Category Archives: Starwood

500 Bonus Starpoints for Booking through the iPhone App

Not sure if this is new or not, but Starwood is offering an a 500 point bonus when you book a room through their iPhone app.

Plus, if you check-in on Foursquare (please don’t confuse that with actually checking in at the hotel) in conjunction with a Starwood stay, you’ll get an additional 250 Starpoints. You need to link your Starwood and Foursquare accounts to earn the bonus.

Considering how difficult it is to earn points through Starwood stays (certainly compared with putting spend on their credit card), these bonuses are not insignificant.

Don’t Forget about These 2 Ways to Use Your Starwood Points (now that the bonus offer is expiring)

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.

Starwood to Offer Cash & Points Option on Select Category 7 Hotels

According to this post, Starwood will now offer Cash & Points options on select Category 7 hotels. The awards, which cost $275 + 15,000 points, can only be booked in the call center. Available hotels are

Cervo Hotel ,Costa Smeralda Resort
The Chatwal, New York City
The Gritti Palace, Venice
Hotel President Wilson Geneva
The St. Regis Aspen Resort
The St. Regis Bahia Beach, Puerto Rico
The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort
The St. Regis Bali Resort
The St. Regis Florence
The St. Regis Mardavall Mallorca Resort
The St. Regis New York
W South Beach
W Paris- Opera

On a point/value basis, it isn’t a great award in most cases (figuring SPG points are worth somewhere in the 2.5 – 3 cent per point range). But once you start getting hotels in the $700-800/night range, there’s some value there. That said, many people with a ton of SPG points would prefer to pay $275 and some points than $600 and no points. While optimizing point spend is certainly a good thing, don’t drive yourself crazy: if you want to just keep some cash in your pocket and use points, don’t let anyone tell you that’s not a good idea. It’s your cash.

As I often say – more options are better than fewer options.

Etihad Now a Starwood Transfer Partner….Here Are The Great Values in Their Award Chart

Etihad has announced that they are now a transfer partner with Starwood, meaning you’ll get the normal 5,000 mile bonus for transferring 20,000 miles into the Etihad Guest program.

Etihad’s own award chart isn’t great, so this won’t help much there. But they do have a bunch of partner airlines, and there are some great values to be had in those charts (unless I’m mistaken, I believe there are fuel surcharges included with partner airlines, though please correct me if I’m wrong there). That aside (well, you can’t really brush off those fuel surcharges so easily, but still…), here’s where I think there’s good redemption values on partner airlines with Etihad (all mileage below is roundtrip):

BRUSSELS AIRLINES (chart here)
Short-haul intra-European is 5,500 miles in coach.
Brussels to West Africa is 35k-40k miles in coach, 58k-66k in business (60k/90k if you used United miles)

ANA (chart here)
US – Tokyo is 65k/95k/120k (United charges 120k in biz and 135k in First)

ALITALIA (chart here)
Short-haul intra-European is 7k miles in coach
Mid-haul intra-European is 12k miles in caoch
Italy – Morocco/Lebanon/Israel/Syria/Egypt/Jordan is 18k coach, 36k business (compare to 40k/60k using SkyMiles)
Rome – Lagos is 30k/60k coach/biz (compare to 70k/100k using SkyMiles)

JET AIRWAYS (chart here)
New York – Brussels is 50k/75k/100k in coach/biz/first.

Yes, that’s a bit of a random assortment, but there’s some good mileage values there, especially within Europe. Always good to have in your back pocket.

UPDATE: Jet Airways just announced that after 5 years they’re dropping JFK-Brussels on September 10th. So much for that. They’ll still fly Newark-Brussels.

Starwood Points Transfer to Hilton Hhonors at 1:2.5….Should You Ever Do That?

MillionMileSecrets has a thorough (as always) post yesterday on how to acquire Hilton Hhonors points through credit card signups. (If you don’t feel like clicking over, just know there are a bunch of credit cards where you can get Hilton signup bonuses).

He didn’t mention one that has been taunting me for some time: you can transfer Starwood points to Hilton Hhonors at a 1:2.5 rate. How? By transferring SPG points to Hawaiian Airlines or Virgin Atlantic (20k SPG to get 25k frequent flyer miles), and then transfer into Hhonors at 1:2.

