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No, Starwood Hasn’t Eliminated Transfers To Virgin America; Should You Transfer Your Starpoints Now?

Update, 1/6: Today is final day to make transfers from Starwood to Virgin America. Those points transfer at a 20K:25K ratio. Starting on 1/9 you can transfer points from Virgin America to Alaska at a 1:1.3 ratio, making the effective SPG: Alaska ratio 20K:32.5K.

Update, 12/28: SPG has announced that 1/6/17 will be the last day to transfer points to Virgin America. Will you transfer points from SPG to Alaska via Virgin America at a 1:1.625 ratio before then?


Originally posted on 12/21:

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

-The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express offers 25K points for spending $3,000 in 3 months.

-The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express offers 25K points for spending $5,000 in 3 months.


On Monday I wrote about an incredible use of Starpoints. You can transfer 20K SPG points into 25K Virgin America Elevate points. Effective 1/9/17 you’ll be able to transfer Virgin America points into Alaska miles at a 1:1.3 ratio, so those 20K Starpoints will become 32,500 Alaska miles.

That’s an effective 1.625 Alaska miles per Starpoint, an awesome transfer option considering:
The breadth of partners that Alaska has. They include American, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Korean, JAL, and Qantas.

-The very generous stopover and routing policies that Alaska has. You can get a free stopover on a one-way award. You can route from the US to Israel via Asia or from Hawaii to Asia via the US48, etc.

-The very generous award change and cancel policies. You can redeposit an award 60 days before a flight without any fees.

The very generous award charts that Alaska has.

A one-way flight to Europe or South America on American is just 20K coach off-peak, 30K coach peak, 50K business, or 62.5K first with no fuel surcharges.

One-way Flights to Asia on award-winning Cathay Pacific are just 30K coach, 35K premium economy, 50K business, or 70K first with no fuel surcharges.

One-way Flights to Israel on Cathay Pacific are 50K coach, 55K premium economy, 62.5K business, or 70K first with no fuel surcharges and a free stopover in Hong Kong if you want one. Cathay starts flying to Israel on March 26. You must call Alaska to book travel on Cathay Pacific.

You’ll effectively get 1.625 Alaska miles for each Starpoints, so just divide Alaska’s award rates by 1.625 to see how many effective Starpoints those routes will cost.

In other words a one-way business class flight to Israel would cost 62,500/1.625=about 38,461 Starpoints thanks to the 25% transfer bonus from Starwood to Virgin America and 30% transfer bonus from Virgin America to Alaska! A 40K Starpoints transfer would net 65K Alaska miles via Virgin America, more than enough for that award.

The big winners were those who already transferred Starpoints to Virgin America for the JetBlue Pointsmatch promo.

Several bloggers and DD readers have noted that Virgin America no longer appears on the SPG transfer page.

I reached out to Starwood and they confirmed that it’s merely a glitch and it will be restored:

 

I chatted with SPG and the agent confirmed that he would be able to transfer my Starpoints to Virgin America, despite the website glitch.

Of course eventually the transfer option will be eliminated as the Virgin America program is merged into Alaska’s. But until then, you can funnel Starpoints into Alaska miles at a great rate.

The only reason I haven’t done so yet is that I’m not sure how much I trust Alaska. They devalued their Emirates award chart without notice. They say they’ll never do that again, but if their American or Cathay Pacific redemption costs grow too high, do I really expect them to give fair notice?

It’s hard to say.

Alaska is also notorious for having a nasty audit department that heavily frowns on booking awards for others and credit card churning.

So I won’t proactively transfer Starpoints at this rate. But if you’re ready to book an award in the near future, it’s an awesome transfer ratio.

Then again, with new opportunities made possible by the Marriott merger such as new hotels, Southwest companion pass, and the recent United transfer bonus, there are more amazing uses for Starpoints than ever.

Will you transfer Starpoints into Alaska miles at a 1:1.625 ratio while the opportunity lasts?

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23 Responses to “No, Starwood Hasn’t Eliminated Transfers To Virgin America; Should You Transfer Your Starpoints Now?”

  1. Jerry Says:
    1

    What can u do with Alaska points?

    ReplyReply
  2. H Says:
    2

    @Jerry:
    You can buy ice cream with them at very cheap rates

    ReplyReply
  3. Dov Says:
    3

    thank you for correcting your stupid competition

    ReplyReply
  4. Jerry Says:
    4

    @H funny. Meaning to use for what airlines.

