20,000 Starwood Points Will Now Transfer to 30,000 American Miles

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While the most obvious thing to do with Starwood points is use them for hotel stays, I think the most valuable thing to do with them is transfer them to airline miles.

That’s because:

  • They transfer 1:1 into most airline programs (indeed, more airline transfer partners than Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership Rewards)
  • You get 5000 bonus miles when you transfer points into 20,000 miles.

When transferred in 20,000 mile increments, you’re getting 1.25 airline miles per Starpoint with most transfer partners. That means a Starwood is worth at least 25% more than any of their airline partners. I consider them worth even more than that given their option value and their reputation as a store of value (they have less of a history of devaluations than most programs, although far from zero).

The downside is that points do not transfer instantly from Starwood to airline partners. In my experience Starwood transfers to American take 3-4 days. Fortunately American still lets you hold awards under most circumstances for 5 days, so you can lock in an award before making the transfer.

American AAdvantage is offering a 20% bonus on transfers from Starwood through August 7. That means 20,000 Starwood points will convert to 30,000 miles during the promotion period.

American will be adding that extra 20% within 7 days from the time the transfer posts to an American account. That means the extra bonus won’t show up in time to ticket award reservations held prior to making a transfer. So it’s more a play for future award booking, or for awards you’re confident will remain available, rather than one for locking in an award and then transferring.

It’s a way to leverage those Starpoints for Etihad first class awards, for instance.

You never want to transfer more than 60,000 Starpoints to an airline in a day if you can avoid it. That’s because Starwood won’t post more than 79,999 miles to an airline in a day. 60,000 Starpoints posts 75,000 American miles (and then you’ll get 15,000 more American miles later with this promotion). By capping your transfers at 60,000 in a day, you maximize your 5000 mile bonuses for transferring points to miles.

If you want to transfer more than 60,000 Starpoints just split your transfer across multiple days.

I consider Starwood Starpoints the most valuable rewards currency. This transfer bonus is big, and very tempting, but I have too many American miles as it is. They ran it last July and I didn’t take advantage of it then. I’m going to hold onto my Starpoints and continue accumulating more.

(HT: Dan’s Deals)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Along with the increased Citi AA 75k offer, this is making me nervous. The devaluation that is to come will be of epic proportions.

    Also, FYI, I got screwed once by the SPG transfer because it took longer than the 5 day hold and I ended up having to buy AA miles to complete the award but was unable to cancel the transfer to boot.

  2. @Gary sez: “I consider Starwood Starpoints the most valuable rewards currency. This transfer bonus is big, and very tempting, but I have too many American miles as it is. ”

    In the same breath he touts the starpoint as “the most valuable rewards currency” and then also tells us why it is probably time to finally put the lid on that bogus claim: people who are smart about how they play the mile/point game would generally earn their airline miles from other sources and would not need to transfer hotel points — which starpoints are — to airline miles, except perhaps to supplement a few miles when one is just short for a free trip. To earn hotel points @ 1/$ for the purpose of transferring them to airline miles is simply silly when there are more efficient ways to earn air miles!!!

    One reason I can think of for why anyone would want to transfer a lot of starpoints to miles could be that despite their touted value of 2.2 cents each, starpoints do not buy much as a hotel currency since SPG awards — especially at the top end — are among the highest-priced in the business. That, in fact, sets up an interesting dynamic that may also explain why SPG provides such favorable transfer rates of their points to miles. SPG hates for people to use starpoints to get free hotel stays since reward stays earn the company no money. So, they make the points worth less for redeeming for free stays. However, then in order to decrease their point liability — i.e., points that count against their bottom line until redeemed — they encourage, through favorable transfer rates, the transfer of starpoints to airline miles…and the bloggers go wild about how the starpoint is “the most valuable rewards currency”. Yeah, right…

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