How to Transfer SPG Starpoints to Airline Miles

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Update: My transfer took two days. I made the transfer on December 18 and received the miles on December 20. Yours may take more or less time.

Starpoints (or SPG points) are the points earned from the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express.

Starpoints are the most valuable mile or point in my opinion–worth about 2.5 cents each.

They can be used for free hotel nights, complete vacations, discounted hotel nights, or transferred to airline miles with over 30 airlines. It’s not uncommon for hotel points to be usable for hotel stays and airline tickets. What’s unusual is to get a good value for your points doing both things. That’s true versatility.

Some of the airline transfer partners are some of my favorite mileage programs like:

  • American Airlines
  • US Airways
  • Delta
  • British Airways
  • Air Canada (Aeroplan)
  • Alaska
  • Hawaiian
  • Japan Airlines
  • Lufthansa (Miles & More)
  • Singapore
  • Virgin Atlantic

All the airlines listed have miles that are ideal for certain awards, so to be able to transfer Starpoints at a 1:1 ratio to all those airlines is a huge boon! Even better, for every 20,000 Starpoints transferred, you receive 25,000 miles in your airline account, a tidy 5k mile bonus.

I recently opened both the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express on the same day, so I am sitting on 70k Starpoints, mulling my redemption options.

Yesterday, I decided to transfer 20k Starpoints to my US Airways Dividend Miles account to receive 25k US Airways miles. My US Airways account had 100k miles in it (from a recent Share Miles promotion), and the award I want–roundtrip first class to South America–costs 125k US Airways miles.

How did I transfer the Starpoints (with screenshots)? What tips do I have for miles transfers?

The Transfer

You can transfer your Starpoints to airline miles online. The first step is to sign into your SPG account at spg.com.

Next, click Redemption Options. (By the way, I have Gold Status with SPG as a free benefit of my Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN.)

Screen Shot 2013-12-18 at 8.05.04 PM

Scroll down to find Transfer to Miles. Don’t be fooled by the Redeem for Flights option. I once labeled a Redeem for Flight redemption the worst award ever.

Screen Shot 2013-12-18 at 8.05.32 PM

You’re taken to a screen showing all the partners that explains some of the transfer rules. Continue to the transfer by clicking Transfer Now.

Screen Shot 2013-12-18 at 8.05.44 PM

Select the program into which you want to transfer Starpoints and enter the Frequent Flyer Number. Notice that there is no space to put in the account holder’s name. Forum reports indicate that some airlines require that the SPG and airline account holder’s names match while other airlines–including US Airways–have no such requirement.

Screen Shot 2013-12-18 at 8.03.54 PMEnter the number of Starpoints you want to transfer. Remember that every 20k points transferred gets a bonus of 5k miles (when transferring to a 1:1 partner.) I lucked out that I needed exactly 25k miles. I offer more tips on transfer sizes below.

Screen Shot 2013-12-18 at 8.04.08 PMA final screen shows the points being transferred and what your new Starpoints balance will be.

Screen Shot 2013-12-18 at 8.04.19 PM

I completed the transfer and got a confirmation screen, promising a follow up email.

Screen Shot 2013-12-18 at 8.04.42 PMThe follow up email arrived a few minutes later with the subject “We Received Your Starpoints Transfer Request”.

Screen Shot 2013-12-18 at 8.41.35 PM

The email said I should “allow up to four weeks for the transfer to be completed.” I am expecting a transfer time of 5-7 days.

One of the drawbacks of Starpoints transfers versus Membership Rewards or Ultimate Rewards transfers is the lag time of Starpoints transfers. In the meantime, I don’t have a way to hold my planned award, so I just have to hope that space remains when my miles arrive. If not, I’ll still have the miles and either move to Plan B for this award or use the miles on another award.

Transfer Tips

1. Increments of 20k Starpoints are the magic figures to maximize the 5k mile bonuses as a percentage of the transfer. For instance:

20k Starpoints = 25k American Airlines miles (25% bonus)

30k Starpoints = 35k American Airlines miles (17% bonus)

40k Starpoints = 50k American Airlines miles (25% bonus)

But what if you need 32k miles? Should you transfer 27k Starpoints and live with the lower bonus percentage or transfer 40k Starpoints and end up with 18k left over miles?

There is no single right answer. Consider whether you want the unused points to remain Starpoints or to seed your airline account for the next big award.

2. You can only transfer 79,999 Starpoints in a 24 hour period to airline accounts.

If you need to get 200k US Airways miles, for instance, to book two roundtrip business class awards to Europe, you need to transfer 160k Starpoints, and you can’t do it all at once.

In this case, you would want to transfer 60k points today, 60k tomorrow, and 40k two days from now. I think of the effective daily transfer limit as 60k Starpoints because I want to always transfer in 20k increments and 60k is the largest 20k increment allowed each day.

Recap

I value Starpoints so highly (about 2.5 cents each) because of how cheap hotel award nights are and because of their massive flexibility. Beyond being valuable as hotel points, they transfer to 30+ airlines.

With all those options, Starpoints can often be used to top up airline accounts when your current balance would get you nothing, but a few more miles would get the award of your dreams. That was my position yesterday. My 100k miles wouldn’t get me to South America since on my date, there was no economy or business class award space. But 125k miles will get me on a dream trip in style!

Twenty thousand Starpoints saved the day. And I still have 50k left to save future days.

You can earn 30k Starpoints from the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express (25k bonus after $5k spending in the first six months) and 30k more from the  Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express (25k bonus after $5k spending in the first six months) by getting both at once for yourself and your business.

Offer Details:

  • 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.

 


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12 COMMENTS

  1. Most bloggers seem to love Starpoints. However, the delay in tranfering the points to airlines miles is a severe handicap which many seem to minimize. Do you feel that the use of Starpoints primarily for hotels after their most recent devaluation justifies your high valuation?

    • I agree… the delay in transfer and the resulting availability uncertainty makes it hard for me to be comfortable with star points even though I have a few of them. I wonder if there is any way around the lag.

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