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American Express Membership Rewards, the points program of cards like the Platinum Card and the Premier Rewards Gold as well as the new EveryDay cards is currently offering a 50% transfer bonus to Starwood Preferred Guest (targeted) through November 30, 2014.
Starwood Preferred Guest is one of the four hotel transfer partners of American Express, but the normal transfer ratio is a dismal 3:1, which means you’d normally need to transfer 60,000 Membership Rewards points to get 20,000 Starpoints (which can then be transferred on to a number of airlines at a 25% bonus). However, with this bonus, you could transfer 40,000 Membership Rewards instead to earn the same 20,000 Starpoints, which would transfer to 25,000 airline miles.
Some of the best airlines to transfer from Starwood include American Airlines, US Airways or Alaska Airlines, since these are not airline transfer partners from American Express. Per my September Monthly Valuations, I value American miles at 1.7 cents each, US Airways miles at 1.9 cents each, and Alaska Airlines miles at 2 cents each, so transferring 40,000 Amex points (which I value at 1.8 cents each or $720), would equate to 25,000 miles at each of the following: American Airlines ($450), US Airways ($475), or Alaska ($500). So, as you can see transferring to Starwood for the purpose of then transferring to airlines might not make the most sense, since you do lose some value to your points.
This 2:1 ratio is better than the normal transfer rate, but it’s still not amazing. The bonus is hard-coded into the transfer ratio, so there’s no need to register, and the points should transfer automatically. Just log in to the Membership Rewards site, where you can then select Starwood under the hotel section of their transfer partners.
If you were to redeem for free nights at Starwood Hotels, here’s how many Amex points you would need for each category per night:
Category 1: 2,000-3,000 SPG (4,000-6,000 Amex)
Category 2: 3,000-4,000 SPG (6,000-8,000 Amex)
Category 3: 7,000 SPG (14,000 Amex)
Category 4: 10,000 SPG (20,000 Amex)
Category 5: 12,000-16,000 SPG (24,000-32,000 Amex)
Category 6: 20,000-25,000 SPG (40,000-50,000 Amex)
Category 7: 30,000-35,000 SPG (60,000-70,000 Amex)
Overall, this bonus isn’t all that great, so I wouldn’t speculatively transfer your Membership Rewards points to Starwood unless you’re looking to top up your Starwood account for a specific redemption, or if you’re trying to transfer over to an airline that isn’t also a Membership Rewards transfer partner, such as American Airlines, US Airways or Alaska Airlines.
How would you maximize this transfer bonus? Please share your ideas in the comments below.
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
Foreign Transaction Fee
$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.