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How and why to transfer Starwood Preferred Guest points to another person for free

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Starwood Preferred Guest, the loyalty scheme for Sheraton, Westin, W, aloft etc – is an oddity amongst hotel programmes.  Whilst it works in the same way as other schemes, with different tier levels and an earnings rate based on spending, it is a standout programme for two reasons:

The exceptionally generous transfer rate of Starwood points to airline miles.  This starts at 1:1 and goes as high as 1:1.25 if you convert in chunks of 20,000

The ludicrously high redemption rates required for high end properties.  A night at the Gritti Palace in Venice (below) will set you back 30,000 Starwood points, for example – you could get 35,000 Avios if you transferred them across instead of taking the free night. 

Gritti Palace Venice

Starwood also has another interesting tweak, which is the subject of this article. It is possible to transfer Starwood Preferred Guest points from one member to another, for freeAny amount, not just multiples of x,000. No need for matching surname. The only rule is that both accounts must have had the same home address on file with SPG for at least 30 days.

(EDIT:  this was changed in 2017 and you can now only transfer in multiples of 1,000)

You can do the transfer online with minimum fuss, and it completes within a few days.  The link is here.  Recent transfers I have done to my wifes account have taken about 5 days.

(Only Club Carlson, AFAIK, offers anything similar. IHG Rewards Club and Hilton HHonors both let you transfer points to someone else, but you have to pay for the privilege ($5 per 1,000 and $25 per 10,000 respectively) and can only move multiples of 1,000 and 10,000.  Hyatt Gold Passport and Marriott Rewards let you combine points for free but only if they are being instantly redeemed.)

The obvious reasons for doing this are:

  • to reach a targetted award more quickly, or
  • to move a handful of points from someone else who will never get enough for a redemption, or
  • simply making your household life easier by keeping all points in one persons name.

The key reason for a UK reader, though, is this.  It allows you to persuade your partner / parent etc to take out the Starwood American Express credit card, bank the 10,000 SPG points sign-up bonus and then transfer the bonus to you.

20,000 Starwood points can be transferred into 25,000 airline miles as you receive a 5,000 point bonus.  This is more beneficial than sending 10,000 SPG points to an airline account which gets you only 10,000 miles.

The SPG card comes with a £75 annual fee – full details in my review of the card here.  As with all Amex cards, you can cancel for a pro-rata fee refund at any time.

SPG is also a roundabout way to transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to an airline account in a different name.  You would move them from an Amex account to your SPG account, then across to the SPG account of the other person, and then into their airline account.  The problem, of course, is the 2:1 conversion rate from Amex which means you lose out compared to converting directly from Membership Rewards to an airline.


Mariott Bonvoy American Express credit card

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points from UK credit cards (January 2021)

There are various ways of earning Marriott Bonvoy points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

The official Marriott Bonvoy American Express card comes with 20,000 points for signing up, 2 points for every £1 you spend and 15 elite night credits per year. You can apply here.

American Express Marriott Bonvoy credit card

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

20,000 points sign-up bonus and 15 elite night credits Read our full review

You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points by converting American Express Membership Rewards points at the rate of 2:3.

Do you know that holders of The Platinum Card from American Express receive FREE Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status for as long as they hold the card?  It also comes with Hilton Honors Gold, Radisson Rewards Gold, Shangri-La Golden Circle Jade and MeliaRewards Gold status.  We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here and you can apply here.

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

You can also earn American Express Membership Rewards points with American Express Gold (20,000 bonus points), the American Express Rewards Credit Card (5,000 bonus points) and – for small business owners – American Express Business Gold (20,000 bonus points) and Business Platinum (40,000 bonus points).

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which can be used to earn Marriott Bonvoy points

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Comments (17)

  • Oliver says:

    Worth mentioning that you can only make one mileage transfer per account every 24 hours and it can be for no more than 79,999 points.

  • Ed says:

    Probably worth referencing Starwood moments as well, this would be a good way of getting enough points for event tickets.

  • Dave H says:

    Starwood have a couple of free nights offers at the moment, 3 for 2 and 6 for 4, payment by MasterCard required, I have just done a dummy booking for the Aloft Liverpool.

  • Brian says:

    Is 30,000 Starwood points a ludicrous amount for the Gritti Palace? I would have thought that you’d pay around 350 per night for a room there and if you value Avios at 1p each, then you’re not getting a bad deal by redeeming for the hotel – assuming you’d be staying there anyway.

    • dgsupersonic says:

      In high season, standard rooms can go up to €800 per day plus you are very likely to be upgraded to a suite if you are Gold or Platinum. The Gritti honours all SPG elite benefits. Suites cost around €1500 a day for the cheapest ones. Stayed there last year and that was exactly what I got. Very good use of 30000 points in my opinion and the stay/hotel was excellent.

    • Rob says:

      Agreed, perhaps a bad example. However, base level rooms are very small and are on the side so face a wall, so you would want to have status.

  • Jason says:

    Very handy article as we’ve both just got the spg Amex and the target spend bonus, on its own, would not have triggered the 25% transfer bonus, so I was just going to wait until 20k in each account 🙂

  • Danksy says:

    From memory, they can’t be too far away from launching a bonus signup? It’s been a while since the last 20,000 or was it 25,000 bonus?

    • Danksy says:

      Just remembered I think it was 20,000 SPG (25,000 Avios) and I seem to remember it being November a couple of years ago?

      • SoloFlying says:

        I too have been waiting for the bonus to start again. Any news when it might be happening? Looks like SPG may be getting sold soon could that put a stop to any promotions in the short term?

    • Rob says:

      Won’t happen.

  • Simon says:

    I hope I’m incorrect, but is it not the case that not only can you buy a maximum of 20,000 starpoints annually but also that you cannot RECEIVE any more than that limit IF the points being transferred to your account have been BOUGHT (rather than earned through SPG CC bonuses/card spend/accrual from hotel stays at SPG hotels) by the person transferring? It’s just that, in having already purchased (and redeemed) 20,000 SPG this year, I had wanted my partner to free-transfer her (bought) 20,000 starpoints into MY account, but the Ts & Cs said that the maximum annual amount of starpoints a person can accumulate in any one year via PURCHASING starpoints (be it the account holder making the purchase or be it a partner/other family member) is 20,000. If this limit is exceeded, then the starpoints are not forfeited, but they cannot then be used until your new 20,000 limit resets the following year.

    As I say, I’d love to be wrong here, but that is what the Ts & Cs informed us recently.

  • Oliver says:

    I think you’re wrong but try it and let us know.