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 miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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.

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  1. I have a very small amount of SPG points (around 1k) and a small pot of Marriott reward points (around 7k). Any advice on best use for them? I was planning to transfer the SPG to Marriott for the 1:3 increase and then swap the 10k into 2,000 Avios. Does this sound like the best use for them?

    • Genghis says:

      No. If you’re looking to use them now, convert to Marriott to make 10k Marriott then look for a night in a hotel (only Cat 2 though so somewhere reasonable but even somewhere like Protea Franshhoek is £100 a night or so cash). If you can’t find anywhere, are you planning to add to the pile? Converting to avios would be a last resort (unless to travel package conversions from SPG work out better).

      A little “trick” that might be useful. Min transfer SPG->Marriott is 1k SPG. Min transfer Marriott->SPG is 1k Marriott. Assume you have 667 SPG but 1k Marriott, convert the 1k Marriott first to SPG to give you 1k SPG in total, then transfer to Marriott to make 3k.

      • Thanks Genghis. I’ll have 288 SPG points leftover, which leaves a pretty awkward (and paltry) amount to work with. Will have to book another SPG hotel to earn more points!

        • Scallder says:

          Joe you also earn on food and drink if you eat in any of the hotels even when not staying. Might want to look at that as might be easier than a stay on its own.

    • AndyGWP says:

      Not sure where you are (or where you’re planning to be), but the Aloft hotel in Liverpool is still 3k SPG points

  2. I read in a old HfP article that the sign-up bonus of the SPG Amex is temporarily raised to 20,000 once a year around November time. Did this stop a while ago as I can’t find any references to this via a google search?

    • Genghis says:

      Stopped a few years ago and last one was targeted.

      • Ah ok thanks genghis. Myself and partner may as well take the plunge now and add another 25,000 to our Avios balance and put towards our (fingers crossed) first class return tickets to Hong Kong in 2019.

        Currently we’re laying by the pool on Koh Samui, and got most of the way here (Kuala Lumpar) in comfort on club world 2-4-1 Avios redemption. Not looking forward to heading home in 1 week but at least we have club world to make the trip a little more appealing!

        • Genghis says:

          Personally I find avios really easy to earn. Have you looked into using SPG / Marriott points for hotels?

        • Matt, you could be lucky. When we booked our 241 F couple of weeks ago, HKG was wide open. Some days there were 5 seats available in F. Unreal. It’s a great experience. As for their lounges, pure luxury…Would have preferred KUL, but took HKG as wide open. Good luck collecting.

    • That won’t be happening again given the interchange fee cap.

    • Silvia says:

      If you use the following referral link, you will get 11,000 Starpoints instead of the standard 10,000 http://amex.co.uk/refer/sylwichbto?XLINK=MYCP

      I assume that Rob run out of his referrals, hence I hope it’s ok to share mine.

  3. Are there any churning rules for the SPG card bonus, as I held one in 2016?


  4. Graham Walsh says:

    I would also bag 18k per application if i referred from Amex Plat too, so seems like it should be my next card.

    • Stuart says:

      I have SPG card and an AMEX Plat. Which card would give me more referral points and where do i find my referral code? Also, do you get the referral points as soon as the other person receives/uses their card or do they have a minimum spend to achieve? Thx.

      • Tom Cook says:

        Refer from SPG = 5000 SPG points.
        Refer from Plat = 18,000 MR points which convert to 9000 SPG

        Bonus is received if the other application is approved, irrespective of spend.

  5. Two Starwood cards with intra-couple referral would yield 27,000 points including spend. This can be converted to 81,000 Marriott points which pays for two nights in a Category 8 Marriot hotel (or three nights in cat 5.
    This would be my choice, but each to their own.

  6. Ben Toudic says:

    Am I able to refer my wife from my Amex gold? If so, what would the bonus be?

  7. Michael says:

    Would there be a referral bonus from the BA Amex free card? If so how much?

  8. Given the proposed merger of SPG and Marriot schemes in 2019 I’m not sure what the best option is to maximise value. At the moment I am SPG Gold (from Amex Plat held previously), and also have the Amex SPG card. Shall I stay as is, and continue to collect SPG points, or shall I open a Marriott account, status match and transfer all the SPG into Marriott rewards.

    I think I will be using my SPG balance for hotel stays rather than transfer into miles, hence more inclined towards Marriott due to better Gold benefits than SPG. Thanks

    • Doesn’t matter. You can transfer back and forth between Marriott and SPG, instantly and free, whenever you want.

      • Thanks Rob. Once merged, will there be a new ‘currency’ or will the individual SPG points or Marriott points remain.

        • One new currency. I am guessing that it will be 80% Marriott Rewards, 20% SPG in terms of how it is structured. The key issues are whether travel packages remain and whether top-end SPG hotels come down in price. After all, a 35,000 point per night St Regis is equivalent to 105,000 Marriott points whilst at present the top Marriott hotel is 45,000.

          My gut feeling is that the Marriott reward chart will be merged with Ritz-Carlton. It will probably go up to 95,000 points – the current R-C top price – and all brands will be mixed. Some Marriott will go beyond the current cap of 45k, some R-C will go below the current bottom level and the Starwood hotels will slot in somewhere appropriate.

          Another issue is whether it walks away from Amex. Giving away Marriott Gold via Amex Plat would be risky given that the alternative is doing 50 nights. If there is an announcement before 31/12 that Amex transfers will end I will be tempted to move a big chunk over to give me a buffer for a couple of years.

        • Pangolin says:

          For me a bigger deal is whether the unified program will allow airline transfers. I wouldn’t want all my Starpoints to be marooned in what is essentially a Marriott program (even if TP pricing is relatively attractive).

          Almost certainly we can expect some substantial inflation (devaluation) in the top end Marriott properties also.

          It’s likely that the tier benefits and qualifying will be rejigged, so whatever Gold means in the unified program won’t necessarily equate to 50 nights. One thing’s for sure though, there’s no way you’ll get top tier doing 25 stays/50 nights like you can in the current SPG scheme.

        • So the question is then, what will the conversion rate be to the new currency from both SPG and Marriott.

          Will it be 1:1 from SPG and 3:1 from Marriott to make it equal for both parties. If the ratio is any less than 3 for Marriott, then it is better to transfer from SPG to Marriott now to get a better conversion to the new currency

          • The ratio of Marriott to SPG will presumably remain but they could rebase the reward chart. Marriott has a bad reputation for sharp annual devaluations.

  9. 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.

    • 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.

  10. Brandon says:

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

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