Bits: up to 30% discount when you buy SPG points, Singapore Airlines drops fuel surcharges

News in brief:

Up to 30% discount when you buy Starwood Preferred Guest points

Starwood is offering a 10%-30% discount when you purchase SPG Starpoints before 30th April. The link to buy is here.

The discount is staggered. You get 10% off purchases of up to 9500 points, 15% off 10000 to 14500, 20% off 15000 to 19500 and the full 30% off only when you buy at least 20,000 points.

At the top end, 30,000 points will cost you $735 (£600). These can be converted to 35,000 airline miles in the majority of programmes. The price per mile works out at 1.7p, which is certainly not a bargain but less than a lot of airlines charge for buying their miles directly.

Remember that until 8th March, British Airways is offering a 35% bonus if you transfer hotel points from seven major loyalty schemes into Avios – click for my article on that deal.  Even with that bonus this is not a cheap offer.  You would get (35,000 * 1.35) 47,250 Avios for £600 which works out at 1.27p.  I struggle to see the value in Avios points at that price but it may work for you if you have a specific redemption in mind.

The rules are straightforward – points post within 24 hours, maximum purchase of 30,000 points per year, your SPG account must be 14 days old to participate.

If you are interested, you can buy via this link.

SPG Starwood 350

Singapore Airlines drops fuel surcharges on redemptions, but ….

Singapore Airlines announced yesterday that it was dropping fuel surcharges on redemptions on its own aircraft via its Krisflyer scheme.

There is always a snag, of course.

In this case, the snag is that Singapore is removing the 15% discount for online reward redemptions.  As almost all redemptions which didn’t involve partners were made online, this is effectively a 18% price rise.  There has also been some tweaking upwards of reward prices as well.

As an example of pricing, a one way from Singapore to London in Business Class increases from 80,000 to 85,000 miles.  Stripping out the online booking discount and the actual rise is 68,000 to 85,000 miles.  However US$241 of fuel surcharges will no longer apply.  If you value miles at 1p each the impact is roughly neutral.

The changes take effect from 23rd March, so you have a couple of weeks to book at the old prices.

If you are interested in earning Singapore Airlines miles, there isn’t a Singapore Airlines credit card in the UK.  It is an American Express Membership Rewards transfer partner at 1:1.  You can also pick up miles via the HSBC Premier MasterCard (0.5 per £1) or the HSBC Premier World Elite MasterCard (£195 fee, 1 mile per £1).

The new reward chart is on the Singapore website here.

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Comments

  1. Charlie says:

    Can’t sleep in my Premier Inn room…

    I think the decimal place needs a shift Rob. 1.27p instead of 0.127p.

    • the real harry1 says:

      good night’s sleep money back guarantee

      • Would like to have the same guarantee where I’m staying as an insomniac with a wooden leg appears to have moved into the room above!

        Hopefully Rob will clarify the BA companion ticket situation later.

      • Charlie says:

        Do you think they’ll give me the money instead of work? :)

  2. Genghis says:

    Buying SPGs could work out if you’re buying a Marriott package

  3. Matthew says:

    Some price increases in miles are small, whereas others are quite considerable. Varies significantly with the route.

  4. avidsaver says:

    O/T Sorry but have I missed the outcome of the following? “UPDATE: BA has agreed to give me a legal opinion on Monday on whether it believes a BA Amex companion ticket qualifies for EU261 downgrade compensation.”

    • the real harry1 says:

      still in preparation

      • Genghis says:

        IIRC as written on FT, Raffles noted BA don’t want to put pen to paper

        • So essentially the legal opinion deviated from what they wished it to be…

          • I have now got a response from BA, albeit not written by a lawyer. I can only hope that a lawyer has read it. I will run it tomorrow.

          • the real harry1 says:

            sounds worth the wait

            my guess is that they’ll say ‘241s are not first in line – claims for downgrading may or may not be met – depending on merit’ – so we should claim & hope for the best – BA won’t go to legal defence in most cases – they’ll hope most people are too idle to claim

    • Yeah he said on Flyertalk they offered the alternative of some statement he considered too insulting to readers intelligence to publish.

  5. Genghis says:

    OT. I’ve recently used the ‘Yuff’ method of using an Amex 241 and would like to share my experience.
    1) I booked the outbound LHR-CPT at T-355 online a couple of weeks ago, applied the 241 voucher and paid 62,500 avios (off peak) and £700 or so in taxes
    2) Last night at T-355, I booked the return leg JNB-LHR online as a single and paid 125,000 (off peak) and £470 in taxes (but couldn’t get the earlier 388 flight that I wanted so had to settle for the later 744 – I guess someone on the phone had already reserved these considering I was there at prob 00.00.01)
    3) Called up this morning to cancel the return leg and get it added to the original booking. I was told that there is no guarantee that it would get readded to the inventory but I said to proceed and understand the risk. I was put on hold for five mins.
    4) The agent then came back on and said it was all done, the avios had been refunded, I’d receive a refund of the taxes paid last night and that I needed to pay 62,500 avios and some more tax to true up to the required taxes for the return. All sorted.

