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
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.

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?

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 points from credit cards? – October 2021 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are our October 2021 recommendations based on the current sign-up bonus

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here.

The following offers will end soon:

  • 10,000 Avios on British Airways American Express (ends 2nd November)
  • 40,000 Avios on British Airways American Express Premium Plus (ends 2nd November)
  • 60,000 points on The Platinum Card from American Express (ends 2nd November)
  • 30,000 points on American Express Preferred Rewards Gold (ends 9th November)

Here are the top current deals:

British Airways BA Amex American Express card

British Airways American Express

10,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and an Economy 241 voucher for spending ….. Read our full review

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

40,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 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 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.

American Express Business Gold

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

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

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

60,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios 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

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)

  • Guy says:

    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?

    • Ian M says:

      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?

      • Guy says:

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

        • Guy says:

          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.

        • Stu N says:

          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.

        • Ian M says:

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

    • JamesC says:

      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.

  • Ian M says:

    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).

    • watfordh says:

      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.

      • Ian M says:

        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.

    • Simon says:

      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.

  • Mycity says:

    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?

    • Stu N says:

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

  • James says:

    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….

    • Rob says:

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

  • Lumma says:

    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

  • Nick_C says:

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

    • Genghis says:

      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)

  • Doug M says:

    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.

    • Lumma says:

      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

  • 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.

      • S says:

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

        • Binks says:

          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.

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