One of my readers asked me a question via email about using Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) points for Air travel. As I have discussed in two different articles before, SPG is one of the most versatile programs out there will a myriad of ways to redeem their points. Using SPG points for air travel itself has two options.
1. Transfer SPG points to an Airline:
SPG allows you to transfer its points to several airlines. Most of these airlines allow a 1:1 ration when transferring points. Though there are a few (like United) that have a a less than 1:1 to transfer ratio. Once these miles are transferred over to the airline, they get added to your airline balance. From that point onwards, they are in your airline miles account and can be used along with any other miles you already had. They will have the same redemption and expiration rules too. Also, these are award miles and are not Status Miles. It is important to note that when transferring SPG points to a US based airline, you will have to pay a tax on the transfer. There is no tax when transferring to non-US based airlines.
Starwood has a great ever-ongoing promotion. When you transfer 20,000 SPG points to an airline in a single transaction, they will credit 25,000 airline miles to your account. This is a great bonus and increases the value of your points.
2. Redeem SPG points for airline tickets:
Another way to use SPG points for air travel is to redeem them directly for airline tickets on SPGs website. My wife and I used this option for flights to Orlando Florida, earlier this year. This was actually a better option than transferring miles to an airline. There were no taxes to be paid for a transfer and we actually redeemed fewer points than we would have redeemed in airline miles. The SPG points needed for an airline ticket is based purely on the price of the ticket and not fixed rates like airline miles. This can actually work in your favor. As you are also allowed to redeem SPG points for one-way tickets, you can actually book tickets on two separate airlines for either way of a round trip to get the best deal.
Another good feature of redeeming points for airline miles this way is that the airline actually considers these revenue tickets and will credit you the full miles (award and status miles) for the trip. Great way to double dip! You also get full recognition of your Elite status on the trip, including upgrade benefits. Award tickets booked redeeming airline miles do not earn miles and in most cases, cannot be upgraded.
Another reason why Starwood points are the best!