The question, of course, is whether this is a good deal. The answer is basically, no. However, it’s not a terrible deal in some cases. SPG points are worth something like 2-2.5 cents per point (in general, and yes I know this can vary); while Hhonors points seem to value out at something like .6-.8 cents per point. So perhaps at the very top end of the conversion it’s equal, but in most cases you’ll be “losing value” by transferring.

However, sometimes you just need to top off your points to get an award – it’s nice to know there’s another option out there to do it (you can transfer from American Airlines, but that only gets you 1.6 points per mile). Membership Rewards points transfer in at 1:2. So from a transfer perspective, it’s the best of the options (or the best of some not great options, depending on how you look at it).

If you’re not a frequenter of Hilton Hotels (for example, if you’re me), you’re likely confused by the mish-mosh of award charts out there (this FT thread is very helpful). At its best, top level Hiltons (category 7, not the Waldorf properties) can be had for 37,500 points per night when you’re staying between 4-7 nights). That’s roughly 15,000 Starwood points per night – about the cost of a Category 5 SPG hotel. At that point, while perhaps it’s not exactly an even exchange, it wouldn’t be crazy to transfer SPG points to pay for those Hilton hotels.

Waldorf Astoria hotels also have a discount program when you’re booking multiple nights. Most of those hotels (excluding “premium room only” properties) cost 60,000 Hilton points per night. There are discounts, though, for multi-night stays (15% for 4 nights; 20% for 5 nights; 25% for 6 or more nights). A 6-night stay would be 270,000 Hhonors points, or 110,000 SPG points (roughly). Again, it’s not exactly even, but it’s not insane either, especially if you don’t use Starwood points to transfer to airlines for premium travel (which is primarily how I’ve used them, and really where you can get huge value for those points. But I know that many people don’t use these points that way….).

I bring this up just to highlight another of the reasons why the Starwood program is so fantastic — it’s got a huge range of properties; great airline transfer possibilities; and if you don’t really care whether you stay at a 4-star Starwood resort or a 4-star Hilton Resort, it can offer some decent possibilities to transfer over to Hilton.

50% Bonus (Up to 87% Bonus) When You Transfer Starwood Points to US Airways – Some GREAT Opportunities Here

Through March 31st, US Airways is giving a 50% bonus when you transfer miles from a hotel program partner into Dividend Miles. They have a bunch of hotel partners, but the only one worth considering here is Starwood.

You’ll get 37,500 Dividend Miles when you transfer 20,000 Starwood points into the program (an 87% bonus). Keep in mind that US Airways has a few award redemptions that are bargains. For example, 35k/60k (coach/biz) for off-peak travel from the US to Hawaii, Europe and South America. That means coach tickets to those places are now just 20,000 SPG miles during off-peak times. Crazy. Africa is typically 70k/110k; with this promo it’s 40k/60k SPG points.

I rarely proactively transfer points, even with a bonus, unless I have a specific trip in mind. I did do it in 2008 with the just silly 150% transfer bonus from SPG to Delta (I’m still sitting on the 300,000 Skymiles from that one). This isn’t quite that good (in fact, it’s roughly half that good), but if you generally use your SPG points for air travel (rather than hotel redemption), you should seriously consider this (I’m considering taking 79,999k SPG and turning it into 142,500 US Airways miles). I would do more, but you’re only eligible for one bonus and you can only transfer up to 79,999 SPG points at a time. I was thinking of combining my wife’s account with mine (since you can have household accounts) and then transferring into our respective Dividend Miles accounts, but the name on the SPG account must match the Dividend Miles account, so I don’t think that will work.

Anyone see a reason not to take advantage of this offer?

(Thx to this Milepoint thread for the heads up).

How to Get InterIsland Flights in Hawaii for 6,000 Miles Round Trip [NOW GONE]

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Unfortunately, this is now gone. Your best bet for interisland flights is to use 10,000 miles roundtrip on Hawaiian via US Airways, United, Continental or Delta).

The days of the $38 interisland flights in Hawaii are long over ($150 is more like it now), so travelers planning trips in Hawaii may be once again thinking of using miles for flights between islands.

