20,000 SPG points (=25,000 Avios points) sign-up bonus back on the Starwood Amex!

Another great way to earn a pile of Avios points from a credit card sign-up has appeared!

I was very surprised last night to see that the sign-up bonus on the SPG / Starwood American Express card had jumped back up to 20,000 SPG points. Amex has historically only run this offer once a year, and that is in Autumn. It is only three months since the last promotion finished. Perhaps Amex is getting rattled by the aggressive promotions being run by MBNA?

The Starwood Amex card usually comes with 10,000 SPG points as a sign-up bonus. For now, though, it is offering 20,000 SPG pointsclick here for full details from the Amex website.

20,000 SPG points is a good deal if you redeem for hotel stays at Sheraton, Westin, W, St Regis, Luxury Collection etc. You can also convert 20,000 SPG points into airline miles. The great news here is that 20,000 is the trigger required to get a 5,000 mile bonus. Whilst the standard bonus of 10,000 SPG points only gets you 10,000 airline miles, when you convert 20,000 you get 20,000 airline miles plus 5,000 extra!

Your 20,000 SPG points sign-up bonus would therefore get you 25,000 airline miles! You can convert to Avios, of course, but also to a lot of other airlines. There are over 30 airline partners in total.

Now, here are the facts on the card:

  • 20,000 SPG points when you spend £1,000 within 3 months (£1,000 is a very modest target for such a good deal)
  • 1 SPG point per £1 spent going forward
  • £75 annual fee
  • £30,000 household income requirement
  • No problem getting the bonus even if you have a BA, Platinum, Gold or any other Amex

Now, the obvious thing to do with Starwood points is to use them for Sheraton, Westin, W, aloft etc hotel stays. Here is the reward chart if you want to see how far 20,000 points will get you – there are also some examples on the Amex website if you scroll down this page. When my wife got this bonus, I redeemed them for a hotel in Greece that got me £370 of value for my sign-up bonus – see here for that story.

For many people, though, they are more valuable as airline miles. This is especially true when you have 20,000 of them – as you will – since Starwood gives you a 5,000 mile bonus when you convert 20,000.

SPG has a huge number of airline partners. 20,000 SPG points will get you:

  • 25,000 Avios points
  • 25,000 Virgin Flying Club miles
  • 25,000 Miles & More miles
  • 25,000 miles with Air Canada, airberlin, Air China, Alaska, Alitalia, ANA, American, Asia Miles, Asiana, China Eastern, China Southern, Delta, Emirates, Etihad, Flying Blue, Hawaiian, Japan Airlines, Qatar, Saudi Arabian, Singapore, Thai, US
  • 12,500 United miles
  • 50,000 LAN LANPASS miles
  • 385 Air New Zealand points

The card is especially valuable if you want to generate some miles in one of the airline partner programmes apart from Avios. There aren’t that many easy ways to earn, for example, 25,000 Miles & More or Aeroplan miles from the UK. If you recently applied for the American Airlines card under their amazing 35,000 miles promotion, you could use this card to get an additional 25,000 American Airlines miles.

There are two other perks to the Starwood card which are not clearly mentioned on the application form:

  • If you cancel, you get a pro-rata refund of your £75 fee
  • Starwood points can be transferred – for free – between two members who live at the same address. You can therefore get a card in the name of your partner, move the points to your SPG account and then redeem them into your airline account

How to apply

You can apply directly from the American Express website.

(To see our complete list of all current credit card bonuses, click here to visit our ‘Credit Cards Update’ page or use the link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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  1. Geoggy says:

    So I got this card last autumn and got bonus . Hit spend and bailed within a month.

    If I apply again will I get bonus?

    • 6 month gap is usually ok with Amex, so depends what you mean by Autumn

      • xcalx says:

        I got the SPG in Jan this year . I cancelled my Amex Plat last November , will I have to wait 6 months after cancelling the SPG before I can re-apply for the Plat/Gold. If so I may have slipped up here.


  2. Cliff says:

    Well I cancelled the card last christmas and after many phone calls, have still not received my pro rata refund !

  3. mrtibbs1999 says:

    Would you elaborate, please. This sounds very interesting. Especially for an old spammer like me 😉

  4. Gordon says:

    Just cancelled my spg card 6 weeks ago hoping to get a new sign up at christmas so too esrly for me

  5. What a weird feature?! How many people are seriously going to bypass taking the commission themselves when it is clearly flagged up on screen that they can choose between taking it for themselves or giving it to someone else?!

