Is It Worth Transferring AMEX Membership Rewards Points to Starwood and Then to Airline Partners?

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Million Mile Secrets reader Joyce emails:

My husband traveled for his job so we always had miles and points to work with.  He is retired now so I am the person looking for the least expensive options for traveling on our dime.  Your posts are extremely helpful and I love investigating all of the options for accumulating miles and points.

My question is:  Can I transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to my Starwood Preferred Guest account?  And then transfer those same points from Starwood Preferred Guest to an airline with the 25% bonus (I know I will need to transfer in 20,000 point increments)?

Yes.  Joyce can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to Starwood and then to airline partners.  She’ll get a bonus 5,000 miles for every 20,000 AMEX points she transfers.

Is It Worth Transferring AMEX Membership Rewards Points To Starwood And Then To Airline Partners

Joyce Can Transfer AMEX Membership Rewards Points to Starwood Preferred Guest, Then to Airline Partners – But Should She?

But it’s NOT the best use of her points!

This Isn’t a Good Deal

Link:   American Express Membership Rewards

Link:   Starwood Preferred Guest

Joyce can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to Starwood Preferred Guest.  And once the points are in her Starwood account, she can transfer them to Starwood’s airline partners.

Starwood points are valuable because when you transfer 20,000 Starwood points to airlines, they’ll give you a 5,000 mile bonus.  So 20,000 Starwood points become 25,000 airline miles.

Is It Worth Transferring AMEX Membership Rewards Points To Starwood And Then To Airline Partners

Starwood Points Can Get You Big Travel With Small Money When Transferred to Airline Partners

But transferring American Express Membership Rewards points to Starwood, and then to airline partners is a bad deal.  That’s because the transfer ratio between AMEX points and Starwood points is very poor.

For every 1,000 American Express Membership Rewards points you transfer, you’ll only get 333 Starwood points.  So the transfer ratio is ~3:1.

To get 20,000 Starwood points (and earn the 5,000 mile bonus when you transfer them to airline partners), you’d have to transfer 61,000 American Express Membership Rewards points!

Is It Worth Transferring AMEX Membership Rewards Points To Starwood And Then To Airline Partners

Bad Deal Alert! You’ll Only Get 333 Starwood Points for Every 1,000 AMEX Membership Rewards Points You Transfer

It’s NOT worth it to earn a 5,000 mile bonus.  Even though American Express occasionally has transfer bonuses to Starwood Preferred Guest, it’s still not a good deal.

Instead, Joyce should consider transferring her American Express Membership Rewards points directly to an AMEX airline partner, like Delta, Air Canada, or British Airways.  AMEX points transfer at a 1:1 ratio to these airline partners, so 25,000 points = 25,000 miles.

Even though Starwood has more airline partners than American Express, Joyce still has lots of award ticket options if she transfers her American Express Membership Rewards points directly to an airline partner.

That’s because American Express Membership Rewards points transfer to all 3 major airline alliances.  For example:

  • Transfer AMEX points to Delta – use miles for award tickets on SkyTeam airlines
  • Transfer AMEX points to Air Canada or Singapore Airlines – use miles for award tickets on Star Alliance airlines such as United Airlines
  • Transfer AMEX points to British Airways – use miles for award tickets on oneworld airlines such as American Airlines
Is It Worth Transferring AMEX Membership Rewards Points To Starwood And Then To Airline Partners

It’s Better to Transfer AMEX Membership Rewards Points Directly to Airline Partners

And there are lots of cards that earn American Express Membership Rewards points!

Personal CardsBusiness Cards
Premier Rewards Gold Card From American ExpressThe Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN
American Express® Mercedes-Benz PlatinumThe Blue for Business® Credit Card from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American ExpressThe Enhanced Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN
AMEX EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express
Business Green Rewards Card from American Express OPEN
AMEX EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express
American Express® Gold Card
American Express® Green Card
Blue from American Express® Note: These are the ONLY AMEX cards that earn Membership Rewards points that can NOT be transferred to airline & hotel programs. But you can use these points on the Membership Rewards website for other redemptions. Includes personal AND small business versions of the card.

You can read my post on all the ways to use American Express Membership Rewards points to get to Europe for ideas on how to get the most out of your AMEX points! 

Bottom Line

You can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to Starwood Preferred Guest.  And from there, transfer your Starwood points to airline partners.

But this is NOT a good idea!  Even though you get a 5,000 mile bonus when you transfer 20,000 Starwood points to airline partners, you’d need 61,000 American Express Membership Rewards points to get 20,000 Starwood points.

That’s a very bad transfer ratio and not a good value at all!

Instead, it’s better to transfer American Express Membership Rewards points directly to airline partners at a 1:1 ratio.

Thanks for the question, Joyce, and safe travels!

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6 responses to “Is It Worth Transferring AMEX Membership Rewards Points to Starwood and Then to Airline Partners?

  1. Ok I read this. However, what about this scenario.

    You have the AMEX Gold Card. You pick the 3X category for postage for the year. You ONLY use the AMEX Gold Card for postage. Then you xfer to Starwood and then to the airline. You can collect the 5000 mile bonus.

    This is the exact scenario I am in. I spend $150,000+ in postage with USPS and UPS. I had the starwood card previously. That gives me 1 point for $1 spend. I picked up to the AMEX Gold to use for up to $100,000 in postage purchases (for the 3X bonus). The Amex gives 3 Amex points. This is more versatile as it can be used on AMEX Xfer partners as well as a 3:1 AMEX to SPG xfer opportunity. It’s basically a wash for me becuase $1 spent at the post office is 3 AMEX points or 1 Starwood point. So the 3:1 xfer is the same.

    However, the double transfer opportunity might be worthwhile?

  2. You assume the OP isn’t Canadian. If she is, SPG is a great option! Here’s why…transfers are always 1-0.5, and the only other viable options are Aeros and Avios, which are never bonused, and have very limited usefulness. For Canadians, transferring to SPG can make very good sense!

  3. Hi,

    I notice that we could “Transfer AMEX points to Air Canada or Singapore Airlines – use miles for award tickets on Star Alliance airlines such as United Airlines”? Could you please give some instruction on how to book reward ticket of United using miles transferred to Air Canada or Singapore Airlines from AMEX? I am a newbie for mile collection and usage, so I am not sure if this question is too simple or someone else had already instructed on that.

    Thanks

  4. I am a 1K united flyer and have quite a bit of Amex membership points AND Starwood points
    What about transferring into Air Canada at the one to one rate and then transferring to United? Is that possible ? I suppose with no status upgrades happening it is less important which airline I fly but I do prefer United for customer service and lounges

  5. Is there a service ( paid) that would help maximize point usage? I am new but have over 300k points saved up and want to do something way over the top for my tenth anniversary ( my wife deserves it since I earned all those miles being gone, lol)

  6. Gary,

    Did you ever come up with a way to transfer AMEX points to United without taking a big hit? Like you, I like United and was thinking about using Air Canada as the middle step. Haven’t figured how to move from Air Canada to United. Any help would be appreciated.