Category Archive for 'Starwood'

HURRY! Redeem Just 500 Starpoints For 2 WNBA Suite Tickets At Madison Square Garden, Kosher Food And Beverages Included; Cubs Suite Redemptions Also Come With Kosher Food!

Saturday, April 12th, 2014

Update: The WNBA deal is now sold out!

Join the 34,600+ people who follow @DansDeals on twitter and you’ll get a tweet when a deal is posted on DansDeals.com!
You can even have Twitter send you a text message whenever a new deal is posted.

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Related:
-Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express: 10,000 bonus Starpoints for spending $1 plus 15,000 bonus Starpoints for spending $5,000 which will leave you with 30,000 Starpoints after spending $5,000!
-Using Miles For Sports Experiences
-Starwood auctions
-United auctions
-Delta auctions

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Generally speaking airline miles are great for flights and hotel points are great for hotel stays.  Rarely is it smart to use them for other redemptions where the value you get isn’t nearly the same.

However last May I burned miles for non-travel for the first time for an experience I’ll never forget. I got to run out onto the field in middle of an Indians game and literally walk off with 2nd base, which is sitting in my office today.  That inspired someone else to burn miles to buy a Bar Mitzvah present for their son that he’ll never forget-throwing out the first pitch at a Dodger’s game.

At any rate, Starwood has some incredible deals now for WNBA games.  You get 2 seats with access to the SPG suite at Madison Square Garden for just 500 Starpoints! (Each package comes with 2 seats)

Food and beverages are included and you can request kosher food, which will be catered from Abigael’s, free of charge!

Even if you don’t care to watch a WNBA game, kosher dinner for 250 points each is a steal :D   If you value your Starpoints at 2 cents each that’s just $5!

Available dates that are not on Shabbos or Yom Tov include:
-07/06 (12 seats remain)
-07/16 (12 seats remain)
-07/29 (10 seats remain, this is during the 9 days, so I imagine Abigael’s will cater this with fish)
-08/10 (8 seats remain)
-08/17 (12 seats remain)

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Cubbies fan? Starwood has some incredible deals for you as well.
Redeem points for club box seats, the SPG luxury suite, or for your kid to run onto the field during player introductions.

If you redeem for the luxury suite you can have it catered with kosher food as well!

Coming soon SPG will also offer Cubs fans the chance to bid in an auction using their Starpoints for some once-in-a-lifetime experiences including:

-Throw Out the Ceremonial First Pitch Before a Cubs Game
-Announce “Play Ball” before the game from the public address booth
-Kid’s Honorary Cubs Manager Role at Wrigley Field
-Enjoy Your Own Private Luxury Suite at Wrigley Field (Just last week a DansDeals Forum member won an entire suite with 16 seats for the Yankees at Cubs all catered with kosher food and beverages for 90,000 Starpoints!)

Keep checking that link for the auction start dates and start racking up more Starpoints!

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Getting To Israel Using Starwood Starpoints

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Related: The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express gives 10,000 points after your first purchase and a 15,000 point bonus for spending $5,000 within 6 months besides for the 5,000 points you’ll get from base spending.
You can also use your Starpoints to stay free at the the highly rated Sheraton Tel Aviv and next year at the W Tel Aviv – Jaffa
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As you probably know already, the Starwood card is one of the best cards out there for general spending. You can use just a couple thousand points for free hotel stays or transfer points into miles with dozens of airlines at favorable ratios. If you are transferring points you may also want to consider Starwood’s Nights & Flights option where you can save 8,000 points on a mileage transfer and any future 5 night stay in a category 3 or 4 hotel.

To make a mileage transfer just login to your Starwood account at SPG.com. If you have never made an account at SPG.com you may need to set one up. Locate your SPG number on the Starwood AMEX statement where it lists how many points you earned in the past month and for the year. Then you can setup for SPG.com account. Click here to transfer Starpoints into airline miles. Transfers don’t happen instantly. They can take between 1-20 days. On average figure on about 2-7 days though.

The rates in this chart are for flights from NYC to Tel Aviv. Rates from other North American cities should be similar, but may differ depending on the airline. Remember to try to do your own research online when searching for award flights. With enough time and effort you should be able to easily book something over the phone. Remember the phone agents just want to get you off the phone as quickly as possible and aren’t likely to want to try to find any creative routings to get you your free flight.
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Summary:

Rates listed in this post are for round-trip travel and are assuming that you maximize the 25% point bonus for transferring Starpoints in blocks of 20,000 points (which you may or may not be able to do depending on the number of passengers so you may have leftover miles)

Before you transfer try to find availability to see which transfer you should do!

Star Alliance:
-For United travel, transfer points (from 48K) to ANA (no fuel surcharges)
-For Star Alliance travel on airlines besides United, transfer points (from 48K) to ANA (fuel surcharges apply)
-For Star Alliance travel with lap children or on select carriers, transfer points (from 64K) to Air Canada (fuel surcharges on select carriers)
-For travel on Singapore, transfer points (from 60K) to Singapore (fuel surcharges apply)
-For travel on Lufthansa or Swiss, transfer points (from 48K) to Lufthansa (fuel surcharges apply)

OneWorld/El Al:
-For USAirways travel, transfer points (from 40K) to JAL (no fuel surcharges)
-For OneWorld travel, transfer points (from 40K) to JAL (fuel surcharges apply)
-For Air Berlin and USAirways travel, transfer points (from 48K) to BA (no fuel surcharges)
-For BA travel, transfer points (from 52K) to BA (fuel surcharges apply)
-For OneWorld or El Al travel besides for BA travel, transfer points (from 64K) to AA (no fuel surcharges)
-For OneWorld travel on airlines besides Air Berlin and USAirways, transfer points (from 64K) (no fuel surcharges)

Skyteam:
-For Delta travel transfer points (from 40K) to Flying Blue (no fuel surcharges)
-For Skyteam travel on airlines besides Delta transfer points (from 40K) to Flying Blue (fuel surcharges apply)
-For Skyteam travel on airlines besides Delta, transfer points (From 68K) to Delta (no fuel surcharges)
-For Air France/KLM travel during a promo period (Such as this one), transfer points (From 20K) to Flying Blue (fuel surcharges apply)
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Tips for finding saver award availability:

Award tickets to Israel are always tough, though that’s a function of it being an expensive route to fly compared to the distance of the flight.
1. Check availability at least daily as award seats can come and go quickly.
2. Be willing to connect in Europe for much better availability. Flights on low cost carriers from Europe to Israel can also be dirt cheap and it can make sense to use miles to get to Europe and then buy a flight to Israel from there.
3. If you are ready to fly on a whim airlines often open up saver awards the day of or the day before a flight. Otherwise a couple months in advance is a typical sweet spot.
4. Realize that not all partners will be displayed online and you need to do your own research on partner sites and/or call to find partner availability.
5. Airline search engines are only so powerful. Use free stopovers and open-jaws to your advantage. If you are flying from somewhere besides NYC just search from NYC-Tel Aviv instead of from Los Angeles to Tel Aviv. You can always piece together an award by searching for Los Angeles-NYC separately then NYC-Tel Aviv, especially if you are willing to have a long connection, change airports in NYC, or are willing to stay overnight in NYC.
6. The same goes for tickets from NYC. Search from other gateways like Toronto and Philadelphia and piece together the flights to get there afterward. Consider searching from NYC to European cities and piece together an award from Europe to Israel. You may find availability from NYC to London and then from Paris to Tel Aviv but a computer would never put that open jaw ticket together. Instead you can check out London and Paris on the way to Tel Aviv. Maybe you’ll even get to check out Venice and Rome on the way home. Sometimes you can even save miles by doing that!
7. Don’t forget to book a free domestic trailing flight anytime in the year after you arrive back to your destination. Delta, United, and USAirways will allow you to fly NYC-Tel Aviv-NYC and then stopover in NYC for up to a year before continuing on to say, Los Angeles, for no extra miles.
8. Find award availability before transferring miles. Once they’re transferred they can’t be reversed!
9. Need help? You can post your travel dates and which miles you have in this DDF thread and ask for help. Consider offering a monetary or mileage reward to the forum member that can come up with the best award ticket to meet your needs and you may find that suggestions will come flooding in!
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Airlines that fly nonstop from North America to Israel:
-Air Canada from Toronto (bookable via Star Alliance miles)
-United from Newark (bookable via Star Alliance miles)
-Delta from JFK (bookable via Skyteam miles)
-El Al from JFK, Los Angeles, Newark, and Toronto. (bookable via AA, connections to Eilat for the same mileage available)
-USAirways from Philadelphia (bookable via OneWorld miles)
None of these carriers offer First Class seating to Israel for miles on nonstop flights. (El Al does offer First Class, but you can only use AA miles to redeem for Coach or Business Class on El Al).

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Star Alliance:
Nonstop flights from North America include Air Canada from Toronto and United from Newark. These flights all have lie-flat business class seating and have no first class. In July the Air Canada flight will switch to a 787, offering what will likely be the best business class between North America and Israer.

Star Alliance offers the best availability for flights to Israel by leaps and bounds. Besides for the nonstop flights from North America there are many options via Europe in coach, business, and first class worth looking into including Swiss via Zurich, Lufthansa via Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, and Munich, Brussels via Brussels, Austrian via Vienna, Turkish via Istanbul, SAS via Copenhagen, Singapore via Frankfurt, Aegean via Athens, LOT via Warsaw, or a mix of carriers like United from Newark to one of dozens of European cities and a European carrier to Tel Aviv.
By utilizing free stopovers and open jaws the possibilities are endless if you take the time to research your options leg by leg.

You can search for Star Alliance award availability on sites like United.com and Aeroplan.com. ANA also offers a powerful Star Alliance search tool though you’ll need to have 100 miles in your account to use their Star Alliance search. Though if you perform an ANA-only search on a route they serve (like JFK-Tokyo) the site will then allow you to search Star Alliance airlines on different routes as well (just remember to click on connecting flights to expand the selection).

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Using ANA miles, from 48,000 Starpoints.
-Miles required: 60K coach, 90K business, 140K first.
-Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 ANA miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means 48,000 Starpoints in coach, 72,000 Starpoints in business, or 112,000 Starpoints in first.
-Other transfer partners: AMEX Membership Rewards partner at a 1:1 ratio.
-Fuel surcharges: None on United awards.
-Mileage expiration: 3 years after they are earned regardless of activity.
-One-way awards: Officially not allowed but there are “workarounds.”
-Stopovers: ANA allows for 4 stopovers, though each additional flight will add to the fuel surcharges.
-Changes/Cancellation: ANA allows free date changes, but other changes or cancellation results in a 3,000 mile penalty.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: None.
-Infant fees: 10% of full fare.

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Using Air Canada Aeroplan miles, from 64,000 Starpoints.
-Miles required: 80K coach, 165K business, 230K first.
-Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 Aeroplan miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means the equivalent of 64,000 Starpoints in coach, 132,000 Starpoints in business, or 184,000 Starpoints in first.
-Other transfer partners: AMEX Membership Rewards partner at a 1:1 ratio.
-Fuel surcharges: If you fly on these carriers you will pay a fuel surcharge: Adria, Air Canada, ANA, Asiana, Austrian, LOT Polish, Lufthansa, TAP Portugal, and THAI.
If you fly on these carriers you will not pay a fuel surcharge: Aegean, Air China, Air New Zealand, Avianca/TACA, Brussels, Copa, Croatia, EgyptAir, Ethiopian, SAS, Singapore, South African, Swiss, TAM, Turkish, and United.
-Mileage expiration: Air Canada miles require activity every 12 months to keep them active.
-One-way awards: Allowed for half the amount of a round-trip.
-Stopovers: Air Canada generously allows for 2 free stopovers, so you can check out 2 American or European cities in addition to Tel Aviv for the same amount of miles!
-Changes/Cancellation: There is a $90 charge to change or cancel an award ticket and an effective $180 charge to cancel within 21 days of departure.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: None.
-Infant fees: Flat fee of just $50 in coach, $100 in business, and $125 in first.

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Using Singapore miles, from 60,000 Starpoints.

-Miles required: 75K coach, 115K business, 150K first.
-Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 Porringer miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means the equivalent of 60,000 Starpoints in coach, 92,000 Starpoints in business, or 120,000 Starpoints in first.
-Other transfer partners: AMEX Membership Rewards partner at a 1:1 ratio.
-Fuel surcharges: None on United.
-Mileage expiration: 3 years after they are earned regardless of activity.
-One-way awards: Allowed for half the amount of a round-trip.
-Stopovers: 1 free stopover
-Changes/Cancellation: $20 change fee, $30 cancellation fee.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: None.
-Infant fees: 10% of full fare.
-With Singapore miles you can fly on Singapore from NYC to Tel Aviv on Singapore to Frankfurt in business or first class and then to Tel Aviv on Lufthansa which you can’t do with other miles.

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-Miles & More Group (Adria, Austrian, Brussels, Croatia, LOT Polish, Lufthansa, and Swiss): For departures from the USA nonstop to Tel Aviv: 80K coach, 135K business. For departures from the USA to Tel Aviv via Europe: 100K coach, 185K business, 290K first. For departures from Israel to the USA nonstop or via Europe for Miles & More accounts with an Israeli address on file: 60K coach, 105K business, 170K first.
-Transfer partners: Starwood transfer partner at a 20K:25K ratio.
-Fuel surcharges: Apply on all airlines except LOT.
-Mileage expiration: Miles expire 36 months after they are earned regardless of activity.
-One-way awards: Allowed for half the amount of a round-trip.
-Stopovers: 2 free stopovers.
-Changes/Cancellation: There is a $60 charge to change or cancel an award ticket.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: None.
-Infant fees: None except for airport departure taxes.
-Children ages 2-11: Receive a 25% discount on the mileage requirement on Miles & More flights.
-Expanded award availability on Lufthansa and Swiss business and first class.

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OneWorld:
Oneworld finally has a nonstop option between North America and Israel thanks to USAirways flight from Philadelphia to Tel Aviv. Other flights to Israel include Air Berlin via Berlin and Dusseldorf, BA via London, Iberia via Madrid, and Royal Jordanian via Amman. BA availability is good, but has high fuel surcharges.

El Al is not part of OneWorld (and therefore can’t be booked with miles from other airlines like BA) but they are non-alliance partners with AA. It’s more advantageous to book El Al travel with AA miles than it is with El Al miles (the miles received from the HAS Advantage card, a terrible card for your spending) because El Al adds fuel surcharges onto their own tickets, but you do not pay any fuel surcharges for booking El Al tickets with AA miles. However you can only book coach or business on El Al when using AA miles, first class must be booked with El Al points. El Al has nonstop flights from JFK, Newark, Los Angeles, and Toronto to Tel Aviv.
You can check OneWorld availability on flawed sites such as AA.com, BA.com, and Qantas.com. (BA or Qantas frequent flyer account required) You can check El Al availability on elal.com (Matmid account required). You can also check availability by calling AA.

Using USAirways miles, from 64,000 Starpoints.
-Miles required: 80K coach, 120K business, 180K first.
-Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 USAirways miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means the equivalent of 64,000 Starpoints in coach, 96,000 Starpoints in business, or 144,000 Starpoints in first.
-Fuel surcharges: Apply for flights on partners British Airways (very high) and Iberia (nominal). There is a $50 award ticketing fee.
-Mileage expiration: USAirways miles require activity every 18 months.
-One-way awards: Not allowed.
-Stopovers: USAirways allows for 1 free stopover OR 1 free Open jaw.
-Changes/Cancellation: There is a $150 charge to change or cancel an award ticket
USAirways is draconian in not allowing any changes to partner award tickets once travel has begun.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: $75 within 21 days
-Infant fees: 10% of full fare.
-Partner airline awards must be booked over the phone.
-5,000 mile discount on USAirways flights with a USAirways credit card.

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Using American miles, from 64,000 Starpoints.
-Miles required: 80K coach off-peak (10/15-05/15 annually) via Europe, 90K coach on El Al flights from North America or peak via Europe, 135K business on El Al flights from North America or via Europe, 180K first via Europe.
Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 AA miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means 64,000 or 72,000 Starpoints in coach, 108,000 Starpoints in business, or 144,000 Starpoints in first.
-Fuel surcharges: Apply for flights on partners British Airways (very high) and Iberia (nominal).
-Mileage expiration: AA miles require activity every 18 months.
-One-way awards: Allowed for half the amount of a round-trip.
-Stopovers: Allowed at the North American gateway city.
-Changes/Cancellation: AA allows free date and routing changes, but changes to the origin or destination city or cancellation costs $150 for non-elites.  If you cancel more than 1 ticket at a time the fee is just $25 after the $150 fee for the first ticket.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: $75 within 21 days for non-elites.
-Infant fees: 10% of full fare.
-Some partner airline awards must be booked over the phone.
-USAirways flight has no fuel surcharges.  Otherwise the best shot at availability without paying fuel surcharges would be to take AA to London or anywhere else in Europe and then El Al from London or anywhere else in Europe to Tel Aviv. This routing would be 80,000 miles between October 15-May 15 or the same 90,000 miles as the nonstop El Al flight from the US during the summer.
You need to call American to book travel on El Al. You should do your research first by opening a Matmid account and searching for awards on elal.com. Remember to search for flights from all of El Al’s cities in North America and in Europe as you can use other American and partner flights to reach those El Al cities.

The image below shows a business class award found on El Al’s site which is the same as the availability that American can access. While El Al charges 3,000 points (150,000 AMEX MR) + $350 for fuel surcharges American would charge 135,000 miles (~108K Starwood) and no fuel surcharges for the same flight.

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Using BA Avios, from 48,000 Starpoints
-Avios required: 60K coach on Air Berlin and on USAirways, 65K coach on other carriers, 100K business on Air Berlin, 120K business on USAirways, 130K business on other carriers, 195K first.
-Other transfer partners: AMEX Membership Rewards partner at a 1:1 ratio, Chase Ultimate Rewards partner at a 1:1 ratio.
Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 BA miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means 48,000 Starpoints in coach, 80,000 Starpoints in business, or 156,000 Starpoints in first.
-Fuel surcharges: Apply for all Trans-Atlantic flights except on Air Berlin, Aer Lingus, and USAirways.
You can drastically reduce fuel surcharges for travel on Iberia via Madrid by transferring your BA Avios into Iberia Avios. You must have your Iberia account open for 3 months before you can do such a transfer.
-Mileage expiration: BA miles require activity every 36 months.
-One-way awards: Allowed for half the amount of a round-trip.
-Stopovers: Each leg costs additional mileage, but you can stopover at any connection city for as long as you want.
-Changes/Cancellation: $40.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: None
-Infant fees: Instead of cash, BA charges just 10% of the adult mileage required on international segments.
-Some partner airline awards must be booked over the phone.

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Using JAL miles, from 40,000 Starpoints
-Miles required: 50K coach, 80K business, 115K first.
Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 JAL miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means 40,000 Starpoints in coach, 64,000 Starpoints in business, or 92,000 Starpoints in first.
-Fuel surcharges: Applies to most travel, none of USAirways.
-Mileage expiration: 3 years after they are earned regardless of activity.
-One-way awards: Not allowed.
-Stopovers: JAL allows for 2 stopovers, though each additional flight will add to the fuel surcharges.
-Changes/Cancellation: JAL allows free date changes, but other changes or cancellation results in a 3,000 mile penalty.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: None
-Infant fees: 10% of full fare.
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Skyteam:
Skyteam generally has the worst award availability. You can try searching some Skyteam availability on Delta.com and AirFrance.com. Options to Israel besides Delta’s nonstop JFK flight are on Czech via Prague, KLM via Amsterdam, Air France via Nice or Paris, Aeroflot via Moscow, and Alitalia via Rome.

Using Flying Blue (Air France/KLM) miles, from 20,000 Starpoints
-Miles Required: 25K coach during a promo period, 50K coach otherwise, 62.5K business during a promo period, 125K business otherwise.
Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 Flying Blue miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means 20,000 Starpoints in coach or 50,000 Starpoints in business for a promo award. For regular tickets and partner ticket 40,000 Starpoints per ticket in coach or 100,000 Starpoints per ticket in business.
-Other transfer partners: AMEX Membership Rewards partner at a 1:1 ratio
-Fuel surcharges: Apply on all airlines except Delta.
-Mileage expiration: Flying Blue miles expire 20 months unless you credit a Skyteam flight to Flying Blue.
-One-way awards: Allowed for half the amount of a round-trip.
-Stopovers: Flying Blue allows for 1 free stopover.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: None.
-Infant fees: 10% of full fare.
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Using Delta miles, from 68,000 Starpoints.
-Miles Required: 85K-170K coach, 140K-350K business.
Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 Delta miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means 68,000-136,000 Starpoints in coach or 112,000-280,000 Starpoints in business.
-Other transfer partners: AMEX Membership Rewards partner at a 1:1 ratio
-Fuel surcharges: Apply on select partners but generally won’t apply to/from Israel.
-Mileage expiration: None.
-One-way awards: Not allowed.
-Stopovers: Delta allows for 1 free stopover OR 1 free Open jaw.
-Changes/Cancellation: There is a $150 charge to change or cancel an award ticket. No changes or cancellations are allowed within 3 days of the flight.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: None.
-Infant fees: 10% of full fare.
-It can be brutal trying to find Delta low award availability and Delta’s terrible website only makes it more difficult. Plus Delta used to be a good option for booking Air France/KLM but now availability when booking those direct with Flying Blue is much better than when booking with Delta.

