Update, 1/6: Today is final day to make transfers from Starwood to Virgin America. Those points transfer at a 20K:25K ratio. Starting on 1/9 you can transfer points from Virgin America to Alaska at a 1:1.3 ratio, making the effective SPG: Alaska ratio 20K:32.5K.
Update, 12/28: SPG has announced that 1/6/17 will be the last day to transfer points to Virgin America. Will you transfer points from SPG to Alaska via Virgin America at a 1:1.625 ratio before then?
Originally posted on 12/21:
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On Monday I wrote about an incredible use of Starpoints. You can transfer 20K SPG points into 25K Virgin America Elevate points. Effective 1/9/17 you’ll be able to transfer Virgin America points into Alaska miles at a 1:1.3 ratio, so those 20K Starpoints will become 32,500 Alaska miles.
That’s an effective 1.625 Alaska miles per Starpoint, an awesome transfer option considering:
–The breadth of partners that Alaska has. They include American, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Korean, JAL, and Qantas.
-The very generous stopover and routing policies that Alaska has. You can get a free stopover on a one-way award. You can route from the US to Israel via Asia or from Hawaii to Asia via the US48, etc.
-The very generous award change and cancel policies. You can redeposit an award 60 days before a flight without any fees.
A one-way flight to Europe or South America on American is just 20K coach off-peak, 30K coach peak, 50K business, or 62.5K first with no fuel surcharges.
One-way Flights to Asia on award-winning Cathay Pacific are just 30K coach, 35K premium economy, 50K business, or 70K first with no fuel surcharges.
One-way Flights to Israel on Cathay Pacific are 50K coach, 55K premium economy, 62.5K business, or 70K first with no fuel surcharges and a free stopover in Hong Kong if you want one. Cathay starts flying to Israel on March 26. You must call Alaska to book travel on Cathay Pacific.
You’ll effectively get 1.625 Alaska miles for each Starpoints, so just divide Alaska’s award rates by 1.625 to see how many effective Starpoints those routes will cost.
In other words a one-way business class flight to Israel would cost 62,500/1.625=about 38,461 Starpoints thanks to the 25% transfer bonus from Starwood to Virgin America and 30% transfer bonus from Virgin America to Alaska! A 40K Starpoints transfer would net 65K Alaska miles via Virgin America, more than enough for that award.
Several bloggers and DD readers have noted that Virgin America no longer appears on the SPG transfer page.
I reached out to Starwood and they confirmed that it’s merely a glitch and it will be restored:
Looks like there's a website error, which we're looking into. For immediate transfers, our phone agents are able to transfer.
— SPG Assist (@spgassist) December 22, 2016
We're working through a technical issue. Online transfer ability will be back soon. Pls call SPG to transfer to Virgin America.
— SPG Assist (@spgassist) December 22, 2016
I chatted with SPG and the agent confirmed that he would be able to transfer my Starpoints to Virgin America, despite the website glitch.
Of course eventually the transfer option will be eliminated as the Virgin America program is merged into Alaska’s. But until then, you can funnel Starpoints into Alaska miles at a great rate.
The only reason I haven’t done so yet is that I’m not sure how much I trust Alaska. They devalued their Emirates award chart without notice. They say they’ll never do that again, but if their American or Cathay Pacific redemption costs grow too high, do I really expect them to give fair notice?
It’s hard to say.
Alaska is also notorious for having a nasty audit department that heavily frowns on booking awards for others and credit card churning.
So I won’t proactively transfer Starpoints at this rate. But if you’re ready to book an award in the near future, it’s an awesome transfer ratio.
Then again, with new opportunities made possible by the Marriott merger such as new hotels, Southwest companion pass, and the recent United transfer bonus, there are more amazing uses for Starpoints than ever.
Will you transfer Starpoints into Alaska miles at a 1:1.625 ratio while the opportunity lasts?