One aspect of the Marriott / Starwood Preferred Guest programme merger we haven’t looked at yet is the increased ability to earn airline miles with the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express credit card.
Marriott Rewards had some airline partners which Starwood Preferred Guest did not have. I don’t think any were lost during the merger, so we now have the impressive position where the SPG Amex lets you earn miles with 44 different frequent flyer schemes.
For many of these schemes, the Starwood Amex is the ONLY way of earning their miles via a UK credit card.
Here is the full list of Starwood / Marriott airline partners now (you can also see it online here) and the transfer rate:
Aegean Airlines 3:1
Aeroflot Bonus 3:1
AeroMexico ClubPremier 3:1
Air Canada Aeroplan 3:1
Air China Phoenix Miles 3:1
Air France/KLM Flying Blue 3:1
Air New Zealand Airpoints 200:1
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan 3:1
Alitalia MilleMiglia 3:1
ANA Mileage Club 3:1
American Airlines 3:1
Asiana Airlines Asiana Club 3:1
Avianca LifeMiles 3:1
British Airways Executive Club 3:1
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles 3:1
China Eastern Airlines Eastern Miles 3:1
China Southern Airlines 3:1
Copa Airlines ConnectMiles 3:1
Delta SkyMiles 3:1
Emirates Skywards 3:1
Etihad Guest 3:1
Frontier Airlines EarlyReturns 3:1
Hainan Airlines 3:1
Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles 3:1
Iberia Plus 3:1
Japan Airlines JAL Mileage Bank 3:1
Jet Airways JetPrivilege 3:1
JetBlue TrueBlue 6:1
Korean Air SKYPASS 3:1
LATAM Airlines LATAMPASS 3:1
Lufthansa Miles & More 3:1
Qantas Frequent Flyer 3:1
Qatar Privilege Club 3:1
Saudia Airlines 3:1
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer 3:1
South African Airways Voyager 3:1
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards 3:1
TAP Air Portugal 3:1
THAI Airways 3:1
Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles 3:1
United MileagePlus 3:1.1
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club 3:1
Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyer 3:1
As far as I know, for the 34 airlines in bold, the Starwood American Express is the ONLY UK credit card partner.
(You could earn miles in some of these airlines via obscure routes, such as the IHG credit cards or moving American Express points to Radisson Rewards and then on to an airline, but the rate would be very poor and not worth it.)
Using the Starwood Amex to prevent miles expiry
We tend not to feature non-UK frequent flyer schemes heavily on Head for Points. When we do, it is usually airlines which are American Express Membership Rewards partners. One example is the incredible 25,000 mile one-way Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer business class redemption tickets to the Middle East which I covered here, flying on Lufthansa, SWISS, Turkish or Egyptian.
You may have balances in other programmes however. If you do, the Starwood Amex is a good way – perhaps the only way in the UK – of topping up your balance so you can empty it out for a redemption.
Many schemes also require regular activity on your account to stop miles expiring. Moving points across from Marriott Rewards / Starwood Preferred Guest, earned with the SPG Amex card, is an easy way of doing this.
What does the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express earn?
I am obliged to remind you at this point that the representative APR on this card is 39.7% variable, including the £75 annual fee, based on a notional £1,200 credit limit. The interest rate on purchases is 22.9% variable.
The earning rate is surprisingly generous.
You earn 3 Marriott / Starwood points for every £1 you spend, with double points for spending in Marriott and Starwood hotels.
These transfer to airline miles at 3:1, as the list above shows, so you are getting 1 mile per £1 spent.
Even better, if you move 60,000 points at once you get a 5,000 miles bonus. 60,000 Marriott / Starwood points will therefore get you 25,000 airline miles. This is 1.25 airline miles per £1 spent.
For someone collecting American Airlines miles, Air Canada miles, Qatar Airways miles etc this is a straightforward and fairly lucrative way of picking them up.
Is there a sign-up bonus?
Yes. The sign-up bonus is 30,000 points. This converts to 10,000 airline miles.
Of course, you can also use them for Marriott / Starwood hotels where 30,000 points should get you at least £150 of value.
Can I get the sign-up bonus if I have a British Airways / Gold / Platinum / Nectar American Express?
There are absolutely NO RESTRICTIONS AT ALL on getting the bonus on the Starwood Amex, apart from the fact that you can’t have had the card in the previous six months.
There is a low spend target to trigger the bonus. You only need to spend £1,000 within 90 days to receive 30,000 points as a sign-up bonus.
Are there any other card benefits?
Yes, but I don’t rate them highly.
Spend £15,000 in a membership year and you will receive Gold status in Marriott Rewards / Starwood Preferred Guest. The benefits of Gold status are not great, however – no free breakfast, no lounge access.
Spend £25,000 in a membership year and you earn a free night at any Marriott / Starwood hotel costing up to 25,000 points per night. The snag here is that there are not many impressive hotels in that price range – remember that, from January 2019, the best hotels will be 85,000 points per night.
The Starwood Preferred Guest American Express card is well worth a look if you have any niche frequent flyer miles which you want to top up or stop expiring.
As virtually everyone qualifies for the sign-up bonus, even if you have BA, Gold or Platinum Amex, it is also worth thinking about for everyone else too. The sign-up bonus is worth 10,000 airline miles or roughly £150 of free hotel nights.
Remember that you only need £1,000 of spending to trigger the bonus. The £75 annual fee is also refundable pro-rata if you cancel.
Want to earn more points from credit cards? – January 2021 update
If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are our January 2021 recommendations based on the current sign-up bonus.
British Airways American Express
5,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and a companion voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review
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
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
The Platinum Card from American Express
30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review
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
20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review
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
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.