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Find a mistake or better method of getting to Israel with Starpoints? Hit the comments!

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Starwood 2014 Annual Category Changes

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014

Update: Tomorrow is the last day to book hotels that are getting more expensive at the current lower rate.  Remember that hotels change local time, so if you want to book the S. Regis Rome you would have to lock that in before 6pm EST.
Don’t forget to call back on the 4th to get back points if you have booked a hotel that is getting cheaper.

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Originally posted on 02/20:

Related:
-Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express:
Earn 10,000 bonus Starpoints for spending $1 and another 15,000 bonus Starpoints for spending $5,000 within 6 months for a total of 30,000 earned Starpoints with $5,000 of spending.

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Starwood 2014 Complete List Of Annual Category Changes

Book stays before 03/04 local hotel time to lock in current rates for future stays.  Almost all hotel stays are cancellable for free until a certain amount of time before the stay (read the fine print).

Just over 20% of SPG hotels are changing category, of these 56% are moving down and 44% are moving up.

Most hotels chains reorganize their categories yearly to keep them current with the average rates that they charge.  The beauty of hotel points is that there are no blackout dates or capacity controls, if there is a room you can use points for it.  So even if a major event is in town and rates are quadruple what they normally are you can still use the regular amount of points as long as the hotel is not sold out of standard rooms.

This list is subject to change and other hotels can still be added to it.

Starwood’s standard award chart will not change:
If you stay 5 nights with points the 5th night is free.
Category 1 = 2,000 (weekend), 3,000 (weekday).
Category 2 = 3,000 (weekend), 4,000 (weekday).
Category 3 = 7,000
Category 4 = 10,000
Category 5 = 12,000 (Low Season), 16,000 (High Season).
Category 6 = 20,000 (Low Season), 25,000 (High Season).
Category 7 = 30,000 (Low Season), 35,000 (High Season).

The capacity controlled cash and points chart doesn’t change either:

 

Point transfers to airlines with a 25% bonus for 20K transfers remains unchanged as well.

Sample hotels going more expensive:
S. Regis Rome, was 6, now 7.
Sheraton Waikiki, Honolulu, Oahu, was 5, now 6.
Sheraton Maui, was 5, now 6.
Westin Maui, was 5, now 6.
W Westwood Los Angeles, was 5, now 6.
W S. Francisco, was 5, now 6.
W Austin, was 5, now 6.
S. Regis Atlanta, was 5, now 6.
Four Points by Sheraton Miami Beach, was 4, now 5.
The Nines, Luxury Collection, Portland, OR, was 4, now 5.
Hotel Ivy, Luxury Collection, Minneapolis, was 4, now 5.
Westin Hilton Head, SC, was 4, now 5.
Sheraton Suites Cuyahoga Falls, OH, was 3, now 4.
Sheraton Anchorage, was 3, now 4.
Westin Baltimore Airport, was 3, now 4.
Sheraton Edison, NJ, was 2, now 3.
Sheraton Garden Grove, Anaheim, CA, was 2, now 3.
Sheraton Pittsburgh Airport, was 2, now 3.
Aloft Chicago O Hare, was 2, now 3.
Sheraton Baltimore Airport, was 2, now 4.
Aloft Baltimore Airport, was 2, now 3.
Four Points by Sheraton Detroit Airport, was 1, now 2.

Sample hotels getting cheaper:
Le Parker Meridien Palm Springs, was 6, now 5.
W Minneapolis, was 5, now 4.
Aloft Arundel Mills Hanover Baltimore, was 3, now 2.
Four Points by Sheraton Toronto Airport, was 3, now 2.
Four Points by Sheraton Niagara Falls, NY, was 3, now 2.
Sheraton at the Falls, Niagara Falls, NY, was 3, now 2.
Sheraton Lake Buena Vista Orlando Resort, was 3, now 2.
Four Points by Sheraton Orlando Studio City, was 2, now 1.

S. Regis Beijing, was 6, now 5.
S. Regis Shenzhen, was 6, now 5.
Westin Tokyo, was 6, now 5.
Westin Panama, was 5, now 4.
Westin Bund Shanghai, was 5, now 4.
The Laguna, Luxury Collection, Bali, was 5, now 4.
Four Points by Sheraton Sydney, was 5, now 4.
Westin Puerto Vallarta Resort, was 3, now 2.
Four Points by Sheraton Punta Cana, was 2, now 1.

HT: chucksterace, via DDF

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Starwood’s 31st Airline Transfer Partner: Virgin Australia; More Good News For CLE

Monday, February 17th, 2014

Related:
-Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express:
Earn 10,000 bonus Starpoints for spending $1 and another 15,000 bonus Starpoints for spending $5,000 within 6 months for a total of 30,000 earned Starpoints with $5,000 of spending.

-Getting To Israel Using Starwood Starpoints
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Starwood has added Virgin Australia’s Velocity program as a transfer partner.  You’ll get 25,000 miles for every 20,000 Starwood Starpoints transferred.

They aren’t part of any alliance but they have a hodgepodge of partners such as Delta.  Here is their award chart and partner airline details.

You’ll need an address in a country like Australia to setup your account.  I’ve had a Velocity account for several years dating from when they were matching status to Platinum with some pretty sweet bennies (still have Hilton Diamond and Hertz President’s Circle from that) and have never needed anything that they mailed to my buddy down under.

The sweet spot is for short-haul flights on Delta and Virgin America.  Flights under 600 miles in distance will cost just 6,900 miles.  As you get a 25% bonus for transferring increments of 20K Starpoints into miles that’s the rough equivalent of 5,520 Starpoints for a short-haul flight.  Flights that are between 601 and 1,200 miles in length will cost 10,900 miles each way or the rough equivalent of 8,720 Starpoints.

Delta, among other airlines like Frontier, have been on a tear in Cleveland even since United announced the dehubbing and since AA slashed the CLE-LGA route effective 04/01. They have added daily nonstops to Raleigh-Durham and 6 weekly nonstops to Indianapolis.  They’re also going to fly 3 daily flights to JFK, 5 daily flights to LGA, and all mainline flights to Atlanta besides for their current schedule to Detroit and Minneapolis.

All of those cities besides Minneapolis are within 600 miles of Cleveland and will therefore cost just 6,900 miles (~5,520 Starpoints) for a one-way.  Plus with all of these new flights Delta’s award availability chart is looking surprisingly good.

Of course this isn’t as good as British Airways‘ 4,500 mile flights but if you’re not located in an American hub city then this can be very useful.  Plus while BA charges 3 times the miles for American domestic first class Virgin Australia will charge just double miles for Delta domestic first class as they consider it business class.

There are some other seemingly sweet spots that are less sweet than they initially seem.

For example JFK-Tel Aviv is 5,677 miles in length and is therefore just 70,000 Virgin Australia miles round-trip as opposed to 85,000 Delta miles.

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However you’ll be far better off booking that Delta flight with Air France Flying Blue miles.  With Air France you would only need 50,000 miles for the free round-trip on Delta to Tel Aviv.  You can transfer 40,000 Starpoints into 50,000 Air France miles or 50,000 American Express Membership Rewards points into 50,000 Air France miles:

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So Israel is no bargain, but I’m sure there are other bargains out there. Both Air France and Virgin Australia allow for one-way redemptions when using their miles while Delta does not when using their miles.

Curious about the other 30 Starwood transfer options and ratios?  With so may different airlines to transfer to it’s just a matter of figuring out which one has the lowest rates to where you want to go.  I’ve separated all of them by alliance so you can know which airlines are partners and will therefore let you book award travel on partner airlines.  Of course airlines also have lots non-alliance partners, but by definition they are partners with all airlines in the same alliance.

In parenthesis you can see if American Express Membership Rewards (MR) or Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR) transfers to the airline as well.

OneWorld Alliance:
American: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
Air Berlin: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
British Airways Avios: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR, UR)
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR)
JAL/Japan Airways: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
LAN: 20,000 Starpoints=37,500 kms (No other transfers)

Skyteam Alliance:
AeroMexico: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR)
Air France/KLM Flying Blue: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR)
Alitalia: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR)
China Eastern: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
China Southern: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
Delta: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR)

Star Alliance:
Air Canada/Aeroplan: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR)
Air China: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
Air New Zealand: 20,000 Starpoints=385 points (No other transfers)
ANA/All Nippon: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR)
Asiana: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
Lufthansa Miles & More: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
Singapore: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR)
Thai: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
United: 20,000 Starpoints=12,500 miles (UR)
USAirways: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)

Unaligned:
Alaska (Partners with several airlines from different alliances): 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
Emirates: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR)
Etihad: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
Gol/Varig Smiles: 20,000 Starpoints=12,500 miles (No other transfers)
Hawaiian: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR)
Qatar: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
Saudi Arabian: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
Virgin Atlantic: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR, UR)
Virgin Australia: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)

Points can also transfer to Amtrak.

HT: Gary and tuvz, via DDF

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Redeem Starpoints For Courtside Suite Tickets At Madison Square Garden

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

Update: Tickets have now been released for the rest of the season!

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Originally posted on 10/22:

Related:
-Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express: 10,000 bonus Starpoints for spending $1 plus 15,000 bonus Starpoints for spending $5,000 which will leave you with 30,000 Starpoints after spending $5,000!
-Using Miles For Sports Experiences
-Starwood auctions
-United auctions
-Delta auctions
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Redeem Starpoints For Courtside Suite Tickets At Madison Square Garden

FAQ Page

Starwood has an event level courtside suite at Madison Square Gardens and you can experience it as a VIP with your Starpoints!

The best games are quickly selling out, so grab this while it lasts! DDF guys have gobbled up tickets to the Heat game among others.

You will get 2 seats in the Event Level Suite seating section tickets with access to the SPG Luxury Suite at Madison Square Garden.
In the suite you will get complimentary food and beverages.
You can request kosher food as well! Just include that in the “Other notes” section when redeeming for tickets.  Kosher food is available catered from Abigael’s or the Carlos and Gabby’s stands.

2 tickets to Rangers games can be had for 25,000 Starpoints.  That includes 2 of the best seats in the house and kosher meals!

2 tickets to Knicks games can be had for 35,000 Starpoints.  Premium games may go for an extra 10K points.

These are “buy-it-now” rates, not auction rates and they’re first come, first served.

There are other sporting and music events as well and they start at just 5,000 Starpoints for 2 tickets including kosher food if requested!

HT: damaxer91, via DDF

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Le Meridien Dead Sea Leaving Starwood 01/01/14

Monday, October 7th, 2013

I went with 2 of my 5 brothers to Israel in 2007 and we traveled from Nimrod’s Fortress in the Golan Heights down to Eilat and everywhere in between for a month.  We lived it up at Starwood properties thanks to Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express.

According to my research notes from that trip there were at least 13 Starwood properties in Israel.  There was the category 1 Le Meridien Haifa, Le Meridien Dead Sea, Sheraton Tiberias, Sheraton Eilat, and the Sheraton Dead Sea.  There was a category 2 Sheraton Tel Aviv.  And there was the category 3 Herod’s Eilat, Sheraton Towers Tel Aviv, Sheraton Ramat Gan, Le Meridien Eilat, Sheraton Eilat, and of course the Sheraton Plaza Jerusalem located just minutes from the old city.  There was also the awesome category 3 Herod’s Vitalis Spa in Eilat where for 2,800 points and $45 as a lowly SPG Gold member we were upgraded to an incredible ocean suite with 3 balconies and relaxed under their hot and cold waterfall massage fountains.  We never could have traveled like that if was had to pay hundreds of dollars per room per night, but I had no problem swinging for a few thousand points a night.

Today that trip would probably never have happened as they are nearly all gone from SPG and are mostly under Fattal management.

Between the hotels on that trip and flying in Continental’s BusinessFirst we really lived it up.  Of course it helped that Continental.com (which is identical to today’s United.com) upgraded all 3 of us from coach to BusinessFirst in both directions by typing in a simple $100 coupon code that I had from purchasing a Continental Privilege Pack. Definitely one of the more rewarding aspects of spending too much time playing around with an airline website. I even have a video recording of exactly what I did to get that to work though it’s got too much personal info in it to upload.

At any rate as of 01/01/14 the Le Meridien Dead Sea will be leaving SPG.  That leaves just the category 4 Le Meridien Eilat and the category 5 Sheraton Tel Aviv as the remaining Starwood properties in Israel.  The Le Meridien Eilat will also eventually leave Starwood as well once its SPG contract runs out though that date has yet to be announced.

On the good news side, Starwood is planning on opening the W Tel Aviv-Jaffa in 2015 with 125 rooms/suites and 38 private residences.

The Le Meridien Dead Sea is a complete anomaly within the Starwood system.  It has $500 room rates which should make it a category 5, 6, or 7 property and yet it is priced as a bargain category 1.

Those with good memories will recall that we have been down this road before.  In 2011 there was a similar announcement made and SPG.com even showed that they would be leaving.  However they had a change of heart and decided to renew their SPG contract, apparently for 2 more years through 01/01/14.  This time there is going to be a much larger management shakeup and such a change of heart seems unlikely.

At least you can still travel to Israel for free by transferring Starpoints to airlines like AA for travel on El Al, to ANA for dirt-cheap surcharge free travel on United and USAirways, to USAirways for travel on any Star Alliance carriers, or to Air France/KLM Flying Blue for cheap Delta and Skyteam travel.

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Convert 20,000 Starpoints Into 31,250 British Airways Avios

Sunday, September 15th, 2013

Related: You can earn 10,000 bonus Starpoints for spending $1 and another 15,000 bonus Starpoints for spending $5,000 within 6 months on the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

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BA is offering a 25% bonus on hotel points transferred into Avios through 10/15/13.

20,000 Starpoints normally transfers into 25,000 airline miles. With the additional 25% bonus you’ll get a total of 31,250 Avios.

-Transfer 20,200 Starpoints and you’ll have 31,500 Avios, enough for 7 short-haul one-way award redemptions.
-Transfer 40,000 Starpoints and you have 62,500 Avios, more than enough for a 60K round-trip award to Israel on Air Berlin with no fuel surcharges.  Or it’s more than enough for 8 one-way tickets between NYC and Miami or 5 one-way tickets between the west coast and Hawaii.

-Bonus Avios can take 4-6 weeks to show on your account from the date of conversion.

Of course there are dozens of airlines that you can transfer your Starpoints into and you can use them for hotel stays so don’t transfer unless you have a need for the Avios.

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SPG Spin To Win Game

Friday, September 13th, 2013

SPG Spin To Win Game

This has been around for a couple weeks but I never got around to posting it.

You can play daily through 10/10.

I’ve played many times and have yet to win a thing but DDF members have reported winning 500 Starpoints, 1,000 Starpoints, 5,000 Starpoints, and even a free night at any (excluding category 7) Starwood hotel. One DDF member notes that he has successfully employed the multiple browser method to get even more daily spins but that’s more effort than it’s worth considering my luck so far.

By playing you’ll also be entered to win 250K Starpoints (which can transferred into 312.5K airline miles) though that will come with a tax bill of course as it’s worth more than $600.

Post a comment if you get anything!

HT: Feivish, via DDF

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Getting To Israel Using Starwood Starpoints

Monday, August 26th, 2013

Related: The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express gives 10,000 points after your first purchase and a 15,000 point bonus for spending $5,000 within 6 months besides for the 5,000 points you’ll get from base spending.
Don’t forget that you can also use your Starpoints to stay free at the Le Meridien Dead Sea, Le Meridien Eilat, and the highly rated Sheraton Tel Aviv.
Slated for a 2015 opening is also the W Tel Aviv – Jaffa
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Summary:

Rates listed in this post are for round-trip travel and are assuming that you maximize the 25% point bonus for transferring Starpoints in blocks of 20,000 points (which you may or may not be able to do depending on the number of passengers so you may have leftover miles)

Before you transfer try to find availability to see which transfer you should do!

Star Alliance:
-For United and USAirways travel transfer points (from 48K) to ANA (no fuel surcharges)
-For Star Alliance travel on airlines besides United and USAirways transfer points (from 48K) to ANA (fuel surcharges apply)
-For Star Alliance travel on airlines besides United and USAirways transfer points (from 64K) to USAirways (no fuel surcharges)
-For Star Alliance travel with lap children transfer points (from 64K) to Air Canada (fuel surcharges on select carriers)
-For travel on Singapore transfer points (from 60K) to Singapore (fuel surcharges apply)
-For travel on Lufthansa or Swiss transfer points (from 48K) to Lufthansa (fuel surcharges apply)

OneWorld/El Al:
-For OneWorld travel transfer points (from 40K) to JAL (fuel surcharges apply)
-For Air Berlin travel transfer points (from 48K) to BA (no fuel surcharges)
-For OneWorld or El Al travel transfer points (from 64K) to AA (no fuel surcharges)

Skyteam:
-For Delta travel transfer points (from 40K) to Flying Blue (no fuel surcharges)
-For Skyteam travel on airlines besides Delta transfer points (from 40K) to Flying Blue (fuel surcharges apply)
-For Skyteam travel on airlines besides Delta, transfer points (From 64K) to Delta (no fuel surcharges)
-For Air France/KLM travel during a promo period, transfer points (From 20K) to Flying Blue (fuel surcharges apply)
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As you probably know already, the Starwood card is one of the best cards out there for general spending.  You can use just a couple thousand points for free hotel stays or transfer points into miles with dozens of airlines at favorable ratios.  If you are transferring points you may also want to consider Starwood’s Nights & Flights option where you can save 8,000 points on a mileage transfer and any future 5 night stay in a category 3 or 4 hotel.
To make a mileage transfer just login to your Starwood account at SPG.com. If you have never made an account at SPG.com you may need to set one up. Locate your SPG number on the Starwood AMEX statement where it lists how many points you earned in the past month and for the year. Then you can setup for SPG.com account. Click here to transfer Starpoints into airline miles. Transfers don’t happen instantly. They can take between 1-20 days. On average figure on about 2-7 days though.

The rates in this chart are for flights from NYC to Tel Aviv. Rates from other North American cities should be similar, but may differ depending on the airline. Remember to try to do your own research online when searching for award flights. With enough time and effort you should be able to easily book something over the phone. Remember the phone agents just want to get you off the phone as quickly as possible and aren’t likely to want to try to find any creative routings to get you your free flight.

Tips for finding saver award availability:

Award tickets to Israel are always tough, though that’s a function of it being an expensive route to fly compared to the distance of the flight.
1. Check availability at least daily as award seats can come and go quickly.
2. Be willing to connect in Europe for much better availability.  Flights on low cost carriers from Europe to Israel can also be dirt cheap and it can make sense to use miles to get to Europe and then buy a flight to Israel from there.
3. If you are ready to fly on a whim airlines typically open up saver awards the day of or the day before a flight. Otherwise a couple months in advance is a typical sweet spot.
4. Realize that not all partners will be displayed online and you need to do your own research on partner sites and/or call to find partner availability.
5. Airline search engines are only so powerful. Use free stopovers and open-jaws to your advantage. If you are flying from somewhere besides NYC just search from NYC-Tel Aviv instead of from Los Angeles to Tel Aviv. You can always piece together an award by searching for Los Angeles-NYC separately then NYC-Tel Aviv, especially if you are willing to have a long connection, change airports in NYC, or are willing to stay overnight in NYC.
6. The same goes for tickets from NYC.  Search from other gateways like Toronto and Philadelphia and piece together the flights to get there afterward. Consider searching from NYC to European cities and piece together an award from Europe to Israel. You may find availability from NYC to London and then from Paris to Tel Aviv but a computer would never put that open jaw ticket together. Instead you can check out London and Paris on the way to Tel Aviv. Maybe you’ll even get to check out Venice and Rome on the way home. Sometimes you can even save miles by doing that!
7. Don’t forget to book a free domestic trailing flight anytime in the year after you arrive back to your destination.  American for example allows you to book a one-way flight from Tel Aviv to JFK, stopover in NYC for as long as you want, and then fly from JFK to Alaska, Hawaii, LA, Miami, etc. for just 45,000 miles.  The travel date of the “trailing” flight can even be changed for free.  The reverse works as well.  Fly back from Hawaii to JFK, stopover in NYC for as long as you want, and then fly from JFK to Tel Aviv for just 45,000 miles.
8. Find award availability before transferring miles. Once they’re transferred they can’t be reversed!
9. Need help? You can post your travel dates and which miles you have in this DDF thread and ask for help. Consider offering a monetary or mileage reward to the forum member that can come up with the best award ticket to meet your needs and you may find that suggestions will come flooding in!
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Airlines that fly nonstop from North America to Israel:
-Air Canada from Toronto (bookable via Star Alliance miles)
-United from Newark (bookable via Star Alliance miles)
-Delta from JFK (bookable via Skyteam miles)
-El Al from JFK, Los Angeles, Newark, and Toronto. (bookable via AA, connections to Eilat for the same mileage available)
-USAirways from Philadelphia (bookable via Star Alliance miles)
None of these carriers offer First Class seating to Israel for miles on nonstop flights.  (El Al does offer First Class, but you can only use AA miles to redeem for Coach or Business Class on El Al).

