Category Archive for 'Starwood'

The S. Regis Maldives May Be The Best SPG Redemption Of All Time!

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

-You can earn Starpoints on the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and on the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express.
-Earn 2,500 Bonus Starpoints For Adding An Additional User Onto Your Starwood Consumer Card
Getting To Israel Using Starwood Starpoints, 2016 Edition
Starwood’s 35th Transfer Partner Increases The Value Of Your Starpoints; Fly Roundtrip JFK-Los Angeles For Less Than 10K Or JFK-Europe For Less Than 20K SPG!


The S. Regis Maldives is a Starwood category 7 that opens on November 1st. Their photo gallery can be found here:

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Overwater villas cost more than $2,000 each at the property and all rooms have plunge pools. They’re not walled in like the completely private pool we had at the Le Meridien Khao Lak in 2010 as people can swim or snorkel by your villa in the Maldives, but I did enjoy the plunge pool at the W Maldives. I just wish it was kid-free and had glass bottom floors like the W 🙂

Note that it typically takes more than 24 hours to fly from the USA until you reach a resort in Maldives as you need to connect somewhere to reach Male (MLE) and then you’ll need to wait for a seaplane to bring you from the Male airport to your resort. That seaplane will also set you back some $700 with tax per person on top of your tickets to Male. You’re also limited to just 50 pounds per person including carry-on and checkin items and will pay a whopping $5/pound for excess baggage. It’s an exhausting and expensive trip, but the water is truly stunning there and the isolation and relaxation is impossible to describe.

Airlines serving Male include Aerosvit (3 days/week from SVO), Austrian (2 days/week seasonally from VIE), British Airways (3 days/week seasonably from LGW), Cathay Pacific (4 days/week from HKG), Emirates (daily from DXB), Etihad (daily from AUH), Qatar (daily from DOH), Singapore (daily from SIN), and Turkish (daily from Istanbul).

DDF member beastieb points out that using points at the S. Regis Maldives are quite a bargain.

I chatted with SPG, confirmed their point rate structure, and booked a stay:
Garden villa: 31.5K/night or 25.2K/night on a 5 night stay.
Overwater villa: 32.5K/night or 26K/night on a 5 night stay.
Beach villa: 60K/night or 48K/night on a 5 night stay.
Sunset overwater villa: 75K/night or 60K/night on a 5 night stay.
Overwater St Regis Suite: 90K/night or 72K/night on a 5 night stay.
2BR Family villa: 120K/night or 96K/night on a 5 night stay.

That can easily be a value of over 9 cents per Starpoint depending on your dates!

This hotel must be booked over the phone or via SPG chat.

Rooms at other Starwood category 7 properties are typically many times those rates as SPG allows hotels that only have suites to charge far more points than the standard award chart. According to SPG those hotels include the “St. Regis Resort Bora Bora, and Le Méridien Bora Bora, Bora Bora, French Polynesia; W Maldives, Maldives; Sunset Key Guest Cottages, A Westin Resort, Key West, Florida; Mystique, Santorini, Greece; Pine Cliff Residences, Albuferia, Portugal; and Cala Di Volpe, Hotel Pitrizza, and Hotel Romazzino, Porto Cervo, Italy.”

I’d imagine that the S. Regis Maldives will eventually be added to that list, but perhaps we’ll get lucky and it will stay a bargain.

Of course this could all be a mistake and they might cancel reservations, so don’t book non-refundable airfare quite yet…

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2,500 Bonus Starpoints For Adding An Additional User Onto Your Starwood Consumer Card

Monday, July 25th, 2016

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

You can earn Starpoints on the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and on the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express.
Getting To Israel Using Starwood Starpoints, 2016 Edition
Starwood’s 35th Transfer Partner Increases The Value Of Your Starpoints; Fly Roundtrip JFK-Los Angeles For Less Than 10K Or JFK-Europe For Less Than 20K SPG!


2,500 Bonus Starpoints For Adding An Additional User Onto Your Starwood Consumer Card

If you add a free additional user to your Starwood account via the link above by 9/19 you will get 2,500 bonus Starpoints. There is a limit of 1 bonus per primary Starwood account.

This deal was posted to the DansDeals Forums on Friday and members that added a card on that day are already reporting that the bonus points are in their account despite the terms saying that it will take 8-12 weeks!

Additional AMEX cards qualify for AMEX Offers and promotions like Small Business Saturday. You can have up to 99 additional users on a primary card account, but the bonus is only for adding 1 card.

Additional Card Members must be at least 15 years of age. You are able to add yourself, a family member, or a friend as an additional user.

A social security number is required for this offer. There is no hard credit pull for adding an additional user. However the account will show up on their credit report, which means that spending on the card can help or hurt their credit score depending on your credit utilization and payments.  An additional user card will also count against the user with banks like Chase, which limit approvals for many of their cards if you have had more than 5 new accounts in the past 24 months. It may be possible to appeal that decision based on it being an authorized user account, but others have been turned down because of that approval guideline. It is possible to have the additional user account removed from the credit report by requesting removal from all 3 credit bureaus.

You can read more about the SPG cards in this post.

HT: Baruch, via DDF

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Starwood: Book 2 Nights In Europe, Africa, Or The Middle East With Mastercard And Get 1 Night Free; Valid At Sheraton Tel Aviv!

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

Starwood: Book 2 Nights In Europe, Africa, Or The Middle East With Mastercard And Get 1 Free

If you book a paid stay at participating SPG hotels in Europe, Africa, or the Middle East for 2 nights, you’ll get the 3rd night free.

Offer valid through 12/31/16.

This is not valid for point stays, which require 4 award nights to get the 5th night free.

Sometimes these promotions require a higher base rate that actually makes them more expensive than finding a deal, but I checked at the highly rated Sheraton Tel Aviv and the prices were pretty good.

For example from July 24-27 the rate on SPG.com for a deluxe room is $335 per night. With the promo link above the cost of each night dropped to $223 after accounting for the free night. A deluxe suite fell from $635 to $470.

From August 28-31 the 3 for 2 rate comes out to just $210 per night and the suite is $430 per night.

The category 5 Sheraton charges 12K Starpoints per night in low season and 16K points per night in high season.If you book a 5 night stay the effective cost per night can drop to as low as 9,600 Starpoints per night.

If you have Starwood Business AMEX you’ll also have free access to the Sheraton club lounge, there’s no need to pay for the stay with your card for lounge access. Post a comment if you try switching the method of payment at the hotel from Mastercard to your Starwood AMEX to earn double Starpoints.

Post what other deals you find!

HT: coralsnake, via DDF

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Cubs/Mets/Rangers Fans: Use Your Starpoints For Some Incredible Experiences

Friday, July 8th, 2016

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

You can earn Starpoints on the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and on the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express.


A few years ago I burned 25K United miles for 4 box seats to an Indians game. In middle of the game I got to run onto the field and literally steal 2nd base. As an die-hard Indians fan it was probably the coolest use of my miles ever. People around the stadium were shocked to see someone walking around with 2nd base. I got the base signed by several players, including the winning pitcher that night, and it hangs in my office today. It still has the Jacobs Field dirt on it.

That story inspired other DansDeals readers to use their miles for some amazing experiences as well.

Earlier this year I wrote about the ability to bid Starpoints to sing the National Anthem in Wrigley Field on 7/18 for the Mets Vs Cubs game. The crazy thing about that deal was that if you weren’t accepted to sing you got your points back and still got to go to the game in the SPG suite with kosher food available upon request.

SPG Moments allows you to use points for all kinds of neat experiences, and there are some awesome ones up for bid and instant redemption right now.

If you do go to Wrigley you can park near Milt’s for a delicious lunch (The Milt’s Burger, Rib Sandwich, and Brisket Chili are my favorite items) and then walk from there to the game. A DDF reader invited me along when he redeemed Starpoints for the entire SPG suite when the Yankees took on the Cubbies and we did that and even brought along the owner of Milt’s to our suite. The suite was catered with kosher food, but nobody ate any of it after feasting at Milt’s just beforehand!

Be sure to post a comment and a “trip report” if you win!

Deliver the Line-Up Card at Wrigley Field for the Chicago Cubs vs. Texas Rangers game on Friday, 7/15 at 1:20pm: High bid: 16K Starpoints.
Deliver the Line-Up Card at Wrigley Field for the Chicago Cubs vs. New York Mets game on Monday, 7/18 at 6:05pm: High bid: 5K Starpoints.
-1 opportunity for a 6 to 12-year-old child to deliver the line-up card.
-Field access for two (2) for a pregame photo
-2 Field Box Infield tickets


-Announce “Play Ball” at Wrigley Field before the Chicago Cubs take on the New York Mets on Monday, 7/18 at 6:05pm High bid: 8K Starpoints.
-Access for a 6 to 12-year-old child to announce the official “play ball” at Wrigley Field on Monday, 18 July 2016 in front of up to 40,000 cheering fans.
-Two 2 Field Box Infield seats to watch the Chicago Cubs play


Take the Field Alongside the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field Before They Take on the Texas Rangers on Sunday, 7/17 at 1:20pm: Instant redemption for 27.5K Starpoints, 4 packages available.
-2 seats for the Chicago Cubs game against the Texas Rangers on Sunday, 17 July 2016 at 1:20 pm
-1 opportunity for a 7 to 13-year-old to run onto the field with the Chicago Cubs before the first pitch
-1 group photo of your child with the other participating SPG members


Throw out a ceremonial pitch before at Wrigley Field before the New York Mets vs. Chicago Cubs game on Monday, 7/18 at 6:05pm High bid: 60K Starpoints.
-Access for 1 to throw a ceremonial pitch at Wrigley Field on Monday, 18 July 2016
-Field access for 2 for a pregame photo
-2 Field Box Infield seats to watch the Chicago Cubs play the New York Mets


Members Only Softball Tournament on Wrigley Field – Build Your Own Team to play on Sunday, August 7 from 12pm-4pm High bid: 11K Starpoints, 2 packages available.
-12 tickets to play softball at Wrigley Field on Sunday, August 7th
-12 Customized MLB Chicago Cubs jerseys with the names of all 12 participants.
-Meet with a retired Cubs alumnus for 12
-Behind-the-scenes tour of Wrigley Field for 12
-Complimentary food and beverages for 12 (You can request kosher food).
-No participants under the age of 13

Will you be bidding on any of these once in a lifetime experiences?

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Should You Buy Or Transfer Starpoints To Join The Most Lucrative JetBlue Promotion Of All Time?

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

Related posts:
-It’s Time To Mileage Run! Earn Up To 75K Bonus JetBlue Points After Just 1 Round-Trip If You Have Or If You Transfer Points To Virgin America!
-Roundup Of JetBlue Sale Fares From $66 Round-Trip To Earn Up To 75K JetBlue Points
American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.


JetBlue is offering their most lucrative promotion of all time with bonus points if you have Virgin America Elevate points and fly on JetBlue:

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So for the cost of a $66 round-trip flight on JetBlue you can earn 75K bonus points, on top of the regular points you’ll earn from the paid flight.

You need to email JetBlue a screenshot of your Virgin America point balance, name, and member number (along with your JetBlue member number) by 7/4 to participate. Be sure to send a screenshot from a non-mobile device and include your Virgin point balance that occurs twice on the screen as shown here:

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After getting confirmation from JetBlue, you just need to book and fly on any paid roundtrip or multi-city trip on JetBlue by 8/31 to earn 75K bonus JetBlue points as shown in the chart above!

The bonus points will post within 4-6 weeks after the flight.

What are those 75K JetBlue points worth? 

If you have (or will open) a JetBlue Plus World Elite Mastercard then 75K points will be worth $1,200-$1,425 of JetBlue flights. Otherwise those points will be worth $1,125-$1,275 of JetBlue flights.

If you do participate it’s definitely worth signing up for the card for the 30K signup points, 10% rebate whenever you use points, 9-17 points per dollar on JetBlue, free checked luggage, 5,000 bonus points on every card anniversary, $100 cash back annually for spending $100+ on a JetBlue vacation, a 50% rebate for in-flight purchases, and no foreign transaction fees. If you spend $50K annually on the card you’ll also get Mosaic status which includes free changes and cancellations on JetBlue tickets for the Mosaic member and for everyone on their itinerary, 2 free checked bags, 15K bonus points for earning Mosaic status every year, free even more speed checkin and security access, early boarding, 3 additional points per dollar spent, free alcoholic beverages onboard, and a dedicated Mosaic 24/7 customer service line.

JetBlue points never expire. JetBlue also allows families to pool their points together.

What if you don’t have Virgin America points?

You can transfer Starpoints to Virgin America in less than 24 hours at a 20K:25K ratio. Even if you have no Virgin points currently, a transfer of 40,001 Starpoints would give you 50,001 Virgin America Elevate points to qualify for the highest offer.

Points also transfer from Citi or AMEX to Virgin America, but at a paltry 2:1 ratio rather than the 20K:25K ratio that Starwood offers.

Is it worth doing a transfer from Starwood?

Virgin America has a very valuable mileage currency. There are examples in this post and in this post. 50K points will be worth between $1,100-$1,400 of Virgin America flights. Or you can use points on partners like Singapore for a round-trip flight from JFK to Frankfurt for 20K points or Los Angeles to Tokyo for 40K points. There are great values for travel on Hawaiian and Virgin Australia as well.

Virgin points will never expire if you earn or use at least 1 point every 18 months.

If you get $1,200 of flights from those 50K Virgin points that came from 40K Starpoints, that’s a value 3 cents per Starpoint, a very solid deal by itself without the JetBlue promotion. Throw in the JetBlue promotion and it’s even more lucrative as 40K Starpoints plus a $66 JetBlue flight can turn into $1,200 of Virgin flights and $1,300 of JetBlue flights, a value of over 6 cents per Starpoint.

