Sunday Reader Email Question: How to Best Accrue AA Miles Via Hotel Spend

by on September 11, 2011 · 11 comments

in American, Starwood

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TPG reader Anuj writes:

Next month I (along with family) will be staying in a hotel for two weeks, I can choose hotel and my company will pay for the stay. I would like to collect as many points on AA … what would be your approach? i.e. Hotel/Card etc … I have CO, AA, BA cards but no hotel card.

First off, I’d probably start with getting a hotel card so you can maximize the points earned on your hotel stay (check out this post for my rundown of the best hotel cards). Every major co-branded credit will give major bonus points for using it at the hotel chain. As far as hotel transfers to American Airlines, the most generous is probably Starwood, which has a 1:1 transfer ratio and gives a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 points you transfer. The Starwood Amex card currently has a 25,000 point sign-up bonus (10,000 after first purchase and then 15,000 after spending $15,000 within 6 months), with the $65 annual fee waived for the first year. You earn 2x points per dollar spent at Starwood properties plus the standard 2 points per dollar earned via the regular Starwood Preferred Guest program for your stays (free enrollment here).

So let’s pretend you are going to spend $200 a night for 14 nights, so $2,800 on this hotel stay and you stay at a Starwood hotel.

If you use your AA card, you will earn 2,800 AA miles (1 mile per dollar spent) plus 5,600 Starwood points (2 SPG points per dollar spent at Starwood hotels), which can then be transferred into 5,000 AA miles (you can only transfer in 1,000 point increments unless you are a Starwood Platinum) so the net haul is 7,800 American Miles.

If you open up and use a Starwood American Express, you’ll get:
5,600 SPG (2,800 x 2) SPG for using the card at a Starwood hotel, 5,600 SPG via the normal program 2x points per dollar, plus 10,000 for using your SPG Amex for the first time.
You end up with 21,200 Starwood points, so after the 5,000 point bonus for transferring at least 20,000 points, the net haul is 26,000 AA miles.

Plus, if you spend $12,200 more within 6 months, you’d get at least 12,200 more SPG points plus the 15,000 bonus points from the sign-up bonus, which equates to 27,200 more SPG points, which can be transferred into 32,000 more American miles.

Potential haul if you maximize the SPG Amex and transfer ratio: 58,000 AA miles, which can certainly help with any last minute efforts to lock in lifetime elite status before they change the program on December 1, 2011!

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  • Alexander Onishchenko

    since he’s going to do stays next month, he can take advantage of triple points promo which will net him 32400 starpoints (37400 AA miles)

  • Anonymous

    Good point, but just hope he chooses a property that participates!

  • Josh

    Its important how his company will be paying for the hotel though. I recently stayed at a Westin and was told that I wouldn’t get any SPG points since the stay was direct-billed (unlike airline miles, I guess). If they’re just going to reimburse then it doesn’t matter.

  • Anuj

    Wow !! didn’t know SPG points can be accumulated along with credit card miles, also, 1:1 ratio transfer is pretty good so I am planing to take the approach you suggested i.e. Starwwod Amex Card. Thank you very much for detailed explanation, and giving you expert insight !!

  • Anuj

    They will reimburse the cost of stay, so I can bill it to any personal card and then reimburse later…hope I can book at the rate that will get me points.

  • Anu_sh3

    I think they will allow me to choose from nearby hotels. Thanks, I will try to avoid excluded hotels.

  • Anuj

    Triple points will be awesome !! Thanks for the tip.

  • Alexander Onishchenko

    now if only you answered the email I sent asking about amex bumps gig, only to receive generic reply. lol

  • Anonymous

    I try to reply to each, but generally it takes a while due to the volume of detailed requests I get. As for bumps, that gravy train is over. You may be able to escalate it to the executive office/ supervisor, but Amex’ new policy is to require RSVP codes for targeted offers

  • Alexander Onishchenko

    yeah, I heard..that’s especially unfortunate for me that I JUST opened my first amex and couldnt get registered for a single promo (you name it). Damn.

  • Dan in STL

    I hope I’m not too late to chime in here. I like Starwood but I’ve run into the same situation where either my company does direct bill OR I have to pay with a company corporate card. I’ve had some success with Hyatt properties with direct bill where I was able to get the front desk people to give me the 500 miles per stay instead of the points (which are very limited due to the direct bill or corporate card). Hyatt runs some specials at times for bonus miles or 500 per stay instead of points. Plus I use my corp AMEX rewards as much as I can on top of that to convert those points over to miles later. Personally I like Holiday Inn Priority if I’m not on direct bill because they are the most generous with free hotel nights and I have to stay someplace once I get there for free on airmiles.

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