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Star Alliance:
Nonstop flights from North America include Air Canada from Toronto, United from Newark, and USAirways from Philadelphia. These flights all have lie-flat business class seating and have no first class.

Star Alliance offers the best availability for flights to Israel by leaps and bounds. Besides for the nonstop flights from North America there are many options via Europe in coach, business, and first class worth looking into including Swiss via Zurich, Lufthansa via Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, and Munich, Brussels via Brussels, Austrian via Vienna, Turkish via Istanbul, SAS via Copenhagen, Singapore via Frankfurt, Aegean via Athens, LOT via Warsaw, or a mix of carriers like United from Newark to one of dozens of European cities and a European carrier to Tel Aviv.
By utilizing free stopovers and open jaws the possibilities are endless if you take the time to research your options leg by leg.

You can search for Star Alliance award availability on sites like United.com and Aeroplan.com. ANA also offers a powerful Star Alliance search tool though you’ll need to have 100 miles in your account to use their Star Alliance search.  Though if you perform an ANA-only search on a route they serve (like JFK-Tokyo) the site will then allow you to search Star Alliance airlines on different routes as well (just remember to click on connecting flights to expand the selection).

Rates are for travel using the airline’s miles below for travel on any partner airlines.  Remember that policies follow the miles that you have so if you have USAirways miles you can’t fly one-way on United, but if you have United miles you can fly one-way on USAirways,

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Using ANA miles, from 48,000 Starpoints.
-Miles required: 60K coach, 90K business, 140K first.
-Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 ANA miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means 48,000 Starpoints in coach, 72,000 Starpoints in business, or 112,000 Starpoints in first.
-Other transfer partners: AMEX Membership Rewards partner at a 1:1 ratio.
-Fuel surcharges: None on United and USAirways partner awards.
-Mileage expiration: 3 years after they are earned regardless of activity.
-One-way awards: Officially not allowed but there are “workarounds.”
-Stopovers: ANA allows for 4 stopovers, though each additional flight will add to the fuel surcharges.
-Changes/Cancellation: ANA allows free date changes, but other changes or cancellation results in a 3,000 mile penalty.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: None.

spgb

 

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Using USAirways miles, from 64,000 Starpoints.
-Miles required: 80K coach, 120K business, 180K first.
-Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 USAirways miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means the equivalent of 64,000 Starpoints in coach, 96,000 Starpoints in business, or 144,000 Starpoints in first.
-Fuel surcharges: None, although there is a $50 award ticketing fee.
-Mileage expiration: USAirways miles require activity every 18 months.
-One-way awards: Not allowed.
-Stopovers: USAirways allows for 1 free stopover OR 1 free Open jaw.
-Changes/Cancellation: There is a $150 charge to change or cancel an award ticket
USAirways is draconian in not allowing any changes to partner award tickets once travel has begun.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: $75 within 21 days
-Infant fees: 10% of full fare.
-Partner airline awards must be booked over the phone.
-5,000 mile discount on USAirways flights with a USAirways credit card.

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Using Air Canada Aeroplan miles, from 64,000 Starpoints.
-Miles required: 80K coach, 135K business, 190K first.
-Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 Aeroplan miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means the equivalent of 64,000 Starpoints in coach, 108,000 Starpoints in business, or 152,000 Starpoints in first.
-Other transfer partners: AMEX Membership Rewards partner at a 1:1 ratio.
-Note that effective for tickets purchased in 2014 you will need 165K for business and 230K for first.
-Fuel surcharges: If you fly on these carriers you will pay a fuel surcharge: Adria, Air Canada, ANA, Asiana, Austrian, LOT Polish, Lufthansa, TAP Portugal, and THAI.
If you fly on these carriers you will not pay a fuel surcharge: Aegean, Air China, Air New Zealand, Avianca/TACA, Brussels, Copa, Croatia, EgyptAir, Ethiopian, SAS, Singapore, South African, Swiss, TAM, Turkish, United, and USAirways.
-Mileage expiration: Air Canada miles require activity every 12 months to keep them active.
-One-way awards: Allowed for about 68% of the award cost of a round-trip. Note that in 2014 this will be allowed for half of the round-trip cost.
-Stopovers: Air Canada generously allows for 2 free stopovers, so you can check out 2 American or European cities in addition to Tel Aviv for the same amount of miles!
-Changes/Cancellation: There is a $90 charge to change or cancel an award ticket and a $180 charge to cancel within 21 days of departure.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: None.
-Infant fees: Flat fee of just $50 in coach, $100 in business, and $125 in first.

spgd

 

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Using Singapore miles, from 60,000 Starpoints.

-Miles required: 75K coach, 115K business, 150K first.
-Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 Porringer miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means the equivalent of 60,000 Starpoints in coach, 92,000 Starpoints in business, or 120,000 Starpoints in first.
-Other transfer partners: AMEX Membership Rewards partner at a 1:1 ratio.
-Fuel surcharges: None on United and USAirways partner awards.
-Mileage expiration: 3 years after they are earned regardless of activity.
-One-way awards: Allowed for half the amount of a round-trip.
-Stopovers: 1 free stopover
-Changes/Cancellation: $20 change fee, $30 cancellation fee.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: None.
-With Singapore miles you can fly on Singapore from NYC to Tel Aviv on Singapore to Frankfurt in business or first class and then to Tel Aviv on Lufthansa which you can’t do with other miles.

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-Miles & More Group (Adria, Austrian, Brussels, Croatia, LOT Polish, Lufthansa, and Swiss): For departures from the USA nonstop to Tel Aviv: 80K coach, 135K business. For departures from the USA to Tel Aviv via Europe: 100K coach, 185K business, 290K first. For departures from Israel to the USA nonstop or via Europe for Miles & More accounts with an Israeli address on file: 60K coach, 105K business, 170K first.
-Transfer partners: Starwood transfer partner at a 20K:25K ratio.
-Fuel surcharges: Apply on all airlines except USAirways and LOT.
-Mileage expiration: Miles expire 36 months after they are earned regardless of activity.
-One-way awards: Allowed for half the amount of a round-trip.
-Stopovers: 2 free stopovers.
-Changes/Cancellation: There is a $60 charge to change or cancel an award ticket.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: None.
-Infant fees: None except for airport departure taxes.
-Children ages 2-11: Receive a 25% discount on the mileage requirement on Miles & More flights.
-Expanded award availability on Lufthansa and Swiss business and first class.

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OneWorld:
Oneworld availability to Israel can be tough to find without fuel surcharges. Flights to Israel include Air Berlin via Berlin and Dusseldorf, BA via London, Iberia via Madrid, and Royal Jordanian via Amman.  BA availability is good, but has high fuel surcharges.

El Al is not part of OneWorld (and therefore can’t be booked with miles from other airlines like BA) but they are non-alliance partners with AA. It’s more advantageous to book El Al travel with AA miles than it is with El Al miles (the miles received from the HAS Advantage card) because El Al adds fuel surcharges onto their own tickets, but you do not pay any fuel surcharges for booking El Al tickets with AA miles. However you can only book coach or business on El Al when using AA miles, first class must be booked with El Al points. El Al has nonstop flights from JFK, Newark, Los Angeles, and Toronto to Tel Aviv.
You can check OneWorld availability on flawed sites such as AA.com, BA.com, and Qantas.com. (BA or Qantas frequent flyer account required) You can check El Al availability on elal.com (Matmid account required). You can also check availability by calling AA.

Using American miles, from 64,000 Starpoints.
-Miles required: 80K coach off-peak (10/15-05/15 annually) via Europe, 90K coach on El Al flights from North America or peak via Europe, 135K business on El Al flights from North America or via Europe, 180K first via Europe.
Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 AA miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means 64,000 or 72,000 Starpoints in coach, 108,000 Starpoints in business, or 144,000 Starpoints in first.
-Fuel surcharges: Apply for flights on partners British Airways (very high) and Iberia (nominal).
-Mileage expiration: AA miles require activity every 18 months.
-One-way awards: Allowed for half the amount of a round-trip.
-Stopovers: Allowed at the North American gateway city.
-Changes/Cancellation: AA allows free date and routing changes, but changes to the origin or destination city or cancellation costs $150 for non-elites.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: $75 within 21 days for non-elites.
-Infant fees: 10% of full fare.
-Some partner airline awards must be booked over the phone.
-The best shot at availability without paying fuel surcharges would be to take AA to London or anywhere else in Europe and then El Al from London or anywhere else in Europe to Tel Aviv. This routing would be 80,000 miles between October 15-May 15 or the same 90,000 miles as the nonstop El Al flight from the US during the summer.
You need to call American to book travel on El Al. You should do your research first by opening a Matmid account and searching for awards on elal.com. Remember to search for flights from all of El Al’s cities in North America and in Europe as you can use other American and partner flights to reach those El Al cities.
-American has an alternate OneWorld Explorer award chart which allows for up to 16 stopovers starting from 90,000 miles in coach, 115,000 miles in business, and 150,000 miles in first, but the rules of this complicated award that require at least 2 OneWorld carriers besides AA and excludes partners such as El Al are beyond the scope of this article.

The image below shows a business class award found on El Al’s site which is the same as the availability that American can access.  While El Al charges 3,000 points (150,000 AMEX MR) + $350 for fuel surcharges American would charge 135,000 miles (~108K Starwood) and no fuel surcharges for the same flight.

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Using BA Avios, from 48,000 Starpoints
-Avios required:  60K coach on Air Berlin, 65K coach on other carriers, 100K business on Air Berlin, 130K business on other carriers, 195K first.
-Other transfer partners: AMEX Membership Rewards partner at a 1:1 ratio, Chase Ultimate Rewards partner at a 1:1 ratio.
Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 BA miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means 48,000 Starpoints in coach, 80,000 Starpoints in business, or 156,000 Starpoints in first.
-Fuel surcharges: Apply for all Trans-Atlantic flights except on Air Berlin and Aer Lingus via Ireland.
You can drastically reduce fuel surcharges for travel on Iberia via Madrid by transferring your BA Avios into Iberia Avios. You must have your Iberia account open for 3 months before you can do such a transfer.
-Mileage expiration: BA miles require activity every 36 months.
-One-way awards: Allowed for half the amount of a round-trip.
-Stopovers: Each leg costs additional mileage, but you can stopover at any connection city for as long as you want.
-Changes/Cancellation: $40.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: None
-Infant fees: Instead of cash, BA charges just 10% of the adult mileage required on international segments.
-Some partner airline awards must be booked over the phone.

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Using JAL miles, from 40,000 Starpoints
-Avios required: 50K coach, 80K business, 115K first.
Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 JAL miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means 40,000 Starpoints in coach, 64,000 Starpoints in business, or 92,000 Starpoints in first.
-Fuel surcharges: Applies to most travel.
-Mileage expiration: 3 years after they are earned regardless of activity.
-One-way awards: Not allowed.
-Stopovers: JAL allows for 2 stopovers, though each additional flight will add to the fuel surcharges.
-Changes/Cancellation: JAL allows free date changes, but other changes or cancellation results in a 3,000 mile penalty.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: None
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Skyteam:
Skyteam generally has the worst award availability. You can try searching some Skyteam availability on Delta.com and AirFrance.com. Options to Israel besides Delta’s nonstop JFK flight are on Czech via Prague, KLM via Amsterdam, Air France via Nice or Paris, Aeroflot via Moscow, and Alitalia via Rome.

Using Flying Blue (Air France/KLM) miles, from 20,000 Starpoints
-Miles Required: 25K coach during a promo period, 50K coach otherwise, 62.5K business during a promo period, 125K business otherwise.
Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 Flying Blue miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means 20,000 Starpoints in coach or 50,000 Starpoints in business for a promo award. For regular tickets and partner ticket 40,000 Starpoints per ticket in coach or 100,000 Starpoints per ticket in business.
-Other transfer partners: AMEX Membership Rewards partner at a 1:1 ratio
-Fuel surcharges: Apply on all airlines except Delta.
-Mileage expiration: Flying Blue miles expire 20 months unless you credit a Skyteam flight to Flying Blue.
-One-way awards: Allowed for half the amount of a round-trip.
-Stopovers: Flying Blue allows for 1 free stopover.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: None.
-Infant fees: 10% of full fare.
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Using Delta miles, from 64,000 Starpoints.
-Miles Required: 80K-190K coach, 120K-370K business.
Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 Delta miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means 64,000-152,000 Starpoints in coach or 96,000-296,000 Starpoints in business.
-Other transfer partners: AMEX Membership Rewards partner at a 1:1 ratio
-Fuel surcharges: Apply on select partners but generally won’t apply to/from Israel.
-Mileage expiration: None.
-One-way awards: Not allowed.
-Stopovers: Delta allows for 1 free stopover OR 1 free Open jaw.
-Changes/Cancellation: There is a $150 charge to change or cancel an award ticket. No changes or cancellations are allowed within 3 days of the flight.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: None.
-Infant fees: 10% of full fare.
-It can be brutal trying to find Delta low award availability and Delta’s terrible website only makes it more difficult. Plus Delta used to be a good option for booking Air France/KLM but now availability when booking those direct with Flying Blue is much better than when booking with Delta.

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 Find a mistake or better method of getting to Israel with Starpoints? Hit the comments!

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Save 35% On Select Starwood Resort Award Redemptions!

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

Updates, as promised:
-The W Maldives charges $180/night to confirm an upgrade to an overwater bungalow with a private pool, as reviewed here.
-The Le Meridien Bora Bora charges $220/night to confirm an upgrade to an overwater bungalow. However (and I was blown away by the class of this offer!), as an SPG Platinum member they said that if there were any overwater rooms for sale on the day of checkin they would refund the entire upgrade fee!
-Commenter “bitzy” is reporting that the Park Hyatt Maldives now charges $550/night during peak season to confirm an upgrade to an overwater bungalow though I haven’t confirmed that change myself. It seems that the $350/night upcharge still applies to non-peak travel times.
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Originally posted on 07/18:

Related:
-You can earn 10,000 bonus Starpoints for spending $1 and another 15,000 bonus Starpoints for spending $5,000 within 6 months on both the consumer Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express
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Many people transfer their Starwood Starpoints into airline miles due to the lucrative transfer ratio and the plethora of airlines offered.

However using Starpoints for hotel redemptions can also be lucrative.  There are no blackout dates or capacity controls, if a standard room is for sale you can use points for it, even during peak travel times.  Additionally if you redeem for 4 nights you get the 5th night for free.

Starwood is running a promotion that is discounting select resorts by 35%.

Last December I stayed at the S. Regis Bal Harbour for 12,000 points per night with a similar discounted award promotion.  Though last year it involved a rebate of your points while this time the discount is applied at the time of booking.  Also last year’s promotion was for resorts in North America and the Caribbean while this year’s are for overseas resorts.

Eligible SPG resorts:
-W Retreat, Koh Samui, Thailand. Normally 40K/night. Now 26K/night or 20,800/night if you stay for 5 nights.
-Vana Belle, Koh Samui, Thailand. Normally 40K/night. Now 26K/night or 20,800/night if you stay for 5 nights.
-Pine Cliffs Residence, Albufeira, Portugal. Normally 40K/night. Now 26K/night or 20,800/night if you stay for 5 nights.
-Al Maha, Dubai, UAE. Normally 60K/night. Now 39K/night or 31,200/night if you stay for 5 nights.
-Mystique, Santorini, Greece. Normally 60K/night. Now 39K/night or 31,200/night if you stay for 5 nights.
-Le Meridien Bora Bora. Normally 60K/night. Now 39K/night or 31,200/night if you stay for 5 nights.
-W Retreat and Spa Maldives. Normally 90K/night. Now 58,500/night or 46,800/night if you stay for 5 nights.

It’s difficult to book these resorts online, so you’ll need to call SPG or use their click to chat option when logged in on SPG.com to book them.  When I did click to chat the rates they quoted were already discounted.

You can read more about the overwater bungalow at the absolutely incredible W Retreat Maldives in my trip report here.

Bear in mind that the discounted rates are for the base room only, you’ll have to call/email the hotel directly if you want to arrange a confirmed upgrade to an overwater bungalow in places like Bora Bora or the Maldives.  I’ve reached to those hotels to see what they would charge for a confirmed upgrade on a 5 night stay and will update this post when I get a response.

Bear in mind that the Park Hyatt Maldives can always be attained for just 22,000 Chase or Hyatt points per night without any promotions as even the most expensive Hyatt hotels are capped at just 22,000 points per night. They charge $350/night to confirm an upgrade to an overwater bungalow in advance.  Unfortunately their overwater bungalows don’t have a private pool though like the ones at the W Retreat do though it’s also a phenomenal 5 star resort with top-notch Park Hyatt luxury service. You can find Chase cards with mega bonuses that can be transferred to book Hyatt hotels here.

HT: Marco Polo, via DDF

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Starwood 2013 Category Changes

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013

Just as a reminder, 03/04 local hotel time is the last chance to book at the old rates.  For example if you want to book the W Taipei which is moving from category 5 to 6 you would have to do so before 10:59am EST which is 11:59pm there.

Originally posted on 02/20:

Starwood 2013 Category Changes Linky

Book stays by 03/04 to lock in current rates for future stays.  Almost all hotel stays are cancellable for free until a certain amount of time before the stay (read the fine print).

For now, somehow, someway, the Le Meridian Dead Sea Israel remains a category 1 hotel even with its $500 paid rates. Go figure?

Hotels that are not on the list are still subject to change without any warning on 03/05.

All in all these changes are worse than Hyatt, but far better than the massive devaluations going on with Hilton, Marriott, and Priority Club as point rates catch up to hotel prices that continue to creep up.

Most hotels chains reorganize their categories yearly to keep them current with the average rates that they charge.  The beauty of hotel points is that there are no blackout dates or capacity controls, if there is a room you can use points for it.  So even if a major event is in town and rates are quadruple what they normally are you can still use the regular amount of points as long as the hotel is not sold out of standard rooms.

Sample hotels going more expensive:
-The great SLS Beverly Hills (reviewed here) goes from category 5 to 6. This leaves the Andaz West Hollywood at LA’s best points bargain as a Hyatt category 4 property.
-The Westin Kierland Villas, Scottsdale goes from category 5 to 6.
-The St. Regis Princeville Resort Kauai (which I didn’t particularly care for) goes from category 6 to 7. All the more reason to opt for the GHK.
-The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas goes from category 5 to 6.
-The Westin Moana Surfrider Honolulu (which we loved) goes from category 5 to 6.
-The Westin Ka’anapali Maui Ocean Resort Villas goes from category 6 to an insane category 7.
-The Westin Southfield Detroit near the jewish community there goes from category 2 to 3.
-The Aloft Brooklyn goes from category 3 to a whopping category 5.
-The Sheraton Brooklyn goes from category 4 to 5.
-The Danieli Venice goes from category 6 to 7, leaving the Westin (reviewed here) as the only affordable SPG property in that stunning city.
-The St. Regis Beijing goes from category 5 to 6.
-The W Taipei goes from category 5 to 6.
-The Le Méridien Khao Lak Beach & Spa Resort (so good and yet so bad) goes from category 3 to 4.
-Sheraton Denarau Villas Fiji goes from category 4 to 6.

Sample hotels getting cheaper:
-The Westin Aruba goes from category 5 to 4.
-The Westin Riverfront Mountain Villas, Beaver Creek goes from category 6 to 5
-The Luxury Collection’s Hotel Ivy Minneapolis goes from category 5 to 4

Starwood’s standard award chart will not change:
If you stay 5 nights with points the 5th night is free.
Category 1 = 2,000 (weekend), 3,000 (weekday).
Category 2 = 3,000 (weekend), 4,000 (weekday).
Category 3 = 7,000
Category 4 = 10,000
Category 5 = 12,000 (Low Season), 16,000 (High Season).
Category 6 = 20,000 (Low Season), 25,000 (High Season).
Category 7 = 30,000 (Low Season), 35,000 (High Season).