Don’t have Starpoints?

You can earn Starpoints on the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and on the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express.

Starwood normally sells Starpoints for 3.5 cents each, but you can buy Starpoints for 30% off through 7/1.  With this sale they are just 2.45 cents each. Points typically post to your account within an hour and you’ll need to logout and login to see them. Some people have reported that they were able to transfer purchased points to Virgin America even before they showed in their account balance.

If you you have 20,001 Starpoints already you can buy another 20K for $490 with this sale and then transfer them into 50,001 Virgin America points as 20,000 Starpoints converts into 25,000 Virgin America points and 40,000 Starpoints converts into 50,000 Virgin America points.

There is an annual maximum purchase of 30K Starpoints per account, so if you need 40K or 40,001 Starpoints you’ll need to have a friend buy Starpoints as well.

That friend can then transfer points into your Virgin America account. However you can only make 1 transfer to a Virgin America account per 24 hour period, so after transferring 20K (or 20,001+ points) from one Starwood account to Virgin America, you’ll need to wait 24 hours to do the 2nd transfer.

Is it worth it?

A round-trip JetBlue flight can be had for under $100 and even if you need to purchase the full 40K Starpoints for $980 or 40.5K Starpoints for $992 it’s still a great deal as you’ll wind up with points that are good for about $1,200 of Virgin America flights and about $1,300 of JetBlue flights.

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Check To See If You Are Targeted For A Starwood Spend Bonus

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

You can earn Starpoints on the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and on the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express.
Getting To Israel Using Starwood Starpoints, 2016 Edition
Starwood’s 35th Transfer Partner Increases The Value Of Your Starpoints; Fly Roundtrip JFK-Los Angeles For Less Than 10K Or JFK-Europe For Less Than 20K SPG!


Several DDF members have posted that they were targeted for a spend bonus on their Starwood business card.

You can login to your AMEX account via this link to check if you are targeted.

If you are targeted and spend $5,000 on your SPG card you’ll get 10,000 total Starpoints. If you spend $10,000 on your SPG card you’ll get 20,000 total Starpoints. The spending must be completed by 10/15.

My cards aren’t targeted, are yours?

HT: Chapshnell, via DDF

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Starwood’s 35th Transfer Partner Increases The Value Of Your Starpoints; Fly Roundtrip JFK-Los Angeles For Less Than 10K Or JFK-Europe For Less Than 20K SPG!

Sunday, April 17th, 2016

Bear with me as I’m still catching on the news from last week while I was flying with my son on an incredible trip on the upper deck of a 747.
American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

Last week Starwood added its 35th airline transfer partner, Virgin America. Ironically both Starwood and Virgin America will cease to exist in a couple years from now having been snapped up by Marriott and Alaska, but there is value still to be had in the meantime.
It’s also great to see SPG still adding partners to its portfolio. Last December it added Aegean, which is excellent for awards to Israel.

Now it’s adding Virgin America as a partner at the standard 20K Starpoints=25K Virgin America points ratio. Click here to transfer Starpoints into airline miles.

You can earn Starpoints on the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and on the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express.

Virgin America has hybrid award redemption system. You can redeem for flights on Virgin America based on the cost of the flight.

Here’s a look at what your points will be worth for various one-way Virgin flights (Prices were researched on 4/16 and will fluctuate). Note that Starpoint rates listed below 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):
1. Los Angeles-Las Vegas on 5/11 is $43.10 or 1,417 Virgin points (about 1,134 SPG)+$5.60. That’s a value of 2.65 cents per Virgin point (43.10-5.60/1,417) and 3.31 cents per Starpoint.
2. LGA to Dallas on 5/11 is $78.10 or 3,126 Virgin points (about 2,500 SPG)+$5.60. That’s a value of 2.32 cents per Virgin point and 2.9 cents per Starpoint.
3. JFK to Maui on 5/11 is $244.50 or 10,762 Virgin points (about 8,610 SPG)+$5.60. That’s a value of 2.22 cents per Virgin point and 2.78 cents per Starpoint.
4. JFK to Los Angeles on 5/11 is $138.10 or 6,056 Virgin points (about 4,844 SPG)+$5.60. That’s a value of 2.19 cents per Virgin point and 2.74 cents per Starpoint.
5. Los Angeles-Orlando on 5/11 is $93.10 or 3,859 Virgin points (about 3,087 SPG)+$5.60. That’s a value of 2.27 cents per Virgin point and 2.84 cents per Starpoint.

The exact point requirements will vary based on the price of the Virgin flights, but those are some pretty sweet values!

You can also redeem points on partner airlines.
Those include Hawaiian, Singapore, and Virgin Australia with low or no fuel surcharges and Emirates or Virgin Atlantic with high fuel surcharges.

For example:
-A roundtrip from JFK nonstop to Frankfurt on Singapore is just 20K Virgin miles (about 16K SPG) in coach.
-A roundtrip from JFK nonstop to Honolulu on Hawaiian is 35K Virgin miles (about 28K SPG) in coach or 80K Virgin miles (about 64K SPG) in business.
-A roundtrip from JFK nonstop to London on Virgin Atlantic is 15K Virgin miles+$475 (about 12K SPG) in coach, 25K Virgin miles+$790 (20K SPG) in premium economy, or 35K Virgin miles+$1,150 (about 28K SPG) in upper class, Virgin’s version of business class with an on-board bar with access to their highly-rated clubhouse lounges.
-A roundtrip from Los Angeles nonstop to London on Virgin Atlantic is 25K Virgin miles+$475 (20K SPG) in coach, 30K Virgin miles+$790 (about 24K SPG) in premium economy, or 50K Virgin miles+$1,150 (40K SPG) in upper class.
-A roundtrip from Los Angeles or San Francisco nonstop to any of the Hawaiian islands on Hawaiian is 20K Virgin miles (about 16K SPG) in coach or 50K Virgin miles (40K SPG) in business.
-A roundtrip from San Francisco to Hong Kong or Seoul on Singapore is just 40K Virgin miles (about 32K SPG) in coach.
-A roundtrip from Los Angeles to Tokyo on Singapore is just 40K Virgin miles (about 32K SPG) in coach.
-A roundtrip from Los Angeles to Sydney on Virgin Australia is just 40K Virgin miles (about 32K SPG) in coach, 60K Virgin miles (about 48K SPG) in premium economy, or 80K Virgin miles (about 64K SPG) in business class.

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Breaking: Anbang Punts On Starwood Buyout

Thursday, March 31st, 2016

Word is just hitting the street that Anbang will not be buying SPG in the end.

This comes on the heels of Anbang making a higher offer than Marriott over the weekend and amid questions about who exactly controls Anbang and where their backing comes from.

And now all we can do is wait and see what Marriott does to our beloved SPG program…

HT: damaxer91

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Highest Public Offer Ever: Earn 35,000 Starpoints Signup Bonus On Both The Starwood Consumer And Business AMEX Cards!

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

Update: Offer Expired!
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Originally posted on 3/3/16:

Related posts:
The Ultimate Israel Mileage Award Chart

Getting To Israel Using Starwood Starpoints, 2016 Edition
Starwood Adds A 34th Airline Transfer Partner And It’s Excellent For Awards To Israel!
American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.
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Consumer 35K Limited Time Offer:
-Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

Business 35K Limited Time Offer:
-Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express

This is a limited time offer scheduled to run until 03/30.  It offers 40% more points than the standard offer and there has never been a better public offer for this card.

The $95 annual fee is waived for the first year on both cards.

For the consumer card you will get 35,000 bonus Starpoints after spending $3,000 within 3 months. The terms state that if you have had the consumer card before you will not get the bonus for the consumer card again.

For the business card you will get 35,000 bonus Starpoints after spending $5,000 within 3 months. The brand new business card terms state that if you have had the business card before you will not get the bonus for the business card again.

If you have only had a consumer card you can get the points for business card and if you have only had the business card you can get the points for the consumer card.

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Spending on the Starwood card and comparison to Freedom Unlimited.

The Starwood card remains a very good card for general spending.

While there are other cards with better bonus categories, the Starwood card is strong for general spending as Starpoints continue to be the most valuable mileage currency thanks to valuable hotel usage and the 25% bonus for transfers into dozens of airlines.

The upcoming Freedom Unlimited card will give the Starwood card a run for its money for everyday spending, but Starwood offers no foreign transaction fees compared to 3% for the Freedom Unlimited card. Starwood also offers far more airline transfer options, though it effectively earns 1.25 airline miles per dollar compared to 1.5 on Freedom Unlimited. On the other hand Freedom Unlimited will require that you either upgrade your card or have a premium card like Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus to transfer points into miles, while the Starwood card doesn’t have a requirement like that.

Starwood also allows members at the same address to transfer points between their accounts for free.

There are thousands of uses for Starpoints, some of which have been over 50 cents each for me at hotels, but I aim for a minimum value of about 2.2 cents per point and am happy when I’m able to exceed that level. It’s not hard to reach a value of that level at hotels and you can transfer 20K miles into 25K valuable miles from airlines like Aegean, Alaska, American, and dozens of other programs. If you are able to obtain a value of 1.75 cents from those airlines then that imputes a 2.2 cent value for Starpoints as well. The miles won’t sell on the grey market for that price, but miles are always more valuable when you use them yourself for travel.

The Starwood card earns 2 Starpoints per dollar at Starwood hotels, or a 4.4% rebate at a value of 2.2 cents per Starpoint. It earns 1 Starpoint per dollar everywhere else, or a 2.2% rebate at a value of 2.2 cents per Starpoint.

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Marriott merger:

Starwood is in the process of merging with Marriott, but it will be a while until the programs are merged. Marriott’s CEO has promised multiple times not to mess with SPG’s value proposition, but we’ll see what that means when the full details come out. At this point nothing is known and there are lots of possibilities. The programs could be run separately or either loyalty program could win out. Ideally they’d realize the passion that SPG members have for Starpoints and simply convert Marriott points into an SPG type of loyalty program with something like a 50% haircut in points for Marriott members. But ideally doesn’t always happen.

Will the SPG AMEX or the Chase Marriott card survive? Might both survive? Those are all questions we might not know answers to until next year.

Chase is also currently offering a limited time 87.5K signup bonus on the Marriott card. Of course Starpoints are worth far more than Marriott points and it remains to be seen how exactly and at what ratio they’ll be combined.

But in the meantime you can pickup the signup bonus on both limited time offers.

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American Express Benefits and the annual fee:

The card also carries American Express’ awesome top-notch protections that are light-years better than any other banks. Most 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 up to $300 they will gladly refund you. Most of the time you’ll be able to keep the item, but if you do need to send it back the return shipping will be free.
-You get an additional year of warranty coverage and if you have any issue in the extended warranty year they’ll pay to have it fixed or refund your entire purchase price without a hassle.
-If you need to dispute a charge there’s nobody who makes it easier or as pain-free as American Express does. It’s the best in the industry by leaps and bounds and you can do it all online.
-If your item is stolen or broken within 90 days you’ll be covered.

See this post to see just how amazing AMEX benefits can be.

There’s no fee on the Starwood card for the first year and $95 thereafter though you can often get bonus points or account credits for keeping it open for additional years. If you cancel a card within 60 days of being charged the fee on your statement 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.

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Spending $3K or $5K in 3 months:

You can pay your federal taxes for a 1.87% fee. The Starpoints are worth more than 1.87 cents each, so that’s a no-brainer if you’re trying to meet a spend threshold. If you overpay you can request a cash refund or apply it to your next year’s taxes.

My local gas company allows me to prepay up to $1,000 on a credit card for a $1.65 flat fee. That’s a great way to earn miles and help meet a spend threshold. My electricity supplier allows me to pay with a credit card for free as long as I am enrolled in autopay. I used to prepay 5 months of rent on a my credit card (it’s easier in Cleveland where that’s just $800/month) for a $19 flat fee. You’d be surprised to see what you can charge to your credit card!

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Sheraton Club Lounge Access:

The Starwood business card now gives free club lounge access when staying at Sheraton hotels.

There have been rave reviews of the Sheraton Club lounge in Tel Aviv for example.  If you have a Starwood business card you’ll get free access to it and its free food, beverages, and sweeping view of the Mediterranean Sea. A free night at the Sheraton Tel Aviv is 12K points, 6K points+$110, or 9.6K points per night on a 5 night stay.

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Premium Internet Access:

With either Starwood card you now get free premium in-room internet at Starwood hotels. All SPG guests get free internet, but cardholders will now get the faster version for free.

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Unlimited worldwide Boingo WiFi:

With either Starwood card you now get free unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi worldwide, perfect for avoiding confiscatory rates at airports when traveling.  Search from over 1 million hot-spots here.

Enroll for free Boingo access here.

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Elite Status and Crossover benefits with Delta and Uber:

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 get upgraded to preferred rooms.

If you spend $30,000 in a year on either Starwood card you earn Gold status.  Gold status gets you more points per dollar spent at SPG hotels and a 250 point amenity on stays, even when redeeming points.  You can also get gold status for free with no spending requirement by opening The Platinum Card® from American Express or the The Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN

When you have the Starwood card you also get 5 elite qualifying nights and 2 stays for each Starwood card that you have that count towards earning Gold or Platinum status!

Starwood Gold and Platinum elites can also register here to earn Starpoints on Delta flights on top of the regular Delta miles in addition to other benefits while Delta elites can get benefits at SPG hotels.

And all members can earn bonus Starpoints for Uber rides as well after making a single SPG stay.