  6. Flyersj18 says:

    How long has it taken for the bonus points to post for most people? I signed up in January and ran 2k through it in just over a month. Emailed Amex two weeks ago to query why the points had not posted and received a reply stating that they would be posted up to two months after the third month of holding the card, which sounds like BS to me…

    • I got the card last December and hit the target within a few weeks. Nothing yet on my account but I did email them in march. They confirmed that I would receive the 20k points in my April statement. Of course, April has come and gone but no points. I have put through a small purchase which will generate a statement for May and hopefully this will also mean that I get my bonus points.

    • this is what i was told too. had to chase them a few times to ensure it did post.

    • Bubbat says:

      Strange. The 20,000 points posted in my aacount just one day after the transaction that took me over the 1K spend.

      • It normally does, same with the charge cards and BA cards. When it doesn’t I think it is an IT issue with Amex.

  7. Jens Moller says:

    Any ideas on how to improve my chances of getting acceptance for this card (I was rejected in December 2012).

    I got Amex Gold (8 months history). Typical monthly spend of £1k.
    +£50k income
    No loans
    (but have only lived in UK for 18 months)


    • With 8 months of credit history with Amex you should be OK.

    • Haiku says:

      Hi Jens,

      I had a similar issue. I applied and was rejected for the SPG. I waited 10m and re applied and got it. Its probaby a matter of when you applied i.e. were you applying for multiple cards across a short period of time. Now with 8 months history you should be fine to try again

  8. mitpat474 says:

    Thanks for the mention Raffles 😀 happy to help your extremely helpful blog!!

  9. Sounds interesting!
    How did you manage to get full refund of £75 from Amex?

    • Bubbat says:

      They gave me the full refund (was only due 6 months) saying it was because i was a long time card holder…

  10. Wow. Wonder if we caused that!

    I have changed the original post to reflect this. Taking a referral may now be a more attractive route for most people.

  11. Simon says:

    Hi Raffles love the site. Was about to take out the AA card when I saw this. I currently have an amex gold and really putting some good spend through it as I work in the travel industry.

    I am keen to get some AA miles for a trip to the US, what should I do to get both bonuses? If I apply for them both after applying for the amex 3 months ago will I take a hit on my credit score? I can easily hit the spend, just wondering what to do.

    • As long as your credit record is unblemished, you should be able to get both cards OK. The MBNA one goes away on 31st May so perhaps get that first and then perhaps (assuming the offer runs for 6 weeks or so) go for SPG in June.

  12. Martyn says:

    Any idea if AMEX currency purchase count towards the minimum spend on this card?

    • Yes, it will do if you use Amex Currency Exchange, as this is a directly issued Amex card (ie not a Lloyds or MBNA one).

      • And MBNA not ?

        • No. Only Amex-issued Amex cards treat ACE as a purchase. Click on ‘Amex Currency Exchange’ under ‘Categories’ in the right-hand menu and look at the old posts on this.

  13. onlysuites says:

    Does applying for a card and cancelling a few months later affect your credit history in anyway?

    • No, not if you’ve paid your bill!

      It is always worth keeping one card (any card) open long-term so your credit report shows one long-term relationship. My wife has a laughably poor NatWest Your Points MasterCard, for example, which logically I should have cancelled as its never used. However, for years it was the only card she had, and I like to keep it open to show that she has had a UK credit card for 10 consecutive years.

      The average hold period of all the other cards she has had has been low and we’ve never had trouble getting more. In the last 3 months we’ve got a Tesco card (me), Miles & More cards (my wife), a US$ Amex (me) and the AA cards (me). I’ve just cancelled her Lloyds Avios cards and her Priority Club card will follow very soon.

  14. Idrive says:

    HI guys, anyone using Identity Defence? How does it compare with equivalent services?

    @Simon, I am exactly in the same situation as you, but unfortunately I do not travel a lot at the moment. I got a Gold card but it’s giving me only double spend on Travels as I am a very long term MR member (10+years) so I was thinking of applying to one of this high bonus cards..but also i need a VISA card to replace my Barclaycard Platinum (completely unuseful!!). And want to keep the Tesco Card for November (only to pay the new year travelcard on it!).