Cash and Points Changes:
While all hotels must offer standard points rates at all times, they don’t have to ever offer cash and points availability. The cash and points award chart is getting more expensive in an effort to get more hotels to open up additional cash and points availability.

The current chart is bookable until March 4th for future stays:
Category 1 = 1,200+$25
Category 2 = 1,600+$30
Category 3 = 2,800+$45
Category 4 = 4,000+$60
Category 5 = 4,800+$90
Category 6 = 8,000+$150
Category 7 = 15,000+$275

The new cash and points chart is as follows:

 

Point transfers to airlines with a 25% bonus for 20K transfers remains blissfully unchanged.

HT: Drago, via DDF

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Starwood Advertises Just How Bad A Deal SPG Flights Is

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

Back in 2008 Starwood made a big deal about the introduction of SPG Flights.  I panned it as a poor value.

Apparently not everyone got the memo though.  SPG is bragging how someone spent a whopping 870,000 Starwood points to fly from Los Angeles to Rome in business class.

With that many Starpoints he could have transferred them into nearly 1.1 million airline miles on dozens of different airlines.  A business class ticket to Europe using Flying Blue starts at 50,000 miles, using USAirways miles starts at 60,000 miles, or using AAdvantage miles is 100,000 miles.  A first class ticket to Europe using AAdvantage miles is 125,000 miles.  Or a round-the-world first class award on American or any OneWorld partners that allows for 16 flights runs between 180K-330K miles. Heck you can fly to Dubai in an A380 suite on Emirates with your own shower onboard for 217,500 miles, so he could have booked 5 such tickets with 870K Starpoints.

Or you can get even better deals at Starwood hotels.  It’s very easy to get a value of 2.5 cents per Starpoint with hotel redemptions, in fact you can even get a value of 10 times that.

Instead someone burned it all on 2 business class tickets.  What a shame.

HT: Chaikel, via DDF

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Save Up To 50% On Select Starwood Hotel Redemptions!

Friday, November 30th, 2012

Update: 11/30: Today is the final day to register for this awesome promotion.  You can still book after today as long as you register your account by today.
I’ll be hitting up one of the hotels below for the first time myself combining a 5th night free award with the 50% off for a whopping 60% total Starpoint discount!

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Related:
-You can earn 10,000 bonus Starpoints for spending $1 and another 15,000 bonus Starpoints for spending $5,000 within 6 months on both the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express OPEN.
-Short on Starpoints for an award? Ask AMEX for a points advance or buy them on sale for 20% off now directly from Starwood

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Originally posted on 10/18:

Many people transfer their Starwood Starpoints into airline miles.  It offers a lucrative transfer ratio, 20,000 Starpoints becomes 25,000 miles with most airlines or even 50,000 with OneWorld’s LAN.

However using Starpoints for hotel redemptions can be very lucrative.  There are no blackout dates or capacity controls, if a standard room is for sale you can use points for it, even during peak travel times.  Additionally if you redeem for 4 nights you get the 5th night for free.

Starwood has a great new promotion that will rebate up to half of the points you use for select resorts. (Registration required)

All you need to do is have at least one night of your stay occur between 10/21 and 12/20 and you will receive a rebate for points used for the entire stay, even if just one night falls within the promo dates!

-You must register your SPG number by 11/30 to receive the points rebate.

-This promotion applies for standard Starwood free nights and 5th night free awards.  It does not apply for cash and points, nights and flight, or for suite awards.

-If you stay 2 nights at a category 4 (10,000 points per night) hotel you will pay 20,000 points and get a 10,000 point rebate. If you stay 5 nights at the same hotel you will pay 40,000 points and get a 20,000 point rebate.

-There is no limit to the amount of times you can take advantage of this promotion.

-You will receive the rebate automatically within 4-6 weeks after checking out.

-As always, Starwood award stays qualify towards elite status qualification.
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Normal point requirements (Every 5th consecutive night is always free)
Starwood category 4 is 10,000 points per night. There are no peak season dates for hotels in categories 1-4.
Starwood category 5 is 12,000 or 16,000 points per night during peak season.
Starwood category 6 is 20,000 or 25,000 points per night during peak season.
Starwood category 7 is 30,000 or 35,000 points per night during peak season.
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These hotels qualify for a 50% points rebate:
Category 7 properties (15K-17.5K after the rebate):
• The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, Puerto Rico, USA
No peak season around the promo times.
• The St. Regis Bal Harbor Resort, Miami Beach, Florida, USA
No peak season around the promo times.
• W South Beach, Miami Beach, Florida, USA
Peak: 12/03/2012-2/09/2012 and 12/26/2012-1/01/2013
• The St. Regis Aspen Resort, Colorado, USA
Peak: 12/20/2012-1/02/2013

Category 6 property (10K after the rebate):
• The St. Regis Monarch Beach, Dana Point, California, USA
No peak season around the promo times.

Category 5 properties (6K-8K after the rebate):
• The Phoenician, a Luxury Collection Resort, Scottsdale, Arizona, USA
Peak: 11/25/2012-12/29/2012
• The Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa, Hollywood, Florida, USA
No peak season around the promo times.
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These hotels qualify for a 40% points rebate:
Category 6 property (12K after the rebate):
• W Retreat & Spa — Vieques, Puerto Rico, USA
No peak season around the promo times.
Category 5 properties (7.2K-9.6K after the rebate):
• The Westin Trillium House, Blue Mountain, Ontario, Canada
Peak: 12/21/2012-01/05/2013
• The Westin St. John Resort & Villas, Virgin Islands, USA
No peak season around the promo times.
• The Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa, Cayman Islands
Peak: 11/25/2012-12/01/2012, 12/12/2012-01/01/2013
Category 4 properties (6K after the rebate):
• The Westin Mission Hills Resort & Spa, Rancho Mirage, California, USA
• The Westin Resort & Casino, Aruba
• Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort & Casino, Bahamas
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These hotels qualify for a 30% points rebate:
Category 6 property (14K-17.5K after the rebate):
• The St. Regis Deer Valley, Park City, Utah, USA
Peak: 12/14/2012-01/01/2013
Category 5 properties (8.4K-11.2K after the rebate):
• Sheraton Steamboat Resort, Steamboat Springs, Colorado, USA
Peak: 12/20/2012-01/02/2013
• The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa, Scottsdale, Arizona, USA
No peak season around the promo times.
• The Westin Whistler Resort & Spa, British Columbia, Canada
Peak: 11/24/2012-01/02/2013
Category 4 properties (7K after the rebate):
• Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa, Chandler, Arizona, USA
• The Westin La Cantera Hill Country Resort, San Antonio, Texas, USA
• The Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa, Georgia, USA

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Le Meridien Dead Sea Opens Tons Of Award Availability

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

-You can earn 10,000 bonus Starpoints for spending $1 and another 15,000 bonus Starpoints for spending $5,000 within 6 months on both the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express OPEN.

-Through 12/14 you can buy Starpoints for 2.8 cents each directly from SPG.  That means you can buy weekday nights in this hotel for $84 and weekend nights in this hotel for $56.  No tax is charged on Starpoint stays.

-Alternatively if you have a Starwood credit card you can also call AMEX to borrow Starpoints and pay them back with future spending on the card and by opening a new card.

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The Le Meridien Dead Sea is one of the great bargains in the Starwood system.  Rates there are often above $300 per night and yet it’s bizarrely only a Category 1 hotel.  This means that weekend nights cost just 2,000 Starpoints and weekdays cost just 3,000 Starpoints.  A $331 rate there comes out to $384 with tax.  On a weekend night that means a whopping 19.2 cents per Starpoint value.  If you could only get that same value from the 25K Starpoints that come with their credit card that would be $4,800 :D   More realistically if you value your Starpoints at 2.2 cents each that means a weekend night will set you back the equivalent of $44 worth of points and a weekday night will set you back the equivalent of $66 worth of points.

Plus if you have Starwood Gold elite status (which comes free automatically with The Platinum Card® from American Express or by spending $30,000 on a Starwood card in a calendar year) you get a 250 Starpoint rebate and if you are Starwood Platinum elite status you get a 500 Starpoint rebate.  Plus the hotel is good with giving suite upgrades to elite members.  As a Platinum member if I’d stay for 1 weekend night for 1,500 points instead of $384 that would be 25.6 cents per point…anyway enough with the numbers fun.

Now the Le Meridien Dead Sea is notorious for trying to circumvent the rules of the SPG program and blocking award availability unless you call SPG and try to push your case. Additionally until recently there wasn’t even a single date open in 2013.

However I just did a check on SPG.com and there now is pretty decent availability for all of 2013 for Starpoint awards. It’s not a luxury hotel, but it sure is a Starpoint bargain!

I think that there’s a decent chance that this hotel goes up in category for 2013.  Reorganization like that typically occurs in February or March but if you are booked before the reorganization you lock in the current rate for anytime you are booked, even if the rate goes up before then.

To find availability just type in Dead Sea on SPG.com, then click on “Browse Dates/Rates,” click on SPG Free Nights, and then browse the calendar to find dates.  The dates that are greyed out are unavailable from SPG.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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100 Free Starpoints?

Saturday, November 17th, 2012

Starwood has a promotion for 100 free Starpoints if you add a travel wish to their map.

Officially it’s limited to the first 5,000 people, however when I just added my wish (8,169 to Bora Bora) it said that I would receive my points in 6 weeks.

Which means either that:
-Many of the entrants did not add their SPG numbers after making their wish so they won’t be receiving their points and they weren’t counted in the 5,000.
-Or that Starwood isn’t enforcing the 5,000 person limit.
-Or that Starwood wrote that I’ll be getting the points but really didn’t mean it due to a glitch.

Either way I figured I’d post and let you decide if it’s worth 2 minutes of your time. If you enter post a comment after claiming your points with what the message says and what number wish you had.

HT: Gary

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30,000 Starwood Starpoints Signup Bonus On Both The Starwood Consumer And The Starwood Business American Express Cards!

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

Update: The 30K offer is now dead.

Related posts:
-4BM Success! (2 consumer card and 2 business card approvals with just 1 hard pull!)
-Which Miles To Use To Israel? (Hint: You can get to Israel round-trip for as little as 20,000 Starpoints with fuel surcharges or 40,000 Starpoints with no fuel surcharges!)
-Poll: What Do You Do With Your Starpoints? (Also: Using 4,000 Starpoints to save $767 on a hotel in Israel)
-Breaking Down Which Credit Card To Use.
-Credit Score FAQs Part 1: Opening And Closing Cards
-Credit Card Reconsideration: Don’t Give Up!
-Need To Meet A Spending Threshold Deadline? Send And Receive $1,000/Month With No Fees Using Amazon Payments!

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Starwood American Express Consumer Card Linky

Starwood American Express Business Card Linky

This is a limited time offer scheduled to run until 09/04, though it can end at any time.

Keep this number handy in case you are denied, American Express application reconsideration: 866-314-0237.
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Spending on the Starwood card:

The Starwood card remains an awesome card for spending.  While the Chase Freedom card is great for small purchases if you also have a Chase checking account and the Sapphire Preferred card is great for travel, dining, and purchases made outside of the US, the Starwood card remains awesome for general purchases.

Starpoints are the most valuable mileage currency. They also generously allow members at the same address to transfer points between their accounts for free.

The Starwood card earns 2 Starpoints per dollar at Starwood hotels, or a 4.6% rebate at a value of 2.3 cents per Starpoint. It earns 1 Starpoint per dollar everywhere else, or a 2.3% rebate.  There are thousands of uses for Starpoints, some of which have been over 50 cents for me, but I always aim for a minimum value of 2.3 cents per point.

The card also carries American Express’ awesome top-notch protections that are light-years better than any other banks. Other banks always look for a way to get out, but that’s not the case with American Express. If you need to return an item they will gladly refund you, if you have an warranty issue they’ll pay to have it fixed or refund your purchase price, if you need to dispute a charge there’s nobody who makes it easier or as pain-free as American Express does, if your item is stolen or damaged you’ll be covered.

With this offer you will get 10,000 bonus points for spending $1 and 20,000 bonus points for spending $5,000 within 6 months.  So spend $5,000 and you’ll have 35,000 Starwood points!
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Annual fee: Making it pay for itself.

There’s no fee on the Starwood card for the first year and $65 thereafter though you can often get bonus points or account credits for keeping it open for additional years. You can always cancel any American Express card within 60 days of being charged the fee on your statement and you will receive a full refund of the fee. If you cancel after 60 days you get a pro-rated refund based on how many months you had the card.

That small annual fee is nothing compared to what you can make from promotions like Small Business Saturday, Link, Like, Love, Foursquare, Twitter, Gift Chain, NYC Mix-n-Match Promo, and tons of other promotions that American Express runs all year long.  I’ve made thousands and thousands of dollars from these and so can you!  Additional cardholders are free on the Starwood card, and each one qualifies for their own promotion credits!

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Business cards and Open Savings:

Getting a business card is simple. If Joe Smith sells items on Ebay or on Amazon, or has any other side business/hobby and wants a credit card to better keep track of business expenditures he can just open a business credit card for “Joe Smith Sole Proprietorship” as the business name.
Just be sure to select “Sole Proprietorship” as the business type and just use your social security number in the Tax Identification Number field as well as in the social security number field.

A perk of business card spending is that it doesn’t count against your credit utilization, so you don’t need to worry about the credit affect of using up a majority of your credit line, something that is bad for your credit if done on a personal card even if you pay it off every statement (which is why I pay off personal cards multiple times per month).

It’s also worth remembering that the credit line (and utilization) of business cards are not reported on your personal credit report, thus closing them also won’t effect your score.

With the Starwood business card you will get Starpoints AND automatic cash back on purchases from these select retailers with Open Savings:

Barnes & Noble online: 5%, Epson: 5%, Fedex: 5%, Flowers.com: 5%, Hyatt: 3%, HP: 5% if you spend $200-$999 annually, 10% if you spend $1,000-$50,000 annually, Microsoft Store: 5%, Courtyard/Fairfield/TownePlace/SpringHill/Residence Inn by Marriott: 5%, Office Max online: 5% on purchases up to $250, 10% on purchases above $250.
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Elite Status:

Just by having a Starwood card you earn Preferred Plus status.  This status earns you the right to checkout at 4pm at Starwood hotels and preferred rooms.

If you spend $30,000 in a year on either Starwood card you earn Gold status.  Gold status gets you free wifi or a 250 point amenity on all stays, even when redeeming points.  You can also get automatic gold status with no spending requirement by opening an American Express Platinum Consumer card or an American Express Business Platinum card.

When you have the Starwood card you also get other benefits like every 3rd night free at Sheraton, 5th night free in French Polynesia and Hawaii with free resort credit, and 2 elite qualifying stays and 5 elite qualifying nights for every Starwood card that you have that count towards earning Gold or Platinum status!

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Using Starpoints:

As points are deposited into your Starwood account you do not lose your points if you cancel your card like with American Express Membership Rewards points.  You do need to maintain some activity in your Starwood account every 12 months though to keep it active.

Starwood’s cash and points chart make expensive hotel stays dirt cheap.  Take the Sheraton at my hometown Cleveland airport for example.  The rate there for tonight is $189+tax=$223.  Using Starpoints you can either pay 4,000 points for a value of 5.6 cents per Starpoint or you can use 1,600  points and $30 cash for a value of over 12 cents per Starpoint!  (I’ll run the numbers for you, if you redeem all 30,000 bonus Starpoints for hotels of a similar 12 cent value, and I have done much better than that example, that would equal a $3,600 signup bonus) Plus award nights even count towards elite status and Gold members receive 250 points back and Platinum members receive 500 points back per stay.  Effectively as a Platinum member I can stay at the Sheraton Cleveland for just 1,100 points plus $30 instead of $223 and be a stay closer towards requalifying for Platinum status.

When you redeem points for a hotel stay when using just points you also get the 5th night for free!  Plus there are no blackout dates or capacity controls on standard rooms starting at 2,000 points per night.

Of you can transfer your Starpoints into miles with dozens of airlines at great ratios.  20,000 Starpoints becomes 25,000 miles on most of those airlines.  20,000 Starpoints becomes 50,000 kilometers on LAN, a South American OneWorld carrier.  LAN never charges any fuel surcharges.

The Starwood card is much better than other cards (Like HAS advantage) for going to Israel.
With HAS you are stuck with just the availability on El Al. Plus El Al charges hundreds of dollars in fuel surcharges on award tickets.
With Starwood you have thousands of routing possibilities for free flights to Israel for less points than with HAS. And even if you want to only go to Israel on El Al you can just transfer Starwood points to AA and they will book you on El Al without any fuel surcharges!

There are also often bonus miles promotions for even more miles when you transfer points to airlines.  In the past bonuses for transferring have ranged from 25% to a whopping 312% for transfers to Air Canada, AA, Delta, and USAirways on top of the standard 25% transfer bonus.

Starwood Nights and flights option makes 5 night stays even cheaper when you transfer Starpoints to miles at the same time as when you book the stay.

Curious about the 31 Starwood transfer options and ratios? Here they are!  With so may different airlines to transfer to it’s just a matter of figuring out which one has the lowest rates to where you want to go.  I’ve separated them by alliance so you can know which airlines are partners and will therefore let you book award travel on partner airlines.  Of course airlines also have lots non-alliance partners, but by definition they are partners with all airlines in the same alliance.

OneWorld Alliance:
AA: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Air Berlin: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
British Airways: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
JAL/Japan Airways: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
LAN: 20,000 Starpoints=50,000 kms
Mexicana: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles

Skyteam Alliance:
Air France/KLM Flying Blue: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Alitalia: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
China Eastern: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
China Southern: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Delta: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles

Star Alliance:
Air Canada: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Air China: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Air New Zealand: 20,000 Starpoints=385 points
ANA/All Nippon: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Asiana: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Lufthansa Miles & More: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Singapore: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Thai: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
United: 20,000 Starpoints=12,500 miles
USAirways: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles

Unaligned:
Alaska (Partners with many various airlines): 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Emirates: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Etihad: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Hawaiian: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Kingfisher: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Qatar: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Saudi Arabian: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Varig: 20,000 Starpoints=12,500 miles
Virgin Atlantic: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles

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Transfer 40K Starpoints Into 60K Air Canada Aeroplan Miles!

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

Related links:
Air Canada Flight Award Chart Linky
Starwood Mileage Transfer Linky
Starwood American Express 30K Consumer Card Limited Time OFfer
Starwood American Express 30K Business Card Limited Time Offer

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Aeroplan Offer Registration Linky

Airlines like Air Canada and USAirways often have transfer bonuses for hotel points converted into their miles.

The best hotel point to mileage ratio is with Starwood, as 20K Starpoints becomes 25K miles. No other hotel chain comes even remotely close to that.

Through September 9th by registering for this promotion if you transfer 20K Starpoints to Air Canada you will get 29K miles or if you transfer 40K Starpoints you will get 60K Aeroplan miles.

Don’t forget you can also instantly transfer American Express Membership Rewards points (earned from cards like Premier Rewards Gold Consumer,
Platinum Consumer, Gold Rewards Business, and Platinum Business) into Aeroplan miles to reach an award.

A breakdown of Aeroplan policies:

The good:
-Air Canada generously allows for 2 free stopovers, so you can check out up to 2 cities for as long as you want in addition to your final destination.  If used properly you can create for yourself a mini round-the-world trip, all for the single award rate of flying to your final destination. So for just 90K miles you can fly in business class to 3 European cities and stay in each for as long as you want. Or for 135K miles you can fly down under in business, with stops in Europe and in Asia along the way for example.
-There are no expedite/close-in fees.
-Air Canada has one of the best lap child policies out there. You pay a flat fee of just $50 in coach, $100 in business, and $125 in first for a lap child. Compare that to 10% of the paid fare with other airlines and you can save a small fortune, especially if you are flying in business class.

The bad:
-There is a $90 charge to change or cancel an award ticket and a $180 charge to cancel within 21 days of departure. (The $90 cancellation price when done at least 21+ days in advance actually is pretty good)
-One-way awards cost about 2/3rds of the award cost of a round-trip.
-Awards can’t be held.
-For travel to Israel the coach rate is the same 80K as United and USAirways charge, but you need 135K in business (compared to 120K with United or USAirways) and 190K for first class via Europe (compared to 150K with United or 180K with USAirways).

The ugly:
-Air Canada charges a fuel surcharge if you redeem their miles for travel on the following carriers: Adria, Air Canada, ANA, Asiana, Austrian, LOT Polish, Lufthansa, TAP Portugal, and THAI. (There is no fuel surcharge if you redeem their miles for travel on the following carriers: Aegean, Air China, Air New Zealand, Avianca/TACA, Brussels, Copa, Croatia, EgyptAir, Ethiopian, SAS, Singapore, South African, Swiss, TAM, Turkish, United, and USAirways)
-Air Canada miles require activity every 12 months to keep them active. They also expire 7 years after they are earned regardless of activity.

