We devote thousands of hours of research to help you get Big Travel with Small Money. You support us by signing-up for credit cards through partner links which earn us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.
UPDATE: The Starwood American Express credit card offers in this post are no longer available, but check Hot Deals for the latest offers!
It can be frustrating when you’re SO close to having enough miles for an award ticket. And are looking for a way to quickly earn more miles.
If you’re new to miles and points, you’ll probably experience this at some point. And when you do (newbie or award booking pro), you can always transfer Starwood points to get your award flight!
Earn Starwood Points With the AMEX Starwood Card
Link: Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
Link: Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express
Until September 14, 2015, there’s an increased sign-up bonus on the AMEX Starwood cards. You’ll get:
- 30,000 Starwood points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the 1st 3 months of opening your account (personal card), or
- 30,000 Starwood points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the 1st 3 months of opening your account (small business card)
- 2X Starwood points per $1 you spend at Starwood hotels (includes Aloft, Element, Four Points,Le Meridien, Sheraton, St Regis, The Luxury Collection, Westin and W brand hotels)
- 1X Starwood point per $1 you spend on everything else
- Unlimited use of Boingo Wi-Fi hotspots (excluding in-flight)
- For small business cardholders, access to Sheraton Club lounges (free breakfast and hors d’oeuvres) for cardholder and 1 guest staying in the same room (3rd party bookings are excluded).
- 2 stay credits or 5 night credits toward Starwood Elite Status
- $95 annual fee, waived for the 1st year
- No foreign transaction fees
- Terms & limitations apply
When to Transfer to ~30 Airline Partners!
One of the best perks about Starwood points is that you can transfer your Starwood points to ~30 airline partners, including:
|Starwood Preferred Guest Airline Transfer Partners|
|Air China||Air New Zealand||Alaska Airlines|
|Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific)||Asiana Airlines||British Airways|
|Etihad||Flying Blue||Gol Smiles|
|Hainan Airlines||Hawaiian Airlines||Iberia|
|Japan Airlines||Jet Airways||Korean Airlines|
|LifeMiles (Avianca)||Miles & More (Lufthansa)||Qatar Airways|
|Saudi Arabian Airlines||Singapore Airlines||Thai Airways|
|United Airlines||Virgin Atlantic||Virgin Australia|
The minimum transfer requirement is 2,500 Starwood points. Unless you have elite status with Starwood.
If you have Starwood Gold status, the minimum transfer amount is 1,500 Starwood points. And if you have Starwood Platinum status, there is NO minimum transfer requirement.
Keep in mind it can take up to ~4 weeks for the points to transfer.
Although, in my experience it usually only takes ~2 weeks, depending on the airline.
Some Starwood transfer partners, like Delta, Flying Blue, or Singapore Airlines, are transfer partners of other programs including AMEX Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Citi ThankYou, whose points are easier to earn. So check if you can transfer the points you need from another program before you dip into your Starwood stash!
Let’s look at a few award flights that merit using your Starwood points!
1. Trip to Europe on Air Berlin With British Airways Avios Points
A great use of British Airways Avios points is to book award flights with low fuel surcharges on their partner Air Berlin. Because they’re airline partners, they can access each other’s award seats!
You can also transfer to British Airways Avios points from Chase Ultimate Rewards and AMEX Membership Rewards. But if you don’t collect those points, or don’t want to use them, transferring Starwood points could be a good option.
Remember starting October 1, 2015, you’ll get a less favorable transfer ratio when you transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points to British Airways.
2. Off-Peak Award Flights on American Airlines
Starwood points are the only flexible points that transfer to American Airlines.
You can use American Airlines miles for off-peak award flights to:
- Mexico and the Caribbean for 12,500 American Airlines miles each way
- Central America and northern South America for 15,000 American Airlines miles each way
- Hawaii for 17,500 American Airlines miles each way
- Southern South America for 20,000 American Airlines miles each way
- Parts of Asia for 25,000 American Airlines miles each way
Be sure to check out my series about how to book award flights with American Airlines miles!
3. Alaska Airlines to Fly on Cathay Pacific
According to Alaska Airline’s partner award chart, you can fly from North America to Asia in First Class for 70,000 Alaska Airlines miles each way!
And Starwood is 1 of the only points programs that transfers directly to Alaska Airlines!
3. Award Flights on Delta Airlines
I’ve written about how Delta miles are a great way to get to Europe.
You can fly from anywhere in the mainland US, Alaska, or Canada to Europe for 30,000 Delta miles each way, with very low fuel surcharges.
AMEX Membership Rewards transfers directly to Delta, but you’ll have to pay an excise fee when you transfer to domestic airlines. If you want to avoid the fee, or don’t have AMEX Membership Rewards points, you can top off your Delta miles with Starwood points instead.
4. Flying Blue Promo Awards
I always let you know when you can get a good deal with Flying Blue promo awards, which change at the beginning of each month.
Some months, you can get a fantastic deal, like 25% to 50% off award seats. But be aware Flying Blue has high fuel charges on award flights. So make sure the discount is worth paying the extra fees on your award ticket.
Flying Blue is also a transfer partner with AMEX Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou points. If you need more Flying Blue miles, or don’t have other points that transfer to Flying Blue, Starwood points can help top your account off to get that perfect award flight!
Other Uses of Starwood Points
Starwood points are fantastic because there are so many ways to use them. In addition to award flights, you use them for:
But the best way to use your Starwood points is for memories and experiences that are meaningful to YOU! 🙂
You can transfer Starwood points to ~30 airline partners for award travel.
This can be a lifesaver when you’re very close to having enough miles for an award flight!
Some of my favorite airlines are part of Starwood’s program! Keep in mind it can take up to ~4 weeks for the transfer to complete, although in my experience, it’s usually around ~2 weeks.
And remember the minimum amount you can transfer if you don’t have elite status with Starwood is 2,500 Starwood points.
This is a great way to snag an award flight when you need more miles!