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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!

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

With great transfer partners like United and Hyatt, 2x points on travel & dining and a 50,000 point sign up bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for those looking to get into the points and miles game.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro APR on Purchases
Regular APR
16.49% - 23.49% Variable
Annual Fee
Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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