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Poll: What Do You Do With Your Starpoints?

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

Many people use Starpoints for airline miles.  20,000 Starpoints turns into 25,000 airlines miles (50,000 with LAN).  I have also posted various promotions in the past where 20,000 Starpoints have transferred into 33,750 AA miles, 37,500 USAirways miles, or even 62,500 Delta miles. You can fly to Israel from just 20,000 Starpoints round-trip plus fuel surcharges or from just 40,000 with no fuel surcharges. With 31 airline transfer partners that in turn each have dozens of airline partners that you can fly on there are endless possibilities and new values to be discovered.

However using Starpoints for hotels can also be pretty awesome.

Take the Le Meridian at the Dead Sea in Israel. Though it’s only a mediocre hotel, it’s in a pretty desirable location. They do play games with their availability, but that’s nothing that I haven’t been able to fix with a call to SPG. At any rate take the weekend of 10/26-10/28 for example. A superior room goes for $331 per night plus tax, for a total of $767.92. Or you can redeem 2,000 Starpoints per night to stay there for free. 4,000 Starpoints will save you $767.92, or a value of 19.2 cents per Starpoint. At values like that your 30,000 bonus Starpoints for opening a Starwood card will be worth $5,760 :D )

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With cash and points I’ve stayed in Khao Lak, Thailand in a walled private pool villa with Starpoints that have also been worth similar values. The fantastic SLS in Beverly Hills for 4,800 points plus $90 is a bargain for a room that can cost $500 with tax. Other SPG hotels of mine that I absolutely adore include the W Hong Kong and the Westin Venice. Even the Sheraton at my hometown Cleveland airport gives a value of over 12 cents per Starpoint as I demonstrated here.

And when you redeem Starpoints rooms are generally cancellable until a day or two before the stay, much better than locking into a cheap fully prepaid rate.

Plus with Starwood elite status (Gold is attainable by getting an American Express Platinum card with no spending requirement or via spending $30K on either Starwood card) you even receive an amenity refund of 250 points (for golds) or 500 points (for platinums) per stay, making the value even greater.  Award stays earn the point amenity and count towards elite status.

Of course you don’t always have to choose between hotel stays or miles.  There’s even a Nights & Flights redemption option that lets you do both.

So hotels or miles, what do you primarily use your Starpoints for? Sounds off in the comments with your strategy!

[poll id="4"]

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Like Starwood On Facebook And Get 100 Free Starpoints!

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

Offer Linky

In addition to the 100 points for everyone for liking Starwood and filling out the short form, 10 winners will each be awarded 100,000 bonus Starpoints with an ARV of $2,500.00. Starpoints will be deposited in winner’s account within 4–6 weeks.

HT: Hudi, via DDF

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Starwood Starpoints To USAirways Transfer Bonus, Should You Do It?

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Update: The deadline to initiate the transfer from Starwood to USAirways and still qualify for the bonus is this Saturday, 03/31:

Originally posted on 03/12:

Related:
-USAirways Star Alliance Award Chart

-Getting to Israel with Starwood Starpoints
-Starwood Consumer AMEX (Free for first year, Earn 10,000 Starpoints With First Purchase, and 15,000 more Starpoints with your first $5,000 in purchases for a total of 30,000 Starpoints)
-Starwood Business AMEX (Free for first year, Earn 10,000 Starpoints With First Purchase, and 15,000 more Starpoints with your first $5,000 in purchases for a total of 30,000 Starpoints)

-American Express Premier Rewards Gold Charge Card (Free for first year, Earn 25,000 Membership Rewards points for spending $2,000 for a total of 27,000 points)

Transfer Offer:

The blogosphere is all talking about the new Starwood to USAirways transfer bonus running through 03/31/12.

A 20,000 Starpoint transfer to USAirways normally takes about a week and earns 25,000 miles.  For transfers made until the end of this month USAirways will add 50% more miles, for a total of 37,500 miles per 20,000 Starpoints transferred.  Don’t count on it happening too quickly though, USAirways says it can take 6-8 weeks for them to add the 50% bonus.

Value:

Is it worth it? Well that depends on how you value Starpoints and how you value USAirways miles. Personally I’d peg a value of about 2.2 cents on Starpoints and 1.7 cents on USAirways miles, though that number will be highly variable for different people.
As 20,000 Starpoints becomes 37,500 USAirways miles, let me break it down like this for transfers of Starpoints in 20K increments:
(SPG=Starwood Starpoints, US=USAirways miles, cpp=cents per point, cpm=cents per miles)
-If you value SPG at 1.8 cpp then it’s like getting US at 0.96 cpm.
-If you value SPG at 2.0 cpp then it’s like getting US at 1.07 cpm.
-If you value SPG at 2.2 cpp then it’s like getting US at 1.17 cpm.
-If you value SPG at 2.4 cpp then it’s like getting US at 1.28 cpm.
-If you value SPG at 2.6 cpp then it’s like getting US at 1.39 cpm.
-If you value SPG at 2.8 cpp then it’s like getting US at 1.49 cpm.

USAirways occasionally sells their miles for 1.9-2 cents each instead of the usual 3.76 cents each (after fees). Even if you value your Starpoints at 3.5 cents each this promotion would still be getting USAirways miles at less than 1.87 cents each. (3.5 cents if the top amount that Starwood charges for Starpoints, though Starwood themselves often has sales to drop that down to 2.8 cents each)

In summary I think it’s a pretty good deal no matter how you value your Starpoints. Look at the mileage uses section below and see how you can take business or first class trips that would normally cost $5K, $10K, or even $20K for less than the cost of buying a coach ticket at a cost of about 1.17 cents per mile (i.e. 90,000 miles round trip to Hong Kong in business class for $1,050 at a cost of 1.17 cents per mile if you value Starpoints at 2.2 cents each)

Borrow Points:

Don’t have enough Starpoints?  If you have a Starwood credit card you can call up American Express and borrow Starpoints!

Another option would be to transfer American Express Membership Rewards points into USAirways miles via Starwood.  For this month only you can transfer 1,000 Membership Rewards points into 500 Starpoints.  So that would mean 40,000 Membership Rewards points transfer into 20,000 Starpoints which transfers into 37,500 USAirways miles.  In other words you will earn .9375 USAirways miles for each Membership Rewards point.  That’s not incredible, but it’s not the worst usage of Membership Rewards points.  You can also borrow Membership Rewards points by calling American Express.

Promo vagaries:

There is an unclear rule in the promo terms that says, “Dividend Miles members will earn only one bonus when they transfer hotel points into Dividend Miles during the promotion.” Apparently this means that you will only earn the 50% bonus for the first transfer made during the promo period, though that vague statement can also be read in different ways. To be safe though you’ll probably just want to make a single transfer.

Transferring more than 60K Starpoints:

20,000 Starpoints will earn 37,500 miles, 40,000 Starpoints will earn 75,000 miles, 60,000 Starpoints will earn 112,500 miles. You can transfer up to 79,999 Starpoints in a day, which would earn 142,499 miles, but you only earn 1.5 miles per Starpoint on the last 19,999 Starpoints transferred instead of 1.875 miles per Starpoint on the first 60,000 Starpoints transferred. Still that’s better than the normal 1.25 miles per Starpoint on transfers of 20K.

What if you want to transfer more than that? Well you can transfer Starpoints into anyone’s USAirways account, and the limit of 1 bonus is on the USAirways account, not on the Starwood account, so you can make 60,000 point transfer into multiple USAirways accounts and get the full bonus on each account.

Mileage uses:

USAirways is a Star Alliance member so you can use their miles on all partner airlines. While you can’t search for Star Alliance awards on USAirways.com, you can search for Star Alliance awards on other sites like United, Air Canada, and ANA and then call USAirways to book those flights. Remember that partners can only book saver awards.

-Domestic: United operates premium service 3 class planes between JFK and LAX. While United themselves charges 70,000 miles round-trip for lie-flat First Class on their 3 class p.s. planes, USAirways only charges 50,000 miles for First Class within the US and Canada even on United’s 3 class planes. Dividing that 1.875 means that it will cost the equivalent of about 26,667 Starpoints to go round-trip between JFK and Los Angeles in first class. Or fly in coach round-trip for 25,000 miles, or about the equivalent of about 13,333 Starpoints.

-Hawaii: While United charges 80,000 miles in First on 2 class planes or BusinessFirst to Hawaii or 100,000 miles in first on a 3 class plane, you can go on the same United flights in BusinessFirst or first on a 3 class plane for just 70,000 USAirways miles. Dividing that 1.875 means that it will cost the equivalent of about 37,333 Starpoints to go round-trip to Hawaii an any premium class. Or fly in coach round-trip for 40,000 miles, or about the equivalent of about 21,333 Starpoints.

-Israel: It takes 80,000 USAirways miles to fly to Israel round-trip in coach and 120,000 in business class. Dividing those numbers by 1.875 means that it will cost the equivalent of about 42,667 Starpoints to go round-trip to Israel in coach or 64,000 in business class.

-North Asia (China, Japan, etc): It takes 60,000 USAirways miles to fly to North Asia round-trip in coach and 90,000 in business class. Dividing those numbers by 1.875 means that it will cost the equivalent of about 32,000 Starpoints to go round-trip to North Asia in coach or 48,000 in business class.

-Australia: It takes 80,000 USAirways miles to fly to Australiaround-trip in coach and 110,000 in business class. Dividing those numbers by 1.875 means that it will cost the equivalent of about 42,667 Starpoints to go round-trip to Australia in coach or 58,667 in business class.

-Off-Peak awards: USAirways also has off-peak award pricing when flying on USAirways. Fly bwteen North American or Hawaii to Europe or South America for 35K in coach (about 18,667 Starpoints) or 60K in business (about 32,000 Starpoints) or fly between the US48/Canada and the Caribbean for 25K in coach (about 13,333 Starpoints) or 50K in business (about 26,667 Starpoints)

Other things to know before investing in USAirways miles:

-Besides for the dozens of Star Alliance partners you can also use USAirways miles on Bahamasair, Jet Airways, Hawaiian, and Virgin Atlantic.
-It’s worth noting that USAirways and United are in the same alliance, but that doesn’t mean you can just combine their miles. They’ll be happy to book you on each other, but you are subject to the rules of the airline that you have the miles with.
-Although United allows you to book one-way awards with their miles (even for travel on USAir), USAirways does not allow you to book one-way awards with their miles (even for travel on United).
-Although United allows free date changes on awards at least 21 days in advance of the new flight you want, USAirways charges $150 for all changes once you ticket your award.
-Although United allows changes to award tickets at anytime, you can’t make changes to award tickets on partner airlines booked by USAirways once you depart on your first flight.
-USirways and United never charge fuel surcharges, but USAirways does charge a processing fee of $25 for awards in the Continental U.S./Alaska/Canada, $35 for Latin America/Caribbean, and $50 for awards to Hawaii/Europe/Middle East/South America. Still that’s better than the hundreds of dollars in fuel surcharges that many foreign carriers charge to use their miles. The nice thing is that at least USAirways does waive the phone fee for Star Alliance awards as those can’t be booked on their website.
(In other words USAirways miles are not as good as United miles, but as there’s no good way to convert Membership Rewards or Starpoints into United miles anymore it’s sort of a moot point. You can still get United miles from Chase Ultimate Rewards points)
-USAirways will hold an award for you for 3 days, and if you make changes to the award it gets extended for another 3 days each time, definitely a nice feature.
-USAirways does allow a free stopover and will allow you to cross over the Atlantic or the Pacific. Their agents are pretty flexible about booking crazy routings, so that’s definitely a plus.

So, will you be transferring points?

HT: Yosef, via DDF

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Don’t Wait On Hold, Have Starwood Or United Call You!

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

Why wait on hold and try to find your way around a phone tree maze when you can have companies call your phone or talk to you over the web for free?

Click here to have Starwood call you

Click here to have United call you

The United line connects to the old Continental.com support desk, which has very helpful agents who have the ability to waive the phone booking fee for itineraries that can’t be booked online.  Plus there are rarely any hold times!

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HOT! Get 1,000 Starpoints For Taking A Short Survery!

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

Update, 2:55pm: It appears that this is already dead!
Follow @dansdeals on Twitter for instant alerts of deals so that you never miss out again!

Starwood Survey Linky

This was just posted by one of Starwood’s official representative, so it’s definitely legitimate.

The survey is slated to close on March 9th but can end earlier, so don’t wait!

Enter your name, email, and Starwood number (not your Starwood AMEX number, but your actual SPG number that you use on spg.com) in the name and email address field.  If you can’t find your SPG number you can look at the end of your Starwood AMEX billing statement where it’s printed in the section “SPG Starpoints Earned”

You will receive 1,000 Starpoints (a value of $35 at the rate charged by Starwood, or more likely a value of about $22 at a more typical valuation) within 30 business days.  Limit of 1 bonus per Starwood account.

Even better (in case you no longer have a Starwood credit card) this will extend the life of all the points in your account for another year!

HT: Reuven, via DDF

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Starwood 2012 Category Changes.

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

Find other articles like this by clicking on the “mileage posts” tab on top of the DansDeals banner at the top of this site.

Starwood has come out with their preliminary list of category changes for 2012.  These go into effect on 03/01 local time, so don’t wait until 02/29 to book.

Also going into effect on 03/01 are some elite benefit changes.  The main positive change here is that SPG Gold members receive their choice of a 250 point amenity per stay (even on award stays) or free wifi.  SPG Gold status is given away for free to American Express Consumer Platinum and American Express Business Platinum cardholders, as well has to anyone who spends $30,000 in a calendar year on the Starwood Consumer or the Starwood Business cards.  Platinum members will also have the option of free daily breakfast instead of their 500 point amenity and Platinums that stay in Starwood hotels for way too many nights per year (50+) also get some other benefits like confirmed suite upgrades.

Many people use Starpoints just to transfer into airline miles.  Starwood points transfer to most airline miles at a 20,000:25,000 rate.  (Some airlines are at 20,000:12,500, others at 20,000:50,000)  But obviously you can get an amazing value from your Starpoints in Starwood hotels. You can redeem points with no blackout dates or capacity controls on standard rooms starting at just 2,000 points per night. When you redeem 5 consecutive nights with points the 5th night is free. There are also cash and points options that make the rooms even cheaper and help stretch your Starpoints. There are also nights and flights options that make stays even cheaper when you transfer Starpoints to miles at the same time. And of course you can also use points for upgrades to suites and much more.

Here is a link to the Starwood hotel stay award chart that breaks down the points needed by category.

Back to the subject at hand, you can book any future stays at hotels that are going up before 03/01 and pay the current lower rates.  Most hotel stays are fully refundable, so even if you don’t end up needing the stay you can cancel and get your points back.

If you have a Starwood card you can also borrow Starpoints from American Express and pay them back as you spend money on the card in the future!

If you have Starpoint reservations at a hotel that is going down in category just wait until March 1st and then get it readjusted downward.

The biggest surprise this year is a move they didn’t make.  They left the Le Meridian Dead Sea, which has rates ranging from $200-$500, as a category 1 property.  Sure it’s nothing to write home about, but for 2,000-3,000 points per night (or even less for Gold/Platinum members) it’s a downright steal.  Hopefully it stays at category 1 when the final list comes out.

Here’s what else caught my eye:

Going down:
-Thailand got slammed from flooding and SPG members reap the benefits of the low rates from last year:
The Le Meridian Chiang Mai Thailand is the steal of the year falling down to category 1. It’s a gorgeous modern property in a fun and affordable city just down the road from the local chabad house that I reviewed in my Chiang Mai trip notes.
The Le Meridian Chiang Rai resort and the Aloft Bangkok also fall to category 1.
The W Retreat Koh Samui falls from its category 7 perch to category 6.
-Le Meridian Bora Bora drops from a category 7 to category 6, a welcome change.
-The Westin Southfield, near the kosher restaurants in Detroit, drops to a category 2. Other Detroit hotels drop as well.
-Sheraton Nassau Bahamas drops to a cateory 3.

Going up:
-NYC gets expensive:
12 NYC hotels go up in category, most of them to category 6.
-The awful Sheraton Kaiulani Honolulu climbs to category 5.  So feel free to blow 12K points there or the same 12K points at the awesome Westin Moana Surfrider that I reviewed in these Oahu trip notes.
-W South Beach, which I negatively reviewed in these trip notes, climbs to the ridiculous category 7 list.
These 3 changes are a real shame though:
-W Hong Kong, which we absolutely loved, goes up to category 6.
-Sheraton Gateway LAX, an excellent airport hotel, makes its way back up to category 3.
-The Westin Venice, which I positively reviewed in these trip notes, will be going up to category 6.

What other category changes will affect you?

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Getting To Israel Using Starwood Starpoints!

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

Post updated with the latest rates.

Related: The Starwood Consumer American Express Card and Starwood Business American Express Card will each give you 10,000 points after your first purchase and a 15,000 point bonus for spending $5,000 within 6 months.
Open both and spend $5,000 on each and you’ll have a total of 60,000 Starpoints.

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Executive Summary:

To avoid all fuel surcharges:
-For Delta travel transfer points (from 40K) to Flying Blue.
-For Skyteam travel on airlines besides Delta, transfer points (From 64K) to Delta.
-For Star Alliance travel transfer points (from 64K) to USAirways.
-For OneWorld or El Al travel transfer points (from 64K) to AA.

To travel for the least amount of Starpoints while paying fuel surcharges:
-For Air France/KLM travel during a promo period transfer points (from 20K) to Flying Blue. Current promo cities include NYC and LAX. For more on this option see this previous post.
-For OneWorld travel transfer points (from 32K) to JAL.
-For Skyteam travel transfer points (from 40K) to Flying Blue or Alitaila.
-For Star Alliance travel transfer points (from 48K) to ANA.

Rates listed in this post are for round-trip travel and are assuming that you maximize the 25% point bonus for transferring Starpoints in blocks of 20,000 points (which you may or may not be able to do depending on the number of passengers so you may have leftover miles)

Before you transfer try to find availability to see which transfer you should do!
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As you probably know already, the Starwood card is one of the best cards out there for general spending. The points you get from it are just so much more valuable than other point currencies.  You can use just a couple thousand points for free hotel stays or transfer points into miles with dozens of airlines.

Getting to Israel using Starpoints must be one of the most common questions on this site, maybe this will settle it once and for all?
Of course there are many other uses for Starpoints than just transferring them into miles. I helped a friend book a Hawaiian vacation over the peak December holiday season when rooms for going for $600/night using Starwood Cash and Points and his rooms were as little as $60+4,000 Starpoints! Those points were worth their weight in gold (well, closer to 13.5 cents per point, but you catch my drift) And that’s besides for other awards like 5th night free.
If you are transferring points you may also want to consider Starwood’s Nights & Flights option where you can save 8,000 points on a mileage transfer and any future 5 night stay in a category 3 or 4 hotel.

Still ready to transfer points to go to Israel? Great! Here’s how to do it for a little points as possible.
To make a transfer just login to your Starwood account at SPG.com. If you have never made an account at SPG.com you may need to set one up. Locate your SPG number on the Starwood AMEX statement where it lists how many points you earned in the past month and for the year. Then you can setup for SPG.com account. Click here to transfer Starpoints into airline miles. Transfers don’t happen instantly. They can take between 1-20 days. On average figure on about 3-7 days though.

While these aren’t nearly all of the possible transfer options, this should cover many of the good ones. If I’m missing any good Starwood transfer methods or if there any mistakes please post a comment!

The rates in this chart are for flights from NYC to Tel Aviv. Rates from other North American cities should be similar, but may differ depending on the airline. Remember to try to do your own research online when searching for award flights. With enough time and effort you should be able to easily book something over the phone. Remember the phone agents just want to get you off the phone as quickly as possible and aren’t likely to want to try to find any creative routings to get you your free flight.

Confused about which airlines charge a fuel surcharge on award travel? The good news if that generally US based carriers never do, but I’ve been compiling a chart of the policies of 44 airlines on the Dansdeals Forums where you can read more about the murky policies of fuel surcharges.
I wish the offending airlines would just call them what they really are: Mileage co-pays. It has nothing to with fuel and everything to do with a deceitful cash grab that will ultimately kill the mileage cash cow that is the most (only?) profitable segment of the airline industry! The airline that books your reward ticket (not the operating carrier) decides whether to charge a fuel surcharge or not. On principle I avoid accumulating miles with airlines that resort to charging them. For a trip like NYC-TLV a fuel surcharge may range from $250 to as much as $700 per ticket! I’ve noted which airlines below charge them.