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Using Starpoints:

Points are deposited directly into your Starwood account, so you do not lose your points if you cancel your card like you would with American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards points, or Citibank ThankYou points.  You do need to maintain some activity in your Starwood account every 18 months to keep it active, though Starwood is very good about reactivating accounts that have been closed due to inactivity.

Award nights count towards elite status. Gold members receive 250 points back and Platinum members receive 500 points back per stay.

How can you use your points?

1. Hotel award nights with no blackouts or capacity controls. If a standard room is for sale you can use points to book it:

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2. If you book 5 consecutive hotel award nights at category 3-7 hotels then the 5th night will be free:

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For example:
-5 nights at the category 7 blinged out S. Regis Bal Harbour is 120,000 points, still that’s not a bad value when you consider that the cheapest rooms during peak season go for more than $1,000 per night.
-At the category 6 ultra-modern W Hong Kong with a 76th floor rooftop infinity pool or at the breathtaking Le Meridien Bora Bora or Westin Venice would cost 80,000 points.
-5 nights at the category 5 Sheraton Kauai or the highly rated Sheraton Tel Aviv will be 48,000 points.
-5 nights at the category 4 Sheraton Big Island of Hawaii, Four Points by Sheraton Miami Beach, Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort will be 40,000 points.
-5 nights at the category 3 Le Meridien Chiang Mai Thailand over an awesome Shabbos at the nearby Chabad House. would set you back 28,000 points. Same goes for the popular Sheraton Suites Fort Lauderdale at Cypress Creek or the Sheraton Mahwah near Monsey.
-The category 2 Four Points by Sheraton Niagara Falls Fallsview is just 3K points on weekends or 4K points on weekdays. Same goes for the Sheraton Eatontown Hotel near Lakewood, NJ.
-A night at the category 1 Aloft S. Jose Costa Rica or Le Méridien N’Fis, Morocco starts at just 2,000 points.

Click on the category links to explore other hotels that can be obtained for those rates.

3. Cash and points allows you stretch your points when reserving a standard room, upgraded room, or suite:

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Starwood’s cash and points chart make expensive hotel stays cheap. Take the Sheraton at my hometown Cleveland airport for example. The rate there for tonight is $219+tax=$260. Using Starpoints you can either pay 4,000 points for a value of 6.5 cents per Starpoint. With cash and points a category 2 hotel would be 2,000 points and $35 cash for a value of 11.3 cents per Starpoint! A weekend night is just 3,000 points.

4. Nights and Flights allow you to combine a 5 night hotel stay and get 50,000 miles for less than the cost of booking a 5 night stay and transferring points separately:

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In other words you can stay 5 nights at a category 4 hotel like the Sheraton Big Island of Hawaii or Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort and get 50,000 miles transferred into the airline of your choice for just 70,000 Starpoints.

When done separately that 5 night stay would cost 40,000 Starpoints and the airline transfer would cost 40,000 Starpoints.

5. SPG Moments allows you to  purchase or bid on once-in-a-lifetime experiences with Starpoints.

Throw out the first pitch at a ballgame, watch the game from a suite, etc. Starwood will even cater their suite with kosher food upon request with no additional charge! People have done that at the US Open, Cubs, Knicks, Rangers, and more games.

6. Keep your eyes peeled for promotions like this 50% off promotion where I spent 5 nights in the S. Regis Bal Harbour for just 48,000 points.

You can currently save 35% off at select resorts.

7. Of course you can transfer your Starpoints into miles with dozens of airlines at great ratios. 20,000 Starpoints becomes 25,000 miles on dozens of airlines thanks to the 25% bonus.

Airlines also often incentivize transfers, like American did last year by offering a 50% bonus for transfersAir Canada and United also offered promotions last year.

Curious about the 34 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 of 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), Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR), or Citibank Thank You (TY) points transfers to the airline as well.

OneWorld Alliance:
Air Berlin: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
American: 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, TY)
JAL: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
LAN: 20,000 Starpoints=37,500 kms (No other transfers)
Qatar: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (TY)

Skyteam Alliance:
AeroMexico: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR)
Air France/KLM Flying Blue: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR, TY)
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)
Korean: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (UR)
Saudia: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)

Star Alliance:
ANA: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR)
Aegean: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
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)
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, TY, UR)
Thai: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (TY)
United: 20,000 Starpoints=12,500 miles (UR)

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 (TY)
Gol/Varig Smiles: 20,000 Starpoints=12,500 miles (No other transfers)
Hainan: 20,000 Starpoints==25,000 miles (No other transfers)
Hawaiian: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR)
Jet Airways: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
Virgin Atlantic: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR, TY, UR)
Virgin Australia: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)

Points can also transfer to Amtrak at a 1:1 ratio.

You can view the expiration policies for each transfer program here. Remember that points can only transfer from Starwood to an airline, they can never transfer from an airline to Starwood.

I don’t recommend using the SPG Flights or the SPG Merchandise/Gift Card programs as the value per point is way too low.

How do you normally redeem your Starpoints? Hit the comments!

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Round 4: Anbang Outbids Marriott For Control Of Starwood; Are You On #TeamMarriott or #TeamAnbang ?

Monday, March 28th, 2016

In November Marriott agreed to buy Starwood.

Starwood has some of the most loyal members in the industry and cried so much that Marriott came out and said to calm down as they weren’t going to kill that loyalty by devaluing the program.

But they were still going to convert the SPG loyalty program into Marriott, a far less generous elite stay program and points program.

On March 14th China based Anbang proposed a better offer and on March 18th Starwood accepted their deal. That would leave $400MM in Marriott’s pocket if they walked away.

They didn’t and on March 21st Marriott made a better offer. Starwood accepted that offer and agreed to pay Marriott $468MM if the offer fell through.

Today Anbang has once again outbid Marriott. We’ll know soon if Starwood accepts their new offer, but they likely will. Will Marriott take the breakup fee of $468MM and walk away this time?

It’s not often that I root for a Chinese based company to take over a US company, but I’m definitely rooting for that to happen this time. Some on DDF are taking a contrarian opinion. They’re afraid that similar to NYC based Blackstone’s raiding of the Hilton loyalty program that Anbang will devalue SPG.

That’s a possibility of course, though chains like Hilton, IHG, and Marriott have traditionally been far less generous than Starwood and Hyatt as they have a significantly larger hotel footprint. People need to stay in their hotels anyway, so there’s less reason to incentivize loyalty. SPG and Hyatt have fewer hotels and provide greater elite benefits to go out of the way to stay at their hotels. They have valuable point currencies and some of the most loyal customers in the industry. Would Anbang risk their massive investment in SPGs loyalty program by angering those loyal to it?

I’m betting they won’t, but even if there’s a 33% chance that they would, I believe that it’s lower than the chances that Marriott will devalue Starpoints when they get swallowed into the Marriott universe.

Additionally with the Anbang offer we would continue to have both the Starwood AMEX and the Chase Marriott cards. One of those cards will likely be axed in the case of a merger and both cards have unprecedented limited time offers as they try to build their book of business before a potential merger.

And as the airlines have shown, more consolidations just makes things worse for the consumer. Their loyalty programs could never have become as stingy and devalued as they are today without the massive consolidation that has happened in that industry.

I’m sitting on several million Starpoints, so I’m personally invested in the outcome of this battle. The great thing about Starwood is that it has built-in devaluation protection. If the points for hotel use isn’t worthwhile, there are dozens of airlines to transfer points to at favorable ratios. I’d rather keep them as flexible points, but I won’t hesitate to jump ship and convert them into miles if anything seems amiss.

What are your thoughts? Are you on #TeamMarriott or #TeamAnbang ?

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Getting To Israel Using Starwood Starpoints, 2016 Edition

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

-Earn Starpoints on the Starwood Consumer AMEX and the Starwood Business AMEXYou can also use your Starpoints to stay free at the the highly rated Sheraton Tel Aviv and later this year at the W Tel Aviv – Jaffa which is scheduled to open on November 1st. With a Starwood business card you’ll even get free lounge access and meals at the Sheraton Tel Aviv! 
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Related post: The Ultimate Israel Mileage Award Chart (2015)
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The Starwood card is an excellent card for general spending. You can use just a couple thousand points for free hotel nights or transfer points into the mileage programs of 34 different airlines with a 25% transfer bonus. 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 plus a 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 an SPG.com account. Click here to transfer Starpoints into airline miles. Note that transfers can take a few days to complete.

The rates in this post are for flights from NYC to Tel Aviv unless otherwise noted.

Read more about using Starpoints to fly to Israel after the jump: (more…)

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Starwood Agrees To Be Sold To The Chinese, Marriott Has 5 Days To Respond

Monday, March 21st, 2016

 

Update: Marriott has outbid Anbang for control of Starwood once again. Additionally Starwood has agreed to pay Marriott $468MM as a breakup fee if they accept a bid from another company in this ongoing bidding war.

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Originally posted on 3/18:

In a fantastic development for mileage junkies, Starwood has reversed course and has agreed to be sold to China’s Anbang consortium.

Marriott runs a far less generous loyalty program than Starwood and while they have promised to elevate their combined program to Starwood’s standards, there’s obviously reason for concern.

The Starwood AMEX and Chase Marriott cards are both running unprecedented signup bonuses as they look to expand their book of business before the merger, when one of the cards would likely go away. Frankly I’m surprised that AMEX didn’t make their own play to buy out Starwood just to stop the bleeding after losing Costco and JetBlue last year.

Of course this is all a play to get Marriott to cough up more cash for SPG. I’m rooting that they’ll take the $400MM breakup fee payment and walk away, though that’s probably unlikely at this point in the bidding war.

HT: damaxer91

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An Hour Left To Bid On The Coolest Use Of Starpoints Ever?

Monday, March 21st, 2016

A few years ago I burned 25K United miles for 4 box seats to an Indians game. In middle of the game I got to run onto the field and literally steal 2nd base. As an die-hard Indians fan it was probably the coolest use of my miles ever. People around the stadium were shocked to see someone walking around with 2nd base. I got the base signed by several players, including the winning pitcher that night, and it hangs in my office today. It still has the Jacobs Field dirt on it.

That story inspired other DansDeals readers to use their miles for some amazing experiences as well.

Starwood has their Moments program where they auction off very neat experiences as well.

Until 11am ET today you can use your Starpoints to bid on 2 seats in the SPG luxury suite when the Mets play the Cubs in Wrigley Field on Monday, July 18 in Chicago. Food and drinks and included and they’ll even cater the suite with kosher food upon request. The current high bid is 75K Starpoints.

OK, that’s not the cool part. I’ve done that before.

The 3 highest bidders will audition for the right to sing the National Anthem before the game! I wish I had a good enough voice to pull that off, but what an awesome once-in-a-lifetime experience that would be for someone who does.

Only the person who’s audition is accepted will be charged the Starpoints. The other 2 highest bidders who are not accepted will actually receive a full refund of their Starpoints and they’ll be able to still receive 2 seats in the SPG luxury suite to the Cubbies game of their choice in the 2nd half of the season.

Will you be a bidder? Hit the comments!

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Marriott To Buy Starwood

Monday, March 14th, 2016

Update 2: I’m still traveling for another few days and haven’t slept in more than that thanks to polar bear and Aurora Borealis hunting, but I’d be remiss not to mention that there is a competing offer from a Chinese consortium now on the table for Starwood. Might this save Starwood as we know it from being swallowed up by Marriott?

Time will tell.

Now, do the Chinese also want to save Fairmont while they’re at it?

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Update 1: In somewhat promising news, Marriott claims they will preserve the best aspects of both programs and that a big factor to buy Starwood was for their loyalty program. Then again, Continental and United said before they would keep the best of both airlines and that we would like the changes that were coming, before devastating loyal members of both programs.

File this in the “time will tell” category. Mergers rarely work out well for consumers, so I’m not holding my breath. But I am hoping.

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Originally posted on 11/16/15:

In potentially devastating news for point junkies, Marriott has agreed to buy Starwood for $12.2 billion.

Apparently they beat out potential offers from suitors like Hyatt, IHG, and the Chinese government.

Pending government approval, the deal will close mid-2016.

With Marriott being the acquirer and the far larger program, it seems very likely that Marriott Rewards will be the surviving loyalty program

Starwood points are between 2-3 times as valuable as Marriott points and also transfer into airline miles at far higher ratios.

Starwood top-tier elite status is far more valuable than Marriott elite status and is much easier to attain.

I suppose that it’s possible that Marriott keeps the Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty program as a separate entity from Marriott Rewards, but it seems unlikely. The benefits of that would be not decimating the value in the SPG program and possibly being able to keep revenue streams from both AMEX and Chase. I’d be overjoyed, but I wouldn’t bet on that happening.

The likely route is that Marriott swallows Starwood and stops offering the Starwood AMEX. So this may be terrible news for AMEX as well. I’m almost surprised AMEX doesn’t jump into the fray and make an offer for Starwood just not to lose the huge co-brand Starwood business 😀

If Marriott announces plans to forcibly convert Starpoints into Marriott points at an equal ratio, that’s the day I cash in my chips and transfer out several million Starpoints into airline miles. There’s no way I’ll just sit back and be devalued while hoping there will be new value added to the Marriott program unless they explicitly say there will be.

I mean it’s possible that Marriott offers 2 points for every Starpoint, but I wouldn’t bet on that either.

Overall I see this as very ominous news. The only silver lining is that at least both Hyatt and Starwood’s programs won’t be destroyed like what was possible in a worst-case scenario when they were rumored to be merging.

