Maximizing Starwood Preferred Guest Airline Transfers: Transfer Times

by on September 11, 2012 · 27 comments

in Starwood

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One of the best features of Starwood Preferred Guest points is the ability to transfer them to over 30 airline partners and to score a 5,000-mile bonus for every 20,000 points you transfer.

But one question that comes up time and again is, how long exactly does it take for those transfers to go through? It’s a significant question because you could be searching for flight award availability, find an itinerary you want and then try to transfer your Starpoints after that. But if they don’t transfer to your airline frequent flyer account in time, you could end up losing your award redemption, so it’s important to know just how long it will take for those miles to show up.

Starwood claims that transfers can take up to 14 days, but usually transfers post much faster than that. It’s tricky to estimate just how quickly your transfer will post, however, because rather than processing transfers transaction by transaction, Starwood seems to process the transactions in parcels based on the day of the week, so there are no exact timelines, and even transfers to the same airline might take different amounts of time based on the day of the week that you ask for them.

To try to make some sense of it – and at least collect some hard data with exact transfer times, I set up transfers to several of SPG’s major airline partners on two different days, and here’s what I found.

Transfers made on Monday, August 27

Airline Date Transfer Posted
Air Berlin August 30
Alaska Airlines September 4
ANA August 30
Asia Miles September 10
Asiana Still not posted
British Airways September 4
Delta August 28 (the winner!)
Flying Blue Not yet posted
LAN September 4
US Airways September 3
United September 4

Transfers made on Tuesday, September 4

Airline Date Transfer Posted
Aeroplan Air Canada September 6
ANA September 10
American Airlines Not yet posted
Virgin Atlantic September 9

So as you can see, there’s quite a lot of variety in posting times – especially if you consider my first ANA transfer went through within 3 days, while the second one took a week to post!

Making things even more confusing is the fact that even though some of my original August 27 transfers didn’t show up in my frequent flyer accounts until a few days later, my airline accounts still listed them as having gone through on August 27 itself – even though those miles weren’t there when I originally checked on that day, so I could not verify when they finally did post.

What’s worse is, while some of my September 4 transfers still haven’t posted, even some of my original August 27 transfers haven’t posted yet. So stay tuned for an update when all these finally do go through, and I’ll try to parse out how Starwood sends these through to get a more accurate way of estimating airline transfers.

Because even getting a 5,000-mile bonus doesn’t matter as much if you can’t use those extra miles for the award you want.

My best advice would be, if you need to transfer points to miles in a hurry, check if the airline you’re transferring to is a partner of either American Express Membership Rewards (points that you earn on cards like the Premier Rewards Gold or the Platinum card) or Chase Ultimate Rewards (British Airways, United, Korean Air, Southwest) since those transfers process almost instantaneously and you won’t have to worry about losing your award opportunity. Just note, Amex transfers to ANA and Singapore Airlines take approximately 48 hours, as do Chase Ultimate Rewards transfers to Priority Club.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • gary leff

    “My best advice would be, if you need to transfer points to miles in a hurry, check if the airline you’re transferring to is a partner of either American Express Membership Rewards …since those transfers process almost instantaneously”

    That varies by partner as well, for instance Amex transfers to Singapore and ANA can take a couple of days. Faster than Starwood but not almost instantaneously.

  • Spencer W.

    In my recent experience (and matches what I’ve seen on FlyerTalk), AA completes the transfers on Tuesday nights (early-early Wednesday morning). I submitted a transfer from SPG on Wednesday morning. The miles didn’t show up available in my AAdvantage account until the following Wednesday morning.

  • Spencer W.

    Note, though, that once they arrived in the account (on that following Wednesday), the posting date showed as the date I submitted the transfer to SPG. I wonder if I could’ve called AA and gotten them to award a ticket in that interim week…?

  • bigredbears

    SPG processes transfers instantaneously, but certain airlines (particularly AA) asked to post miles on particular days. You can call SPG and request to “speed up” the process and they might or might not hit you with 3500 SPG points fee.

    I recommend googling with FlyerTalk threads. There is quite a bit there on SPG transfers.

  • Lauren

    thanks for doing this analysis!

  • Sean

    Appreciate the analysis here. I don’t see myself transferring SPG to airlines, but this is good to know in case I ever need to. Thanks

  • Russel Dann

    I have only used my SPG points with Singapore Airlines, it took 2 days to come off my SPG account, yet it took another 7 or so days before it showed up on my Krisflyer account. Thanks for looking into it, as it is very helpful to know the time it takes especially if your planning a trip.

  • Pointsandtravel

    My experience is that SPG transfers always takes from 3 to 7 days. They drive me crazy waiting!

  • PJ

    did you transfer 1K to each partner or 20 K to get 25K ? you are doing a lot of sacrifice for your analysis.
    2MR=1SPG with promotion 20K mr= 28 K avios etc

  • thepointsguy

    I transferred 1 point- as a SPG platinum you can transfer as little as 1 point per transaction

  • Michael

    Put in a transfer request for 20K miles to AA on 9/9 and posted to my account today 9/12

  • Joel Gilgoff

    You can pay Starwood 3500 points for quick transfer. I needed points for AA – and the transfer took only 24 hours.

  • Glorytog

    Joel, I checked SPG and they said there is no ‘expedite service’ even I pas 3500 pts. Are you sure about this?

  • SedonaJoel

    Call back and ask for someone else. They do offer that service. I used it about 60 days ago and had the miles transferred in less than one day.

  • R B

    Just transferred SPG points to Thai Airways on 12/23. Will let you know when it appears on my RoyalOrchidPlus account.

  • R B

    Points have appeared on my Royal Orchid account as of Jan 3rd. So it took a bit less than 2 weeks from SPG to Thai.

  • Yuki-branka

    thank you for good analysis.
    I asked to transfer my starpoint to JMB;JAL milage bank
    It takes only 5 days.

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  • Jerry

    for Air France, just did it, i took me 8 days

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  • Gary Zeune

    I have 700k AmEx Gold Reward Points. I’d love to get AmEx SPG card. But can I xfer my 700k Gold points to SPG?

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