Most airlines charge 10,000 miles round trip for flights (though oddly, United charges 10,000 miles for a roundtrip ticket on Hawaiian Airlines, but Hawaiian charges 15,000 miles for the same flight).

However, Virgin Atlantic only charges 6,000 Flying Club miles for a roundtrip ticket on Hawaiian Airlines (9,000 in first class). I'll assume for a moment that you don't have any Flying Club miles. No worries: You have Starwood points? (You should, since you should be carrying the SPG Amex as your daily card because of its impressive array of transfer partners) You can transfer those Starwood points into Virgin Altantic Flying Club at a 1:1 ratio plus, of course, the 5,000 mile bonus for transferring 20,000 miles. Huge savings? No. But for a family of 4, you can get 4 tickets for the price of 2. Not too shabby.

Or (and thanks to IAH-PHX for pointing this out in the comments), you can use your Membership Rewards points to transfer into the Virgin Atlantic program.

(UPDATE: Even better news. Virgin Atlantic does not charge a fuel surcharge on Hawaiian. Inter-island tickets only require taxes of about $5.)

[Targeted] – Up to 40% Off Membership Rewards Transfers to Hilton Hhonors and Starwood

This is definitely a targeted offer, but many folks are seeing discounts of up to 40% off the normal number of Membership Rewards points necessary for transfers to Hilton Hhonors and Starwood.

At 40% off, you’ll be able to exchange 600 Membership Rewards points for 1500 Hhonors points. Or, you can exchange 600 Membership Rewards points and get 333 Starwood points (still a terrible option).

You can see what offer you have by logging in to your Membership Rewards account and looking at the Hhonors and Starwood transfer pages (mine shows a 15% bonus for Hhonors and zippo for Starwood).

Alternately, log in to Membership Rewards and go to the Membership Rewards homepage and look for a banner advertising 40% off deals, then click through to see the details.

(Hat tip, FT)

New Starwood Amex Offer: 25,000 Bonus Points after $5,000 Spend

You’re hearing it here first (at least I think you are): Tomorrow morning Amex is announcing a revised offer for their fantastic Starwood Preferred Guest American Express card. The current offer is 10,000 points after first purchase, with another 15,000 points after $15,000 spend in 6 months. Tomorrow’s Today’s offer will be the same, but you only need to spend $5,000 in 6 months, putting the bonus in reach of far more people.

The SPG Amex is my day-to-day card because of the incredible flexibility of points transfers out of Starwood and into various airlines (plus the 5,000 mile bonus for 20,000 point transfers).

Annual fee is $65, though it’s waived the first year.

This isn’t quite as good as their offer from the summer where you could earn 30,000 points after $4,500 in spend, but it’s close.

Apply here for the personal Starwood Amex. (Remember to log out of your Amex account before clicking that link or the offer will not be displayed.)

And The Best Use of Starwood Points for Air Travel Is…

A week or so ago I wrote about the worst use of frequent flyer miles (answer: 100,000 miles for a biz class ticket on a 16 mile flight in Africa). But I figured I should pass along something more useful, so today I present the best value for transferring Starwood Points to an airline.

Starwood points transfer to LAN at a 1:2 rate (largely because LAN’s award chart is based on kilometers, not miles). This is to your advantage if you’re transferring Starwood points because there are a few great awards out there. I’ve seen others talk about the distance-based charts they use which allow you to get a short one-way flight for just 2400 SPG points. Nice.

That said, the best deals are really on the North America to Brazil/Peru/Bolivia rewards on LAN metal. You can fly on LAN to Brazil for 100,000 LAN Kilometers round trip in LAN’s amazing business class. That will cost you just 40,000 SPG points (20,000 points gets you 50,000 LAN KMs because of the 5,000 point bonus you get on 20,000 point transfers; that 5k bonus is doubled for LAN transfers). If you’re looking to save points, coach tickets to Brazil on LAN metal are just 48,000 KMs, which is 20,000 SPG points. That’s a helluva redemption deal, considering 20,000 SPG points will typically only get you a domestic roundtrip ticket.

Redemption values to Argentina are also good – 30k SPG points for a coach ticket and 60k SPG points for a business class ticket. But those Brazil values are amazing.

Yet another reason to get that Amex SPG card as your day-to-day card.