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The little-known way that Amex Platinum gets you Star Alliance Silver and fast track Star Alliance Gold

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One of the quirks of American Express Platinum is that you get more benefits than Amex tells you about.  This is because some American Express partners have reciprocal deals with other companies.

The most obvious example of this is free Marriott Rewards Gold.  Amex Platinum comes with free Starwood Preferred Guest Gold, and when Marriott bought Starwood they allowed you to status match.

This has been an excellent result because Marriott Gold is far, far better than Starwood Gold – it comes with guaranteed executive lounge access and guaranteed 4pm check-out (except at resort and conference hotels).  Unfortunately this benefit will end in August when the Marriott and Starwood schemes are merged, as Gold in the new combined programme will not have much in the way of guaranteed benefits.

There is also a partnership between Shangri-La Hotels and Taj Hotels.  You can match your free Shangri-La Hotels Jade status via Amex Platinum to the equivalent tier in the Taj Hotels programme.  This HFP article explains how.

There is a third, lesser known arbitrage which gets you Star Alliance Silver airline status for a year.

Shangri La Shard

Singapore Airlines Krisflyer and Shangri-La Hotels Golden Circle have a partnership called Infinite Journeys.  Before I explain why this is interesting to UK residents, let me outline the key benefits:

Shangri-La Golden Circle Jade and Diamond members receive:

a one-year status match to Krisflyer Elite Silver

a fast-track path to Krisflyer Elite Gold if they take three Singapore Airlines or SilkAir flights (Jade) or one Singapore Airlines or SilkAir flight (Diamond) within four months of registration

Singapore Airlines Krisflyer PPS Club and Elite Gold members receive:

a one-year status match to Golden Circle Gold status and promotion to Jade status after just one stay at a Shangri-La group property

All Shangri-La Golden Circle and Krisflyer members receive:

a 25% bonus (1:1.25) when converting hotel points to Krisflyer miles

the ability to convert Krisflyer miles into Golden Circle points at 12:1

500 Krisflyer miles as well as Golden Circle points when staying at any Shangri-La group hotel

So, why should this interest me as an Amex Platinum member?

In 2016, American Express Platinum added Shangri-La Golden Circle Jade status to its list of permanent benefits.

The other hotel benefits of Amex Platinum are:

  • Gold in Starwood Preferred Guest
  • Gold in Radisson Rewards
  • Gold in Hilton Honors
  • Gold in Melia Rewards

This means that you can use your free Shangri-La Golden Circle Jade status to instantly match to Singapore Airlines Krisflyer Elite Silver status.

Unfortunately, the benefits of Singapore Airlines Silver status are not huge:

  • 25% bonus KrisFlyer miles on actual miles flown
  • Priority reservation waitlist
  • Priority airport standby
  • Waived or discounted service fees

Star Alliance thumbnail

Is Star Alliance Silver status rubbish?

Yes.  Take a look at this fancy website which outlines the, erm, non-benefits of having Silver status.

The big difference between Star Alliance mid-tier status and oneworld mid-tier status is lounge access.  oneworld gives it, Star Alliance does not.  You won’t be getting in any lounges with Krisflyer Elite Silver.

You also need to remember that this is a one year, one-off match.  If you don’t have any plans to fly on Star Alliance in the near future, there is no point.  If you do have some Star Alliance flights coming up you might value free Star Alliance Silver status.

(One possible use of this free Star Alliance Silver card would be to try to match it to another airline that was running its own status match offer.  statusmatcher.com can show you who is currently matching what to where.)

But Star Alliance Gold status is not rubbish

The real value is in getting Star Alliance Gold status for a year for taking three Singapore Airlines or SilkAir flights within four months of registering for the match.  This would get you lounge access on all Star Alliance carriers, amongst other benefits.

When Singapore Airlines flew from Manchester to Munich, it was possible to get your three Singapore Airlines flights fairly easily.  That is no longer the case, as the Manchester flight now routes Singapore – Manchester – Houston.

If you are going to Asia soon, however, this could work out.  If you can squeeze in three Singapore Airlines flights within four months of registration it would trigger your Star Alliance Gold upgrade.

Final question …. is it worth linking your Shangri-La Jade and Singapore Airlines accounts in order to get Shangri-La points?

The other thing worth mentioning about the Singapore Airlines / Shangri-La Hotels partnership is the ability to transfer miles out of Singapore Krisflyer.

