Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Buy Starwood Preferred Guest hotel points for 35% off and turn them into cheap airline miles

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Starwood is again offering a 35% discount when you purchase SPG Starpoints before 16th March. The link to buy is here.

The good news is that the discount is not staggered.  As long as you buy more than 5,000 points, you get the full 35% off.

At the top end, 30,000 points will cost you $682.50 (£480).  Assuming that you convert them to airline miles with the 25% uplift for moving chunks of 20,000 at a time, these can be converted to 37,500 airline miles in the majority of programmes.

This works out at 1.28p per airline mile.  This is not a great deal most of the time (you can often pick up Avios for 1.0p) but it might make sense with some other programmes.  You cannot buy Lufthansa Miles & More miles directly so being able to get them for 1.28p may well work for some people.

30,000 Starwood points would also convert into 90,000 Marriott Rewards points.  If you are working towards a Marriott Travel Package redemption – and they are great value as this article explains – then buying the full 30,000 Starwood points may well make sense.

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.  According to the comments below, you will earn 2 points per £1 instead of 1 per £1 if you pay on an SPG Amex credit card.

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

Mariott Bonvoy American Express credit card

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points from UK credit cards (July 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 usually comes with 20,000 points for signing up, 2 points for every £1 you spend and 15 elite night credits per year. Until 31st August 2021, the bonus is doubled to 40,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. You can apply here.

American Express Marriott Bonvoy credit card

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

40,000 points sign-up bonus and Gold Elite status 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 status for as long as they hold the card?  It also comes with Hilton Honors Gold, Radisson Rewards Gold 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 (103)

  • shd says:

    I tried to get OnBusiness to upgrade an ex-EU ticket (from business to first – the route was DUB-LON-NYC-LON-DUB) but the OB call centre was unable to do so, I tried 2x HUACA but all three agents said said their system couldn’t upgrade this kind of fare at all without it repricing the underlying cash ticket to a higher fare.

    The 3rd agent suggested I book DUB-LON-DUB and LON-NYC-LON separately, then upgrade the TATL bit with my OnBusiness points. She then suggested my trip would probably be cheaper overall that way!

  • mark2 says:

    Some of you will remember the Marriott NFL trivia quiz which gave us 1,000 per week for six or so weeks. It was meant to be part of a bigger ‘up to 45,000 points’ promotion.
    I sent Marriott a DM asking what happened to the rest. They have replied saying watch on social media so it sounds as if there will be more to come. Probably.

    • Liz says:

      Here’s hoping!

    • Tony says:

      I did well out of that promo. It went on for a bit more than 6 weeks – I ended up with 15000 points which I’ve used for two free nights in Amritsar! It’s only a Fairfield but it’s all I need as a base for visiting the Golden Temple and Wagah border.

  • Mike says:

    OT BA taxes and charges from the regions.
    I have been looking at Amex2-4-1 redemptions in Club World/First to US , from MAN
    If flying from LHR the taxes and charges for two people is just over £1000.
    If flying from MAN via LHR (no other way on a 2-4-1 from the regions), this jumps to over £1500.
    While they are not increasing the Avios required, this is charging almost the full Club Europe cash fare in additional charges.
    Is this correct and is there a way around it (without booking MAN-LHR as a separate ticket, collecting bags, checking in again at LHR etc)?
    More evidence BA should be named London Airways?

    • Liz says:

      I think if you click through to the final payment page it should drop down quite a bit. Since they introduced the Business seats on domestic it costs more from the regions because we want our bags checked through. Previously we paid economy taxes on the domestic bit but with the change it automatically books you in to business on the domestic leg because your long haul is business or first. The alternative is to book a separate domestic ticket and pick up your bags and recheck in.

    • JamesB says:

      Have you followed it all the way through to the end to get correct pricing? I recall somebody, Anna I think, reporting problems with this from MAN last year but I don’t remember how it ended. I’m sure she will respond later if online today.

      • Anna says:

        Yes, you need to click through to the next page and the price will drop. IIRC, if you choose the “Stopover” option you can elect to fly the connecting flight in economy which then drops the RFS fee to that level. I have booked my LHR – MAN return leg separately a couple of times as it’s not available when the long haul return flight appears at T-355. This does mean having to collect the bags, but also that we can take advantage of duty free alcohol purchases in the Caribbean which you are not allowed to make if you have a connecting flight on the same PNR.

        • Anna says:

          It’s a small point but significant if you are quite partial to rare Caribbean rums which cost a small fortune to source in the UK!

        • Liz says:

          I didn’t know that about the domestic leg – we are happy to be up the back on the domestic leg on the way down. On the way back I presume you can ask for economy on the domestic leg when phoning to add return on 241. How does that affect luggage allowance if it’s on the same ticket? Or do you need to book business on the domestic leg if you have an extra bag on the way home which we normally do?