HT: chuchem, via DDF

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Starwood Increases Point Purchase Limits+25% Off Starpoint Purchases; Save Up To 60% Off The Cost Of Starwood Hotels In Miami Beach By Purchasing Starpoints!

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

Related: Earn 35,000 Starpoints Signup Bonus On Both The Starwood Consumer And Business AMEX Cards!
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Starwood used to only allow a member to purchase 20K Starpoints per year. You can now purchase up to 30K Starpoints per year and you can receive 30K Starpoints per year as a gift purchase from another member.

Of course you can also buy more points for anyone living at your address and then transfer those points so that they’re all in the same account.

Starwood is offering 25% off purchases and gifts of 20K-30K Starpoints through 4/30.

20K Starpoints is on sale for $525 instead of $700.

30K Starpoints is on sale for $787.50 instead of $1,050.

In other words you would be buying Starpoints at a cost of 2.625 cents per Starpoint.

There’s no reason to buy them speculatively at those rates. But it can make sense if you have a specific redemption in mind.

 

Say you want to stay at the category 7 S. Regis Bal Harbour from March 16-18. It’s just a few minute walk to The Shul and tons of kosher eateries in Surfside.

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-The prepaid non-refundable SPG member exclusive rate comes out to $2,305.87 after tax or $1,152.94 per night.

-The refundable preferred rate comes out to $2,506.38 after tax or $1,253.19 per night.

-The refundable Starpoint rate is 60K for 2 nights. If you buy 60K Starpoints at 2.625 cents each that means you’ll have paid $1,575 or $787.50 per night.

-If you stay 5 nights the cost per night drops to 24K. If you buy 120K Starpoints for $3,150 that means you’ll have paid $630 per night.

-The refundable SPG Cash & Points rate is 30K plus $610.50 after tax or 15K plus $305.25 per night. If you buy 30K Starpoints at 2.625 cents each that means you’ll have paid $787.50 for the points plus $610.50 in cash+tax for a total of $1,398 for 2 nights or $699 per night.

-Starpoints can be an even better deal for upgraded rooms. At the S. Regis Bal Harbour you can redeem 31.5K points (or 15,750 points+$290) for a Grand luxe oceanfront roo. You can use 32.5K points (or 16,250 points+$315) for a Grand luxe oceanfront junior suite or Astor oceanfront junior suite. An Astor oceanfront junior suite goes for $1,561 after tax, so using 32.5K Starpoints is a great deal!

 

Too rich for your blood? Let’s take a look at the category 4, Four Points by Sheraton Miami Beach from March 18-20 for Shabbos. It’s a short walk from there to the kosher restaurants on 41st Street.

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-The prepaid non-refundable SPG member exclusive rate comes out to $950.87 after tax or $475.34 per night.

-The refundable preferred rate comes out to $1,023.72 after tax or $511.86 per night.

-The refundable Starpoint rate is 20K for 2 nights. If you buy 20K Starpoints at 2.625 cents each that means you’ll have paid $525 or $262.50 per night.

-If you stay 5 nights the cost per night drops to 8K. If you buy 40K Starpoints for $1,050 that means you’ll have paid $210 per night.

-You can also redeem 11.5K points for a Junior suite or 20K points for an executive suite.

 

These same principles apply at Starwood hotels across the globe.

Will you buy Starpoints at this rate and where will you use them? Hit the comments!

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Starwood 2016 Annual Category Changes

Monday, February 29th, 2016

Update: Category changes normally take effect at midnight local time. Most hotels have generous cancellation policies, so make some speculative bookings now!

Originally posted on 2/18:

Read about previous category changes:
Starwood 2015 Annual Category Changes
Starwood 2014 Annual Category Changes
Starwood 2013 Category Changes
Starwood 2012 Category Changes
2011 Starwood Category Adjustments
-2010 had no Starwood category changes
2009 Starwood Category Adjustments
2008 Starwood Category Adjustments
Starwood 2007 Changes: Launch Of Worldwide Cash+Points Awards (The good old days of Starwood in Israel)
American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

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Starwood 2016 Complete List Of Annual Category Changes (Click all to view all hotel changes)

Earn Starpoints on the Starwood Consumer American Express and on the Starwood Business American Express.

Book stays before 03/01 local hotel time to lock in current rates for future stays at hotels that are going up.  Almost all hotel stays are cancellable for free until a certain amount of time before the stay (read the fine print).  If you have a reservation at a hotel that is going down then just cancel and rebook the stay on 03/01 when this year’s category changes go into effect.

12% of SPG hotels will become more expensive and 8% of SPG hotels will get less expensive when redeeming points.

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 at category 3-7 hotels the 5th night will be 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.

Changes are pretty harsh this year:

-The Westin Lagunamar Cancun, a crowd favorite, jumps from 5 to 6 just a year after it went from 4 to 5.

-The Sheraton and Westin Maui went from 6 to 5 last year, but go back to 6 this year. That makes the Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas the smarter redemption at category 6.

I loved the Le Meridien Chiang Mai Thailand and am sorry to see it go from a 2 to 3.

-LA hotels continue their climb. Not long ago the Four Points LAX was a category 1 and the Westin a category 2, now they come in at 4 and 5 respectively.

-The popular Sheraton Suites Fort Lauderdale at Cypress Creek climbs from 2 to 3.

-Central London hotels climb from 5 to 6.

 

In the good news department:

-The Four Points Miami Beach drops from 5 to 4, a welcome change in pricey Miami Beach.

-Niagara Falls and Toronto hotels drop as well.

-Le Méridien Bora Bora falls from out or reach 7 to more manageable 6.

-Sheraton Mahwah, near Monsey, drops from 4 to 3.

Sample hotels going more expensive:
-Four Points by Sheraton Penghu Taiwan, was 1, now 5

-Sheraton Suites Fort Lauderdale at Cypress Creek, FL, was 2, now 3
-Sheraton Lake Buena Vista Resort, Orlando, FL, was 2, now 3
-Sheraton Cleveland Airport Hotel, OH, was 2, now 3
-Le Méridien Chiang Mai, Thailand, was 2, now 3
-Le Méridien Ile Maurice, Mauritius, was 2, now 3

-Sheraton Agoura Hills, CA, was 3, now 4
-Four Points by Sheraton Los Angeles Westside, CA, was 3, now 4
-Four Points by Sheraton LAX, CA, was 3, now 4
-Westin Atlanta Perimeter North, GA, was 3, now 4
-Sheraton Chicago O’Hare Airport Hotel, IL, was 3, now 4
-Westin Kansas City at Crown Center, MO, was 3, now 4
-Sheraton Atlantic City Convention Center Hotel, NJ, was 3, now 4
-Aloft Cleveland Downtown, OH, was 3, now 4
-Le Méridien Bangkok, Thailand, was 3, now 4
-Westin Grande Sukhumvit, Bangkok, Thailand, was 3, now 4

-Westin LAX, CA, was 4, now 5
-Aloft San Francisco Airport, CA, was 4, now 5
-Westin San Diego, CA, was 4, now 5
-Westin Denver Downtown, CO, was 4, now 5
-Walt Disney World Swan, FL, was 4, now 5
-Aloft Chicago City Center, IL, was 4, now 5
-W Minneapolis – The Foshay, MN, was 4, now 5
-Sheraton Nashville Downtown Hotel, TN, was 4, now 5
-The Westin Bund Center Shanghai, China, was 4, now 5
-The Laguna, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Bali, Indonesia, was 4, now 5
-Le Méridien Vienna, Austria, was 4, now 5
-Sheraton Lake Como, Italy, was 4, now 5
-Sheraton Hacienda del Mar Resort, Los Cabos, Mexico, was 4, now 5

-Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa, HI, was 5, now 6
-Westin Maui Resort & Spa, Ka’anapali, HI, was 5, now 6
-Le Méridien San Francisco, CA, was 5, now 6
-Westin St. Francis San Francisco on Union Square, CA, was 5, now 6
-W Hollywood, CA, was 5, now 6
-Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa at Beaver Creek Mountain, CO, was 5, now 6
-W Washington D.C., was 5, now 6
-W New Orleans – French Quarter, MS, was 5, now 6
-Westin Copley Place, Boston, MA, was 5, now 6
-W Hoboken, NJ, was 5, now 6
-Westin New York Grand Central, NY, was 5, now 6
-Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort Villas&Spa, Cancun, Mexico, was 5, now 6
-The Park Lane Hotel, London, UK, was 5, now 6
-Great Northern Hotel, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, London, UK, was 5, now 6
-Westin Grand Cayman, was 5, now 6
-S. Regis Macau, was 5, now 6
-Westin Tokyo, Japan, was 5, now 6
-Westin Singapore, was 5, now 6
-W Seoul, South Korea, was 5, now 6
-Hotel Grande Bretagne, Luxury Collection, Athens, Greece, was 5, now 6
-Westin Palace, Milan, Italy, was 5, now 6
-Le Méridien Barcelona, Spain, was 5, now 6
-Hacienda Uayamon, Luxury Collection, Uayamon, Mexico, was 5, now 6
-Westin St. John Villas, Virgin Islands, was 5, now 6
-W Mexico City, was 5, now 6

-W Retreat & Spa Bali, Indonesia, was 6, now 7
-Suiran, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Kyoto, Japan, was 6, now 7

Sample hotels getting cheaper:
-Le Méridien N’Fis, Morocco, was 2, now 1

-Sheraton Eatontown Hotel, NJ, was 3, now 2
-Four Points by Sheraton Niagara Falls Fallsview, Canada, was 3, now 2
-Westin Bristol Place Toronto Airport, Canada, was 3, now 2
-Sheraton San Jose, Costa Rica, was 3, now 2

-Sheraton Mahwah Hotel, NJ, was 4, now 3
-Sheraton Baltimore Washington Airport Hotel – BWI, MD, was 4, now 3
-Westin Baltimore Washington Airport – BWI, MD, was 4, now 3
-Westin Prince, Toronto, Canada, was 4, now 3
-Sheraton Libertador Hotel, Buenos Aires, Argentina, was 4, now 3

-Four Points by Sheraton Miami Beach, FL, was 5, now 4
-Le Méridien Chicago – Oakbrook Center, IL, was 5, now 4
-Westin St. Louis, MO, was 5, now 4
-Westin Houston, Memorial City, TX, was 5, now 4
-W Istanbul, Turkey was 5, now 4

-St. Regis Bangkok, was 6, now 5
-Le Méridien Fisherman’s Cove, Seychelles, was 6, now 5
-Westin Athens Astir Palace Beach Resort, was 6, now 5

-Le Méridien Bora Bora, was 7, now 6
-S. Regis Istanbul, Turkey, was 7, now 6

Which hotel change will affect you the most?
Where will you be booking before 03/01 and where will you be booking after 03/01?
Hit the comments!

HT: yochiek93, via DDF

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Starwood Adds A 34th Airline Transfer Partner And It’s Excellent For Awards To Israel!

Thursday, December 10th, 2015

Starwood Mileage Transfer Linky

Effective immediately you can transfer Starpoints to Aegean, a member of the Star Alliance.

You can view the Aegean Star Alliance award chart here.

Aegean considers Israel to be part of Europe/North Africa, so you can book a one-way between North America and Europe (including Israel) for just 30K miles in coach, 45K miles in business, or 60K miles in first class!

And that means I’ll have to update the The Ultimate Israel Mileage Award Chart and the Getting To Israel Using Starwood Starpoints chart once again. Just yesterday I wrote about ANA and Singapore being the best options for using miles to fly United to Israel, but Aegean is even cheaper than them!

A flight within Europe/North Africa (including Israel) is just 12.5K miles in coach or 21K miles in business class each way.

Plus of course you get 25K miles for every 20K Starpoints transferred!

Aegean does not charge fuel surcharges to fly on Air Canada or United.

Aegean only charges 20 Euros to change or cancel an award ticket and there are no close-in fees.

You need to call Aegean to book awards on partner airlines.

Aegean miles expire after 24 months, but if you credit any Star Alliance flight to Aegean your points will be extended by another 24 months.

Want to pickup some Starpoints?

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

You can earn them on the Starwood Consumer AMEX and the Starwood Business AMEX. Aside from valuable Starpoints, they also provide 4pm late checkout and free premium internet at Starwood hotels. The business card also provides free lounge access at Sheraton hotels like the Sheraton Tel Aviv. They also provide free unlimited Boingo WiFi access worldwide.

You can learn all about Starwood and using Starpoints in this post. Note that Marriott is in the process of buying Starwood, though it will be quite a while before the loyalty programs can be merged. And the great thing about Starwood is that we can always bail and transfer our points into airline miles with a 25% bonus if we don’t like the details of the new program.

Curious about the 34 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 of 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), Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR), or Citibank Thank You (TY) points transfers to the airline as well.

OneWorld Alliance:
Air Berlin: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
American: 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, TY)
JAL: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
LAN: 20,000 Starpoints=37,500 kms (No other transfers)
Qatar: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (TY)

Skyteam Alliance:
AeroMexico: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR)
Air France/KLM Flying Blue: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR, TY)
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)
Korean: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (UR)
Saudia: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)

Star Alliance:
ANA: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR)
Aegean: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
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)
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, TY, UR)
Thai: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (TY)
United: 20,000 Starpoints=12,500 miles (UR)

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 (TY)
Gol/Varig Smiles: 20,000 Starpoints=12,500 miles (No other transfers)
Hainan: 20,000 Starpoints==25,000 miles (No other transfers)
Hawaiian: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR)
Jet Airways: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
Virgin Atlantic: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR, TY, UR)
Virgin Australia: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)

Points can also transfer to Amtrak at a 1:1 ratio. Amtrak rides on select routes are just 1,500 points in coach or 2,000 points in business. Within the Northeast corridor a ride is 4,000 points in coach, 6,500 points in business class, 8,000 points in Acela Express business class, or 12,000 points in Acela Express first class.  A private bedroom and bathroom with kosher meals from NYC-Miami would be just 12,500 points per adult. Note that Amtrak’s award chart will change on 01/24, see more in this post.

