You’ll be reading (or have read) lots about the Starwood Amex offering expiring (not from me…or wait, did I just mention it?) For full disclosure, I dropped the Amex Starwood card as my day-to-day card a few months back, and replaced it with my United Club card (1.5 miles per dollar on everything). I haven’t looked back since…
That said, while most of those who get the card know about the 5,000 mile bonus for transferring into their airline partners, I wanted to point out two ways of using those Starwood points that are not as frequently discussed:
– I wrote a little while back about how you can use Air France/KLM Flying Blue miles to book one-way tickets on Delta Air Lines with no fuel surcharges. You can book tickets FROM the US to overseas with no fuel surcharge (or within the US), but if you book a one-way back from overseas to the US they will charge you a surcharge. Flying Blue is a Starwood transfer partner (which is why I’m mentioning it here), and that allows for two really solid redemption opportunities. Flying Blue only charges 50,000 miles for coach seats from the US to Europe, which equates to just 40,000 Starwood points with that 5,000 mile bonus for each 20,000 miles transferred. And you can use it for a one-way on Delta over to Europe if you want (for just 20k Starwood points). Even better, they consider Israel to be part of the European zone. If you book on the Delta flight to Tel Aviv, it’s just 40,000 Starwood points for a round trip in coach (flights on Air France and KLM have fuel surcharges).
– Don’t forget about LAN’s distance-based award chart. LAN prices its awards in Kilometers, and Starwood gives you 2 LAN Kilometers for every 1 Starwood point. Plus you get the bonus — in short, 20,000 Starwood points earns you 50,000 LAN miles. A couple of reasons why this is great:
1) LAN does not charge fuel surcharges on partner awards (they’re part of Oneworld, so that’s includes normally-surcharge-laden redemptions on British Airways and Cathay DO NOT include surcharges). That means JFK-London on British Airways is just 70,000 LAN Kilometers in coach, or 30,000 Starwood points. This is actually a pretty huge deal that doesn’t get much play – you can fly surcharge-free on British Airways and Cathay. The redemption values in business class aren’t great, but for coach travel it’s a steal.
2) The award chart for flights on LAN has some gems on it, starting with 48,000 LAN Kilometers for US – Brazil (yes, that’s just 20,000 Starwood points).
3) This Dans Deals post has a long-but-helpful comparison of when it’s better to use LAN kilometers vs. when it’s better to use Avios points.