          I thought you could transit with duty free booze through LHR if you buy it at another airport.

        • Liz says:

          Just trying out some dummy flights to Denver from EDI and I am getting the options to select a different class for the domestic leg – but the site keeps throwing up an error saying we cannot book this flight then when I try again it says there’s a technical error – so frustrating. Will keep trying.

          Lots of the stuff on here doesn’t apply to me but then you get a wee comment from someone [Anna] that is very useful!

        • JamesB says:

          @Liz, you will also find that when choosing the stopover option for the same day that you sometimes get more choice of domestic connections than if you do not opt for stopover. IIRC the site will not book a connection at T5 unless there is a 90 minute layover between flights even though I think the minimum connection time T5-T5 is only 60 minutes. I rarely fly via LHR now so my memory might be wrong, hopefully others wil confirm or correct. There is also potential married segment issues or perhaps it is just an IT error.

        • Liz says:

          I just can’t get it to work – not even one way – keeps telling me to change the cabin class. Which means BA is making me book CE and pay £80 extra in taxes for 2 people on a return trip which I don’t want. Don’t need to sit at the front and don’t need food when we will be in the lounge in EDI and LHR. We always leave about 3 hrs min when flying down anyway so not that isn’t the issue. I’ve sent an email to BA asking them about it, see if it is an IT glitch or if you just can’t book it online and need to phone up. Looks like we would need CE on return leg for the extra luggage anyway.

        • JamesB says:

          @Liz, it was definitely possible in the past but perhaps they changed it with introduction of CE. You could try calling to book, there should not be a fee as you cannot do it online. I had an agent initially put me in economy on domestic with J longhaul with an UUA so it is technically possible to ticket what you want offline. Agent will also be able to see if something like married segments is causing the problem. I doubt that though, I think just a site error by accident or design.

    • Darren says:

      From NCL it works out at £1080ish for x2 in Business on all legs? Doesn’t make sense why it would be different.

      • Anna says:

        Liz – I am not sure re the bags as we never have more than 3 between the 3 of us, but I think you might be entitled to the higher allowance if you’re on the same PNR. However, even if you’re not, when you tot up your hold and hand baggage allowance, even for economy that’s (at the moment) quite a substantial amount.

        Re the duty free, yes Heathrow airport officially lets you transit with duty free, however our GCM airport (don’t know about other islands) simply will not sell you the stuff if your boarding card says MAN. I have had a few arguments with the shops over this but they will not budge, and will not only sell you liquids over 100 ml if your itinerary shows a connecting flight. I would love to know where this comes from but have no idea who I would take it up with!

        • Anna says:

          Scrap “only”!

        • Liz says:

          I can’t get the dummy booking to work – keeps saying I need to change the cabin class so won’t let me proceed. Have you managed to do a booking with the 2 cabin classes.

        • Anna says:

          I’ve just tried a dummy booking from MAN to NYC. If you choose the stopover function but put in the same date of travel the system then takes you to a page where you can select both legs of the journey separately. One way is coming up at 50,000 avios plus £456 off peak per person. Make sure you leave enough time between the two legs or you will get an error message.

        • Anna says:

          You might need to contact the call centre if you can’t finish the booking online. The system is showing that it’s possible to select different classes so they could probably do it over the phone and waive the fee. I always contact the UK based call centre as they always seem by far the most knowledgeable and accommodating.

        • Liz says:

          The BA IT doesn’t like it. I’ve put the same date in for the stopover – it allows me to do it on the outbound leg and proceed to the outbound page. As the flight is overnight I changed the date of the domestic leg to the next day but when I select economy it throws up the error. So annoying that you can’t cost up different classes for different legs online.

        • JamesB says:

          Did the rules not change recently on baggage? I thought niw you were only allowed domestic bags if flying domestic despite premium cabin longhaul?

          • Rob says:

            The change was that if booking a return on mixed cabins you could not carry over the highest.

        • Mike says:

          Thanks Anna et al, I had not clicked through to the next page and when I did it dropped to £1100 taxes and charges for two.
          I will play around with the stopover options.
          If coming back in club or first and connecting to domestic economy rather than CE, do you still have access to the respective lounges (no current status) during the stopover at LHR?

    • Alan says:

      Recurrent issue with rubbish BA IT – you need to go to final payment page for it to calculate it correctly…

  • JamesB says:

    OT:Posted last night but not many online so just a heads up, no clubcard to avios conversion bonus again, it’s another competition to win a share of 1 million avios. I was hoping for something better given clubcard woes this month.

  • AndyW says:

    For SPG transfers from Membership Rewards, do you need the three zeros at the start?

  • Tom Cook says:

    Is the SPG promo worth buying into?

    We’re now moving to collect hotel points (we’ve got our flights sorted for the year and have plenty of BA avios which will continue to tick over through our BAPP / promos / Tesco Clubcard conversion).

