Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

How to use the SPG American Express credit 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.

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
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.

Earn miles with 44 airlines with the Starwood 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 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. 

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

Want to earn more points from credit cards? – May 2022 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are our top recommendations based on the current sign-up bonuses.

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards. You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the best of the other deals currently available.

The Platinum Card has doubled its sign-up bonus to 60,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert to 60,000 Avios or other airline miles, if you apply by 1st June 2022.

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

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

British Airways BA Amex American Express card

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

American Express Amex Gold

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

60,000 points (SPECIAL OFFER) and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee 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 offers:

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

American Express Business Gold

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

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

Capital on Tap Visa card

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,500 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa for a limited company Read our full review

For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending.

Barclaycard Select Cashback credit card

1% cashback and no annual fee Read our full review

Comments (63)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Mr. K says:

    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?

    • Rob says:

      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.

  • Query says:

    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.


    • 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

      • Genghis says:

        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…”

  • Richmond says:

    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.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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