    Positives
    No need to stay on hold to US or Japan

    Negatives
    Potential risk of return legs not being returned to the inventory
    Risk of not getting the original flights you wanted as someone else has nabbed them on the phone

    • the real harry1 says:

      nicely done, good way to get round the agents abroad who won’t book your tickets on the phone at midnight UK

    • Do the seats open up at the exact time every day or is it a general ‘some time between midnight and 1am’?

    • What fees do you pay in total? Just the £35 each cancellation?

      • Genghis says:

        No fees. There are no fees to add the return leg of a companion voucher booking which was not available to book at the time of original booking.

    • Genghis says:

      Another negative – you need spare avios to book the higher cost of the return leg at midnight

      • Thanks for reporting back-good to know seats do seem to become available for redemption again immediately.

        Would just be immensely frustrating though if someone took the seats over the phone before I could navigate through to the payment page online.
        Don’t phone agents have the ability to ‘hold’/remove the seat from inventory once you tell them which seats you need and they have appeared at 00:01 and only then go through the necessary ‘paperwork’.
        If so there still may be an advantage to securing the seats by calling….

    • I can see by comments below that you had no cancelation fee – how does that work?

      • Genghis says:

        No cancellation fee for the flight I booked last night as you can cancel within 24 hours for a full refund. No change fee as like I said before, no change fee to add the return to a return leg of a companion voucher booking which was not available to book at the time of original booking

        • Ah it was the free cancellation within 24 hours that I was forgetting about. Clever :-) and well done for getting flights to South Africa!

          • rams1981 says:

            glad it worked for you as it did me @genghis. Let’s hope the 2 for 1s are honoured!

          • Genghis says:

            Cheers @rams1981. Already booked a few Protea and African Pride hotels on Marriott points – great use of SPGs.

        • Ah the 24hrs is what im missing! Great thanks for that information.

    • I played around something similar to this when trying to book a trip to NZ over Chirstmas: lots of iterations for lots of family members. My own experience is only a small sample but when 2 seats were made available they always reappear upon cancellation the next morning. However there were some cases when BA opened up multiple seats and they didn’t reappear: e.g. LON-SIN on the last offpeak Wednesday in December had 10 seats released to my surprise … they were all gone by morning and my cancellation did not reappear.
      So I would appear that without manual intervention from BA, 2 seats are opened and on a very rapid cancellation they come back, but just be aware on a bigger manual release it may not be the same.

  6. the real harry1 says:

    O/T free holiday in New Zealand (technology bods)
    http://www.wellingtonnz.com/work/looksee-wellington/

  7. Hope there is conversion bonus for other airlines too very soon from SPG.

  8. O/T based. On Genghis as above re using SPG for Marriott travel reward. I’m sure I’ve missed something but can I clarify two points?

    If I use say 270,000 rewards on aMarriott package do the do the miles posts straight away?

    Secondly am I correct in saying I get a voucher for 7 nights that sits on my account for use within a year, therefore I don’t need to book a hotel straight away?

    Thanks

  9. Wally1976 says:

    Please correct me if my maths is wrong but to get best value out the SPG points promo (for avios), buy 20,000 at $490, this then (currently) converts to 25,000 x 1.35 = 33,750 avios giving a cost of (roughly) 1.19p per avios. Still not a great offer but might work for some people.

    • Yes, that is a better deal. I was in two minds whether to do my example based on 30k or 20k.

      • I’m confused, how does 20,000 become 25,00 before the conversion?

        • Genghis says:

          Each increment of 20k SPGs converts to 25k airmiles. As there also a BA bonus on, the bonus goes on the 25k.

        • What I meant was – my calculations assume you buy 30,000 points and convert to 35,000 miles. If you only bought 20,000 points – and converted to 25,000 miles – it is clearly a better deal on a ‘pence per mile’ basis because you’re getting a 25% bonus rather than a 16% bonus.

  10. rams1981 says:

    OT what’s the consensus on using AMEX points to convert to SPG? Worth it or not good use of points? On paper you are getting 0.5p (?) per AMEX point so not that great?

    • Peter K says:

      Depends if using for hotel stay or for flights. For hotel stays Rob reckons 1.5p per starwood point for value (0.75p per MR).
      For airline miles either 0.5p per MR of conversions under 20k or 0.625p per MR point with 25% boost at 20k starwood conversions.

      In other words, stick to direct conversion to airlines from MR direct fire best value with those… Unless it’s a scheme that is not a MR partner in the UK in which case you might accept the lower rate via starwood.

    • Genghis says:

      I can see great value in SPG points (through conversion to Marriott) and I think in my next churn I will keep the SPG card and use it as my main card for a while or until its discontinued – who knows what’ll happen.

      As for converting from MR, I personally wouldn’t unless aiming for one of the reward packages or to pay for a specific great value redemption that you would otherwise not be willing to get.