American Express points convert at 1:1 to Singapore Airlines as you can see on the Membership Rewards site here.  This means that you can indirectly earn Shangri-La Golden Circle points at the rate of 12 American Express points to 1 Shangri-La point.

Is this worth it?  Not really.  Your average Shangri-La hotel (ie Dubai, Doha, Singapore) is 5,000 to 6,500 Golden Circle points per night.  That would requires (x 12) 60,000+ Membership Rewards points per night!  That doesn’t make sense unless rooms rates are well above £400.

On the other hand, a $100 dining voucher – which can be used at The Shard in London – is 1,000 Golden Circle points.  This isn’t totally terrible.  You are converting 12,000 American Express points into 1,000 Golden Circle points into $100 (£76) of food.  That is 0.6p per Membership Rewards points which is better than redeeming Amex points for gift cards (0.4p to 0.5p) if you don’t want airline or hotel points.

Of course, if you have any Singapore Airlines miles about to expire then this new partnership is a good way to salvage some value.  The minimum transfer is 20,000 Krisflyer miles and there is an annual transfer cap of 180,000 miles.

Full details of the Infinite Journeys tie-up can be found here.

(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.)

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Comments

  1. Sam Goss says:

    Singapore based so went for this as it’s easy to do 3 flights on Silkair or SQ (as an aside, if you fancy somewhere like Bali or Phuket Q often have excellent deals ex UK- e.g. 550gbp for London-Singapore-Bali rtn in Sept. Can stopover in Singapore. Crazily my cash ticket Singapore-Bali rtn pn the same flights would be a couple of hundred quid – luckily my Krisflyer waitlist cleared! )

    They also have some v good biz prices ex Oslo to Aus that you can route via London for the new A380 biz seat

    One negative is that at Changi SQ has specific lounges for gold which I actually find worse than the priority pass options (e.g. no bathrooms inside). But otherwise Gold has been useful for seating, priority check in, outstation lounges etc and got an upcoming TK economy flight that the extra KG will be useful on

    As an aside – which T2 lounge is best for TK ? United Club?

    • In my view, yes – unless you prefer somewhere small and intimate, because that certainly isn’t United Club.

  2. SQ is flying Stockholm to Moscow as well, so that might be an interesting route to get *A. Though not sure how doable this is with visas for Russia, etc.

    • An FT user reported being denied boarding to Moscow back-to-backs on BA without a visa.

      • That’s BA though. If I did this, I would book it all under one PNR.

      • You don’t need a visa if you are only transiting in Moscow anyway so this seems excessive. Your biggest issue is that if your onward flight is cancelled (which with a back to back it shouldn’t be, of course) you are forced to sleep airside.

  3. farid says:

    Rob, should the SQ flights be booked after status match offer date, or could it have been booked earlier but travel within 4 months of registration?

    • Needs to be flown within 4 months I believe (but do check).

      • Sam G says:

        Yes – two of my initial flights were booked in advance

        Also note the upgrade to Gold takes quite a while (couple of weeks) to come through after

        • sab879 says:

          It’s been 6 weeks for me but no luck. I followed all terms to the letter and have been back and forth with emails. They kept saying you have to link your account to Shangrila beforehand which I already did so now they are saying it can take up to 6-8 weeks. Will wait another 2 weeks and chase up. There have been other reports of them not budging or not counting a connecting SQ flights as an eligible flight. Otherwise, the only class that’s not eligible is ‘G’ which is group booking.

  4. Any experience of VS matching star alliance (either silver to silver or gold to gold)?
    Would make the virgin credit cards more interesting.

    • Have a look at statusmatcher.com

      I did pitch to VS that we do a HFP promo whereby anyone who got the paid Virgin credit card would get a status match (so they could use the 241 in Upper Class) but they didn’t bite!

      • But looking at their website seems as though they do match to BAEC quite often as long as you have current VS flights booked

    • Flyoff says:

      I received a status match from Star Alliance Gold to VS Silver with a challenge to VS Gold. I needed a pre-booked ticket on VS. The challenge, if I remember correctly, was equivalent to 4 Upper Class flights.

      • Rob MC says:

        How did you go about this? I emailed them but heard nothing back

        • Flyoff says:

          Hi Rob MC, I sent an email to [email protected] with a photo of the card I wanted to be matched and the PNR of my booked flight. I received a reply 48 hours later making me an offer.

