Want to Earn More Miles? Don’t Use Your Airline Credit Card for Regular Spending!

Want to Earn More Miles?  Don’t Use Your Airline Credit Card for Regular Spending!

Million Mile SecretsWant to Earn More Miles?  Don’t Use Your Airline Credit Card for Regular Spending!Million Mile Secrets Team

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, Capital One, 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.

Update:   One or more card offers in this post are no longer available.  Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers. 

Want to earn more American Airlines miles or British Airways Avios points for regular spending?  You may think using an American Airlines or British Airways co-branded credit card is your best option.  But it isn’t!

Because with the personal and small business American Express Starwood cards, you can earn MORE miles when you transfer the Starwood points you earn to most airlines.

Plus, until April 5, 2017, both cards are offering a limited-time increased sign-up bonus of 35,000 Starwood points after meeting tiered minimum spending requirements.

Ways To Earn American Airlines Miles
Want to Use American Airlines Miles or British Airways for an Exotic Vacation? Get the Best Rate for Regular Spending With the AMEX Starwood Cards!

I’ll explain why the AMEX Starwood cards are great to use for everyday spending.  Especially if you want to rack-up more airline miles.

Earn a Big Bonus With the Starwood American Express Cards

Link:   Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

Link:   Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express

Link:   How to Fill Out an American Express Business Card Application

Link:   How to Use Starwood Points

Link:   My Review of the 35,000 Starwood Point Offer

Through April 5, 2017, you can earn up to 35,000 Starwood points on the personal and small business versions of the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express cards after meeting tiered minimum spending requirements.

You’ll also get:

The $95 annual fee is waived for the first year on both cards.

Note:   AMEX will only give you the sign-up bonus for each card ONCE per lifetime.

With these great sign-up bonuses, you can get Starwood hotel stays, or consider transferring your points to Starwood’s 30+ airline partners!

Bonus Miles When You Transfer Starwood Points to Airlines

Link:   Use Starwood Points for Travel

For every 20,000 Starwood points you transfer to airline partners (with a 1:1 transfer ratio), you’ll earn 5,000 bonus miles (a 25% bonus!).

So for every $1 spent on the AMEX Starwood cards, you can get up to 1.25 airline miles!  Meaning you’ll earn 25% more American Airlines miles or British Airways Avios points for regular spending on the AMEX Starwood cards than on their own credit cards!

Ways To Earn American Airlines Miles
You’ll Earn 25% More American Airlines Miles or British Airways Avios Points When You Transfer 20,000 Starwood Points and Get 5,000 Bonus Miles!

Because with American Airlines and British Airways co-branded cards, like the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MastercardBarclaycard American Airlines Aviator, and the Chase British Airways Visa Signature Card, you earn 1 mile or point per $1 spent on regular purchases that are NOT in a bonus category.  And they all have the same $95 annual fee as the AMEX Starwood cards.

Plus, Starwood points are more flexible.  Because you can use them for award nights at Starwood, Marriott, or Ritz-Carlton hotels around the world.  Or transfer them to 30+ airline partners!

You can also get a lot of value from your points by booking Nights & Flights or Cash & Points awards.

Great Ways to Use Starwood Points for Flights

1.   American Airlines

Link:   American Airlines Award Chart

Link:   American Airlines Partner Award Chart

Link:   My Series on Booking American Airlines Award Flights Like a Pro

You can use American Airlines miles for flights on American Airlines, oneworld partner airlines (like Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, and Qantas), and other airline partners like Etihad.

Ways To Earn American Airlines Miles
Visit the Caribbean Off-Peak and Pay 12,500 American Airlines Miles Each Way. Get a Round-Trip Flight for 20,000 Starwood Points.

American Airlines also has off-peak awards to:

  • Mexico and the Caribbean for 12,500 American Airlines miles one-way
  • Central America for 12,500 American Airlines miles one-way
  • Hawaii for 20,000 American Airlines miles one-way
  • Northern South America (includes Ecuador and Peru) for 17,500 American Airlines miles one-way
  • Europe for 22,500 American Airlines miles one-way
  • Asia for 32,500 American Airlines miles one-way

Be sure to check out my series about how to book award flights with American Airlines miles!

2.   British Airways

Link:   Wandering Aramean’s Avios Map

Link:   British Airways Award Flight Calculator

Link:   My Series on Booking British Airways Award Flights Like a Pro

British Airways is a distance-based program, and any coach flight within the US on their partner airlines, like Alaska Airlines or American Airlines, that’s under 1,151 miles, costs just 7,500 British Airways Avios points one-way.

When you transfer 20,000 Starwood points to British Airways, you’ll get 25,000 British Airways Avios points, which is more than enough for 3 one-way award flights.

Ways To Earn American Airlines Miles
Use 13,000 British Airways Avios Points to Fly to Dublin One-Way in Coach, 8 Months Out of the Year, From Cities Like Chicago, New York (JFK), and Washington, DC. And Visit the Stunning Cliffs of Moher!

This is a great way to get to Europe or visit the Caribbean.  And folks on the West Coast can visit Hawaii for 12,500 British Airways Avios points each way!

