Right now 40k Starpoints plus taxes will get you a roundtrip economy class trip to Europe any time of year, 65k Starpoints will get you a roundtrip business class ticket, and 80k will get you a roundtrip in first class.
Starpoints always transfer to dozens of airlines at a rate of 20k Starpoints to 25k miles. On top of that standard bonus, until December 9, 2013, Aeroplan is giving a bonus of up to 25k miles on transfers of hotel points to Aeroplan miles.
These transfer bonuses combine to mean you can get up to 56% more Aeroplan miles than you had Starpoints, which you can redeem on a cheap award chart on Air Canada flights or any Star Alliance carrier.
If you redeem to Western Europe on United and US Airways flights, you’ll pay only 40k/65k/80k Starpoints in economy/business/first with no fuel surcharges.
Luckily I’m flush with Starpoints from getting the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and business version in September.
How can you take maximum advantage of this promotion? How can you avoid the fuel surcharges? Where do you search? How do you search? Where do you book? How good of a deal is 40k Starpoints to Europe or 80k Starpoints in first class?
Starpoints always transfer to dozens of airlines at a 1:1 rate. For every 20k transferred, you get 5k bonus miles. My favorite airlines transfer partners are American Airlines and US Airways.
Ordinarily I wouldn’t consider Air Canada’s program Aeroplan because Aeroplan collects fuel surcharges on most partners, though not on United and US Airways flights.
But Aeroplan is running a compelling promotion through December 9, 2013. Transfer hotel points and get bonus Aeroplan miles. All transfers from the listed partners will be summed to determine one’s bonus threshold.
The relevant transfers are:
- 40k Starpoints transfer to 50k Aeroplan miles + 10k bonus Aeroplan miles for 60,000 total Aeroplan miles (50% bonus). This is enough miles for a roundtrip economy award to Western Europe* from the continental US, Alaska, and Canada.
- 65k Starpoints transfer to 80k Aeroplan miles + 10k bonus Aeroplan miles for 90,000 total Aeroplan miles (38% bonus). This is enough miles for a roundtrip business class award to Western Europe* from the continental US, Alaska, and Canada.
- 80k Starpoints transfer to 100k Aeroplan miles + 25k bonus miles for 125,000 total Aeroplan miles (56% bonus). This is enough miles for a roundtrip first class award to Western Europe* from the continental US, Alaska, and Canada.
*Western Europe includes the countries defined as Europe 1 on the chart, Europe 2 is more expensive.
Economy and first class are relatively better deals than business class at the prices relevant to this promotion. This is compounded by the fact that business class award space is very scarce on United and US Airways flights to Europe at the moment.
Maximizing Aeroplan Awards
Aeroplan awards allow for two stopovers in addition to your destination.
Aeroplan collects fuel surcharges on most partners. For instance, fuel surcharges of over $500 per person per roundtrip are instituted on Lufthansa economy awards. Two partners on which no fuel surcharges are collected are United and US Airways flights.
United and US Airways don’t have intra-Europe flights, so if you want to maximize the stopovers, you’ll have to take them in the US, possibly as part of free oneways.
Searching for United and US Airways Space
We want to book our Aeroplan award with United and US Airways space to avoid fuel surcharges. The best place to search for space on United flights is united.com. On an advanced search, tick the box to search only United flights.
Search results–and the search calendar–will only display United flights.
To search for only US Airways flights, head to usairways.com, which only displays US Airways flights.
Aeroplan will have access to all Saver United space and Low US Airways space.
You can mix-and-match US Airways and United flights and still have no fuel surcharges.
Once you’ve found your United or US Airways flights, head to aeroplan.com to book them.
Booking on Aeroplan.com
Booking the award space on aeroplan.com is easy. Search the dates and cabins you found on united.com or usairways.com.
Here I’m doing a two person search from Chicago to Frankfurt in economy.
Results are displayed with the total price for everyone displayed.
I selected United flights.
The total price for two passengers is 120k miles + $337 in taxes.
If I had selected the Lufthansa space, the price would be over $1,000 higher because of a $516 fuel surcharge per person.
I priced out a roundtrip award on the same route in Global First and the cost is 125k Aeroplan miles + $169 per person.
That means you can go to Western Europe in United Global First Class for only 80k Starpoints roundtrip or you can book the same flights with 135k United miles roundtrip. I’d book with the Starpoints.
Getting the Miles
The easiest way to get Starpoints is to get the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express with 25,000 bonus Starpoints after spending $5k in the first six months.
- Starpoints® bonus: earn up to 25,000 bonus points: 10,000 after your first purchase and another 15,000 after you spend $5,000 within the first 6 months of Cardmembership
- That’s enough for a weekend getaway to a Category 4 Hotel.
- Earn up to 5 Starpoints® for each dollar of eligible purchases at participating SPG hotels and resorts – that’s 2 Starpoints for using the Card in addition to the Starpoints you earn as an SPG member. Earn 1 Starpoint for all other purchases.
- Free Hotel Nights: redeem Starpoints at over 1,100 hotels in nearly 100 countries worldwide – with no blackout dates. Some hotels may have mandatory service and resort charges.
- Free Flights: redeem Starpoints on over 350 airlines with SPG Flights – with no blackout dates
- No limits on the number of Starpoints you can earn
- $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $65
- Terms and Restrictions apply.
Application Link: Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
Your Starpoints won’t arrive before this promotion ends, but we’ve seen similar promotions before, so you’ll have Starpoints in case this promotion returns.
I love this deal, but you should know that it can take up to two weeks for transfers from Starwood to Aeroplan to arrive. The exact award space you want may be gone by the time your Aeroplan miles are in your account.