      • pointsarb says:

        +1 Genghis. The SPG Amex is my favourite card too currently specifically for the Marriott travel packages. Let’s hope they don’t drop this 1:3 conversion benefit….make hay while the sun shines and all that :-)

      • +1 I am finding Marriott redemptions very good value, although not stayed there yet.
        I also used some SPG points at SPGflights.com although not convinced now that that was the best use.

    • I have transferred Amex MR to SPG then on to AA when they had a 30% or 35% transfer bonus.
      Used for Etihad Apartment ABU-SYD Plus the £28 tax. Best post BMI Diamond Club award for me.
      I am now looking at transferring SPG to Marriott to combine with Alaska miles, hopefully a transfer bonus will come along when I am ready.

      • Genghis says:

        I’m very comfortable with UK based redemptions – BA, Virgin and the hotel schemes – but have not really ventured into other airline schemes. Any advice on where some sweet spots might lie for a UK based traveller using convertible reward currencies (MR, SPG etc) obtained in the UK?

        • @Genghis – Etihad is an option for its partner awards. AA(through SPG) is another option for partner flights – AA miles booked on Etihad (UK-India) is a sweet-spot.

          • Indeed.
            Booking a family trip one way back from India to UK using AA miles via Etihad. 20K miles plus around £20 in taxes in Y.

          • Another sweet spot AA miles to the Maldives flying Etihad from Europe E 20K J42,5K F 62.5K + low taxes.

          • rams1981 says:

            all good points. Hmmm I want to cancel my plat Amex but not sure where to send the points. I am already fairly Avios points rich and have enough Virgin. Any tips? Etihad/Emirates directly seem quite pricey for redemptions from London.

          • kryten22uk says:

            How do you book that? I thought AA didnt allow transit via third region. AUH is in a different region to India or Maldives, so you’d have to do two separate redemptions.

        • From Europe Alaska uses the old priced AA award chart for USA, Mexico and the Caribbean
          A few sweet spots using AA flights Europe to the US Inc Hawaii Economy 20,000 off peak / 30,000 peak Business 50,000 First 62,500 off peak or peak plus very low taxes ( Avoiding UK) same points for Mexico and the Caribbean.

          For the BA die hards Alaska is also a BA partner see award chart for points needed as differs from the points needed to fly AA metal.

          Europe to Hong Kong Business 42,500 unfortunately this is the only Asia redemption available from Europe.

          Here is the award chart to have a play with.

          https://www.alaskaair.com/content/mileage-plan/use-miles/award-charts.aspx

          • Genghis says:

            Cheers everyone. Some food for thought.

          • @rams1981 – If you don’t have plans of re-opening another Amex, leave it in MR itself and transfer when a bonus comes. If you are planning to close MR acct, then I would suggest the SPG-Marriott route, pretty popular now. Else, switch to SPG and leave it in there, so you have transferable option.
            @xcalx – How does one collect Alaskan Air miles from here in UK, other than Amex/SPG ?

          • Sundar,
            @xcalx – How does one collect Alaskan Air miles from here in UK, other than Amex/SPG ?

            SPG is the main route.
            That’s it for card spend but you can earn miles the old fashioned way “flying” with airline partners, BA included, Hotel and car hire bookings also attract miles.

            One could also try CC on FT to trade Avios for Mileage plan.

  11. I am very tempted to start collecting SPG points with a view to converting to Marriott.

    I do not currently have accounts in either scheme so wondered if there was any signup bonus possible (excluding SPG credit card)?

    I have 22k Amex MR points currently which added to 30k SPG bought under this deal would give me 156k Marriott points. Would people consider this an uneconomical way to pursue a Marriott travel reward?

    • Genghis says:

      I make it 123k Marriott points you would get:
      30k SPG – > 90k Marriott and 22k MR -> 11k SPG -> 33k Marrriott. 90k + 33k = 123k.
      Unless you have seen a particular redemption and it’s economical, I wouldn’t bother buying these 30k SPGs. We saw larger bonuses at the back end of last year IIRC. But each person is different.

      • Thanks for the feedback :-)

        Yes, my maths was wrong as I forgot to halve the MR.

  12. OT- SPG Amex Card
    I have spent the necessary £1000 for bonus 10k miles, but since purchase is pending (not processed fully for last £20 or so of the £1000 spend) I haven’t received the bonus in my account yet.
    And it seems as someone mentioned 6 days before statement due date the points have potentially left my account as I can see it is missing from online account.

    Any ideas how long will it take for the points to hit my SPG account? Is it soon after statement is produced?

    • Genghis says:

      points post to your SPG acct circa t-5.

      • Thanks Genghis.
        was hoping to hit my spend target and transfer to AAdvantage for a redemption that I want to book ASAP. Do not want to wait for another month for this.
        Might have to bight bullet and buy points with 30% off SPG offer.

        • Does anyone have TCB USA account?
          Was wondering if can use that for points.com purchase for SPG as there is 4% CB offer, if nothing it will at least cacel 3% forex fees on SPG AMex card that I am hoping to use to buy points.

        • Genghis says:

          You’d have to wait another month for them to transfer across.

    • Usually within 3 days of leaving your Amex account.