Disclosure: We get a commission for links on the blog. You don’t have to use our links, but we’re very grateful when you do. American Express, Barclaycard, Chase, and US Bank are Million Mile Secrets advertising partners. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or endorsed by our partners. Here’s our Advertiser Disclosure.
UPDATE: The Starwood American Express credit card offers in this post are no longer available, but check Hot Deals for the latest offers!
One of the best uses of Starwood points is transferring them to airline partners for award tickets. That’s because you’ll get 5,000 bonus miles for every 20,000 Starwood points you transfer.
But did you know you can use your Starwood points toward paid tickets on 150+ airlines with no blackout dates?
SPG Flights isn’t always the best deal. But it can be useful for folks who can only travel at certain times of the year, can’t find award seats, or want cheap paid tickets.
What’s the Deal?
Link: SPG Flights
Link: American Express Starwood Preferred Guest (Personal)
Link: American Express Starwood Preferred Guest (Small Business)
With SPG Flights, you can use Starwood points at fixed rates for paid tickets on over 150 airlines. If there’s a paid seat available, you can use points to purchase it!
And you’ll earn frequent flyer miles for the ticket.
Here’s the chart for SPG Flights. Prices include taxes, fees, and Starwood’s $15 booking fee.
Before you decide to book a paid ticket with Starwood points, consider how many points you’d need for an award ticket on the same flight.
Most of the time, you’ll need MORE Starwood points for a paid flight than you would if you transferred points to the same airline for an award ticket.
But sometimes SPG Flights is a better deal.
In the above example, you’d spend the same number of Starwood points for a paid ticket as you would if you transferred points to Delta for an award ticket.
But Delta low-level award tickets can be difficult to find, so it’s probably easier to use Starwood points for a paid ticket in this case.
Is It Worth It?
Starwood points transfer to 30+ airlines, usually at a 1:1 ratio.
For example, if you transferred 20,000 Starwood points to American Airlines, you’d earn 25,000 American Airlines miles (20,000 miles + 5,000 mile transfer bonus).
With 25,000 American Airlines miles, you could book a round-trip coach ticket within the continental US, Canada, or Alaska.
The same number of Starwood points (20,000) is enough for a paid ticket that costs $215 to $280 with SPG Flights.
So in this example, if the cost of a paid ticket is less than $215 (including taxes, fees, and the booking fee), you’ll do better using SPG Flights than transferring Starwood points to American Airlines.
That said, if there are no low-level award seats available, you may decide to use Starwood points even though it’s not the best value.
And for more expensive tickets, SPG Flights is generally NOT a good deal.
For example, you could book a 1-way First Class ticket on Singapore Airlines (a Starwood transfer partner) between New York and Frankfurt for 57,375 Singapore Airlines miles.
You’d have to transfer 40,000 Starwood points to receive 50,000 Singapore Airlines miles (including the transfer bonus of 5,000 miles for every 20,000 points transferred). Then transfer another 8,000 Starwood points to make up the difference (total 58,000 Starwood points).
A paid ticket on this route could cost almost ~$5,000.
According to the SPG Flights chart, you could spend 395,000 Starwood points for a $5,000 paid ticket. It’s a MUCH better deal to book an award ticket in this case!
As always, do the math and see which is a better deal for your travel plans!
There Are Other Options
So if you want to use points to book paid tickets with no blackout dates, you might be better off using Chase Ultimate Rewards points or Citi ThankYou points because they’re easier to earn.
And save your Starwood points for Big Travel at their best hotels. Or transfer them to airline partners to experience Business or First Class at a much lower rate.
Keep in mind that you could also get an excellent value by using Starwood points for Nights and Flights, like 5 nights and 2 airline tickets to Walt Disney World with the sign-up bonus from 2 AMEX Starwood cards!
Instead of transferring Starwood points to airline partners, folks looking for travel flexibility might consider booking paid flights with their points.
SPG Flights is usually not the best use of Starwood points. But it’s a good deal if you can’t find award tickets or aren’t flexible in your travel plans.
Plus, you’ll earn frequent flyer miles for the ticket.
This is often a better deal for very cheap domestic tickets. But do the math to see what works better for you!
That said, 1 of the best ways to use Starwood points is for award stays at top Starwood hotels in expensive destinations, like Europe.
Let me know if you’ve gotten a good deal with SPG Flights!
* If you liked this post, why don’t you join the 20,000+ readers who have signed-up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 email per day!) or in an RSS reader …because then you’ll never miss another update!