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Airlines that fly nonstop from North America to Israel:
-Air Canada from Toronto (bookable via Star Alliance miles)
-Continental/United from Newark (bookable via Star Alliance miles)
-Delta from JFK (bookable via Skyteam miles)
-El Al from JFK, Los Angeles, Newark, and Toronto. (bookable via AA, connections to Eilat for the same mileage available)
-USAirways from Philadelphia (bookable via Star Alliance miles)
None of these carriers offer First Class seating to Israel for miles on nonstop flights.  (El Al does offer First Class, but you can only use AA miles to redeem for Coach or Business Class on El Al).

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Posted mileage requirements are for round-trip travel. Some programs may allow for one-way award redemptions (for example Flying Blue miles will let you fly one-way on Delta, but you can’t use Delta miles for a one-way ticket on Delta.)

Star Alliance:
With 27 airlines (not even counting that most airlines have even more non-Star Alliance partners), Star Alliance offers the best availability for flights to Israel by leaps and bounds.  Besides for the nontop flights on Air Canada, Continental, and USAirways from North American there are many options via Europe worth looking into including Swiss via Zurich, Lufthansa via Frankfurt and Munich, Brussels via Brussels, Austrian via Vienna, Turkish via Istanbul, Singapore/Lufthansa via Frankfurt, Aegean via Athens, LOT via Warsaw, or a mix of carriers like Continental from Newark to one of dozens of European cities and a European carrier to Tel Aviv.  By utilizing free stopovers the possibilities are endless if you take the time to research your options!

Using USAirways miles, from 64,000 Starpoints.
-If there is Star Alliance availability, transfer enough points to USAirways to have 80,000 miles per ticket for coach, 120,000 miles per ticket for business (including the lie-flat cabins with BusinessFirst on Continental, Envoy on USAirways, and Executive First on Air Canada), or 180,000 for first class (the best for travel to Tel Aviv include flights on Swiss via Zurich and Lufthansa via Frankfurt or Munich).
Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 USAirways miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means 64,000 Starpoints in coach, 96,000 Starpoints in business, or 144,000 Starpoints in first.
Notes:
-Fuel Surcharges: USAirways never charges fuel surcharges, although they do have a modest $50 award ticketing fee offset by the fact that they waive the phone booking fee for Star Alliance tickets.

-While you can check availability for Star Alliance rewards on Continental.com and Aeroplan.com, some partner airlines will not show up. You must call USAirways to check availability and to book flights on many partner airlines. You may be able to check Star Alliance availability on ANA’s website and then call USAirways to book. See this forum thread for info on using ANA to search Star Alliance availability and workarounds to use ANA’s website even if you don’t have any ANA miles.
-USAirways charges $150 for date and route changes and $75 for tickets booked within 14 days of departure. See this post for a roundup of award fees that US-based airline charge.
-USAirways does not allow for changes after you take any flight on a Star Alliance itinerary.

Using Air Canada Aeroplan miles, from 64,000 Starpoints.
-If there is Star Alliance availability (besides for on Air Canada, as you should use USAirways miles to book travel on Air Canada), transfer enough points to Aeroplan to have 80,000 miles per ticket for coach, 135,000 miles per ticket for business (including the lie-flat cabins with BusinessFirst on Continental, Envoy on USAirways, and Executive First on Air Canada), or 190,000 for first class (the best for travel to Tel Aviv include flights on Swiss via Zurich and Lufthansa via Frankfurt or Munich).
Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 Aeroplan miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means 64,000 Starpoints in coach, 108,000 Starpoints in business, or 152,000 Starpoints in first.
Notes:
-Fuel Surcharges: Air Canada is in the process of adding fuel surcharges for travel on select partners.

As of 01/29 if you fly on these carriers you will pay a fuel surcharge: Adria, Air Canada, ANA, Asiana, Austrian, bmi, LOT Polish, Lufthansa, TAP Portugal, and THAI.
As of 01/29 if you fly on these carriers you will not pay a fuel surcharge: Aegean, Air China, Air New Zealand, Brussels, Continental, Croatia, EgyptAir, Ethiopian, SAS, Singapore, South African, Swiss, TAM, Turkish, United, and USAirways.

-Air Canada miles require activity every 12 months to keep them active. They also expire 7 years after they are earned regardless of activity. Both of these policies are harsher than US carriers policies.
-Air Canada generously allows for 2 free stopovers, so you can check out 2 American or European cities in addition to Tel Aviv for the same amount of miles!
-There is a $90CAD charge to change or cancel an award ticket.
-Air Canada charges significantly less in fees for lap children than the US carriers do, especially in premium classes.
-There are no last-minute “close-in” or “expedite” fees.
-While you can check availability for Star Alliance rewards on Continental.com and Aeroplan.com, some partner airlines will not show up. You must call Air Canada to check availability and to book flights on many partner airlines. You may be able to check Star Alliance availability on ANA’s website and then call Air Canada to book. See this forum thread for info on using ANA to search Star Alliance availability and workarounds to use ANA’s website even if you don’t have any ANA miles.

Using ANA miles, from 48,000 Starpoints.
-If there is Star Alliance availability and you prefer saving some Starpoints and paying a fuel surcharge, transfer enough points to ANA to have 60,000 miles per ticket for coach, 90,000 miles per ticket for business, or 140,000 miles per ticket for first class.
Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 ANA miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means 48,000 Starpoints in coach, 72,000 Starpoints in business, or 112,000 Starpoints in first.
Notes:
-Fuel Surcharges: ANA now charges hefty fuel surcharges on all airlines.
-It takes a number of days for Starpoints to transfer into ANA miles and there is no way to have ANA hold a ticket if have no miles in your account.
-ANA miles expire after 3 years, regardless of account activity.
-ANA partner flights must be booked 7 days in advance.
-ANA does not charge for date changes.
-ANA allows a ticket to be canceled and the miles to be redeposited for a fee of just 3,000 miles.
-You can book alliance travel on on ANA’s website once you have miles in your account, although you may need to call them to book travel for flights not found on their website.
—————————————————————————————————–
OneWorld:
Oneworld availability to Israel can be tough. Flights to Israel include BA from London, Iberia from Madrid and Barcelona, Royal Jordanian from Amman, and Malev from Budapest.
El Al does have decent availability. While AA is partners with El Al, they are a non-alliance partner so you can book travel on El Al with AA miles, but not with other OneWorld mileage. It’s more advantageous to book El Al travel with AA miles than it is with El Al miles (the miles received from the HAS Advantage card) because El Al loads fuel surcharges onto their own tickets, but you do not pay any fuel surcharges for booking El Al tickets with AA miles.

Using AA miles, from 64,000 Starpoints.
Via AA’s All-Partner Award Chart.
-If there is OneWorld or El Al availability, transfer enough points to AA to have 80,000 miles per ticket (for coach via Europe between 10/15-05/15) or 90,000 miles per ticket (for coach nonstop on El Al or via Europe between 05/16-10/14) or 135,000 miles per ticket for business nonstop on El Al or via Europe), or 180,000 miles per ticket for first class via Europe.
You can also use AA’s OneWorld award chart which allows for up to 16 stopovers starting from 90,000 miles in coach, 115,000 miles in business, and 150,000 miles in first, but the rules of this complicated award that requires at least 2 OneWorld carriers besides AA and excludes partners such as El Al are beyond the scope of this article.
Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 AA miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means 64,000 or 72,000 Starpoints in coach, 108,000 Starpoints in business, or 144,000 Starpoints in first.
Notes:
-Fuel Surcharges: There are fuel surcharges if you want to travel on BA, but not for travel on AA or on any other partner airlines.
-You can check AA availability on AA.com. You can check OneWorld availability on BA.com or Qantas.com. (BA or Qantas frequent flyer account required) You can check El Al availability on elal.com (Matmid account required). You can also check availability by calling AA. Tickets must also be booked by calling AA.
-The best shot at availability without paying fuel surcharges would be to take AA to London or anywhere else in Europe and then El Al from London or anywhere else in europe to Tel Aviv. This routing would be 80,000 miles between October-May or the same 90,000 miles as the nonstop El Al flight from the US during the summer.
-AA allows for free date changes and routing changes on award tickets.
-AA allows you to redeem for one-way tickets for half the miles.
-Don’t forget that AA allows for a free stopover at the North American gateway city and 2 free stopovers by booking one-way tickets.
-Based in NYC and Want to get in free flights for Hawaii and Los Angeles for booking a ticket to Israel?
Book Honolulu-JFK nonstop on Hawaiian, “stopover” in JFK as long as you want, book JFK-Tel Aviv-JFK nonstop on El Al at anytime later, “stopover” in JFK for as long as you want, then book JFK-LAX nonstop on AA all for the same 90K round-trip rate as just booking JFK-Tel Aviv-JFK! Plus you can change the dates as many times as you want for free.
Don’t have any other trips planned? Just book the added segment at the end of your trip (to anywhere you want, Miami, Los Angeles, Anchorage, Vancouver, Kauai, Maui, you name it!) and you’ll have a free one-way ticket there that you can change or not even bother using for free!

Using BA miles, from 52,000 Starpoints
-If there is OneWorld availability for your dates: Transfer enough points to BA to have 65,000 miles per ticket for coach, 130,000 miles per ticket for business, or 195,000 miles per ticket in first.
Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 BA miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means 52,000 Starpoints in coach, 108,000 Starpoints in business, or 156,000 Starpoints in first.
Notes:
-Fuel Surcharges: BA charges hefty fuel surcharges on their own and on most partner airline flights (excluding LAN and AA flights that are wholly within the Western Hemisphere.)
-You can only search partner flights on BA.com after searching for BA availability. If there is no BA availability you will then see the option to include partners in the search. This search is far from perfect, you should call BA to check more partner availability, but beware that calling will subject you to fuel surcharges on AA travel.
-Oneworld availability can also be searched by creating an account and searching on Qantas.com.

Using JAL miles, from 32,000 Starpoints
-If there is BA availability, transfer enough points to JAL to have 40,000 miles per ticket (for coach between 10/15-05/15) or 60,000 miles per ticket (for coach between 05/16-10/14) or 75,000 miles per ticket for premium economy, or 80,000 miles per ticket for business, or 100,000 miles per ticket for first.
-If there is OneWorld availability, transfer enough points to JAL to have 60,000 miles per ticket for coach, 90,000 miles per ticket for business, or 120,000 miles per ticket for first.
Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 JAL miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means 32,000 Starpoints for off-peak coach on BA, 48,000 Starpoints for other coach travel, 60,000 Starpoints for premium economy on BA, 64,000 Starpoints for business on BA, 72,000 Starpoints in business on other partner airlines, 80,000 Starpoints in first on BA, or 96,000 Starpoints in first on other partner airlines.
-Fuel Surcharges: JAL seems to always charge a fuel surcharge.

Using LAN kilometers, from 44,800 Starpoints
-If there is availability on Royal Jordanian, transfer enough points to LAN to have 112,000 kilometers per ticket for coach or 224,000 kilometers per ticket for business.
Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=50,000 LAN kilometers. At a 1:2.5 ratio this means 44,800 Starpoints in coach or 89,600 Starpoints in business.
Notes:
-Fuel Surcharges: LAN does not charge any fuel surcharges (and is probably the only program left that doesn’t surcharge BA award flights!)
—————————————————————————————————–
Skyteam:
Skyteam has pretty poor award availability. You can try searching some Skyteam availability on Delta.com. and AirFrance.com.  Options to Israel besides Delta’s JFK flights are on Czech via Prague, KLM via Amsterdam, Air France via Paris, and Alitalia via Rome.

Using Flying Blue (Air France/KLM) miles, from 20,000 Starpoints
-If there is a promo award available on Flying Blue for your dates: Transfer enough points to Flying Blue to have 25,000 miles per ticket for coach or 50,000 miles per ticket for business, plus expect to pay fuel surcharges.
-If there is no promo award or for travel on partner airlines like Delta transfer enough points to Flying Blue to have 50,000 miles per ticket for coach or 100,000 miles per ticket for business.
Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 Flying Blue miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means 20,000 Starpoints in coach or 40,000 Starpoints in business for a promo award. For regular tickets and partner ticket 40,000 Starpoints per ticket in coach or 80,000 Starpoints per ticket in business.
-Fuel Surcharges: Flying Blue no longer charges a fuel surcharge for travel on Delta to/from Israel!
For travel on airlines besides Delta, Flying Blue generally charges a larger fuel surcharge than Alitalia.

-Flying Blue allows you to redeem for one-way tickets for half the miles.

Using Alitalia miles, from 40,000 Starpoints
-If there is Skyteam availability transfer enough points to Alitalia to have 50,000 miles per ticket to Alitalia for coach or 80,000 miles per ticket for business,
Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 Alitalia miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means 40,000 Starpoints in coach or 64,600 Starpoints in business.
-Fuel Surcharges: Alitalia charges a fuel surcharge for travel on all airlines, although it tends to be less than what Flying Blue charges.

Using Delta miles, from 64,000 Starpoints.
-You can also transfer to Delta Skypesos to avoid fuel surcharges, but their mileage rates are variable. Coach can be between 80,000 and 190,000 and business can be between 120,000 and 370,000.
Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 Delta miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means 64,000-152,000 Starpoints in coach or 96,000-296,000 Starpoints in business.
-Fuel Surcharges: Delta does not charge a fuel surcharge for round-trip travel originating from the US on Delta but does charge fuel surcharges on select partners.
Delta charges a fuel surcharge for round-trip travel originating from select regions outside the US (Originating in Europe is surcharged, but originating in Israel is not.)

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And Then There Were 2…Le Meridian Dead Sea Leaving Starwood In 2012.

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

Update: The hotel has changed their mind and will not be leaving Starwood on 12/31 after all!  The “leaving Starwood” notice has been taken off SPG.com and a Starwood rep says that they are “staying for the moment”…whatever that means.  Other reports have them staying at least through 2012. If you want to book 2012 reservations do it while they are still a category 1 hotel as they’ll very likely be going up in category when next year’s category changes are processed.

Originally posted on 11/03/11:

I went with 2 of my brothers to Israel in 2007 and traveled from Nimrod’s Fortress in the Golan Heights down to Eilat and everywhere in between for a month.  We lived it up at Starwood properties.  There was the category 1 Le Meridian Haifa, the Le Meridian Dead Sea, the category 2 Sheraton Tiberias, the category 3 Sheraton Jerusalem Plaza located just minutes from the old city, and the fabulous category 3 Herod’s Vitalis Spa in Eilat where for 2,800 points and $45 as a Starwood Gold member we were upgraded to an incredible ocean suite with 3 balconies and relaxed under their hot and cold waterfall massage fountains.  Those Starpoints must have been worth over 50 cents each in that suite, an astronomical figure considering you get a Starpoint or 2 for every dollar you spend on the Starwood card. Between the hotels on that trip and flying in Continental’s BusinessFirst I knew I would be in the points and miles game for good.

We never could have traveled like that if was had to pay the asking price of hundreds of dollars per night, but I had no problem swinging for a few thousand points a night.

All of those hotels are now gone from the SPG program.  Perhaps they realized that people would stay there without having to pay royalties to Starwood?  Perhaps Starwood got tired of the games they were playing with how difficult they would make it to use Starpoints for rooms?

At any rate as of 01/01/12 the Le Meridian Dead Sea is gone from SPG as well.  Their base rooms on spg.com are $480 and they are a category 1 property, meaning that rooms cost only 2,000 points on weekends and 3,000 points on weekdays (or even less if they’ll open up cash and points availability for you as DansDeals Forum members have been able to do).   I had no idea why they were a category 1, but odds are that Fattal, the management company that also yanked other properties from SPG didn’t like it and now they’re gone.  They were never a great hotel, but it was nice to have the option.

All that’s left now for Starwood in Israel is the category 4 Le Meridian Eilat, which is also under Fattal and likely not too be around for too much longer, and the category 5 Sheraton Tel Aviv Hotel and Towers.

A true shame, but at least people that were hoping to use Starpoints for hotels can still use them to travel to Israel by transferring them out to airlines like AA for travel on El Al or any OneWorld carrier, to USAirways for travel on any Star Alliance carriers, or to Delta or Flying Blue for Skyteam travel.

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Starwood Award Nights Now Count Towards Elite Status!

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

Update: Starwood apparently will only count paid nights to qualify for the platinum challenge. Award nights will count towards qualifying for Platinum status that requires 25 stays, but not for the challenge which only requires 15 nights.

That’s always been a pet peeve of some Starwood credit card users that use their points for hotel stays instead of transferring the points into airline miles.  They earn tons of points and stay in Starwood hotels worldwide but they don’t get good recognition or upgrades when they stay in hotels because they always stay for free with points.

Until now only paid nights counted towards elite status. So even if you found hotel nights for $80 each, you were still looking at laying out nearly $1,700 to attain Platinum status.

Effective 10/01 Starwood will start counting award nights and stays towards elite status.

Starwood has a few levels of elite status. Status earned in 2011 will last until 02/28/13. Status earned in 2012 will last until 02/28/14.

Having the Starwood American Express Consumer card gets you 2 stays and 5 nights credit right off the bat. Having the Starwood American Express Business card does the same. So if you’re like me and have both that’s already worth 4 stays and 10 nights towards elite status.

Here’s a rundown of status levels:

-SPG Preferred Plus status is attained simply by having a Starwood American Express card. It gets you a preferred room upgrade and 4pm late checkout.

-SPG Gold status can be attained in a few ways. You get it free if you have an American Express Platinum charge card. You also get it free if you spend $30,000 in a year on the Starwood American Express card. Otherwise it required 10 stays or 25 nights in Starwood hotels. It gets you 50% bonus points on Starwood hotel stay in addition to the benefits offered by Preferred Plus status.

-SPG Platinum is where it’s at though. If there is a standard suite available at checkin it’s yours for free. I’ve had very good luck getting upgraded to incredible suites for free as a Platinum member.  You get free lounge access and free internet/wifi access at Starwood hotels. You also get 250 points or 500 points at full service hotels as a Platinum for each stay in addition to the benefits offered by Gold status. Room availability is guaranteed. The Platinum concierge team is very good as well. You need to make 25 stays or 50 nights in Starwood hotels to earn this status.

Another way for folks who aren’t currently platinum to earn SPG Platinum is by calling SPG to enroll in a challenge. With a challenge you need 15 nights within 90 days to earn Platinum status.

What would it cost to become or requalify for Platinum with only award stays?
The following assumes that folks have both Starwood cards, thus lowering their needs to 21 stays, otherwise you will need 2 if you have 1 Starwood card or 4 more stays if you have no cards.
It also assumes that non-elites will enroll in the challenge and it doesn’t factor in credit cards as those don’t count for the challenge nights.

Sample hotels:

Sheraton Bandara Hotel, Jakarta, Indonesia
Cash and points award nights:

For non-platinums:
15 nights at 1,200 points+$25.
Total of 18,000 points+$375 to qualify for SPG Platinum via challenge.
21 stays at 1,200 points+$25.
Total of 25,200 points+$525 to requalify for SPG Platinum.

For current platinums:
21 stays at 1,200 points+$25.
Less 21 x 500 points Platinum amenities.
Total of 14,700 points+$525 to requalify for SPG Platinum.

Weekend nights:

For non-platinums:
15 nights at 2,000 points
Total of 30,000 points to qualify for SPG Platinum via challenge.
21 stays at 2,000 points
Total of 42,000 points to requalify for SPG Platinum.

For current platinums:
21 stays at 2,000 points
Less 21 x 500 points Platinum amenities.
Total of 31,500 points to requalify for SPG Platinum.
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4 Points by Sheraton Pittsburgh Airport
Cash and points award nights:

For non-platinums:
15 nights at 1,200 points+$25.
Total of 18,000 points+$375 to qualify for SPG Platinum via challenge.
21 stays at 1,200 points+$25.
Total of 25,200 points+$525 to requalify for SPG Platinum.

For current platinums:
21 stays at 1,200 points+$25.
Less 21 x 250 points Platinum amenities.
Total of 19,950 points+$525 to requalify for SPG Platinum.

Weekend nights:

For non-platinums:
15 nights at 2,000 points
Total of 30,000 points to qualify for SPG Platinum via challenge.
21 stays at 2,000 points
Total of 42,000 points to requalify for SPG Platinum.

For current platinums:
21 stays at 2,000 points
Less 21 x 250 points Platinum amenities.
Total of 36,750 points to requalify for SPG Platinum.
——————————————————————
Sheraton Cleveland Airport:
Cash and points award nights:

For non-platinums:
15 nights at 1,600 points+$30.
Total of 24,000 points+$450 to qualify for SPG Platinum via challenge.
21 stays at 1,600 points+$30.
Total of 23,600 points+$630 to requalify for SPG Platinum.

