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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 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?

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.

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Comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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

  4. 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?

  5. 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?

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. 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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