    We’re now looking at building our hotel point stash – we’ve already got two free nights booked in a SPG hotel in Italy using SPG points converted from AMEX Plat referrals and have 22k left after getting the SPG credit card bonus bur wonder if it is worth adding to the points through this offer?

    • mark2 says:

      That depends on the points/cash ratio at the hotels that you want to stay at, but it is rarely worth buying quantities of points in my opinion.
      Also look at Marriott which you can transfer to at 1:3 and you get free breakfast with Gold. This example costs the equivalent of 10,000 SPG points.

      • Ian says:

        30,000 Starwood for £480 is a no brainer for me. Converted to Marriott it’s 90,000 points at just a fraction over half a penny a point and I easily get 1p value per point

        • George says:

          Same. Bought 60k with my OH’s account as part of funding a travel package in NY. Given the nightly price of midtown hotels it’s a no brainer even before you consider the 120k VA/BA bonus that come with it.

        • Ian says:

          162k of BA avios if you wait for one of their bonuses on transfers from hotel points 😀

        • George says:

          How does that work? A BA bonus?

        • mark2 says:

          Have you already used up the other avenues?
          I have just referred my wife from SPG (5,000 SPG) to Gold (without supplementary) so she gets 24,000 MR (12,000 SPG) on spending £2,000 then upgrade to Platinum for 20,000 MR plus 5,000 for giving me supplementary. Total of 29,500 SPG for a couple of months Platinum charge (c £72) plus Gold status at SPG, Marriott and Hilton.
          Then any further referrals get 18,000 MR. In March she will refer me for Gold and cancel Platinum and the merry-go-round starts again.
          Of course the rules may change, so hurry.

        • Ian says:

          Hey George, yes around twice a year BA offers this transfer bonus…

        • George says:

          Thanks Ian, I never put 2 and 2 together on that one. Cheers!

        • Liz says:

          @Mark2. Have you upgraded from Gold to Plat yet? Did you get charged the fee? We are just about to trigger the Gold bonus. We want the Plat card for our trip down under in May/June. Was originally going to upgrade mid April and hope the fee didn’t get charged but with all the hype about the rules changing I’m wondering whether to upgrade now – but then I might get charged the fee – decisions decisions!

        • JamesB says:

          @Liz, my dad upgraded December, no fee on his first two statements afterwards. Might be worth biting the bullet while you know offers available. Personally, I will risk waiting to late March to upgrade mine.

        • mark2 says:

          @Liz yes we have upgraded to secure and also to do some referrals. But only in the last week, so too soon to tell about charge.

        • Liz says:

          Ok thanks James and Mark. I just phoned Amex to cancel hubby’s SPG Card. No hard sell to keep a hold of it and no warnings of not getting the bonus again. Girl was really helpful and manually credited 8 of my missing small shop credits and put in a request to investigate my 2 Lloyds and 1 MBNA missing credits even though I have submitted a claim for those via the Connect site.

      • Doug M says:

        With the 120K (Avios) become 162K Avios how does that work. Do the Avios sit in a Marriott account until you move them, and you wait for the 35% bonus offer?
        What sort of Manhattan hotels fit in the Cat 1 to 5.

        • Peter K says:

          No, the Avios go over straight away. You need to wait until there is a bonus offer and then get a travel package. If your need a travel package singer you have to go for the standard 120k Avios (or miles in whatever airline scheme your choose).

  • Trev says:

    As per the article, you’d be buying the 37,500 Avios at 1.28p each (if you bought 30,000 SPG) so you’d need to redeem them for more than that to make it worth while.

    As to whether that’s good for you, you’d need to run the numbers on whatever redemption you have in mind but I suspect you’ll struggle to get a significant improvement in value above the 1.28p for Avios.

  • Steve-B says:

    OT: if anyone can help – my IHG account is now showing Ambassador renew options (from 1 May), and I have 235k of redemption bookings this summer. If I renew today, will the discount be available *immediately* for bookings/rebooking post 1 May or will it only show after 1 May? Also how is discount applied, presumably on the booking page?

    • Alex W says:

      Believe you need to cancel and rebook redemptions after you’ve paid the $200 ambassador fee. Seem to recall Rob saying it comes as a rebate every few months and impossible to reconcile which points come from which stay! Whether you’ll get the rebate for stays before your ambassador anniversary, no idea sorry.

    • Genghis says:

      Its a rebate rather than a discount. Ie. Pay 100%, get 10% back (not pay 90%).

      • Steve-B says:

        Thanks guys. I was being too optimistic thinking it was an upfront ‘discount’ 🙂 I’ll probably renew as I get value from Ambassador, but will hold off until closer to my renewal date.

      • Sundar says:

        Would this discount be applicable on PointsBreak booking as well ?

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