  5. Chris says:

    Is the gold upgrade offer to platinum still on? The link still works

    • TGLoyalty says:

      The link still works so you can give it a go. It’s not guaranteed unless you were targetted but there’s been reports of both success and failure in the past couple weeks

  6. Im flying London to Bali via Singapore and back. Does this count as 4 flights?

    • I did that this time last year and was shown on my KF A/V as4 flights but I stopped in Singapore a few nights. Sadly, I didn’t find out that my Amex Platinum got me silver Krisflyer which I could have got to gold with that trip alone! I would think if you are just transiting at Changi or sitting on the tarmac intent count.

      • #won’t count.

        I did try to get Emirates to status match my silver KF which they didn’t flatly refuse. They asked for KF account history of flights.I didn’t have enough flights in the last 6 months but a frequent flyer might get it. I was hoping to save on the ridiculous £80 per couple per flight of an upcoming 4 flight trip with them to guarantee sitting together.

    • Sam G says:

      Yes – London to Bali via Singapore is four seperate flights, even if you just transitting Changi

  7. “Is Star Alliance Silver status rubbish?

    Yes”

    This did make me laugh!

  8. I was SQ gold about ten years ago when they invested in Virgin. Can Virgin flights still be credited to Krisflyer towards status points and does SQ gold still offer Virgin lounge access does anyone know off top of head?

  9. Spursdebs says:

    A little O/T but Amex / SPG related.

    I’ve got a few Amex points to transfer approx 40 thousand; am I right in thinking I can transfer into SPG scheme then transfer out to British Airways Executive Club with a bonus ? Or have I got that completely wrong?

    Thanks

  10. Does this need to be SQ metal or a code share will do as well? Also, does this need to be 4 separate bookings to trigger the gold challenge or 4 segments on the same booking are enough?

    • Interested in this as well.

    • Pangolin says:

      It needs to be SQ metal (or Silk Air [MI]). Star Alliance always works on the basis of operating carrier rather than marketing carrier for eligibility of mileage accruals.

      Code shares won’t work. And be sure to credit your miles to the Kris Flyer FFP for each flight.

      4 segments is enough, e.g. LHR-SIN-XXX-SIN-LHR. You only need 3 segments so technically the qualifying flight is XXX-SIN.

      Easiest way to do it to make KUL the XXX (it’s a quick hop from SIN).

      • O wow, is this considerably worse than with one world in that case? I’ve flown MH metal with an MH issued ticket and still got full tier points with BA :/

  11. marcw says:

    So Rob… under which circumstances are you able to enter lounges with oneworld Ruby? AFAIK StarAlliance Sivler is equivalent to oneworld Ruby (=BAEC Bronze).

    Yes, you can when flying Qatar Airways and you are QAPC Silver… but that´s it.

    • The point was that a BA member would expect a Silver card to give lounge access.

      • …but BA tiers are ‘lower’ than everyone else’s anyway! Many OW carriers call their Ruby ‘Silver’ to make people feel better about themselves. Hence why it’s so crucial to have your little coloured disc to hand to show where required 🙂

  12. I did this, as we happened to be travelling around SE Asia last Christmas, so was easy to achieve. One thing to add is that I believe that Star Alliance Gold receives a similar Heathrow Express upgrade to BA GGL that you reported on the other day.

  13. There is one advantage to SQ Silver though, which you mentioned but didn’t expand on. Many of their cheapest redemptions ‘sell out’, but they allow members to submit a waitlist request. Having ANY SQ status at all puts you much higher in the queue. Not saying it’ll always work out, but there will be occasions where it’s very valuable for this.

    • Louie says:

      Do you happen to know if the waitlist priority is based on your status at booking or at the current time? I’ve waitlisted some flights for July and have made silver since I waitlisted them. Not sure if I now have any priority or not.

  14. Arcanum says:

    “The big difference between Star Alliance mid-tier status and oneworld mid-tier status is lounge access. oneworld gives it, Star Alliance does not.”

    I guess it depends on your definition of “mid-tier”. Star Alliance only has two levels, which are roughly equivalent in terms of earning requirements and benefits to oneworld Ruby and Sapphire. Many individual programs have higher levels which are similar to Emerald, but the alliance as a whole does not. If you consider Gold to be the “mid-tier” status, both Star Alliance and oneworld provide lounge access at comparable levels.

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