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I love my American Express points, but I use them exclusively for airline transfers, especially when there are transfer bonuses.
The Starwood ratio is 3:1, which means 1,000 Amex points normally only gets you 333 Starpoints – not a good deal in my opinion. While Starpoints are more valuable, I don’t believe they are 3 times as valuable – maybe 1.5 times.
However from September 1- 14, 2011, American Express is running a 25% transfer bonus, so 1,000 Membership Rewards points = 417 Starpoints. This isn’t earth-shattering, but the first thing that popped into my mind was that this is at least a somewhat better option for people looking to beef up their American Airlines Million Miler status before their new stricter qualification rules go into place December 1, 2011.
American Airlines isn’t a transfer partner of American Express, so the best way to transfer your Amex points into American miles is via Starwood. Once they are Starwood points, you can then transfer to American and you get a 5,000 mile bonus for every 20,000 Starwood points transferred.
So essentially you want to get your Amex points into 20,000 Starwood increments. I’ll do the math for you – 48,000 Amex points transfers to 20,000 Starpoints, which transfer to 25,000 AA miles. Not the best use of Amex points, but if you need to top up your AA account before million miler status qualification is restricted to flights, this could be an option.
It could als0 be an option to get some Starwood points for the US Airways Grand Slam promo – you’ll need at least 800 Starpoints to get a “hit,” but only Platinum members can transfer in increments less than 1,000 points. So everyone else still would have to transfer 3,000 Amex to Starwood to get 1,251 Starwood points, 1,000 of which can be transferred to US Airways to qualify as a hit. 36 hits and you’ve got 100,000 bonus US airways miles – enough for a US to Europe award in business class.
Frankly, the most effective way to accrue a bunch of Starwood points is just getting a Starwood American Express Personal or Business Card. The current offer is 25,000 points: 10,000 upon first purchase and 15,000 extra when you spend $15,000 within the first 6 months.