For current platinums:
21 stays at 1,600 points+$30.
Less 21 x 500 points Platinum amenities.
Total of 23,100 points+$630 to requalify for SPG Platinum.

Weekend nights:

For non-platinums:
15 nights at 3,000 points
Total of 45,000 points to qualify for SPG Platinum via challenge.
21 nights at 3,000 points
Total of 63,000 points to requalify for SPG Platinum.

For current platinums:
21 nights at 3,000 points
Less 21 x 500 points Platinum amenities.
Total of 52,500 points to requalify for SPG Platinum.

HT: aussiebochur, via Gary.

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Starwood Improves The Signup Bonus Offer!

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

Related posts:
-Does Opening And Closing Cards Hurt Your Credit Score?
-The Best Credit Cards For Spending!
-Getting To Israel Using Starwood Starpoints!
-Need To Meet A Spending Threshold Deadline? Get Waived Fees On AMEX Gift Cards!
-Need To Meet A Spending Threshold Deadline? Send And Receive $1,000/Month With No Fees Using Amazon Payments!

Starwood American Express 30K Consumer Card Linky

The Starwood card is still my favorite and go-to card for general spending, with an edge over the Chase Sapphire Preferred for general spending benefits if you are spending in the US.

Starwood’s usual signup offer has always been 10,000 bonus points for spending $1 and 15,000 bonus points after spending $15,000 within 6 months.
Now you only need to spend $5,000 within 6 months (just $833 per month) to get the bonus 15,000 points.
So spend $5,000 and you’ll have 10,000 points from the first purchase, 15,000 bonus points for spending $5,000, and 5,000 points for the base spending for a total of 30,000 Starpoints!

For now it appears that this change is only for the Starwood Consumer Card and not for the Starwood Business Card.

If you’re looking for other cards to apply for simultaneously just look at this forum thread for other great options.
———————————————————————————————————
There’s no fee on the Starwood card for the first year and $65 thereafter though you can often get bonus points or account credits for keeping it open for additional years. You can always cancel any American Express card within 60 days of being charged the fee on your statement and you will receive a full refund of the fee. If you cancel after 60 days you get a pro-rated refund based on how many months you had the card.

As points are deposited into your Starwood account you do not lose your points if you cancel your card like with American Express Membership Rewards points.  You do need to maintain some activity in your Starwood account every 12 months though to keep it active.

Starwood’s cash and points chart make expensive hotel stays dirt cheap.  I’ve stayed in $190/night hotels for just $30 and 1,600 Starpoints and gotten upgraded to amazing suites.  Even without the suite that makes each Starpoint worth 10 cents each.

When you redeem points for a hotel stay when using just points you also get the 5th night for free!  Plus there are no blackout dates or capacity controls on standard rooms starting at 2,000 points per night.

Of you can transfer your Starpoints into miles with dozens of airlines at great ratios.  20,000 Starpoints becomes 25,000 miles on most of those airlines.  20,000 Starpoints becomes a whopping 50,000 kilometers on LAN, a South American OneWorld carrier.  LAN is partners with AA and will book you a ticket say from New York to Montreal or Toronto for just 16,000 kilometers.  Or they can book you on BA from London to Paris for just 12,000 Starpoints.  Fly on LAN from the US to Brazil for just 48,000 kilomoters.  Plus LAN never charges any fuel surcharges!

The Starwood card is much better than other cards (Like HAS advantage) for going to Israel.
With HAS you are stuck with just the availability on El Al. Plus El Al charges hundreds of dollars in fuel surcharges on award tickets.
With Starwood you have thousands of routing possibilities for free flights to Israel for less points than with HAS. And even if you want to only go to Israel on El Al you can just transfer Starwood points to AA and they will book you on El Al without any fuel surcharges!!!

There are also often bonus miles promotions for even more miles when you transfer points to airlines.  In the past bonuses for transferring have ranged from 25% to a whopping 312% for transfers to Air Canada, AA, Delta, and USAirways.

Starwood Nights and flights option makes 5 night stays even cheaper when you transfer Starpoints to miles at the same time as when you book the stay.

When you have the Starwood card you also get other benefits like 3rd night free at Sheraton and 2/5 elite qualifying stays and nights for each card you have.

Plus the card comes with amazing return, purchase and warranty protections that are worth their weight in gold.  And of course, American Express’ top-notch dispute/chargeback resolution.

Curious about the other 29 Starwood transfer options and ratios? Here they are!  With so may different airlines to transfer to it’s just a matter of figuring out which one has the lowest rates to where you want to go.  I’ve separated them by alliance so you can know which airlines are partners and will therefore let you book award travel on partner airlines.  Of course airlines also have lots non-alliance partners, but by definition they are partners with all airlines in the same alliance.

OneWorld Alliance:
AA: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
British Airways: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
JAL/Japan Airways: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
LAN: 20,000 Starpoints=50,000 kms
Mexicana: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles

Skyteam Alliance:
Air France/KLM Flying Blue: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Alitalia: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Delta: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles

Star Alliance:
Air Canada: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Air China: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Air New Zealand: 20,000 Starpoints=385 points
ANA/All Nippon: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Asiana: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Continental: 20,000 Starpoints=12,500 miles
Lufthansa Miles & More: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Singapore: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Thai: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
United: 20,000 Starpoints=12,500 miles
USAirways: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles

Unaligned:
Air Berlin (Expected to join Oneworld in 2012): 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Alaska (Partners with many various airlines): 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Emirates: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Hawaiian: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Kingfisher (Expected to join Oneworld later this year): 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Qatar: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Saudi Arabian: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Varig: 20,000 Starpoints=12,500 miles
Virgin Atlantic: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles

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Transfer 20,000 Starpoints Into 30,000 Air Canada Aeroplan Miles!

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Offer Registration Linky

Air Canada Award Chart Linky

20,000 Starpoints normally transfer into 25,000 airline miles (with some exceptions where you get 12,500 or 50,000 miles).

If you register and transfer 20,000 Starpoints to Air Canada’s Aeroplan program by 09/18 you will get 30,000 miles instead of 25,000 miles.

Based on my own personal experience you can transfer your Starpoints into anyone’s Air Canada account, the names on the accounts do not have to match.

The bonus is valid once per Air Canada account.

Remember that Air Canada miles are best used for travel on their dozens of Star Alliance partners as they don’t charge a fuel surcharge when you fly on partner carriers.

HT: FT

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30,000 Point Starwood Signup Bonus On Both The Starwood Consumer And The Starwood Business American Express Cards!

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Update: This offer is now dead!

Related posts:
-Does Opening And Closing Cards Hurt Your Credit Score?
-Getting To Israel Using Starwood Starpoints!
-Need To Meet A Spending Threshold Deadline? Get Waived Fees On AMEX Gift Cards!
-Need To Meet A Spending Threshold Deadline? Send And Receive $1,000/Month With No Fees Using Amazon Payments!

——————————————————————————-
Starwood American Express 30K Consumer Card Linky

Starwood American Express 30K Business Card Linky

This is a limited time offer, you must apply by August 22nd to get it!

The Starwood card is still my favorite and go-to card for general spending.

Starwood’s usual signup offer is 10,000 bonus points for spending $1 and 15,000 bonus points after spending $15,000.
With this offer you will get 10,000 bonus points for spending $1 and 20,000 bonus points for spending $4,500 within 3 months.  So spend $4,500 and you’ll have 34,500 Starwood points!
You need to apply for the 30K offer by August 22nd.

If you’re looking for other cards to apply for simultaneously just look at this forum thread for other great options.

———————————————————————————————————
There’s no fee on the Starwood card for the first year and $65 thereafter though you can often get bonus points or account credits for keeping it open for additional years. You can always cancel any American Express card within 60 days of being charged the fee on your statement and you will receive a full refund of the fee. If you cancel after 60 days you get a pro-rated refund based on how many months you had the card.

As points are deposited into your Starwood account you do not lose your points if you cancel your card like with American Express Membership Rewards points.  You do need to maintain some activity in your Starwood account every 12 months though to keep it active.

Starwood’s cash and points chart make expensive hotel stays dirt cheap.  I’ve stayed in $190/night hotels for just $30 and 1,600 Starpoints and gotten upgraded to amazing suites.  Even without the suite that makes each Starpoint worth 10 cents each.

When you redeem points for a hotel stay when using just points you also get the 5th night for free!  Plus there are no blackout dates or capacity controls on standard rooms starting at 2,000 points per night.

Of you can transfer your Starpoints into miles with dozens of airlines at great ratios.  20,000 Starpoints becomes 25,000 miles on most of those airlines.  20,000 Starpoints becomes a whopping 50,000 kilometers on LAN, a South American OneWorld carrier.  LAN is partners with AA and will book you a ticket say from New York to Montreal or Toronto for just 16,000 kilometers.  Or they can book you on BA from London to Paris for just 12,000 Starpoints.  Fly on LAN from the US to Brazil for just 48,000 kilomoters.  Plus LAN never charges any fuel surcharges!

The Starwood card is much better than other cards (Like HAS advantage) for going to Israel.
With HAS you are stuck with just the availability on El Al. Plus El Al charges hundreds of dollars in fuel surcharges on award tickets.
With Starwood you have thousands of routing possibilities for free flights to Israel for less points than with HAS. And even if you want to only go to Israel on El Al you can just transfer Starwood points to AA and they will book you on El Al without any fuel surcharges!!!

There are also often bonus miles promotions for even more miles when you transfer points to airlines.  In the past bonuses for transferring have ranged from 25% to a whopping 312% for transfers to Air Canada, AA, Delta, and USAirways.

Starwood Nights and flights option makes 5 night stays even cheaper when you transfer Starpoints to miles at the same time as when you book the stay.

When you have the Starwood card you also get other benefits like 3rd night free at Sheraton and 2/5 elite qualifying stays and nights for each card you have.

Plus the card comes with amazing return, purchase and warranty protections that are worth their weight in gold.  And of course, American Express’ top-notch dispute/chargeback resolution.

Curious about the other 29 Starwood transfer options and ratios? Here they are!  With so may different airlines to transfer to it’s just a matter of figuring out which one has the lowest rates to where you want to go.  I’ve separated them by alliance so you can know which airlines are partners and will therefore let you book award travel on partner airlines.  Of course airlines also have lots non-alliance partners, but by definition they are partners with all airlines in the same alliance.

OneWorld Alliance:
AA: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
British Airways: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
JAL/Japan Airways: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
LAN: 20,000 Starpoints=50,000 kms
Mexicana: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles

Skyteam Alliance:
Air France/KLM Flying Blue: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Alitalia: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Delta: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles

Star Alliance:
Air Canada: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Air China: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Air New Zealand: 20,000 Starpoints=385 points
ANA/All Nippon: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Asiana: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Continental: 20,000 Starpoints=12,500 miles
Lufthansa Miles & More: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Singapore: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Thai: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
United: 20,000 Starpoints=12,500 miles
USAirways: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles

Unaligned:
Air Berlin (Expected to join Oneworld in 2012): 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Alaska (Partners with many various airlines): 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Emirates: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Hawaiian: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Kingfisher (Expected to join Oneworld later this year): 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Qatar: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Saudi Arabian: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Varig: 20,000 Starpoints=12,500 miles
Virgin Atlantic: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles

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Flying Blue Not Charging Fuel Surcharges For Delta Flights From Israel…Fly Round-Trip For 40,000 Starpoints Plus $77 Tax!

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Background info:
With flexible currencies like Starwood Starpoints (SPG) and American Express Membership Rewards (MR) points you have the option of dozens of different airlines to transfer to.

With 3 major alliances (Skyteam, Oneworld, and Star Alliance) there lots of transfer options so if you want to travel say on Continental with MR or SPG points.

You can transfer your miles directly to Continental or to Air Canada, Air China, Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana, Lufthansa, Thai, or USAirways.

-Each of those airlines have their own set of redemption rates, so you have to check which of them makes the most sense for the flight you want to book.

-Once you transfer it to one of those airlines it’s pretty much stuck in that airline and can’t be transferred again.

-A key thing to keep in mind are fuel surcharges. Many foreign carriers add fuel surcharges to award tickets, making them worthless in many cases if you redeem for coach tickets.  Generally US carriers don’t charge these fuel surcharges.  Continental/United never charge them.  AA only charges them if you fly on BA.  Delta only charges them if you originate in certain regions (like Europe) or fly on select partner airlines.  USAirways charges a minor award processing fee, but doesn’t collect a fuel surcharge.  Air Canada only charges a fuel surcharge if you fly on Air Canada, so you are free to fly on any other Star Alliance carrier without surcharges.  Etc, etc…it can get complicated!
———————————————————————————-
Back to the subject at hand.

Flying Blue is the mileage program of Air France and KLM, Skyteam airlines, as is Delta.

Flying Blue is known for low mileage rates but high fuel surcharges. If you can find availability, they have promo awards for as little as 25,000 miles. But finding that availability is tough and fuel surcharges are sky-high, $600-$700!

A nice thing about the program is they allow one-way redemptions, something that Delta does not allow.

While Delta charges 80,000 miles to Israel in coach and 120,000 miles in business (if you find low tier availability) if you book on Flying Blue it’s only 50,000 in coach and 100,000 in business on Delta.

What I learned is that Flying Blue doesn’t charge fuel surcharges when you fly on Delta from Israel!

Delta flies nonstop from Tel Aviv to Atlanta and JFK

So how many points do you need to transfer to Flying Blue?
-20K Starpoints or 25K AMEX MR gets you 25,000 Flying Blue miles, enough for a one-way coach ticket.
-40K Starpoints or 50K AMEX MR gets you 50,000 Flying Blue miles, enough for a one-way business ticket or round-trip coach ticket.
-80K Starpoints or 100K AMEX MR gets you 100,000 Flying Blue miles, enough for a round-trip business ticket.


Another good use for this is that you can book a one-way ticket to Israel with another carrier and then the return trip from TLV to the US with Flying Blue on Delta without any surcharges.

For example:
-You can use 40K (coach) or 60K (business) Continental/United miles to fly one-way nonstop from Newark on Continental, Toronto on Air Canada, Philadelphia on USAirways, or via Europe on many other Star Alliance carriers to Tel Aviv and then use 25K (coach) or 50K (business) Flying Blue miles to return. You won’t pay any fuel surcharges for the trip.
-You can use 45K (coach) or 67.5K (business) AA miles to fly one-way nonstop on El Al from New York, Toronto, or Los Angeles, or via Europe on many other OneWorld carriers to Tel Aviv and then use 25K (coach) or 50K (business) Flying Blue miles to return. You won’t pay any fuel surcharges for the trip.

Here are the tax rates I found. If you need a one-way or round-trip ticket from TLV then Flying Blue can be very good.
If you need a ticket from the US then you’ll want to book a one-way ticket from the US to TLV and then another one-way ticket from TLV to the US. That way on the round-trip you’ll pay $285+$58=$343 instead of $611! Or just use the strategy I wrote about above to avoid fuel surcharges completely from the US.

From Israel:
Coach:
TLV-JFK one-way, 25K miles+$58.65 tax. (Sample date: 09/07)
TLV-JFK round-trip, 50K miles+$77.45 (Sample date: 09/07-09/13)
Business:
TLV-JFK one-way 50K miles+$58.65 (Sample date: 09/14)
TLV-JFK round-trip, 100K miles+$77.45 (Sample date: 09/14-09/19)

From the US:
Coach:
JFK-TLV one-way, 25K+$285.80
JFK-TLV round-trip, 50K+$611.45
Business:
JFK-TLV one-way, 50K+$339.
JFK-TLV round-trip, 100K+$719.45

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Convert Starwood Starpoints To USAirways Miles And Get A 25%-75% Bonus!

Friday, May 27th, 2011

Update: Transfers must be initiated by 05/31 for this offer!

Originally posted on 05/01:

Related:
Getting to Israel with Starwood Starpoints
Starwood Consumer AMEX Linky (Free for first year, Earn 10,000 Starpoints With First Purchase, and 30,000 more Starpoints with your first $15,000 in purchases)
Starwood Business AMEX Linky



USAirways Offer Registration Linky

This promotion is good for all hotel transfers to USAirways.

20,000 Starpoints normally transfers into 25,000 USAirways miles.
With the 25% bonus 20,000 Starpoints will transfer into 31,250 miles.

If you are a USAirways elite member or a USAirways cardholder you will get another 25% bonus (20,000 Starpoints=37,500 USAirways miles).
If you are a USAirways elite member and a USAirways cardholder you will get another 50% bonus (20,000 Starpoints=43,750 USAirways miles).

You can buy a 90 trial of USAirways Preferred (elite) status for $200 that will net the additional 25% bonus by calling USAirways at 800-428-1775.

DansDeals Forum members have reported that they have been successful in transferring points from their Starwood account to other people’s USAirways mileage accounts.

This offer is valid for transfers made after registering for the offer and initiated between 05/01 and 05/31.  Bonus miles will be posted weekly.

For tickets to Israel, USAirways charges 80,000 miles per round-trip ticket in coach or 120,000 miles per ticket in business.  Travel is valid on Star Alliance partners and non-alliance airlines for the same rate with no fuel surcharges.

HT: myb821, via the DansDeals Forums

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Get 100 Starwood Starpoints For Pledging To Join Earth Hour!

Friday, March 25th, 2011

Update: Today is the last day to register to get 100 free Starpoints!

Originally posted on 03/07

Related:
Starwood Consumer AMEX Linky (Free for first year, Earn 10,000 Starpoints With First Purchase, and 30,000 more Starpoints with your first $15,000 in purchases)
Starwood Business AMEX Linky



100 Free Starpoints Offer Linky

You need your SPG (Starwood Preferred Guest) number to register for the promotion. If you have the Starwood AMEX card you can find it on your monthly credit card statement where it says the number of Starpoints you earned for the month and for the calendar year.

-Pledge to switch off your lights for one full hour on Saturday, March 26, 2011, from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. local time, and receive 100 bonus Starpoints.
-Your bonus Starpoints will be posted to your SPG account no later than April 15, 2011.

HT: karen, via the DansDeals Forums

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Starwood’s 30th Airline Transfer Partner: Southwest Airlines.

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

Update 2: The deadline for transferring Starpoints to Southwest credits will be 3pm EST on 02/28! After 3pm you will no longer be able to transfer Starpoints to Southwest!
Remember you can only transfer a maximum of 60,000 Starpoints (technically 79,999, but then you would lose out on transfer ratio) to an airline within a 24 hour period!
Act now if you want to earn that 2 year companion pass (with a mimimum of 12 free tickets) for 120,000 Starpoints as described in the update below!

Update, 01/08/11: Southwest has announced that on March 1st they will be gutting their program (Of course the PR folks don’t spin it that way ;) ) They will switch from a credit system where 16 credits can get you a free last minute Round Trip flight worth many hundreds of dollars to a points system where each point is worth just a penny each.  You can read more about the new program here.

However in the meantime there’s a unique opportunity. If you rack up 100 credits from any source by the end of February you not only will get the 6 free round-trips under the old rules, but you will also get a free companion pass (good on paid and free tickets) valid until 12/31/12 instead of the normal 1 year expiration! Plus Southwest will continue to allow you to renew the expiration of the free round-trips for up to a year as long as they’re renewed within a year after they expired. So free tickets earned in January 2011 could still be used in January 2014.

You can earn the 100 credits with transfers from Starwood (It would take 120,000 Starpoints to get 100 credit if you have none) or from the Southwest credit card if you apply soon.

Originally posted on 09/16/10:


Related links:
Starwood Consumer AMEX Linky (Free for first year, Earn 10,000 Starpoints With First Purchase, and 30,000 more Starpoints with your first $15,000 in purchases)
Starwood Business AMEX Linky (Free for first year, Earn 10,000 Starpoints With First Purchase)
Southwest Visa Linky (Earn 16 credits with your first purchase.)

Starwood quietly added Southwest Airlines as an airline partner for Starpoint transfers.

For most of the airlines you can transfer 20,000 Starpoints into 25,000 miles.  For Southwest it’s a little more complicated.  20,000 points becomes 16.5 Southwest credits. 60,000 points becomes 50 credits.

If you earn 100 Southwest credits in a year you get a free companion pass for free. So if you transfer 120,000 Starpoints to Southwest you will get 100 credits, which are enough for 6 free round-trip tickets, as well as a 12-month companion pass.

As long as there is a seat available on the flight your companion can travel for free, there are no capacity controls on it.

The free companion ticket is even available when you are traveling on a free award ticket! In other words you will get 12 free round-trip tickets for 120,000 Starpoints.  Plus of course checked bags are free on Southwest.

After selecting your companion, you are able to change the name of your companion up to 3 times.