    @Raffles, I remember that last week you were not sure about Barclaycard application timing.
    I can confirm that for Barclaycard policies, if you are a holder you can not apply for another card straight away. I wanted to apply for one of the very long 0%purchase cards and I was told that I needed to close my card and wait for 6 months to reapply.

  15. Nick. says:

    My girlfriend has the amex rewards gold card (me being secondary holder). We’ve not yet hit the £2000 spend for bonus but will this month. Can we both apply for the SPG?

    • Yes, you should be fine. Best route is for you to apply first and then refer your wife yourself using the refer-a-friend option. This gets you an extra 5,000 points for referring her, on top of the 21,000 she will get for being referred.

  16. Can I refer my partner for an Amex card and then apply for another Amex card in the same week or am I risking rejection?

    • Depends on too many factors to be sure. If an offer is about to expire I would say go fot it, if it will be around for a month then I would try to build in a small gap.

  17. Hi,

    I am very new to all of this but am interested in building some avios points up!

    I applied for my first credit card yesterday ( lloyds duo avios ). I was wondering if I applied for this and make the £1000 goal within the first month can I then cancel and get a refund on the full yearly fee?

    I just want to make sure before I go ahead as I dont want to run into any trouble.


    • No, unfortunately not. The only credit card company that refunds your annual fee pro-rate is Amex, with the directly-issued Amex cards (ie Gold, Platinum, BA, Nectar, SPG). MBNA, Lloyds and Barclays, the other major card issuers in the loyalty market, do not refund your fee if you cancel later.

  18. idrive says:

    Raffles, reading Dan’s question I would understand he applied yesterday for a Lloyds Duo and today or in the near future he wants to apply to SPG to get the bonus and cancel it immediately after getting the bonus points.Do you agree?

    On my side, I have a question for you. I applied to a AA Amex and Visa yesterday and waiting to be approved and for the account to be setup. My intention is to apply to the SPG early June as you advised to someone else in another post. I have a 10+yrs relationship with AMEX so it should not be a problem on that side. In general, would you advise me to proceed or maybe check the credit report over the next few days before applying to SPG? I should have an excellent credit history so there should be no prob in general.

    thanks and compliments for the website, did not tell you before, I really enjoy my commuting time early morning!

    • Yes, you’re right, sorry Dan. (The way I see comments is different to how readers see comments, and its not always clear which post they are under!)

      In that case, yes – you can cancel the SPG card and get a pro-rata fee refund, no problem. Its even in the T&C’s that you get one.

      spg.com is now showing that this 20k offer runs to 29th July, so no rush. If you have a good Amex record as you say then your other applications to MBNA etc won’t impact their decision and you should get the card OK.

      • Excellent!

        Thanks for the help.

      • One more question…

        If I was to near the spending goal but not quite there say £200 shy, is it possible to buy something and return it? Even if you didn’t have a goal to reach would buying and returning an item still keep your reward of 1 avios per pound spend ( for example? )

  19. idrive says:

    Excellent! it is very important for me not to rush applying for the SPG as I want to get and hit the £5000 overloading the account with all summer trips and day to day expenses.
    At this point, that would be the ideal solution for me and the SPG, allowing transfers to lots of airlines would be a nice place where to park my points (or send them to AA). by the way:

    -are you aware of any bonus point for leaving AMEX Gold Preferred Card, it only pays me £1 and 2xMR on travels/abroad spending,very poor now I had not such a big gain upgrading to Gold at the end last year.

    -is booking with AVIOS.com more convenient or equal to booking via BA directly for a reward trip? are there some other differences?
    I see that converting rate from MR to SPG is 2:1, in that case if convert my balance from MR to SPG to use them later to AA, let’s say or BA, would I loose out from the transaction?

    • Amex Gold – if you ring to cancel you may get a retention offer, eg double points for 6 months. Hit and miss, though.

      Avios vs ba.com – avios.com sometimes has better availability of BA seats in Economy only (Club and First are identical). ba.com will show you oneworld partner options as well (American, Qantas etc) which avios.com won’t.

      Amex to SPG to AA – you don’t lose out here as you can’t go directly from Amex to AA. You would lose out going Amex to SPG to BA, as 1,000 Amex would become just 500 Avios, compared to 1,000 Avios if you went directly from Amex to BA.

  20. idrive says:

    Dan, it would be possibly wise to buy a gift card or some kind of coupon in that case. I got my points retracted for some refunds I had on Membership Rewards (true refunds, not strategically planned).