anywhere from a day to a couple of weeks, so you’ll want to transfer those points well ahead of when you actually want to redeem them.
Being able to convert Starpoints into airline miles is one of the best uses of those points. Even if you like to redeem points for hotel stays, it’s something which stabilizes the value of Starpoints, since there are so many currencies you can convert those points into.
Ultimately we don’t know how much longer this option will be around given the merger with Marriott (though even that is in limbo at the moment), but for the time being converting Starpoints into airline miles is a fantastic use of points, and is how I spend most of my Starpoints.
Do you like to convert your Starpoints into airline miles, or do you prefer using them for hotel stays?