You can view the expiration policies for each transfer program here. Remember that points can only transfer from Starwood to an airline, they can never transfer from an airline to Starwood.

HT: Baglach, via DDF

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Will Hyatt Buy Starwood With Cash And Points And What Will That Mean For Mileage Junkies?

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

Yesterday the rumor was that several Chinese firms were in talks to buy Starwood. I didn’t have much to add to that, so I just briefly posted it in on DDF in the “Interesting Articles” thread.

Today the rumor is that Hyatt will buy Starwood and that a deal could be in place in less than a week,

“Hyatt Hotels is in talks to buy Starwood Hotels & Resorts in a deal that is said to be as little as a week away, sources told CNBC.

Under the cash and stock agreement, Hyatt management would retail control of the combined companies. Talks between the two companies have been going on for weeks.”

A cash and “points” redemption does seem apropos 😉

If the deal goes through it will have massive implications for mileage collectors. Some quick initial thoughts:

As Hyatt will be the acquirer it’s possible that their policies will become the future policies going forward.

But it’s more likely that we’ll see a hybrid of policies from both companies. Luckily there is more competition in the hotel industry than the airline industry, so I don’t see them picking the worst of both worlds as we saw happen in the Continental+United merger.

Undoubtedly we’d see a massive battle between AMEX and Chase for the rights to be the card issuer for the combined chain.

For the short term they may keep both issuers, but long-term they’ll likely pick just one. When American and USAirways merged Citi won the contract over Barclays, though Barclay cardholders still have grandfathered AA mileage earning credit cards. That’s not always the case though. When Delta and Northwest merged, USBank Northwest cardholders had their cards turned into FlexPerks cards.

When the banks pay more money to keep Hyatt though, it may increase the value that Hyatt gives to their points.

As it stands now Starwood Starpoints are more valuable than Hyatt points. That’s primarily because of the ability to transfer points into dozens of airlines at a 20K:25K ratio. But Starwood also offers 5 night free awards that are quite valuable as well.

Hyatt does have some advantages over Starwood though. Their ultra high-end hotels are far more affordable (the maximum rate is 30K points) than Starwood’s high-end hotels that can cost as much as 100K points for a night. Time will tell if Starwood’s high-end hotels become more affordable, if Hyatt’s high-end hotels get more expensive, or if they meet somewhere in the middle.

While Starwood used to have an awesome cash and points award chart, they devalued it a few years ago and now Hyatt’s cash and points award chart is more lucrative.

Hyatt’s top-tier elite program is more generous than Starwood’s thanks to suite upgrades that are confirmed at the time of booking and the ability to get a full breakfast, including a free catered kosher breakfast at many properties.

However Starwood has a far more attainable lifetime elite program (10 years Platinum and 500 nights for lifetime Platinum) than Hyatt does (10 years as a member and $200,000 spent in Hyatt hotels.)  Which program will win out and how will those vastly different requirements be merged?

Mergers are rarely good for consumers. But I’m cautiously optimistic as Jeff Zidell, head of Hyatt’s Gold Passport program, has generally proven to understand that brand loyalty is a 2-way street. Hopefully he will manage to combine at least some of the best features that both programs bring to the table as cherry-picking the bad or just implementing Hyatt’s policies will just cause loyal elites to head for the exits.

Even if there are devaluations to the airline transfer program, there will almost certainly be a warning beforehand so that you will be able to transfer Starpoints into airline miles at their current favorable ratios.

What are your thoughts on the potential Hyatt takeover of Starwood? Hit the comments!

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Extend The Life Of Your Starpoints With 150 Free Starpoints

Friday, October 9th, 2015

Related post: Mileage Expiration And Points Transfer Chart For 55 Loyalty Programs, How To Keep Your Points From Expiring, And How To Bring Them Back To Life After They’ve Expired
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An official Starwood rep writes that you can earn 150 Starpoints by just filling out 3 security questions via this link.

This promotion is valid through 10/31 and the points will post by the end of November.

It’s only valid for Starwood accounts that were opened before today.

While earning 150 points today I noticed that the 200 free Starpoints from this promotion have already posted to my account, so if you haven’t done that yet take a look at that post as well.

HT: benjie1305 via DDF and Gary.

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Extend The Life Of Your Starpoints With 200 Free Starpoints

Friday, September 25th, 2015

Related post: Mileage Expiration And Points Transfer Chart For 55 Loyalty Programs, How To Keep Your Points From Expiring, And How To Bring Them Back To Life After They’ve Expired
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Step 1: Login via this link and if you are subscribed to Starwood Preferred Guest E-statements you’ll need to click to unsubscribe from them and save the changes.

Step 2: Logout of your account.

Step 3: Login via this link and scroll down to subscribe to SPG E-statements and get 200 Starpoints.

“Bonus Starpoints can take up to 2 to 4 weeks to post to your account after confirmation that you have successfully subscribed.”

HT: mdrills, via DDF

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It’s Back: 30,000 Starpoints Signup Bonus On Both The Starwood Consumer And Business AMEX Cards! Plus: New Benefits For Existing Cardholders!

Saturday, September 12th, 2015

Update: Offer expired!
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Originally posted on 08/11:

Related posts:
-Building Credit And Credit Card FAQs: Your Questions Answered
The Ultimate Israel Mileage Award Chart

Getting To Israel Using Starwood Starpoints
American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.
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-Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

-Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express

This is a limited time offer scheduled to run until 09/14.  It offers 20% more points than the standard offer and there has never been a better public offer for this card.

For the consumer card you will get 30,000 bonus Starpoints after spending $3,000 within 3 months. The consumer offer is for first time Starwood consumer cardholder’s only.

For the business card you will get 30,000 bonus Starpoints after spending $5,000 within 3 months. The business offer is available as long as you haven’t had a Starwood business card in the past 12 months.

The $95 annual fee is waived for the first year on both cards.

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Spending on the Starwood card:

The Starwood card remains a very good card for general spending. Best of all, as of 08/11 there are no longer any foreign transaction fees on the Starwood card!

While other cards have better bonus categories, the Starwood card is strong for general spending as Starpoints continue to be the most valuable mileage currency thanks to valuable hotel usage and the 25% bonus for transfers into dozens of airlines.

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 4.4% rebate at a value of roughly 2.2 cents per Starpoint. It earns 1 Starpoint per dollar everywhere else, or a 2.2% rebate.  There are thousands of uses for Starpoints, some of which have been over 50 cents each for me, but I aim for a minimum value of about 2.2 cents per point and am happy when I’m able to exceed that level.

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American Express Benefits:

The card also carries American Express’ awesome top-notch protections that are light-years better than any other banks. Most 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 up to $300 they will gladly refund you. Most of the time you’ll be able to keep the item, but if you do need to send it back the return shipping will be free.
-You get an additional year of warranty coverage and if you have any issue in the extended warranty year they’ll pay to have it fixed or refund your entire purchase price without a hassle.
-If you need to dispute a charge there’s nobody who makes it easier or as pain-free as American Express does. It’s the best in the industry by leaps and bounds and you can do it all online.
-If your item is stolen or broken within 90 days you’ll be covered.

See this post to see just how amazing AMEX benefits can be.
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Annual fee: Making it pay for itself.

There’s no fee on the Starwood card for the first year and $95 thereafter though you can often get bonus points or account credits for keeping it open for additional years. If you cancel a card within 60 days of being charged the fee on your statement 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, AMEX Offers/Twitter offers, and other promotions that American Express runs all year long such as AMEX Express Checkout. Up to 99 additional cardholders are free on the Starwood card, and each one qualifies for their own promotion credits! 9 months later and we still haven’t spent through all of our prepaid credit at my local pizza shop or grocery stores thanks to SBS.  And it will be quite a while before we finish our collection of free diapers and wipes.

You can also always downgrade the card to a card with no annual fee.

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Spending $3K or $5K in 3 months:

With cards like Bluebird, Serve, and REDcard, it’s not hard to hit a spend threshold.

You can buy gift cards with your Starwood card and then cash out the gift cards with Bluebird, Serve, or REDcard.

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Business cards and Open Savings:

With the Starwood business card you will get Starpoints AND automatic cash back on purchases from these select retailers with Open Savings.  That means an additional 5% off at HP, Hertz, Hyatt, Barnes & Noble online, and Fedex.

In other words if you use your Starwood business card at a participating Hyatt hotel you’ll earn 1 Starpoint per dollar spend plus 5% cash back.  That’s better than the triple points that the Hyatt card awards for Hyatt spending!

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. On a personal card you should pay off your spending before the statement is even printed so that you don’t cost yourself points on your credit score. On a business card that’s not necessary and the spending isn’t reported as long as you pay your bills.

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.
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Sheraton Club Lounge Access:

Effective 08/11, with the Starwood business card you will get free club lounge access when staying at Sheraton hotels.

There have been rave reviews of the Sheraton Club lounge in Tel Aviv for example.  If you have a Starwood business card you’ll get free access to it and its free food, beverages, and sweeping view of the Mediterranean Sea. A free night at the Sheraton Tel Aviv is 12K points, 6K points+$110, or 9.6K points per night on a 5 night stay.

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Premium Internet Access:

Effective 08/11 with either Starwood card you will get free premium in-room internet at Starwood hotels. All SPG guests get free internet, but cardholders will now get the faster version for free.

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Unlimited worldwide Boingo WiFi:

Effective 08/11 with either Starwood card you will get free unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi worldwide, perfect for avoiding confiscatory rates at airports when traveling.  Search from over 1 million hot-spots here.

Enroll for free Boingo access here.

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Elite Status and Crossover benefits with Delta and Uber:

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 get upgraded to preferred rooms.

If you spend $30,000 in a year on either Starwood card you earn Gold status.  Gold status gets you more points per dollar spent at SPG hotels and a 250 point amenity on stays, even when redeeming points.  You can also get gold status for free with no spending requirement by opening The Platinum Card® from American Express or the The Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN

When you have the Starwood card you also get 5 elite qualifying nights and 2 stays for each Starwood card that you have that count towards earning Gold or Platinum status!

Starwood Gold and Platinum elites can also register here to earn Starpoints on Delta flights on top of the regular Delta miles in addition to other benefits while Delta elites can get benefits at SPG hotels.

And all members can earn bonus Starpoints for Uber rides as well after making a single SPG stay.

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Using Starpoints:

Points are deposited directly into your Starwood account, so you do not lose your points if you cancel your card like you would with American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards points, or Citibank ThankYou points.  You do need to maintain some activity in your Starwood account every 18 months to keep it active, though Starwood is very good about reactivating accounts that have been closed due to inactivity.

Award nights count towards elite status. Gold members receive 250 points back and Platinum members receive 500 points back per stay.

How can you use your points?

1. Hotel award nights with no blackouts or capacity controls. If a standard room is for sale you can use points to book it:

spg2

 

 

 

 

 

2. If you book 5 consecutive hotel award nights at category 3-7 hotels then the 5th night will be free:

spg3

 

 

 

 

 

For example:
-5 nights at the category 7 blinged out S. Regis Bal Harbour is 120,000 points, still that’s not a bad value when you consider that the cheapest rooms during peak season go for more than $1,000 per night.
-At the category 6 ultra-modern W Hong Kong with a 76th floor rooftop infinity pool or at the breathtaking Westin Venice would cost 80,000 points.
-5 nights at the category 5 Westin Maui, Sheraton Kauai, W Hollywood, or the highly rated Sheraton Tel Aviv will be 48,000 points.
-5 nights at the category 4 Sheraton Big Island of Hawaii or Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort will be 40,000 points.
-5 nights at the category 3 Sheraton Agoura Hills (great base for eating out at Tierra Sur, arguably the best kosher restaurant in the world) would set you back 28,000 points.
-The fantastic category 2 Le Meridien Chiang Mai Thailand would set you back just 3K points over an awesome Shabbos at the nearby Chabad House.
-A night at the category 1 Aloft S. Jose Costa Rica starts at just 2,000 points.

Click on the category links to explore other hotels that can be obtained for those rates.

 

3. Cash and points allows you stretch your points when reserving a standard room, upgraded room, or suite:

spg4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starwood’s cash and points chart make expensive hotel stays cheap. Take the Sheraton at my hometown Cleveland airport for example. The rate there for tonight is $219+tax=$260. Using Starpoints you can either pay 4,000 points for a value of 6.5 cents per Starpoint. With cash and points a category 2 hotel would be 2,000 points and $35 cash for a value of 11.3 cents per Starpoint! A weekend night is just 3,000 points.

4. Nights and Flights allow you to combine a 5 night hotel stay and get 50,000 miles for less than the cost of booking a 5 night stay and transferring points separately:

spg5

 

In other words you can stay 5 nights at a category 4 hotel like the Sheraton Big Island of Hawaii or Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort and get 50,000 miles transferred into the airline of your choice for just 70,000 Starpoints.

When done separately that 5 night stay would cost 40,000 Starpoints and the airline transfer would cost 40,000 Starpoints.

5. SPG Moments allows you to  purchase or bid on once-in-a-lifetime experiences with Starpoints.

Throw out the first pitch at a ballgame, watch the game from a suite, etc. Starwood will even cater their suite with kosher food upon request with no additional charge! People have done that at the US Open, Cubs, Knicks, Rangers, and more games.

