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!

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!

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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