Curious about the other 29 Starwood transfer options and ratios? Here they are!  With so may different airlines to transfer to it’s just a matter of figuring out which one has the lowest rates to where you want to go.  I’ve separated them by alliance so you can know which airlines are partners and will therefore let you book award travel on partner airlines.  Of course airlines also have lots non-alliance partners, but by definition they are partners with all airlines in the same alliance.

OneWorld Alliance:
AA: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
British Airways: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
JAL/Japan Airways: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
LAN: 20,000 Starpoints=50,000 kms
Mexicana: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles

Skyteam Alliance:
Air France/KLM Flying Blue: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Alitalia: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Delta: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles

Star Alliance:
Air Canada: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Air China: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Air New Zealand: 20,000 Starpoints=385 points
ANA/All Nippon: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Asiana: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Continental: 20,000 Starpoints=12,500 miles
Lufthansa Miles & More: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Singapore: 20,000 Starpoints=12,500 miles
Thai: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
United: 20,000 Starpoints=12,500 miles
USAirways: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles

Unaligned:
Air Berlin (Joining Oneworld in 2012): 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Alaska : 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Emirates: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Hawaiian: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Kingfisher (Joining Oneworld in 2011): 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Qatar: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Saudi Arabian: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Varig: 20,000 Starpoints=12,500 miles
Virgin Atlantic: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles

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Coming March 1st: 2011 Starwood Category Adjustments!

Monday, February 21st, 2011

Related: Starwood Consumer AMEX Linky (The Starwood AMEX is the best credit card out there for spending!)
Starwood Business AMEX Linky

Many people use Starpoints just to transfer into airline miles.  Starwood points transfer to most airline miles at a 20,000:25,000 rate.  (Some airlines are at 20,000:12,500, others at 20,000:50,000)  But another amazing use of Starpoints is for Starwood hotels. You can redeem points with no blackout dates or capacity controls on standard rooms starting at just 2,000 points per night. When you redeem 5 consecutive nights with points the 5th night is free. There are also cash and points options that make the rooms even cheaper and help stretch your Starpoints. There are also nights and flights options that make stays even cheaper when you transfer Starpoints to miles at the same time. And of course you can also use points for upgrades to suites and much more.

The redemption points rate is determined by the category assigned to them by Starwood. This redemption category is usually assigned yearly, based on the predicted room rates for each hotel for the coming year.

Effective 03/01 some 84 hotels will go up and will now cost more Starpoints, 93 will go down and will now cost fewer Starpoints.  The vast majority of Starwood hotels will stay the same as they are now.

Here is a PDF of all the hotels that are changing categorizes, sorted by the category change.

Important: You can lock in the old rates for hotels going up in category by booking before March 1st!
Starpoint reservations are generally fully refundable until a day or so before check-in. Again, the old rate is valid for stays anytime until the end of scheduling at all Starwood hotels as long as they are booked before March 1st!

If you have a Starwood AMEX you can also borrow Starpoints from AMEX and pay them back as you spend money on the card in the future!

If you have Starpoint reservations at a hotel that is going down in category just wait until March 1st and then get it readjusted downward.

Hotels that went up in category: 84
Single category jumps:
From 1->2: 11 hotels.
From 2->3: 17 hotels.
From 3->4: 31 hotels.
From 4->5: 15 hotels.
From 5->6: 6 hotels.
From 6->7: 2 hotels.
Double category jumps:
From 2->4: 1 hotel.
From 4->6: 1 hotels.

Hotels that went down in category: 93
Single category drops:
From 2->1: 1 hotel.
From 3->2: 37 hotels.
From 4->3: 26 hotels.
From 5->4: 18 hotels.
From 6->5: 6 hotels.
From 7->6: 1 hotel.
Double category drops:
From 3->1: 1 hotel.
From 4->2: 1 hotel.
From 5->3: 1 hotel.
From 6->4: 1 hotel.

Here are some sample hotels that will change categories that caught my eye. What other hotels do you see that will affect you?

Going down:
Le Meridien Dead Sea, Israel, from 3 to 1 (Now just 2,000 Starpoints on weekends on 3,000 Starpoints on weekdays!)
Sheraton Gateway Hotel Los Angeles from 3 to 2
Le Meridien Chiang Rai Thailand Resort from 3 to 2
Westin Resort Macau from 4 to 3
Sheraton Tribeca New York from 5 to 4
W San Diego from 5 to 4.
Luxury Collection/US Grant San Diego from 5 to 4
Sheraton Hacienda Del Mar Resort & Spa Los Cabos from 5 to 4
Luxury Collection/SLS Beverly Hills from 6 to 5

Going up:
W Retreat Koh Samui from 6 to 7.
Hotel Gritti Palace, Venice from 6 to 7.
Westin Ka’anapali Maui Ocean Resort Villas from 5 to 6
The Westin Excelsior, Rome from 5 to 6
Sheraton Tel Aviv Hotel and Towers from 4 to 5
Westin Harbour Castle Toronto from 3 to 4
Sheraton JFK Airport Hotel from 3 to 4

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Transfer 20,000 Starpoints Into 31,250 Delta Skymiles!

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

Related: Starwood AMEX, the best credit card for spending that’s out there today!

Delta Offer Registration Linky

Register and you’ll get a 25% bonus on hotel points converted to Delta miles through 12/31.  So 20,000 Starpoints normally converts into 25,000 Delta miles but with this promo you’ll get 31,250 miles.

It’s nothing like the offer we once had to turn 20,000 Starpoints into 62,500 miles, but it’s welcome nonetheless.

Delta miles can be notoriously hard to use, so just do this if you know you will want a Delta or Skyteam flight.  Although redemptions on V Australia can be worthwhile with decent availability.  A business class flight to Sydney on V Australia would run 150,000 Delta miles.

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50% USAirways Bonus Miles On Hotels And Car Rentals Is Back; Transfer 20,000 Starpoints Into 37,500 USAirways Miles!

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

Update: Just 1 week left for this promo!


Originally posted on 05/26:

Related: Starwood AMEX Linky (Free for first year, Earn 10,000 Starpoints With First Purchase, and 30,000 more Starpoints with your first $15,000 in purchases. Clear your broswer’s cookies and cache and restart your broswer if you do not see the signup offer.)

-This hot deal was sent to all of our dansdeals.com facebook group members. Join the 2,288 people already registered on the Dansdeals.com facebook group to automatically receive similar hot deal alerts!
-Never miss a deal: Every single deal is instantly sent to the 720 followers of our dansdeals twitter page! Follow us and you can choose to get a text message whenever the site is updated!


Promo Linky (Registration Required)

USAirways Star Alliance Award Chart Linky

USAirways is once again giving a 50% bonus on hotels and car rentals through 07/31. This also includes hotel point transfer into USAirways initiated by 07/31. The Bonus miles will post weekly beginning on June 1, 2010.

Normally 20,000 Starpoints becomes 25,000 USAirways miles. With the 50% bonus 20,000 Starpoints will become 37,500 USAirways miles.

You can transfer up to 60,000 Starpoints per day and still get the maximum bonus.

There is no limit to the amount of bonus miles you can earn through this promo.

USAirays is a Star Alliance member, so you can book flights on dozens of partner airlines, like Air Canada, Continental, Lufthansa, Swiss, and United.

USAirways has some of the most flexible award routing options. I used USAirways miles for the trip we just took and was able to finagle multiple stopovers and sub-24 hour connections in cities that required connections to fly into. And if one agent doesn’t like the routings you have you can always just call back…

USAir also allows you to hold award tickets for 3 days and if you make a change to an itinerary on hold you get another 3 days from that time that you make the change. This is great while you wait for more award inventory to open up while booking an award flight.

Here are some sample round trip award rates to or from the US in Coach/Business/First (First class in a 2 cabin plane like domestic First, or international options like Continental’s BusinessFirst or USAirway’s Envoy are considered Business Class for redemption purposes)
-Israel: 80/120/180
-Hawaii: 40/70/70
-China/Japan: 60/90/120
-Europe/South America: 60/100/125
-Australia: 80/110/140
-Africa: 70/110/150

Bear in mind that USAirways’ financial position is not the best in the industry and if they go belly-up you may lose your miles.  Therefore you may not want to just transfer all of your Starpoints into USAirways miles unless you intend to use them…

HT: Aussiebochur, via dansdeals.com/forums

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Starwood Rewarding Returns Promo!

Monday, July 12th, 2010

Related: Starwood AMEX Linky (The best credit card for spending that’s out there!)

Starwood Rewarding Returns Promo Registration Linky

There are a few redemption options, but the requirements and choices can vary based on your account.  It’s worthwhile if the requirement for your account only needs 1 paid stay or if you are anyway earning free nights with the stay 3, stay free promo that runs through 07/31 (you can no longer sign up for that promo if you haven’t already)

HT: aussiebochur, via dansdeals.com/forums

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SIZZLING!!! Transfer 20,000 Starwood Starpoints Into 33,750 AA Miles!!!

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

Starwood AMEX Linky (Free for first year, Earn 10,000 Starpoints With First Purchase, and 30,000 more Starpoints with your first $15,000 in purchases. Clear your broswer’s cookies and cache and restart your broswer if you do not see the signup offer.) The US Mint should be able to help you there in no time!

Originally posted on 06/14:

Update 2-06/20: All Starpoints converted last week have just posted over to AA, along with all of the bonus miles!

Update: AA has just clarified and confirmed a number of parts of this promo: -As long as you initiate the transfer by 06/30 you will get the bonus points, regardless of when they arrive in your AA account.
-Individual transfers that result in less that 20,000 AA miles will only get a 25% bonus. Although the Terms And Conditions seems to imply that the lower 25% rate only applies for cumulative transfers of under 20,000 miles, (“convert points from eligible AAdvantage program hotel participants that result in 1,000 – 20,000 AAdvantage miles within the Promotion Period”) it has been clarified that only transactions that result in 20,001 or more miles individually will get the 35% bonus.
-If you transfer 20,000 Starpoints you will get the full 33,750 miles.
-You may convert from as many hotel chains as you want, but again, only 20,001+ mile transactions earn the 35% bonus.
-There is no limit to the amount of bonus miles you can earn (However Starwood does have a daily cap for mileage transfers, so don’t transfer more than 60,000 Starpoints per day if you want to maximize your mileage conversion)
-Starpoints transfer to AA miles every Monday and the 35% bonus will post shortly after that.
-The names on the Starwood account and the AA account must match or the transfer will be rejected. You are able to transfer Starpoints for free between people living at the same address.
-Transferred AA miles and the bonus will count towards million miler lifetime elite status.
-Points earned from hotel stays that go directly into your AA account, like Hyatt’s promo of 3,000 points per stay, do not qualify for the bonus. Only points that you transfer qualify.
-You are able to do a Starwood Nights and Flights redemption for 60,000 Starpoints in exchange for 67,500 AA miles and 5 nights in a category 3 property, or 70,000 Starpoints in exchange for 67,500 AA miles and 5 nights in a category 4 property. Those points are considered transferred points.
-All questions regarding this program should be directed to AAdvantage reps, not hotel reps, as the hotel programs have nothing to do with the 35% bonus.

Related:
SPG Mileage Transfer Page (limits stated on this page are daily mileage transfer limits)

50% USAirways Bonus Miles On Hotels And Car Rentals Is Back!

-This hot deal was sent to all of our dansdeals.com facebook group members. Join the 2,318 people already registered on the Dansdeals.com facebook group to automatically receive similar hot deal alerts!
-Never miss a deal: Every single deal is instantly sent to the 761 followers of our dansdeals twitter page! Follow us and you can choose to get a text message whenever the site is updated!

AA Offer Linky

Terms And Conditions Linky

This a great offer for AA miles.  American often has the best mileage availability of any airline, so this is a great deal to get AA miles, especially now that the AA credit card can no longer be churned.

Also AA counts all miles earned towards million miler lifetime elite status!  So if you transfer 100,000 Starpoints into AA you will be 17% of the way towards lifetime million miler elite status besides for having 168,750 miles.  At 1 million miles you earn lifetime Gold status and at 2 million miles you earn lifetime Platinum status.  You also earn 8 500-mile upgrades (or 4 systemwide upgrades if you have an international address on your AA account) when you reach 1 million miles and you earn 4 more systemwide upgrades for every subsequent million miler level.

AA also has some great redemption options, like just 20,000 miles each way to Europe or South America during off-peak season.  They also have 2 award charts, the zone based partner award chart and the mileage based One World “Round-The World” award chart so you can see which chart will be more advantageous.

AA is part of the 11 members OneWorld alliance and is also partners with many other airlines, including El Al, Brussels, Gol Brasil, Hawaiian, Alaska, Air Tahiti Nui, and other.

-For every 20,000 Starpoints you transfer you normally get 25,000 AA miles. Remember to transfer in increments of 20,000 Starpoints to get the maximum mileage.

AA will add 35% to that, or 8,750 miles, for a total of 33,750 miles.  In effect you will get 1.6875 AA miles per Starpoint.

-To earn the 35% conversion bonus, you must convert points from eligible hotel participants that equate to 20,001 or more AAdvantage miles within the Promotion Period.

-Do not transfer more than 60,000 Starpoints per day to AA.

-The promo only runs for transfers initiated from 06/14 through 06/30.

-It can take between 1-10 days for Starpoints to reach your AA account. On average though it should take a week.

-The 35% bonus miles will post within 7 days of the miles posting to your AA account.

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HOT! Purchase Starwood Points Today For As Low As 1.43 Cents Per Starpoint!

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

Update 2: Sold out! Now you’ll have to earn Starpoints the old-fashioned way…by opening up the Starwood AMEX!

Update: I just successfully purchased 50,000 Starpoints for $725!

Discover America Starpoint Sale Linky

At 10am EDT today you can have the chance to purchase Starpoints at a fraction of their normal cost.

Starwood normally charges 3.5 cents per Starpoint and you are limited to purchasing 20,000 Starpoints per year.

Discover America is selling a number of Starpoint packages today at 10am that don’t count towards

-Purchase 4,000 Starpoints for $60 (1.5 cents per Starpoint, 281 packages available)

-Purchase 7,000 Starpoints for $100 (1.43 cents per Starpoint, 400 packages available)

-Purchase 10,000 Starpoints for $145 (1.45 cents per Starpoint, 470 packages available)

You can apparently buy up to 5 of each package and they don’t count towards your limit of how many Starpoints you can purchase in a year.

Good luck and please post if you get any of them!

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Poll: What Do You Do With Your Starwood Starpoints?

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

Related:
-Starwood AMEX Linky (Free for first year, Earn 10,000 Starpoints With First Purchase, and 30,000 more Starpoints with your first $15,000 in purchases) The US Mint should be able to help you there in no time!
-Starpoints Rewards Catalog Linky
-dansdeals.com/forums, where experts will tackle your mileage questions.
-Just Made My First LAN Bookings!
-Get An Incredible Value Out Of Starpoints With LAN’s OneWorld Chart!!!
-“I Got Approved For The AMEX Premier Rewards Gold Card…Now What Do I Do With The Points?”

-Starwood’s Best Hotel Redemption Option May Not Be Available Online.

Starwood points are easily the most valuable mileage currency that exists today.  The main reason for that is their flexibility and myriad of uses. The Starwood AMEX card is generally the best credit card for spending because the Starpoints that you earn from spending are just that good!

So what do you usually use them for?

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Use 1: Unrestricted hotel rewards with no blackout dates.

This is the traditional award use in the Starwood program and why people like the hotel reward system more than the airline reward system.  Award flights are not always available, you have to be flexible and you need to be good at checking availability on partners.  During peak times you may just need to pay double miles for a flight if you are not flexible.  Whereas if a hotel is selling a standard room you can use the same amount of points for it no matter the time of year.  Even if there’s a major event in town and paid rates are a fortune, you can still redeem the same amount of points for a room.

Starwood divides unrestricted hotel room rewards into 7 different hotel categories, generally based on their average rates.
Category 1: 2,000 points weekends, 3,000 points weekdays.
Category 2: 3,000 points weekends, 4,000 points weekdays.
Category 3: 7,000 points, 5th night free.
Category 4: 10,000 points, 5th night free.
Category 5: 12,000 points, 5th night free.
Category 6: 20,000 points, 5th night free.
Category 7: 30,000 points, 5th night free.
(When you redeem for 5 nights using an unrestricted hotel room award for hotels in categories 3-7 the 5th night is free!)

Use 2: Cash & Points hotel rewards

Unlike the traditional unrestricted award, cash and points are capacity controlled.  To make matters worse the online availability is often wrong and you need to call up Starwood to book cash and points. For category 1 and 2 hotels there is almost never availability shown online and you will need to call up Starwood. Sometimes even if Starwood shows no availability you can still call the hotel and try to get them to book you a cash & points stay.

It’s a lot of work, but cash & points can offer an incredible value when available. I’ve gotten $500 rooms for just 2,800 Starpoints + $45 for a night with Cash And Points. Using a traditional category 3 award that would value each Starpoint at 7.1 cents each ($500/7,000 Starpoints), but with Cash & Points that’s a value of over 16 cents per Starpoint! ($500-$45=$455/2,800 Starpoints=16.25 cents per point. And that’s not even counting the upgrade from the room into a 3 balcony suite normally costing over $1,500 per night!)

Category 1: 1,200 points+$25
Category 2: 1,600 points+$30
Category 3: 2,800 points+$45
Category 4: 4,000 points+$60
Category 5: 4,800 points+$90
Category 6: 8,000 points+$150
Category 7: N/A

Use 3: Transfer them into airline miles.

You can transfer Starpoints into miles with dozens of airlines.  20,000 Starpoints becomes 25,000 miles on most of them.  Plus there are a few gems like:

-LAN (OneWorld) where 20,000 Starpoints becomes 50,000 kilometers.  That’s enough kilometers for 4 round-trip tickets between London and Paris on BA or 3 round-trip tickets between NYC and Toronto or Montreal without any fuel surcharges.

-ANA (Star Alliance) where 20,000 Starpoints becomes 25,000 miles.  You can redeem fly to Israel on Star Alliance partners ContinentalUnited or USAirways for just 60,000 miles round-trip in coach or 90,000 in business without any fuel surcharges.

-Air France/KLM Flying Blue (Skyteam) where 20,000 Starpoints becomes 25,000 miles.  25,000 miles enough for a round-trip ticket from rotating North American cities to Europe, Russia, or even Israel during promo periods, albeit saddled with a few hundred dollars of European-style fuel surcharges.

-AA (OneWorld) where 20,000 Starpoints becomes 25,000 miles.  AA has amazing award availability, one-way tickets on all redemptions, no fuel surcharges, and awesome OneWorld “Round-The-World” awards.  They’re also partners with El Al so you can redeem AA miles to fly to Israel on El Al, even if you just need a one-way.  It’s just 20,000 miles one-way between Europe and Israel on El Al or 45,000 miles one-way between the US and Israel.  Plus AA still counts all miles earned, even miles transferred in from Starwood, to help you get to 1 million total lifetime miles when you get goodies like lifetime elite status with free systemwide upgrades with an international address.

-Air Canada (Star Alliance) where 20,000 Starpoints becomes 25,000 miles.  80,000 miles miles are enough for a round-trip Business Class ticket and 100,000 miles are enough for a First Class ticket on any Star Alliance airline to Europe. Or 100,000 miles are enough for a Business Class ticket and 120,000 miles are enough for a First Class ticket to Asia and Europe as you can cross over both the Atlantic and the Pacific for a Round-The-World style ticket. Air Canada allows you to take 2 stopovers in addition to the final destination on award tickets which make for a great redemption value. There are also no fuel surcharges on Star Alliance award ticket redemptions.

-USAirways (Star Alliance) where 20,000 Starpoints becomes 25,000 miles.  This can be a good option for Star Alliance redemptions as they have extremely lax routing rules and very generous award hold policies.  There is a small award redemption fee, but at least they don’t charge a phone redemption fee for Star Alliance tickets.  A Star Alliance round-trip ticket to Israel is 80,000 miles in coach and 120,000 miles in Business.

There are dozens of other point transfer options…likely each loaded with gems still waiting to be discovered!

Use 4: Nights & Flights Combo Award.

With this great redemption option you get 50,000 miles (or 100,000 LAN kilometers) and 5 nights of unrestricted hotel nights.  It’s only good for category 3 and 4 hotels.  For 50,000 miles and 5 nights in a category 3 hotel it costs 60,000 Starpoints.  For 50,000 miles and 5 nights in a category 4 hotel it costs 70,000 Starpoints.

There are tons of other Starpoint uses that I’m not a big fan of, including:
-SPG flights
-Transferring to Amtrak Points
-SPG Moments Auctions
-50% Off Rack Rate Award
-Room/Suite upgrades.
-Gift Card Redemptions
-Instant Awards

The reason I’m not a big fan of these options is because it is hard to get the same value out of your points using these methods as you can using the other methods. Feel free to sound off in the comments if you disagree!

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