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Starwood Preferred Guest(SPG) points are probably the most value points currency in the miles/points world because they’re a flexible currency where they can be redeemed in a variety of ways. The most straightforward way is to redeem them for hotel nights, which in itself is not a bad value.

The other way to use SPG points is to transfer them to a frequent flyer account (typically at a 1:1 ratio). When the points are transferred in increments of 20,000 miles, there’s a 5,000 points bonus, making it a 1:1.25 transfer ratio.

HOW TO TRANSFER SPG POINTS

A few things to keep in mind:

  1. The name on the frequent flyer mile account must match the name on the SPG account otherwise it will cause the transfer to reject.
  2. The minimum amount of points to transferred depends on your status with SPG
    -No limit for Platinum
    -1,500 minimum for gold members
    -2,500 for preferred members.
  3. Never transfer SPG points to United as the transfer ratio is 2:1. So a 20,000 points transfer should theoretically net 12,500 United miles – losing 37.5% even when accounting for the 5,000 point bonus. Anything less would result in a loss of 50%. I’ve never tried to transfer my SPG points to United miles because I use my Chase Ultimate Rewards points to transfer to my United account.
  4. Transfers are limited to 79,999 points within a 24 hour period, meaning you can only really transfer 60,000 points within 24-hours if you want to take advantage of the 5,000 bonus points for every 20,000 points transferred

It’s real straightforward process to transfer, you can either call in to an SPG agent or go online and follow these steps:

  1. CREATE a frequent flyer mile account with the program you wish to transfer the SPG points to
  1. LOGIN to SPG.com
  1. CLICK on “redeem Starpoints” Under your account nameHow to transfer SPG points
  1. CLICK on “travel”How to transfer SPG points
  1. SCROLL down to Transfer Air Miles
  1. CLICK on “Transfer Star Points to Air Miles”How to transfer SPG points
  1. Fill out the appropriate information and click “go.”How to transfer SPG points

That’s it. The 25% bonus will appear automatically when the transfer posts to your frequent flyer mile account.

DOWNSIDES OF THE TRANSFER PROCESS

Transfers are not instant. This is probably the biggest drawback of the SPG points because say for instance, you found availability of flights using Alaska Airlines, by the time the SPG points transfer posts to your Alaska Airways account, the availability could disappear, thus leaving you to search for other options with Alaska Airlines because the transfer process can’t be reversed.

ONE AIRLINE TO USE WITH SPG TRANSFERS

Because the transfers are not instant, SPG transfers to frequent flyer mile programs run the risk of having the inventory disappear before the transfer posts. There’s one airline that I find that SPG transfer work well with and that’s American Airlines.

American Airlines allows 5 day holds on international award tickets(except with Iberia). There have been a number of different occasions where I’ve been able to hold an itinerary and commence an SPG transfer on the same day as the hold to have the SPG post to American Airlines within the 5-day hold window.

DATA POINTS ON TRANSFER TIMES

The only frequent flyer mile programs I’ve transferred SPG points to were American Airlines and Aeroplan(Air Canada’s frequent flyer mile program). On two separate occasions, the SPG points took about 5 days to post to my Aeroplan account. American Airlines took about 4 days. There’s a flyertalk thread where members have posted their own data points.

OTHER WAYS TO USE SPG POINTS

Redeeming SPG points for hotel nights, which can be a fantastic value. The last SPG redemption I made was for the Le Meridien Pamplemousses in Mauritius for 7,000 point per night. The going rate for this hotel was about 300 USD per night so I got about 4.3 cents per point($300/7,000 points). I made even better because they upgraded me to their Royal Suite, which cost about 850 Euros per night.

Pay with points. NEVER EVER use this option. This is the worst possible use of valuable SPG points, you’re basically paying for the cash value of the flight with SPG points at $.01 per point, there’s other points you could use where the opportunity cost won’t be as high.

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