Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

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

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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.

SPG Amex

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.)

Comments (42)

  • Dan says:

    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.

    Thanks!

    • Rob says:

      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.

  • 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!

    • Rob says:

      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.

      • Dan says:

        Excellent!

        Thanks for the help.

      • Dan says:

        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? )

        • Rob says:

          Easiest thing to do is supermarket gift cards, which you can use up over the next few months

  • 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?

    • Rob says:

      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.

  • 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).