Transferring AMEX to SPG – Worth It?

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SPG Points are one of the most valuable out there. Currently, American Express has increased the bonus for on their SPG cards, which ends this Wednesday, October 18th.

If you need to top up your account, you can also transfer points for American Express Membership Rewards at a 2:1 ratio. This isn’t a bad ratio, but Membership Rewards also transfer at a 1:1 ratio to Aeroplan and British Airways Avios, and a 1:0.75 ratio to Delta Skymiles, Etihad Guest, and Cathay Pacific Asia Miles.

AMEX to SPG Transfer

AMEX to SPG Transfer

You can earn AMEX Membership Rewards with these cards:

Is that 2:1 ratio reasonable? The best answer is that it’s highly dependent on what you want to redeem for. From an opportunity cost perspective, all my AMEX redemptions are Aeroplan or Avios transfers. I’m ignoring transfers to other partners which on average have a lower value. If I have 20,000 AMEX points, I’m comparing the value I get from 20,000 Aeroplan/Avios as opposed to 10,000 SPG.

With that reasoning, there are a few reasons I would transfer AMEX to SPG.

High Aeroplan or Avios Balance

If you already have lots of miles in your account, adding more might not be the best idea. SPG points are most likely to retain their value because there are some many redemption options. On the other hand, Aeroplan and Avios can easily lose value with a single devaluation. This is worse if you have a high balance and can’t use them, and is especially possible with Aeroplan and Air Canada going separate ways in 2020.

Booking Hotels

This is a very obvious answer, but AMEX Canada doesn’t have other great hotel redemption options. The maximum value you will get is 1 cent when using points for a statement credit. Getting gift cards are an even poorer value.

Tambo Del Inka, A Luxury Colletion Property

Tambo Del Inka, A Luxury Colletion Property

If you are looking to book an Starwood or Marriott property, an SPG transfer is a better option in nearly all situations. The exception is with low rates, like a $250 rate for a Category 6 (20,000 SPG) property, in which case it’s better to pay cash. I value SPG points at 2.25 cents and always get at least that value when using them.

Marriott Hotel and Air Packages

Marriott Hotel and Air Packages are an exception where you end up with more miles by transferring. For example, let’s say you have 200,000 Marriott points. This would convert into a 7 night hotel certificate and 50,000 airline miles.

Marriott Hotel and Air Packages

Marriott Hotel and Air Packages

However, you can top up your Marriott balance. Transferring AMEX to SPG at a 2:1 ratio, and SPG to Marriott at a 1:3 ratio means you get 1.5 Marriott points per American Express point. To increase your balance to 270,000, you will need to transfer 46.6k AMEX.

You can now redeem for a 7 nights and 120k mile package, which is 70,000 miles more than when you started. Transferring directly at 1:1 ratio means you only end up with 46,000 Aeroplan. This difference widens further with conversion promotions such as the previous 35% Aeroplan Transfer Bonus and current 30% United Transfer bonus, not to mention that you have more airlines to choose from when selecting your package.

Unique Airline Redemptions

SPG points transfers to over 30 different airline partners, which is why they are so valuable. There are many airline programs where an SPG transfer is the only way to earn miles. Not all of them are useful, but there are at least 5 or more where you can get huge value. This includes Asiana Club for Etihad First Class and JAL Mileage Bank for Emirates First Class. You can’t even redeem Aeroplan or Avios on those airlines, so this is the only option if you are looking for really nice First Class flights.

Emirates First Class

Emirates First Class

Additional Reading: Best Flight Redemptions with SPG

Conclusion

While the 2:1 ratio to transfer American Express Membership Rewards to SPG isn’t the greatest, it’s valuable in many situations where SPG is a much better alternative than any other redemption option. However, the best way to earn more Starwood points easily is with the SPG Personal American Express and SPG Business American Express cards that currently have the best offer we’ve ever seen: 25,000 SPG points after completing $1,500 in spend.


The Starwood American Express limited-time increased offer of 25,000 SPG points ends October 18, in less than a month. Grab the card now and apply today!

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Comments

  1. It appears both the SPG personal and business have an annual fee in this offer. For the business card it’s not mentioned on the first page, but on the second. Please let me know if I’m wrong, thank you.

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