Update: Offer Expired!
Originally posted on 3/3/16:
–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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
2. If you book 5 consecutive hotel award nights at category 3-7 hotels then the 5th night will be free:
-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:
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:
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.
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.
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 transfers. Air 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.
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)
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)
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)
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!