6. Keep your eyes peeled for promotions like this 50% off promotion where I spent 5 nights in the S. Regis Bal Harbour for just 48,000 points.

You can currently save 35% off at select resorts.

7. Of course you can transfer your Starpoints into miles with dozens of airlines at great ratios. 20,000 Starpoints becomes 25,000 miles on dozens of airlines thanks to the 25% bonus.

Airlines also often incentivize transfers, like American is doing now by offering a 50% bonus for transfers to them through 08/31.  Air Canada and United are also currently offering promotions.

Curious about the 33 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 of 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), Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR), or Citibank Thank You (TY) points transfers to the airline as well.

OneWorld Alliance:
Air Berlin: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
American: 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, TY)
JAL: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
LAN: 20,000 Starpoints=37,500 kms (No other transfers)
Qatar: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (TY)

Skyteam Alliance:
AeroMexico: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR)
Air France/KLM Flying Blue: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR, TY)
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)
Korean: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (UR)
Saudia: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)

Star Alliance:
ANA: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR)
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)
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, TY, UR)
Thai: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (TY)
United: 20,000 Starpoints=12,500 miles (UR)

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 (TY)
Gol/Varig Smiles: 20,000 Starpoints=12,500 miles (No other transfers)
Hainan: 20,000 Starpoints==25,000 miles (No other transfers)
Hawaiian: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR)
Jet Airways: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
Virgin Atlantic: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR, TY, UR)
Virgin Australia: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)

Points can also transfer to Amtrak at a 1:1 ratio. Amtrak rides on select routes are just 1,500 points in coach or 2,000 points in business. Within the Northeast corridor a ride is 4,000 points in coach, 6,500 points in business class, 8,000 points in Acela Express business class, or 12,000 points in Acela Express first class.  A private bedroom and bathroom with kosher meals from NYC-Miami would be just 12,500 points per adult. More about these options in this post.

You can view the expiration policies for each transfer program here. Remember that points can only transfer from Starwood to an airline, they can never transfer from an airline to Starwood.

I don’t recommend using the SPG Flights or the SPG Merchandise/Gift Card programs as the value per point is way too low.

How do you normally redeem your Starpoints? Hit the comments!

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Save 35% On Select Starwood Resort Award Redemptions!

Thursday, September 10th, 2015

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

Earn Starpoints on the Starwood Consumer AMEX and the Starwood Business AMEX.
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Starwood is running a promotion that is discounting select ultra-premium resorts by 35%.

This promotion runs through 03/08/16.

These resorts fall above the top end of normal SPG hotels and are normally prohibitively expensive. They’re still very pricey, but it’s somewhat more reasonable with this recurring promo. This year the S. Regis Bora Bora joins the 35% off list.

Eligible SPG resorts:
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.
The S. Regis Bora Bora Resort Normally 90K/night. Now 58,500K/night or 46,800/night if you stay for 5 nights.
W Retreat, Koh Samui, Thailand. Normally 40K/night. Now 26K/night or 20,800/night if you stay for 5 nights.
The Naka Island, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Phuket, Thailand. Normally 40K/night. Now 26K/night or 20,800/night if you stay for 5 nights.
Vana Belle, a Luxury Collection Resort, Koh Samui, Thailand. 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.

You’ll need to call SPG to book these at the promo rate.

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.

When I last checked the prices for a confirmed upgrade to an overwater bungalow with a private plunge pool the W Maldives wanted $180/night.

The Le Meridien Bora Bora wanted $220/night when I last checked the price of a confirmed upgrade to an overwater bungalow. However they also said via email that as a Platinum member if there were any overwater bungalows for sale on the day of checkin they would refund the entire confirmed upgrade fee!

HT: lucky

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Getting To Israel Using Starwood Starpoints

Thursday, September 10th, 2015

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

-Earn Starpoints on the Starwood Consumer AMEX and the Starwood Business AMEXYou 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. With a Starwood business card you’ll even get free lounge access and meals at the Sheraton Tel Aviv! 
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Related post: The Ultimate Israel Mileage Award Chart
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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 nights or transfer points into the mileage programs of 33 different airlines with a 25% transfer bonus. 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 plus a 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 an SPG.com account. Click here to transfer Starpoints into airline miles. Note that transfers can take a few days to complete.

The rates in this post are for flights from NYC to Tel Aviv unless otherwise noted.
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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 (if not more often) 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 month 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. For example AA.com won’t show Iberia flights, BA.com won’t show Aer Lingus flights, United.com won’t show Singapore flights, etc.

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.

Air Berlin is one of the least expensive ways to get to Tel Aviv using British Airways Avios due to lack of fuel surcharges. If you are willing to stopover for a night in Berlin, Dusseldorf, or Munich then you will greatly increase the available award space. Search for nonstops from NYC to Berlin or Dusseldorf on AA.com as described here and then for nonstops from Berlin, Dusseldorf, or Munich to Tel Aviv. Then call BA to piece them together onto one itinerary. Even with a stopover the one-way cost will still be ust 30K Avios.

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. For example be willing to use Avios to get to Toronto and then use United miles to fly from Toronto-Tel Aviv, etc. 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 also 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. United still has free stopovers. You can fly NYC-Tel Aviv-NYC and then stopover in NYC for up to a year before continuing on to say, Anchorage, Los Angeles, or Miami 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 that can be booked via Starpoints:
-Air Canada from Toronto (bookable via Star Alliance airlines)
-United from Newark (bookable via Star Alliance airlines)
-Delta from JFK (bookable via Skyteam airlines)
-American from Philadelphia (bookable via OneWorld airlines). This route ends 01/04/16.
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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. Air Canada flies the 787 dreamliner to Israel with one of the best business classes between North America and Israel.

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.comAeroplan.com, and ANA.co.jp. You’ll need create an account and login to use Aeroplan or ANA’s award search.

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Note that Starpoint rates listed below 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).

Rates listed below are for round-trip travel!

 

Using ANA miles, from 52,000 Starpoints.
-Miles required: 65K coach, 104K business, 195K first.
-Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 ANA miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means 52,000 Starpoints in coach, 83,200 Starpoints in business, or 156,000 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: Not allowed.
-Online partner airline award booking: Yes.
-Stopovers: 1 allowed.
-Changes/Cancellation: ANA allows free date changes. 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 India, Air New Zealand, Avianca, Brussels, COPA, Croatia, EVA, EgyptAir, Ethiopian, SAS, Singapore, South African, Swiss, Turkish, and United. Minimal fuel surcharges for LOT.
-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.
-Online partner airline award booking: Yes.
-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 Singapore 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, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Citi ThankYou 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.
-Online partner airline award booking: No, phone only.
-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 JFK to Frankfurt in business or first(suites) 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 Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 Lufthansa miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means rates starting at 48K Starpoints in coach, 84K Starpoints in business, or 136K Starpoints in first.
-Fuel surcharges: Apply on all airlines except LOT.
-Mileage expiration: Miles expire 36 months after they are earned regardless of activity unless you have a Lufthansa credit card.
-One-way awards: Allowed for half the amount of a round-trip.
-Online partner airline award booking: No, phone only.
-Stopovers: 2 free stopovers and 2 open jaws allowed on a round-trip.
-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:

Until 01/04/16, Oneworld has a nonstop option between North America and Israel on American from Philadelphia to Tel Aviv. Other flights to Israel include Air Berlin via Berlin, Dusseldorf, or Munich, BA via London, Finnair via Helsinki, Iberia via Madrid, Air Niki via Vienna, and Royal Jordanian via Amman. BA availability is good, but has high fuel surcharges.

You can check OneWorld availability on incomplete sites such as AA.comBA.com, and Qantas.com. You’ll need create an account and login to use BA’s or Qantas’ award search.

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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 the direct flight from North America or peak via Europe, 135K business, 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.
-Online partner airline award booking: Some partner airline awards must be booked over the phone.
-Stopovers: 2 allowed on a round-trip via Europe off peak at the same 80K rate. Stopovers via Europe during peak season add 5K miles each. See the footnotes in this post for more.
-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.

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Using BA Avios, from 44.8K Starpoints
-Avios required: 56K coach on British Airways off-peak, 60K coach on Air Berlin and on American, 65K coach on other carriers, 140K business on Air Berlin, 162.5K business on British Airways off-peak, 180K business on American, 221K first on British Airways off-peak, 260K first on British Airways peak
-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 rates starting at 44,800 Starpoints in coach, 112,000 Starpoints in business, or 176,800 Starpoints in first.
-Fuel surcharges: Apply for all Trans-Atlantic flights except on Air Berlin and Aer Lingus.
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.
-Online partner airline award booking: Some partners, like Aer Lingus and Alaska, are bookable via the phone only.
-Stopovers: Each leg costs additional mileage, but you can stopover at any connection city for as long as you want.
-Changes/Cancellation: $55.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: None
-Infant fees: Instead of cash, BA charges just 10% of the adult mileage required on international segments.
-More info in this post.

 

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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: Apply on most airlines, but not on American.
-Mileage expiration: 3 years after they are earned regardless of activity.
-One-way awards: Allowed for half the amount of a round-trip.
-Online partner airline award booking: Some partners can be booked online, others are phone-only.
-Stopovers: 2 stopovers allowed.
-Changes/Cancellation: JAL allows free date changes. Other changes or cancellation results in a $25 penalty.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: None
-Infant fees: 10% of full fare.

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Using LAN kilometers, from 53.3K Starpoints
-Miles required: PHL-TLV: 100K coach/200K business, JFK-AMM-TLV: 112K coach/224K business, JFK-LHR-TLV: 154K coach/308K business/385K first.
Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=37,500 LAN kilometers. At a 1:1.875 ratio this means rates starting at 53.3K Starpoints in coach, 106.6K Starpoints in business, or 205.3K Starpoints in first.
-Fuel surcharges: None. LAN is the only airline with no fuel surcharges on BA awards.
-Mileage expiration: 3 years after they are earned unless you fly on a paid LAN flight.
-One-way awards: Not allowed
-Online partner airline award booking: Some partners can be booked online, others are phone-only.
-Stopovers: Each leg costs additional mileage, but you can stopover at any connection city for as long as you want.
-Changes/Cancellation: Changes are $75 or $150 within 21 days. Cancellation is $125 or $300 within 21 days.
-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 Paris, Aeroflot via Moscow, and Alitalia via Rome.

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Using Alitalia miles, from 40,000 Starpoints.
-Miles Required: 50K coach, 80K business.
Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 Alitalia miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means 40K Starpoints in coach or 64K Starpoints in business.
-Other transfer partners: AMEX Membership Rewards partner at a 1:1 ratio
-Fuel surcharges: Apply on most airlines.
-Mileage expiration: All miles earned through 12/31/15 will expire on 06/30/16.
-One-way awards: Not allowed.
-Online partner airline award booking: Partner awards must be booked over the phone, book awards during business hours in Italy to reach competent reps.
-Stopovers: 1 allowed.
-Changes/Cancellation: Date changes are free, other changes incur a 5,000 mile or 55 Euro penalty. Cancellation is not allowed.
-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-170K coach, 140K-350K business.
Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 Delta miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means 64,000-136,000 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: Allowed for half the amount of a round-trip.
-Online partner airline award booking: Some partners can be booked online, others are phone-only.
-Stopovers: Not allowed.
-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.

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Using Flying Blue (Air France/KLM) miles, from 20,000 Starpoints
-Miles Required: 25K-37.5K coach during a promo period, 50K coach otherwise, 62.5K-93,750 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 rates starting at 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 and Citi ThankYou 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.
-Online partner airline award booking: Yes
-Stopovers: Flying Blue allows for 1 free stopover.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: None.
-Infant fees: 10% of full fare.
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Summary:

Rates listed in this post are in Starpoints and 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, be sure to search for availability to see which transfer you should do!

Star Alliance:
-For Star Alliance travel, transfer points (from 52K) to ANA (fuel surcharges apply except on United)
-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 business or first class via Frankfurt, transfer points (from 60K) to Singapore (fuel surcharges apply)
-For travel on Lufthansa or Swiss business or first class via Frankfurt, transfer points (from 48K) to Lufthansa (fuel surcharges apply)
-For other business class travel transfer points (From 83.2K) to ANA (fuel surcharges apply except on United)
-For first class travel transfer points (From 120K) to Singapore (fuel surcharges apply except on United)

OneWorld:
-For OneWorld travel, transfer points (from 40K) to JAL (fuel surcharges apply except on American)
-For Air Berlin travel, transfer points (from 48K) to BA (no fuel surcharges)
-For OneWorld travel, transfer points (from 64K) to American (no fuel surcharges except on BA)
-For BA travel transfer points to LAN (from 53.3K) (no fuel surcharges)
-For business class travel transfer points (From 64K) to JAL (fuel surcharges apply except on American)

Skyteam:
-For Skyteam travel transfer points (from 40K) to Flying Blue (fuel surcharges apply except on Delta)
-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, transfer points (From 20K) to Flying Blue (fuel surcharges apply)
-For business class travel transfer points (From 64K) to Alitalia (fuel surcharges apply)

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Transfer 20K Starwood Starpoints Into 30K American AAdvantage Miles

Sunday, August 30th, 2015

Update: Transfers for this offer must be initiated by tomorrow!

