Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Why 2 people + 2 Starwood American Express cards = 25,000 Avios points or other miles

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Long term readers may recognise that I ran a version of this article last year.   The reason I have updated it today is that there is no guarantee that the Starwood Amex will continue beyond the end of 2018 when the Marriott Rewards and SPG programmes merge into a new loyalty scheme.

If you haven’t taken advantage of the SPG Amex credit card sign-up bonus yet then you should be thinking about it.  The ability for a couple to pick up 25,000 Avios – or perhaps other more valuable miles – very easily is not one you should pass by, especially if you have already earned a recent bonus from American Express Gold and a British Airways American Express.

What can Starwood Preferred Guest do for you?

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, as long as it is a multiple of 1,000.  No need for matching surnames. The only rule is that both accounts must have had the same home address on file with SPG for at least 30 days.

You can do the transfer online with minimum fuss.  The link is here.   Transfers take around 5 days.

The obvious reasons for doing this are:

  • to reach a targeted 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.

SPG Amex bonuses

But the main reason is this …..

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 for spending £1000 and then transfer the bonus to you.

(The representative APR on the card is 39.7%, including the annual fee, based on a notional credit limit of £1200).

20,000 Starwood points can be transferred into 25,000 Avios or other airline miles as you receive a 5,000 mile bonus.

This is more beneficial than sending just 10,000 SPG points to an airline account which gets you only 10,000 miles.

Starwood has a huge range of airline partners – almost 30.  Whilst most HFP readers focus on Avios, this is also a way of topping up a balance in another programme where it is harder to earn miles in this country.  Picking up 25,000 Lufthansa Miles & More miles this way, for example, would be a real boost given the dearth of other options.

The SPG card comes with a £75 annual fee – full details are in my review of the Starwood American Express 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.

Remember that you can also convert Marriott Rewards points to Starwood Preferred Guest at a ratio of 3:1.  This is another way of topping up a Starwood account to get it to the magic 20,000 point threshold where you trigger the 5,000 bonus airline miles.

PS.  If you have a lot of Starwood points – 70,000+ – you might get a better deal by moving your points to Marriott Rewards (at 1:3) and redeeming for a Marriott Travel Package.  I explained why Marriott Travel Packages are so attractive in this article.


Want to earn more points from credit cards? – November 2020 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are my November 2020 recommendations based on the current sign-up bonus

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here.

British Airways American Express card

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up, no annual and a companion voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

BA Premium Plus American Express card BAPP

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

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

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and the most generous non-Amex for day to day spending Read our full review

Earning miles and points from small business cards

If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these:

American Express Business Gold card

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

Earn both Avios and BA On Business points with your business spending Read our full review

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company Read our full review

Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points and do not consider interest rates, service levels or any impact on your credit history.  By recommending credit cards on this site, I am – technically – acting as a credit broker.  Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as a credit broker.

Comments (43)

  • zark says:

    Rob,
    Your comment guessing: “I am guessing that it will be 80% Marriott Rewards, 20% SPG in terms of how it is structured”
    Could you expand on your guesswork?
    Don’t really understand it.

    • Rob says:

      Marriott bought Starwood, Marriott is far bigger than Starwood in terms of hotels, Marriott Rewards is far bigger than SPG in terms of members, it is likely to be Marriott people running the new scheme since all the SPG people I know have quit. On that basis you’d be crazy to expect the new programme not to directly resemble Marriott Rewards in almost all aspects.

      • ankomonkey says:

        I hope they keep the current Marriott ability to book rewards before you have the points.

  • Brandon says:

    Can i “self refer”.. eg i have an amex plat, can i refer myself the SPG card for the plat bonus?