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How to use the SPG American Express card to earn miles with 44 different airlines

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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.

SPG American Express card UK

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
Multiplus 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.

SPG Amex

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 36.2% variable, including the £75 annual fee, based on a notional £1,200 credit limit. The interest rate on purchases is 19.9% 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?

Yes.

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.

Conclusion

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. 

My full review of the Starwood Amex credit card is here.  You can apply for the card 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.)

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.

Review: Why the JW Marriott resort in Venice continues to frustrate me, and why we return (Part 2)
Does Italian law mean you can book a cheap BA ticket from Milan but get on in London?
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Comments

  1. Post the Marriott merger I’m still waiting for the points from my 16 Jul – 15 Aug statement to post, anyone else the same or should I be calling Amex?

    • See my post below, I’m in the same boat. Not received any points for my spending since 1st July.

      Have you merged your SPG and Marriott accounts? I take it the points left your SPG Amex amount as normal but didn’t last in your Starwood account?

      • Thanks Ian, yes merges but with old SPG number and left my account 9th August.

        • Correction, sorry I read that as have I linked my Amex and SPG accounts. Yes Marriott and SPG have been merged with SPG chosen as the primary.

        • My 31 July points made it OK but the 31 Aug ones are still in transit. I merged my accounts, keeping the Marriott one as that was the one with bookings and almost all my points in it. Plan to give it 4 weeks then chase up.

        • Interesting that your 31st July points made it! I guess I should try calling Amex again

    • I asked Amex about this through online chat a few days ago and I was told it is a known issue that is expected to be sorted out by mid September. So based on that I will give it another week or so and may then follow up again.

      • Any joy? I’ve now had two tranches of points disappear into the ether. Amex live chat said before the last batch they had updated my SPG number to the new one (after asking me for it) but still nothing.

        Points have started building up at 3:1 on the card itself since 24th September.

        • Another detail – I passed my £25k annual spend threshold yesterday and I see the “AX UK 1 Free Night up to 25,000 points” voucher showing in my Marriott Rewards account so obviously something is connected!

  2. Has anyone received their points from the SPG Amex yet? Points left my SPG Amex account as normal on 5th August and 5th September but have not reappeared in my SPG/Marriott account. So I’ve not received points for any spend since 1st July.

    I spoke to Starwood customer service a few days ago and they said as my accounts have merged, my old SPG number is dead and not linked to my new account. They said I should call Amex and update them with my new number.. This seems a bit odd, why people’s old SPG numbers not be linked to the new accounts? Anyway calling Amex proved impossible. I waited half an hour on hold and gave up (too many people calling about their BA accounts being hacked I guess).

    • My points left AMEX SPG on 20th August but have not appeared in my SPG account. I phoned AMEX and was told that due to the SPG and Marriott merger there was a delay and “all point transfer will sweep by mid September”. No specific date available.

      • I’ve just spoken to Amex. They said my points left Amex and were transferred to my SPG account on 5th August and 5th September as normal. They said if I have not received them I should speak to Starwood. I explained that I have already spoken to Starwood and they told me to speak to Amex! They have now opened a case and I need to wait 7-10 business days.

    • That sounds like CS rubbish as, if you’ve merged accounts and if you look in the profile section of your new Marriott account, your old SPG account # (for the sake of clarity: the one you’ll have been using for aeons until the last month) appears below your Marriott # demonstrably showing whatever Marriottt may have told you is unlikely to be the case. The my really are crap — last week I had a response to an email Is sent them in MAY.

  3. O/T my Starwood points from Amex seem be be at the old rate, do they automatically upgrade them to 3 points per £ on transfer now?

    • My 31 July points left as 1800 Starpoints and arrived as 5400 Marriot points so that at least is working.

  4. Is there likely to be an SPG/Marriott sale before the end of the year? I forgot to load up over the summer, I know previously SPG had sales 2-3 times a year….

    • Points sale? Marriott never used to have these, ever, until it bought Starwood. It may go back to that or it may not.

  5. One thing that I noticed recently is that the minimum transfer to airline miles for non status members seems to have gone. I had 6,000 Marriott points from the NFL free points promos from last year and the old SPG programme wouldn’t let me send them (2,000 SPG points) to BA, but post merger it let me send them over.

    I know not the best use of the points but I’m unlikely to get high enough of a balance to use them for anything better. 2,000 avios for sending a few tweets from an unused account isn’t a terrible result

  6. Is there a referral bonus from SPG to other cards? Any bonus for second cardholders?

    • Referral now 9k new Marriotts. No supp bonus.

    • guesswho2000 says:

      You’ll receive 9,000 points for each approved friend.
      They receive 33,000 points if they spend £1,000 in their first three months of Cardmembership.

      Previously was 5,000 SPG (15,000 new Marriott) – so referrer has taken a loss there, but no change for the new applicant (was previously 11k=33k new)

  7. Are Air New Zealand points very valuable, or is that just a crap rate. Using the typical valuations that would make an ANZ point worth between 67p and a £1.

    • Air New Zealand points are worth NZ$1 per point. For flights on Air New Zealand they’re just used for the equivalent cash price. There’s a separate redemption chart for star alliance partners. For example it’s 1215 points one way in business from Europe to Asia or 243,000 Marriott points

  8. Sandgrounder says:

    Following the merger, referrals reduced to a poor 9000, no bonus when I added a supp four months ago.

    • Chris Palmer says:

      If you have a Platinum Amex, you’re better off referring from that, since 9,000 Marriott points is not a good return.

      • You’re always better off referring from Amex Platinum. 18k MR beats 9k avios, and it did beat 5k old scheme points too.

        • I self referred myself from my Plat Amex for the SPG card last Saturday and 5 days later had bagged a nice 18K MR points. Thanks again to HfP.