Originally posted on 07/01:

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser. Earn Starpoints with the Starwood Consumer AMEX or the Starwood Business AMEX

Starwood-American Transfer Bonus Details Linky

Starwood Airline Miles Transfer Linky

From today through 08/31 you can get 30K AA miles (instead of the standard 25K miles) for every 20K Starpoints that you transfer.
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The Starwood-AA transfer bonus in June 2010 gives some perspective on what’s happened in the past 5 years, I mentioned in that post that:
-US Mint coins are a great way to meet the spend threshold on the Starwood card (Indeed I wound up churning so much money that the US mint sent me a nastygram to knock it off)
-American has an awesome round-the-world award chart (Mimi and I would wind up going on a monthlong round-the-world adventure later that year, while she was 3 months pregnant with Rafi)
-You could earn American lifetime elite status with Starwood transfers (Mimi and I both wound up earning lifetime Platinum status)
All 3 of those those options are long gone though…
I also wrote that the deal was emailed out to “2,318 DansDeals Facebook members” and “761 DansDeals Twitter followers.” There are now over 20K Facebook members who talk about pretty much anything under the sun but no longer get emails of deal alerts and there are now 58K(!) Twitter followers who can get a text message every time a deal is posted.
Thanks for following!
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The current promotion offers a 20% bonus that’s fulfilled by American which stacks on top of the 25% bonus that Starwood always offers for making transfers in 20K increments.  When you transfer Starpoints to American it will only say that you’ll get 25K American miles, as the remaining 5K if added by American.

There’s no minimum or maximum on this offer, but it’s always wise to transfer Starpoints in increments of 20K and the most you can transfer in one day to maximize that is 60K Starpoints, which would net 90K AA miles. You can make 1 transfer per day.

-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, though if you are changing the address on one of the accounts you’ll have to wait 30 days before transferring Starpoints to someone else’s Starwood account.

-The 20% bonus miles fulfilled by American will be posted within 7 business days after the initial conversion activity has been posted by Starwood Preferred Guest. The initial transfer usually takes a couple of days.  You can hold an AA award for 5 days which is enough time for the transfer to process.

-You are able to do a Starwood Nights and Flights redemption for 60K Starpoints in exchange for 60K AA miles and 5 nights in a category 3 property (normally 40K+28K Starpoints), or 70K Starpoints in exchange for 60K AA miles and 5 nights in a category 4 property (normally 40K+40K Starpoints).

American has an excellent award chart. It’s so much better than their competition’s award charts that you can’t help but wonder when the devaluation will come…

For the time being you can enjoy awesome one-way values from the US48/Canada like:
-12.5K to Alaska (17.5K on United)
-12.5K to the Caribbean and Mexico during off-peak times (17.5K on United)
-17.5K to Hawaii during off-peak times (22.5K on United)
-20K to South America during off-peak times (30K on United)
-20K to Europe during off-peak times (30K on United)
-25K to Japan/Korea during off-peak times (35K on United)
-55K business class to Hong Kong (70K-80K on United)
-67.5K first class to China (80K-120K on United)

From Israel there are many bargains as well, some examples include:
-25K to the Maldives in business (35K on United)
-30K to Thailand in business (60K on United)
-45K to Australia in business (60K on United)

You can also save another 10% on awards (up to a 10K rebate per year) with an AAdvantage credit card. The card also offers up to 7.5K off round-trip awards to rotating destinations.

Now there are some caveats to all that. In some cases, especially within North America on nonstop flights, it will be cheaper to use BA Avios. An American flight that might cost 12.5K AA miles can be had for as little as 4.5K Avios. Plus there are no close-in fees and cancellations are as little as $5.60 with Avios.

United may be pricier in most cases, but they have more partner airlines which makes for generally better availability, never charge a fuel surcharge (American collects a big one for travel on British Airways), allows for a free stopover on round-trip tickets (American doesn’t allow any), and allows you to connect pretty much anywhere you want (American is very strict about where you can connect, so forget about connecting in Asia on the way to Australia with American).

Still, with the right award in mind, it can definitely make sense to make a transfer from Starwood to American.  It’s worth noting that many AAdvantage partner awards (such as on like Air Tahiti Nui, Cathay Pacific, Etihad, and JAL) can only be booked by calling American to hold or book them.

HT: Moishebatchy, via DDF

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Starwood Adds 33rd Airline Transfer Partner!

Monday, August 17th, 2015

Related:
American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

-Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

-Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Card from American Express
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The unique value of Starpoints is found in their versatility. Sure, they’re excellent for staying in Starwood hotels. And you can do awesome things with them like get a suite loaded with kosher food at Wrigley Field, Madison Square Garden, the US Open, etc. But they’re the only currency that transfers into airline miles at a permanent favorable ratio of 20K:25K. And you have a plethora of airlines to choose from including programs like American and Alaska that don’t participate in other major point transfer programs from AMEX, Citi, or Chase.

Today Starwood announced that Korean Airlines will be their 33rd airline transfer option. Currently Chase points transfer to Korean at a 1:1 ratio and now Starwood will as well with a 20K:25K ratio.

Korean has lots of positive things going for it:
-There are no close-in fees, no fees to change an award, and no fees to cancel an award and redeposit the miles.
-They have the best first class award availability of any foreign carrier and it’s very good. I reviewed it here.
A Korean First Class Kosmo Sleeper Class Suite between North America and Asia or between Tel Aviv and Asia is just 80,000 miles one-way, so you can fly all the way to Tel Aviv the long way in the only true international first class option the whole way from US to Tel Aviv. They serve delicious Hermolis kosher meals out of Asia and have a open self-service bar on the A380 with top-shelf drinks.
If you do stopover in Seoul (and take a tour of the DMZ) you can stay at the very highly rated Park Hyatt with your Chase points for just 20K points of 10K+$125 per night.
-They allow you to hold Korean award seats until 2 days before the flight.
-Korean miles don’t expire for 10 years.
-A round-trip flight from the US48 to Alaska on Alaska Air is just 20K miles in coach or 40K miles in first class with a free stopover.
-A round-trip flight from the US48 to Hawaii on Delta is just 25K miles in coach or 45K miles in first class with a free stopover.
-A round-trip flight from the US48 to Hawaii on Alaska or Hawaiian is just 30K miles in coach or 60K miles in first class with a free stopover if flying on Alaska.
-A round-trip flight from the US48 to Tahiti on Air France is just 60K miles in coach or 90K miles in business class.
-A round-trip flight from the Sydney to Auckland in a first class suite on an Emirates A380 with a shower spa onboard is just 75K miles.

HT: benjie1305, via DDF

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Earn A Systemwide Sheraton Free Weekend Night For Every 5 Paid Nights

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

Related: Roundup Of Changes To Premier Rewards Gold And Starwood Consumer And Business Cards
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Sheraton Offer Registration Linky

-Register by 09/15.
-Stay 5 paid nights at Sheraton hotels through 09/30/15 and earn a free weekend night at any Sheraton in the world.
-Paid nights must be booked on SPG.com.
-Promotion only valid at Sheraton, not at Four Points by Sheraton or any other Starwood hotel brand.
-Nights do not need to be consecutive.
-You can earn up to 3 free nights per SPG account.
-Free nights will be credited within 2-4 weeks of earning them.
-Free weekend nights are valid on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday night except in the Middle East, where it is Thursday, Friday, or Saturday.
-Free weekend nights expire 12/13/15.
-This promotion is stackable with other Starwood promotions such as Make It Count.

In other words 5 nights at an inexpensive Sheraton hotel can earn you a free night that will work in Hawaii, the Maldives, etc.

It’s definitely no Hyatt Faster Free nights that I got to take advantage of for so many years, but it’s better than nothing!

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2 New Starwood Options Come To South Beach

Sunday, March 8th, 2015

Update: Starwood has changed The Royal Palm from a category 5 to a category 6.
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Currently the only Starwood hotel in South Beach is the category 7 W Hotel.

The Royal Palm Miami-South Beach joins Starwood tomorrow as part of the SPG Luxury Collection.

While the lowest paid rate for tomorrow night is $559+tax=$657, it is just a category 5 property, so you can redeem just 12,000 Starpoints for the room. On a 5 night stay it would be just 9.6K Starpoints per night.

It’s located on 15th and Collins, just half a block from the Hyatt Centric South Beach that will be opening within the next few months.

Unlike the Hyatt, the Royal Palm is located on the ocean side of Collins Avenue.

The Aloft South Beach is accepting reservations beginning June 11th.

It too will be a category 5 property, however it will not be on the ocean side of Collins.  On June 11th the lowest rate for a room there is $309+tax=$349.

Always good to have more points accepting hotels in Miami Beach!

HT: harrym, via DDF and PMM

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Starwood 2015 Annual Category Changes

Sunday, March 8th, 2015

Update: Categories will change at midnight on 03/10 local hotel time. Book now to lock in lower prices on hotels going up or rebook existing reservations on 03/10 to save on hotels that are going down!

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Originally posted on 03/08:

Read about previous category changes:
Starwood 2014 Annual Category Changes
Starwood 2013 Category Changes
Starwood 2012 Category Changes
2011 Starwood Category Adjustments
-2010 had no Starwood category changes
2009 Starwood Category Adjustments
2008 Starwood Category Adjustments
Starwood 2007 Changes: Launch Of Worldwide Cash+Points Awards (The good old days of Starwood in Israel)
American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

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Starwood 2015 Complete List Of Annual Category Changes

Earn Starpoints on the Starwood Consumer American Express and on the Starwood Business American Express.

Book stays before 03/10 local hotel time to lock in current rates for future stays at hotels that are going up.  Almost all hotel stays are cancellable for free until a certain amount of time before the stay (read the fine print).  If you have a reservation at a hotel that is going down then just cancel and rebook the stay on 03/10 when this year’s category changes go into effect.

Just over 10.5% of SPG hotels will become more expensive and 11.8% of SPG hotels will get less expensive when redeeming points.

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 at category 3-7 hotels the 5th night will be 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.

Overall changes are pretty good this year. Some favorites, like the Westin Lagunamar Cancun, jump from 4 to 5.
However lots of other popular hotels get more affordable, including all of the SPG properties in Maui.

Sample hotels going more expensive:
-W Retreat Koh Samui, Thailand, was 6, now 7.
-Le Parker Méridien Palm Springs, was 5, now 6.
-The Phoenician, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Scottsdale, was 5, now 6.
-W Boston, was 5, now 6.
-The Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort Villas & Spa, Cancun, was 4, now 5.
-W San Diego, was 4, now 5.
-Sheraton Old San Juan Hotel & Casino, was 3, now 4.
-Sheraton Gateway LAX, was 3, now 4.
-The Westin Cleveland Downtown, was 3, now 4.
-The Westin O’Hare, was 3, now 4.

Sample hotels getting cheaper:
-W Paris, was 7, now 6.
-S. Regis Rome, was 7, now 6
-Vedema, a Luxury Collection Resort, Santorini, Greece, was 7, now 6.
-Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas Maui, was 7, now 6.
-Sheraton Steamboat Resort Villas, Colorado, was 7, now 6.
-Westin Maui Resort & Spa, Ka’anapali, was 6, now 5.
-Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa, was 6, now 5.
-Westin Riverfront Mountain Villas, Beaver Creek Mountain, was 6, now 5.
-Hotel Grande Bretagne, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Athens, was 6, now 5.
-Le Méridien Taipei, Taiwan, was 6, now 5.
-Hotel Excelsior, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Naples, Italy, was 5, now 4.
-Le Méridien Vienna, Austria, was 5, now 4.
-Sheraton Towers Singapore, was 5, now 4.
-Le Westin Montreal, was 5, now 4.
-Westin Los Angeles Airport, was 4, now 3.
-Sheraton Mahwah Hotel, was 4, now 3.
-Sheraton Langkawi Beach Resort, Malaysia, was 4, now 3.
-Sheraton Rome, was 3, now 2.
-Sheraton London Heathrow Hotel, was 3, now 2.
-Aloft Montreal Airport, was 3, now 2.
-Element Vaughan, Toronto, was 3, now 2.
-Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel, was 3, now 2.
-Aloft Panama, was 3, now 2.
-Aloft BWI Airport, was 3, now 2.
-Four Points by Sheraton Detroit Airport, was 2, now 1.
-Aloft San Jose Hotel, Costa Rica, was 2, now 1.

HT: Deal Guy, via DDF

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Ride Uber, Earn Starpoints!

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

Uber is a pretty awesome app. I’ve done day trips to cities like Chicago and NYC without having to rent a car thanks to UberX rides that are cheaper than a taxi and far more convenient. And while people wait for an hour in the taxi line I breeze right into a waiting car.

You can get a free $20 Uber ride via this referral link.

Uber is also fantastic for food delivery. Stuck in Miami airport during a delay or connection with no kosher food? Make an order with a restaurant on 41st st in Miami Beach and pay for it over the phone.  Just confirm with them that you’ll be using Uber and ask if they can bring it out to the Uber driver when you call them back.
When the food is ready just have Uber go to the restaurant address and text or call the Uber driver to let him know what you’re trying to do. When the driver is at the restaurant just call the restaurant and have them bring the food out to the driver.  Food delivered from Shemtovs, House of Dog, or Miami Beach Chocolates to the airport will run you just $15 (free for new Uber users). I’ve done that flawlessly in Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, and NYC.

My grandparents just flew in from Florida for my youngest brother’s bar mitzvah this past weekend.  They got a ride in a UberX Cadillac XTS from Cleveland airport to their snowy Cleveland home for $30, half the price of local car services.  From Fort Lauderdale to their home in Boynton Beach they got a ride in a Lincoln MKS. It was rush hour and the 36 mile ride took an hour and 12 minutes, but the ride cost just $45, also a fraction of the price of a taxi or local car services.

It gets sweeter. Now you can link your Starwood account with your Uber account to earn Starpoints when you Uber.

Your email address on your Starwood account must match the email address on your Uber account. Mine didn’t match but after changing my Uber email address I was able to link the accounts together.