You can also book flights from certain cities on airline partners Air Berlin or Aer Lingus to save miles (and money!) with British Airways Avios points.

Check out my series about how to book award flights with British Airways Avios points for more ideas!

What’s Regular Spending?

Link:   Chase Sapphire Preferred

Link:   Chase Sapphire Reserve

Link:   Chase Ink Business Preferred

Some credit cards offer bonus points on purchases that fall within a certain category, like travel, restaurants, or office supplies.

For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred earns 2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent on travel and dining.  And the Chase Sapphire Reserve earns 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on purchases in these same categories.

And with the Chase Ink Plus Business Preferred, you’ll earn 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent on travel, shipping purchases, internet, and more.

Remember you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards directly to British Airways at a 1:1 ratio.  So if you can earn bonus points, you should!

But there are lots of ordinary purchases that do NOT earn bonus points.  Because they are not in a specific category, the most you’ll earn is 1 point per $1 spent.

Ways To Earn American Airlines Miles
Mazzy Sure Loves When Emily Makes the Most of the Points She Earns for Everyday Spending, Especially on Things Like Dog Treats!

Some everyday expenses that usually earn 1 mile or point per $1 spent are:

  • Art supplies
  • Child care
  • Dentist bills
  • Eye exams
  • Gym memberships
  • Haircuts
  • Hunting or fishing gear
  • Lawn care
  • License renewals
  • Manicures
  • Magazine subscriptions
  • Massages
  • Netflix subscriptions
  • Oil changes
  • Pet food and supplies
  • Yoga classes
  • And lots of other services and items!

So there are lots of opportunities to earn points.  Of course, the best way to earn miles and points with everyday spending is to earn sign-up bonuses on new cards!

But if you’re not trying to meet the minimum spending requirements on a new card, the AMEX Starwood personal or small business cards are a great option.  Because you’ll earn 1.25 miles per $1 spent when you take the 5,000 bonus miles into account!

Or use your points to book hotel stays at Starwood, Marriott, and Ritz-Carlton hotels, in great locations like Hawaii, New OrleansParis, Barcelona, Australia, and more! 

Bottom Line

You’ll earn 5,000 bonus airline miles every time you transfer 20,000 Starwood points to airline partners with a 1:1 transfer ratio.

That means with the AMEX Starwood personal or small business cards, you can effectively earn American Airlines miles or British Airways Avios points at a rate of 1.25 miles or points per $1 spent.  In fact, you’ll earn 1.25 miles or points per $1 spent with any airline that you can transfer Starwood points to at a 1:1 ratio.

That’s more than with the airlines’ own credit cards, like the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MastercardBarclaycard American Airlines Aviator, or Chase British Airways card!

So if you’re not spending in a bonus category or working toward meeting a new card’s minimum spending requirements, the AMEX Starwood cards are a terrific way to earn more miles and points!

Plus, both versions of the card are offering a bigger, 35,000 Starwood point sign-up bonus after meeting tiered minimum spending requirements, through April 5, 2017.

If you liked this post, why don’t you join the 25,000+ 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!

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel.
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

More Info

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Ultimately, those of us who have played the CC card game for years finally start reaching a dead end. One good tactic might be to back off new CCs for 24 months and simply use a 2% cash back card. Given that few miles are worth 2 cents, this could be a good tactic while also keeping ones eyes on occasional bonus deals for existing CCs. One of the best cards out there is the Costco Visa which comes with your membership and offers a 5% gasoline discount at any gas station all the time.

Or if you already have the Sapphire Reserve, use the Freedom Unlimited for an effective 2.25% through the travel portal.

Deborah pierce

I have traveled all over the us, Canada, Mexico and Aruba. This is the worst airline I've ever experienced. It's my first time on this airline. This was a corporate trip. I will be sure to tell my corporate agency to NEVER book this airline. I work for Deutsche Bank. My flight was delayed six times and we are still not boarding.

Dear millionmilesecrets team,

Any miles and points enthusiast who read your blog and tens of others out there already knows the value of this limited-time SPG promotion. No need to drum roll it every single day! Most of us already have this card/s and can't apply again. It's annoying to see your team using so many angles to push SPG cards every day!


There are a million ways to market it, but if you market it a million ways there won't be a point to coming to the site.

The link to the exception for earning the bonus more than once is broken.


Thanks for letting us know, it's been removed.

Great post! The only exception I would make is with the Southwest Card. Since your everyday spend on that card counts toward Companion Pass Status, I generally use that (and the SWA shopping mall) to accumulate points...then switch to Starwood or another great general card like Chase Sapphire.

The premise of this post seems to be that you can get rid of your AA or BA credit cards (and avoid paying the annual fees) and just use your Starwood Amex card for "everyday purchases." However, let's not forget that while its nice to get a 5K bonus when you transfer 20K SPG points you will not get free checked bags nor priority boarding. If these things are not important to you then yes, you do not need these airline-branded cards. They are to me, so I'm keeping my AA card. IOW, as usual YMMV...

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