    ReplyReply
  5. Dan Says:
    5

    @Jerry:
    Read the post and click on the links in the post.

    ReplyReply
  6. P Says:
    6

    Cathay to Isreal , how do you start out that flight from NYC? Do you need to fly to Hong Kong first ?

    ReplyReply
  7. Moshe Says:
    7

    I tried searching flights NYC to TLV. It tells me there are no flights to that destination

    ReplyReply
  8. Dan Says:
    8

    @P:
    Yes.
    You can stopover there for free for as long as you want. Highly recommended 🙂

    @Moshe:
    You need to call to book Cathay flights.
    Also, Cathay service to TLV starts 3/26/17.

    ReplyReply
  9. Gregg Says:
    9

    Dan, If I currently have points at Virgin would you recommend transfering them now or waiting until I have a plan for them?

    ReplyReply
  10. Josh Says:
    10

    Where on the website do you transfer from virgin to alaska?

    ReplyReply
  11. Mendy Says:
    11

    Can I then transfer from Alaska to Korean Airlines? Is it 1:1?

    ReplyReply
  12. Josh Says:
    12

    @Josh: Nevermind, duh.. wasn’t paying attention to the availability date.

    ReplyReply
  13. Jon Says:
    13

    You say Alaska is notorious for being tough on churning…I had a few Alaska credit cards and got a sign-up bonus for each one…if I have the points already am I safe or do I still risk them confiscating?

    ReplyReply
  14. Josh818 Says:
    14

    I transferred my points to Virgin for the Jetblue promotion. I couldn’t find anyone to buy them and I have zero use for them. Any ideas on good places to trade or get rid of them?

    ReplyReply
  15. Mahyar Says:
    15

    Dan- seems like it’s better to just hold onto starpoints if we don’t have a particular redemption in mind with Alaska? I too am worried about a potential devaluation like they did before

    ReplyReply
  16. L Says:
    16

    @Mahyar:
    Worried about the same. Would have to be for a trip for next fall, but don’t have work schedule yet. Might be too risky to prospectively xfer even though the bonus is tough to pass up

    ReplyReply
  17. ER Says:
    17

    Anywhere to search Cathay availability online? Doesn’t look like their inventory is on expertflyer

    ReplyReply
  18. Dan Says:
    18

    @ER:
    I use Qantas.com and AsiaMiles.com

    ReplyReply
  19. David Jacobson Says:
    19

    @Josh818: Josh – Our nonprofit organization Yeshiva Educational Services would love to have those miles. We have been helping day schools improve our children’s chinuch nationally since 2000, and regularly need to fly to different cities to help schools.

    ReplyReply
  20. Denverite Says:
    20

    Thanks Dan so much for explaining all this. Transferred enough for the whole family to get to TLV in J on CX, and with this bump from Virgin to Alaska it’s less than 39k SPG points pp!

    ReplyReply
  21. Mike Says:
    21

    @josh818 i will trade u

    ReplyReply
  22. Yaakov Says:
    22

    I requested a transfer from spg to virgin on 1/6. After a few days I called to see why the transfer hadn’t gone through. After an investigation I received the following email:
    I hope you are having a nice day. My name is Steven and I am a Customer Experience Specialist with Starwood Preferred Guest.

    Thank you for contacting Starwood Corporate Customer Service regarding the Virgin America Airline transfer you requested on January 06, 2017. I was sorry to learn the transfer that you requested was not correctly submitted, and the points did not successfully post to your airline account. I can certainly understand how frustrating this may have been and I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

    After reviewing the phone call you placed at the time of the request, I did hear you ask our associate to transfer 40,000 Starpoints to your Elevate account. It appears our associate documented your SPG account correctly regarding the inquiry, but failed to initiate the transfer to your airline. As of now, we no longer have a partnership with Virgin America and we are unable to transfer to that specific airline. I know nothing can make up for this error, but as gesture of goodwill, I have requested 2,000 Starpoints be deposited into your account. Please allow up to 7 business days for the bonus Starpoints to post. We will be sure to meet with the associate who assisted you and coach her on the correct process to follow when handling this type of request.

    Mr. Baron, I value your membership with Starwood Preferred Guest. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reply to this email. I wish you a pleasant rest of your week.

    Best Regards,

    Steven Dellecese
    Customer Experience Specialist
    Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide

    I tried arguing but nothing helped. Any suggestions?

    ReplyReply
  23. Dan Says:
    23

    I’d ask for them to transfer 32.5K to Alaska.

    ReplyReply

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