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Starwood Preferred Guest points are, in my opinion, the single most valuable points currency (I value them at ~2.2 cents each):
- Starpoints can efficiently be redeemed for hotel stays, both using “free night” redemptions and “Cash & Points” redemptions
- Starpoints can be transferred to 31 airline partners, which is more partners than any of the other three major transferable points currencies
- Starwood has the most favorable transfer ratio of any major transferable points currency — points transfer 1:1, but for every 20,000 points you transfer you get a 5,000 point bonus, meaning you’re basically earning 1.25 miles per Starpoint when transferring in efficient increments
The major downside to Starpoints is that points transfers to airline partners aren’t instant. In some cases they take a few days, and in some cases they take well over a week. Given how many airlines don’t allow award ticket holds and how fluid award availability is, that’s often pretty tricky.
Sometimes that’s not a huge deal. For example, American AAdvantage allows five day award holds, and Starpoints typically convert into AAdvantage miles within that timeframe.
Late last week I decided to convert 60,000 Starpoints into Alaska Mileage Plan miles, which convert into 75,000 Alaska Miles given the 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 points transferred.
I initiated the transfer on Thursday, February 19, 2015, and the points posted last night, Monday, February 23, 2015. So converting Starpoints into Alaska miles took four days for me. Of course this is very much a case of “your mileage may vary,” though the reports I’ve seen indicate that the miles seem to post on Mondays and Friday, which lines up with my experience.
While Alaska Mileage Plan doesn’t allow holds on award tickets, that was much faster than I was expecting. I don’t actually have a specific use for those miles in mind, though I figured I might as well transfer some points given how valuable Alaska Mileage Plan miles are (they have a unique mix of partners and allow stopovers on one way awards, which is pretty awesome). And that usually goes against what I suggest, which is to only transfer points when you have a specific use in mind.
Redeem Alaska Mileage Plan miles for travel in Cathay Pacific first class
Anyway, the ability to transfer Starpoints into airline miles is what makes the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Card from American Express among the most compelling cards for everyday, non-bonused spend. I hugely value Alaska miles, and this is the best earnings rate you’ll get for Alaska miles through credit card spend. I just wish the points transfers were instant, in which case this currency would be even more valuable to me.
If you’ve transferred Starpoints into Alaska miles, how long did the transfer take?