While I strongly recommend against hoarding miles, SPG are an exception. SPG Points are one the most valuable currencies because of their flexibility. One of the reasons is because you can transfer SPG at a 1:1 ratio to airline miles. In addition, you earn a 25% bonus for every increment of 20,000 points.
Earning SPG Points
The Starwood Preferred Guest American Express or Business American Express card both have a welcome bonus of 20,000 SPG points. If you get both of them, you will earn 43,000 SPG points after completing the minimum spend. There are rumours that American Express will stop accepting new applications this November. If you are considering applying, do it sooner rather than later.
You shouldn’t have trouble completing minimum spend thanks to an awesome new app called Paytm, which lets you pay bills like rent and taxes which normally isn’t possible. They currently have an amazing promotion where credit card fees are waived when paying bills. On top of that, you can get a $10 credit using promo code PTM9462620 after paying your first bill.
Additional Reading: Pay Bills with your Credit Cards for Free!
As well, Starwood is running a promotion through July 14th, where you purchase points for 35% off. By stacking this promotion and the 25% bonus, each airline mile will only cost 1.82 cents, which is a very reasonable price for the below sweet spot redemptions.
For Americans (and Canadians with a US Credit Profile), the Starwood American Express Card in the US offers 25,000 bonus points after completing minimum spend.
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Transfer SPG to Airlines – Best Redemptions
You can transfer SPG to over 30 airline partners. There are many scenarios where SPG is the cheapest option for flights. My favourite airline transfer partners include Asiana, Aegean, Korean Air, LATAM Pass, and JAL, all of which Canadians can only earn with their SPG American Express Card.
- Asiana Airlines might be my current favourite program. They charge 50,000 Miles for First Class from North America to Europe on Lufthansa First Class, and only 40,000 for Europe to the Middle East on Etihad Airways.
Additional Reading: The Cheapest Way to Fly Etihad First Class
- Aegean Miles are the cheapest redemption to the Caribbean. The award chart lumps it with North America, so a one-way business class ticket from Vancouver to the Bahamas are only 21,000 miles one-way.
- Korean Air is the only airline that has First Class award space nearly everyday – whether last minute, a month out, or 11 months out. This is because other mileage programs are not able to redeem for these seats. A First Class award from North America to North Asia is only 80,000 miles. On top of that, you’re even permitted a stopover on a one-way ticket on Korean Air operated flights. Picking a day 1 month in advance, there are seven seats in first class available for award redemptions. There is no other program that generous with inventory.
- Japan Airlines provides the cheapest way to redeem for Emirates First Class. They use a distance based award chart. For a four-leg (and four-showers in the sky) itinerary such as New York – Dubai – Bangkok roundtrip, you only need 125,000 SPG Miles (155,000 JAL). If using Alaska miles, that’d cost 360,000 miles since they devalued.
- LATAM Pass awards are an excellent alternative to using BA Avios. While I was not a fan of the airline, their chart is fantastic for short-haul redemptions. They partner with both Alaska and American. Since they use Kilometers instead of Miles, SPG points transfer at a 1:1.6 ratio. With the 25% bonus, 20,000 SPG points yield 40,000 LATAM Kms. A redemption in the shortest band distance means it’s only 3,000 SPG points. This is over a 50% savings over the 7,500 BA Miles required for the same flight.
Additional Reading: The Weirdest Business Class Flight Ever
Need More SPG Points?
Through July 14th, you can buy SPG points with a 35% discount. Each mile costs 2.28 cents instead of 3.50. With the 25% bonus, each airline mile will cost you 1.82 cents, and each Marriott Point will cost you 0.76 cents.
Additional Reading: Buy Starwood Points: 35% Discount!
The maximum purchase limit per account is 30,000. You save 35% if buying more than 5,000 miles. While this cap seems very low, you can transfer SPG points between accounts if they have the same address. Thus, if you have any family members or friends at your address, this allows you to purchase any number of points you want.
If you don’t want to pay for miles, getting the credit cards are your best bet. Keep in mind that Membership Rewards in Canada transfers at a 2:1 ratio to SPG points, so if you need more, the American Express Platinum and Business Platinum Cards earn the highest points for signing up, at 60,000 and 75,000 respectively. This would transfer to a total of 67,500 additional SPG miles.