  9. fivebobbill says:

    O/T sorry, but Amex related. Can anyone give me any advice on a transfer from Abu Dhabi Cruise Port to Dubai? I know taxis are fairly cheap, and I guess ordinarily £60 for the trip, but I’m wondering if just jumping into a random taxi getting off ship would (like everywhere else in the world) drive up the price? I also ask because with the current Amex Travel offer some of us got, they have a couple of private transfer companies in UAE which I could look at to make up the balance of a £600 spend, but wouldn’t bother if it was expensive and I could get away with the above £60 option.
    Any advice would be really appreciated.

    • Nick Burch says:

      Taxis in the UAE are metered, so there shouldn’t be a price jump. From Dubai Marina to by the old airport in Abu Dhabi was DHS 200 in a Dubai taxi this weekend, coming back from the centre of Abu Dhabi was DHS 250 in an Abu Dhabi taxi. Depending on where you’re going in Dubai, it could be a bit more. First taxi each way very happy to take the long drive so you shouldn’t struggle

    • fivebobbill says:

      Thanks guys, I know the taxi’s are cheap as I’ve been there a number of times, just concerned they may up the price as it’s the taxi rank at the ship.
      Not a problem though, I’ll ask the fare and if they hike it up I’ll head outside the port and hail a metered one.
      Not to appear tight-fisted, heavily principled on this, I have developed a particular aversion to getting ripped off by taxi’s at both airports and ships over the years…!

  10. I’ve just booked flights on KLM and Jet Airways. While I realise I won’t get a huge amount of points, what frequent flyer scheme am I best using these in – Flying Blue?

    • You need a scheme you can top up, more likely with Amex points – and that means either Delta or Flying Blue. FB will also have Virgin Atlantic redemptions from next year. Check the exact mileage in each scheme based on your ticket class, it may not be the same.

  11. Completely OT. Eurostar – Am I right in thinking Amex Plat gets you Avantage status, or have I made that up?

    Also, is there any advantage to having Avantage, rather than Classique? (I won’t be hitting the heady heights of Carte Blanche)

  12. OT but Amex related – trying to use the £200 off £600 Amex Travel spend and tickets I want have intermittently been available on-line over the last 2 days but every time I try to buy them, the purchase does not go through and the tickets re-price up – this happened 5-6 times. The phone agent could also see the tickets this morning but buying through them would not have triggered the offer. Any ideas please?

    • guesswho2000 says:

      It was a nightmare for me trying to do this, I switched browser from Firefox to Safari and it worked.

      • Amex travel site is really glitchy and gave mad results if you reran a search. Try Private Browsing on your normal browser when you go to book or use a different pc.

    • They are probably not truly available. Check the actual airline website.

      • guesswho2000 says:

        Mine were truly available, both on Amex travel and the airline’s site. I got it booked in the end after six or seven tries, and switching browser.

  13. fivebobbill says:

    O/T again, just found another offer on mine and my missus Amex Plat cards.
    Spend a “tenner” online or in store at Tesco before 21st October 2018 for an extra 400 MR Points.
    Shouldn’t be too difficult that one…!
    Happy shopping!

  14. Hi Rob, are there any hotels in Hong Kong or Dubai that you can recommend to be able to use the 30K SPG points? If there is a suggested web-link happy to use that.Thx

  15. Nice, wish I got offers like that!

    • Anyone on here ever had issues using Revolut for the first time using chip & pin?
      Tried today & transaction declined stating invalid card. CS @ Revolut stated some terminals do not accept Revolut cards?

  16. O/T but Amex related.

    My Platinum has been very useful but I think it may be time to cancel, I upgraded via Gold charge but havee not had a fee yet, so will any charge be applied for the time I’ve had it?

  17. I’ve been eyeing the SPG card for some time now.
    1. Do you fine folk think now is a good time to take it out? Out post-merger something might change (for the worst or for the better)
    2. Can you close it “cleanly” without orphaning any points/miles?

    • Can’t see the offer improving because I’m convinced the card has a future, given it is interchange-fee capped.

      Nothing orphaned as all points swept to SPG/Marriott at the end of each month.

    • Memesweeper says:

      Excellent options when closing as the points land with SPG/Marriot. They may close the card in future but who cares? There will be a Marriot one along shortly to replace it.

      Rob — the tube is plastered with giant BA Amex card adverts at the moment. I can’t believe that card is going anywhere soon, interchange cap or not.

  18. I have 72000 points. If transferring to BAEC, does this mean I will earn 72000/3 = 24000 (plus 5000 bonus) totalling 29000 Avios?

    Is this the best use (compared to using the 72000 on hotels?) as I won’t be earning (m)any more points.

    Thanks

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Really depends on if you have a use for those avios because for that number of points you could stay a night at a very nice hotel.

      While you say unlikely to earn more. AMEX MR transfer, SPG churn, Marriotts new card, twitter promo and stay or two all add up and there no hard expiry so as long as you earn every year you’ll keep them

      • Agreed. I have never transferred SPG->avios since the hotel rewards are so much better value.

        Note that expiry is now 2 years:
        1.6.d. Points Expiration Policy
        “If a Member Account is inactive for twenty-four (24) consecutive months, that Member Account will forfeit all accumulated Points. Members can remain active in the Loyalty Program and retain accumulated Points by earning Points or Miles in the Loyalty Program or redeeming Points in the Loyalty Program at least once every twenty-four (24) months…”
        https://www.marriott.com/loyalty/terms/default.mi

  19. I managed to book category 4 hotel which costed $230 per night for standard room and got upgraded to highest category before arrival. I thought it was good points use and good result in general since I don’t even have elite status with Marriott. I booked the room 3h before arrival.

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