You need to have had 1 paid stay in a Starwood property in 2015 to start earning points. Once you’ve had a single stay you’ll earn 1 Starpoint per dollar spent with Uber all year long, up to $10,000 in Uber spending per year. (If you have only had award stays or credit card stay credits and still earn points with Uber please post a comment!)

If you use Uber during a stay at a Starwood property then non-elites will earn 2 Starpoints per dollar spent with Uber, Gold and Platinum Starwood elite members will earn 3 Starpoints per dollar spent with Uber, and 75 night Platinum elites will earn 4 Starpoints per dollar spent with Uber.  Points will post to your Starwood account 2-4 weeks after the ride.

For 2016 you’ll be able to earn points in January as long as you had a stay during 2015. From February 2016 until the end of the year you’ll need to have had a 2016 stay at a Starwood hotel to earn Starpoints for Uber rides.

These Starpoints come on top of bonus points you can earn with your credit card. All American Express Membership Rewards cards earn an additional point per dollar on Uber spending (hence the 3 points per dollar earned on Uber with Everyday Preferred). Sapphire Preferred also earns double points for Uber spending.  In fact you shouldn’t use a Starwood AMEX for Uber as other cards are more valuable and you can earn these bonus Starpoints no matter what card you use.

This Saturday in Dubai, London, Mexico City, New York, and San Francisco between 2pm-7pm there will be the option to select an SPG vehicle. Many will request it, but few will actually get it. If you are able to land a ride from an SPG vehicle you’ll get 15,000 Starpoints and other freebies!

According to Chabad.org, shabbos ends at 6:26pm in NYC this week.  Post a comment if you’re actually able to land an SPG ride!

Read more about that promo in this link.

HT: raphy781, via DDF

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Starwood To Offer Free In-Room Internet To All SPG Members; A Roundup Of Current Starwood Elite Status Benefits And How To Earn Status

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

Effective 02/02/15 all SPG members will receive free WiFi in their Starwood hotel rooms.

Non-elite members will get standard level internet access for free, while SPG Gold and Platinum members will get premium level internet access for free.  Delta and Emirates elites will also get premium level internet access for free via Crossover rewards.

Only stays booked via SPG.com will qualify for free internet access.

Currently Fairmont and IHG give all members free in-room internet access and Marriott will as well as of 01/15/15.

So what are the benefits of each Starwood elite status level?

1. Starwood Preferred (base) members get free standard internet. Anyone can signup free on SPG.com

2. Starwood Preferred Plus status is an unpublished elite status level that is given for free to anyone with a Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express. It’s also offered to AAA and AARP members.

Preferred Plus members get 4pm confirmed late checkout and room upgrades when available.

3. Starwood Gold status is given for free if you have Platinum Card® from American Express or if you spend $30,000 in a calendar year on the Starwood AMEX or if you spend 25 paid or award nights or have 10 stays in Starwood hotels in a calendar year. You can get lifetime gold status by accumulating 5 years of Starwood elite status and 250 nights in Starwood hotels.  Some people have been able to get free Gold status for a year by calling up and telling a rep that they want to start staying in more Starwood hotels, but YMMV on that one.

Gold members get free premium level internet access, a 250 Starpoint amenity on paid and award stays, 4pm confirmed late checkout, and room upgrades when available. They also get 3 Starpoints per dollar spent on paid stays and 1 Starpoint per dollar spent on Delta flights.

4. Starwood Platinum requires 50 paid or award nights or 25 stays in Starwood hotels in a calendar year. Having the Starwood credit card gives you 5 nights and 2 stays towards meeting that and having 2 Starwood credit cards gives you 10 nights and 4 stays towards meeting that. You can get lifetime Platinum status by accumulating 10 years of Starwood Platinum elite status and 500 nights in Starwood hotels.

Platinum members get free premium level internet access, a 500 Starpoint amenity on paid and award stays, 4pm confirmed late checkout, and suite upgrades when available. They also get 3 Starpoints per dollar spent on paid stays, 1 Starpoint per dollar spent on Delta flights, and Priority Check-in, Priority Boarding, Unlimited Complimentary Upgrades, and first checked bag free when flying Delta.

Platinums who stay 50 nights also get 10 confirmed suite upgrade awards. Platinums who stay 75 nights get 4 Starpoints per dollar spent on paid stays and the ability to stay for a full 24 hours in a hotel room regardless of when they checkin.

HT: chucksterace, via DDF

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Update Your SPG.com Stay Preferences And Get 500 Free Starpoints

Sunday, November 30th, 2014

Update: Today is the final day to register for this promotion!  Once registered you’ll have until 12/15 to update your stay preferences.

I updated my preferences on 11/10 and the points posted for my birthday on 11/26.

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Originally posted on 11/10:

Register for Starwood’s latest promotion (double or triple points on paid stays) here and you’ll also be registered for 500 free Starpoints just for updating your stay preferences.

After registering, just click here to update any of your stay preferences.

Starwood points officially expire after 12 months of inactivity, though it’s actually only enforced after 18 months. So 500 points will extend the validity of your account for 18 months.  Though Starwood is one of the best about reactivating expired points when you ask nicely (British Airways is surprisingly nice as well).

HT: Marco Polo, via DDF

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Redeem Starpoints For Courtside Suite Tickets At Madison Square Garden

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

Update: Games through February 2015 can now be purchased for Starpoints.

Originally posted on 09/15:

Related:
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
-Using Miles For Sports Experiences
-Starwood auctions
-United auctions
-Delta auctions

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.
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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!

Tickets just became available for events from now through 11/30.  I’ll update this post when tickets become available past that date, just follow @DansDeals on Twitter and you’ll be the first to know.

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 from the Carlos and Gabby’s stands.

2 tickets to Knicks or Rangers preseason games can be had for 20,000 Starpoints 2 tickets for regular season games can be had for 45,000 Starpoints.  That includes 2 excellent event level seats and kosher meals in the SPG suite!

There are also college games and other events available from 5,000 Starpoints for 2 tickets.

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

Did you attend a game last season? Share your experience in the comments!

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Save 35% On Select Starwood Resort Award Redemptions!

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

Update: Just 1 week left to take advantage of this promotion.
While you have to book by next Tuesday, you can stay through the end of scheduling.  The all-suite W Koh Samui property is hit with a double whammy after next week.  It already charges double the normal SPG category rate due to the all-suite designation.  It will climb from 26K/night to 60K/night due to this promotion ending and it will climb from a category 6 to a category 7 property.

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Originally posted on 07/16/14:

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

You can book these rates all the way until 03/03/15 and you can stay anytime.

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.
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.

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.

When I last checked the prices for a confirmed upgrade to an overwater bungalow with a private plunge pool the W Maldives wanted $180/night.

The Le Meridien Bora Bora wanted $220/night when I last checked the price of a confirmed upgrade to an overwater bungalow. However they also said via email that as a Platinum member if there were any overwater bungalows for sale on the day of checkin they would refund the entire confirmed upgrade fee!

HT: maayanky, via DDF

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20,000 Starpoints Transfers Into 30,000 USAirways Miles This Month; Where Should You Transfer?

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

-USAirways Offer Linky
-SPG-US Transfer Linky

Yesterday I wrote about the promotion for transferring Starpoints into American miles.  Turns out there’s also a promotion for turning Starpoints into USAirways miles through July 31st with the same rules I wrote about yesterday for the American promo.

Sure, in 2015 the American and USAirways programs will be combined. But in the meantime there are several differences:

1. You can transfer Starpoints into anyone’s USAirways account, the names don’t have to match (though this can change at any time). Transfers into American require matching names.

2. USAirways requires round-trip award travel while American sells one-way award travel.

3. USAirways allows for a free stopover while American doesn’t (with the exception of when 2 awards price out lower than 1 award like US-Europe-Israel off-peak)

4. American allows free date changes on award tickets. USAirways charges $150 for that.  American charges $150 to cancel a ticket but just $25 to cancel additional awards at the same time. USAirways charges a flat $150 per ticket. American charges a phone fee for tickets that can’t be booked online while USAirways waives the phone fee, however USAirways charges a $25-$50 award processing fee which applies even for tickets made online.

5. American has very strict routing rules. You can’t fly to Australia via Asia for example. USAirways has much more lenient routing rules.  American also requires a “paid published routing” on awards, USAirways does not.  American’s system prices awards correctly. USAirways has booked several 40K awards to Israel and South Africa for DD readers like this one among several other “bugs” I’ve heard of.

6. American can book travel on El Al, USAirways can’t.

7. USAirways charges 50,000 miles for domestic first awards on 3 class planes, such as JFK-Los Angeles, JFK-S. Francisco, and Miami-Los Angeles on American as well as JFK-Vancouver on Cathay Pacific.  That rate goes up to 65,000 if you book after July 31st which is the same rate American charges.

8. USAirways charges just 120,000 miles to fly first class to Asia on Cathay Pacific, the biggest bargain in the entire mileage game. People have even been able to book the 110K business class ticket to Asia with a stopover in Israel along the way.

9. If you have a Barclays US Airways Premier World MasterCard you can get a 5,000 mile discount on USAirways awards (besides for free checked bags and pre-boarding). That means round-trip domestic awards are just 20,000 miles, off-peak coach awards to the Caribbean for cardholders are just 20,000 miles round-trip, and off-peak awards to Europe or South America are just 30,000 miles round-trip if you fly on USAirways. Off peak First Class/Envoy awards to the Carribean are just 45,000 miles and to South America are just 55,000 miles round-trip if you fly on USAirways.

10. Round-trip coach to Israel is 80K, business to Israel is 120K, and first class to Israel is 180K. With the card USAirways flights to Israel are 75K in coach and 115K in business.  On American round-trip coach nonstop to Israel is 90K coach, 135K business, 180K first.

HT: Freddie, via DDF

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20,000 Starpoints Transfers Into 30,000 American AAdvantage Miles This Month

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

-AA Offer Linky
SPG-AA Transfer Linky

From now through July 31st you’ll earn 30,000 AA miles for every 20,000 Starpoints transferred. Normally you would earn 25,000 miles for a 20,000 Starpoint transfer.

You can transfer up to 60K Starpoints per day to maximize the bonus (which would earn 90K AA miles per day).

No, this isn’t like 2010 when 20K Starpoints became 33,750 AA miles and those miles counted towards lifetime AA elite status. And AA still allowed free stopovers and had a killer OneWorld round-the-world award chart.  No, those days are long gone and are never coming back.  But take what you can get.

Note that AA is notorious in zealously shutting people’s account down if there’s even a suspicion that miles in it were sold or bartered.  They also shut down people’s account without warning or appeal for manufacturing signup bonus threshold spend on their credit cards by dabbling in refundable tickets like some unscrupulous brokers are known to do to unsuspecting prey.

American’s award chart is by far the most generous out there, and it will be hit with a major devaluation in early 2015 when their program is merged with USAirways.

In the meantime there are some great values to be had, like 55K in business or 67.5K in first on Cathay Pacific one-way to/from Hong Kong.
-You can fly nonstop on El Al to Israel for 45K coach or 67.5K business.
-Between 10/15-05/15 you can fly to Israel with a free stopover in Europe for 40K in coach.
-Between 10/15-05/15 you can fly to Europe for just 20K in coach each way.
-Between 03/01-05/31 and 08/16-11/30 you can fly to South America for just 20K in coach.
-Between 01/12-03/08 and 08/22-12/15 you can fly to Hawaii for just 17.5K in coach.
-Between 10/01-04/30 you can fly to Japan or Korea for just 25K in coach.
-A flight between Tel Aviv and the Maldives is just 17.5K coach, 25K business, 35K first.
-A flight between Tel Aviv and Thailand or Hong Kong is just 22.5K coach, 30K business, 40K first.
-A flight between Tel Aviv and Australia is just 30K coach, 45K business, 60K first.

There are only major fuel surcharges for flying on British Airways, but there are plenty of other partners to choose from to avoid them.

HT: AJK, via DDF

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It’s Back: 30,000 Starpoints Signup Bonus On Both The Starwood Consumer And Business AMEX Cards

Saturday, May 31st, 2014

Update: DEAD!

-Starwood AMEX Consumer Linky
New AMEX Consumer Terms: “This offer is also not available to applicants who have or have had this product.”

-Starwood AMEX Business Linky
AMEX Business Terms: “Welcome bonus offer not available to applicants who have or have had this product within the last 12 months.”

This offer expires 06/30.

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 within 6 months and you’ll have 35,000 Starwood points.
The $65 annual fee is waived for the first year.

Key benefits:
-The card doesn’t have bonus spending categories except in SPG hotels, but you get a 25% bonus when you transfer points into miles. Note that SPG point transfers can take from 2 days to 2 weeks to complete.
-Starwood has gutted the cash and points program, but the regular hotel redemption rate can still be a bargain in some hotels. Starwood charges insane amounts of points at their high end hotels though. While the Park Hyatt Maldives is 25,000 Hyatt/Chase points or 12,500 points+$150 per night, the W Maldives would run at least 90,000 Starpoints per night. Room rates at either resort are more than $1,000 per night.
-AMEX benefits like return protection, warranty protection, etc.
-Promotions like Twitter savings and Small Business Saturday that work on primary and secondary cards.
-The business card gets open savings cash rebates.
-Just by having a Starwood card you earn Preferred Plus status. This status earns you the right to checkout at 4pm at Starwood hotels.
-If you spend $30,000 in a year on either Starwood card you earn SPG Gold status.
-Cardholders get 2 elite qualifying stays and 5 elite qualifying nights towards earning Gold or Platinum status.

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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
-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 😀  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
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

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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

Monday, February 17th, 2014

Related:
-Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

-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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