Thursday, June 4, 2015

Lesser Known Starwood Platinum Perks

As you LCD readers know, my father is a big fan of Starwood Hotel's loyalty program called Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG). Over the past few years, he's been qualifying for Platinum status by staying over 25 stays (or 50 nights) each year at a Starwood hotel.

Thanks to his Starwood American Express cards and the fact that free night awards count towards status qualification, we should be on track to maintain Platinum again this year for 2016 status.

Aside from the obvious benefits, such as (a) complimentary upgrades to suites, (b) free breakfasts and/or Club Lounge access and (c) Priority status on Delta Airlines, my father can also keep many of his airline mileage accounts active quickly and cheaply.

SPG Points Transfer to Airline Miles
As you may know, SPG is one of the few hotel programs where it makes sense to transfer your hotel points to airline miles.

Normal SPG members can transfer their SPG points into many airline programs, including American Airlines, Delta and United (though I wouldn't recommend United transfers because it's at a 0.50 ratio of United miles for every SPG point transferred).

In addition, SPG will give you a 5,000 mile bonus for every 20,000 SPG points you transfer. Meaning, you'll receive 25,000 American Airline miles if you transferred 20,000 SPG points (1.25 ratio).

Transferring miles into your frequent flyer account can extend the expiration date of those airline miles by another 12-18 months (depending on the program). So if you had miles in danger of expiring soon without a near term redemption in mind, this could save you a lot of hassle.

Transfer Limits
However, normal SPG members have to transfer in increments of 1,000 SPG points. As people know, earning SPG points is quite difficult with the only methods being actually staying at Starwood hotels or spending on a co-branded Starwood American Express card. So 1,000 SPG points just to keep an account active is a big price - especially when you have as many as my family does.

Fortunately, my father's Starwood Platinum status allows him to transfer a single (1) SPG point into 1 frequent flyer mile. That benefit has allowed us to extend the accounts of several frequent flyer programs, including:

1. My father's Hawaiian Airlines account (2,000 miles stranded)
2. My grandmother's American Airliens account (1,000 miles stranded)
3. Our friend Ben's Air Canada account (58,000 miles stranded)
4. My father's ANA account (100 miles stranded)

As you saw above, you can even transfer SPG points to other people's frequent flyer accounts as we did here for our friend, Ben.
Ben:  I've got 58,000 Aeroplan Miles that are set to expire at the end of August. I need to book a trip to LA in a few weeks and the only direct flight using miles is first class for 50,000 miles. I need to rent a car but that costs like 30,000 miles while I can easily get a rental online for about $150. Should I just treat myself to a first class flight and blow away my miles? Or is there a better use for them that I'm not thinking of before they expire?
My father: I think I can add 1 mile to your account (thereby extending it for you). Just give me your Aeroplan account #.
So now Ben keeps his Aeroplan miles for another year and has time to find a better redemption.

Why Save ANA?
You may have noticed that #4 ANA (Air Nippon Airways) above only had 100 miles in the account. That's worth about $2 in value. Why go through the hassle to save $2 bucks?

The reason to keep our ANA account active wasn't to save the 100 miles, but to maintain our access to ANA's website to search for award flight bookings. If you don't have miles in your account, you cannot search for flight awards on ANA's website.

As a Star Alliance partner, we've found ANA's website (though clunky and not aesthetically appealing) to show more flight options from various Star Alliance partners than's website.

This little trick allows us to book awards that "regular" United frequent flyers won't see.

OK, enough spilling secrets. I have some important pre-school work to get back to.

No comments:

Post a Comment