SPG

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From now through September 19, 2016 you can earn 2,500 SPG points for adding an authorized user to your Starwood Preferred Guest®Credit Card from American Express. The promotion was originally sent out as a targeted email, but you can also access it from this link.

I value SPG points more highly than any other transferrable points currency (around 2.5 cents each) because they transfer to over 30 airline loyalty programs.

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This bonus could be especially useful if you have a balance of Starpoints that is almost but not quite 20,000, since when you transfer Starpoints in increments of 20,000 to an airline loyalty program you receive a 5,000 mile bonus.

How to Get the 2,500 SPG Point Bonus

1. Click this link.

2. Log in if you’re not already logged into your American Express online account.

3. Add authorized user.

How would the authorized user be affected?

One of the first things you’ll probably notice is that American Express asks for the social security number of the user you are authorizing to spend on your card. Adding a person as an authorized user does not trigger a hard credit pull for them, but does apparently does count against the Chase 5/24 according to this Flyertalk thread about Applying for Chase Credit Cards- May 2015-Present (it’s in the Wiki at the top).

What if I have the SPG Business card but not the personal?

Commenters on Reddit have confirmed that the authorized user bonus is not available for Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card cardholders.

Terms & Conditions

  • The offer for 2,500 Starpoints expires on September 19, 2016. Card Members are limited to one-time receipt of 2,500 Starpoints through this email offer. Bonus points will appear on your Starwood Preferred Guest statement 8-12 weeks after you add an additional Card.
  • You must notify Additional Card Members that we may obtain, provide, and use information about them and that their use of your Account is subject to certain provisions of the Card Member Agreement. The maximum number of Additional Cards issued on each Account is 99.
  • Additional Card Members must be at least 15 years of age and never have had a defaulted account with American Express.
  • Additional Card Members do not have accounts with us but they can use your Account subject to the terms of the Card Member Agreement. You are responsible for all use of your Account by Additional Card Members and anyone they allow to use your Account. You must pay for all charges they make. You authorize us to give Additional Card Members information about your Account and to discuss it with them.
  • Eligible Purchases means purchases for goods and services minus returns and other credits. Eligible purchases do NOT include fees or interest charges, balance transfers, cash advances, purchases of travelers checks, purchases or reloading of prepaid cards, or purchases of other cash equivalents. Additional terms and restrictions apply. Starpoints received from your Card will be posted to your SPG account up to 12 weeks after the end of each month. To be eligible to receive Starpoints, Card Member’s account must not be cancelled or in default at the time of bonus fulfillment.
  • Merchants are assigned codes based on what they primarily sell. A purchase will not earn additional points if the merchant’s code is not eligible. Purchases made through a third-party payment account or on an online marketplace (with multiple retailers) will not earn additional points. A purchase may not earn additional points if the merchant submits the purchase using a mobile or wireless card reader or if you use a mobile or digital wallet.

Don’t Forget the SPG Card Referral Bonus

You can earn 10,000 SPG Points per credit card referral, up to 55,000 per year– click here to learn more.

Here is my friend’s referral link if you want to benefit a fellow mile lover and get the card. I already have my 55,000 points for the year.

Bottom Line

SPG is running a targeted email promotion giving cardholders the opportunity to earn 2,500 bonus Starpoints for adding an authorized user through September 19, 2016. Luckily there is a link that currently works whether or not you received the targeted email.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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Many people can get a small business credit card. Opening small business cards roughly doubles the number of amazing miles and points cards available to you.

Every small business credit card I’ve gotten I opened by putting my social security number as the tax ID, and by saying that my business is a sole proprietorship. I got many of the cards when my business revenue was very low.

Check out my post on How to Be Approved for Business Cards.

Here are the top cards, broken down by Best Sign Up Bonus, Best Category Bonuses, Best for Everyday Spending, Best for Perks, and Best for Cash Back. Depending on what kind of business you have, how much/what kind of spending the business does, and what your overall goals are, the best card for you will vary.

Best Sign-Up Bonus: The Ink Plus

The Chase Ink Plus offers 60,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the card. Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 to United, British Airways, Southwest, Korean, Virgin Atlantic, and more. I value Ultimate Rewards very highly because of this versatility– at about 2 cents per point. That makes this sign-up bonus worth $1,200.

For the reasons presented in this post, this is one of the first three cards I recommend you get if you can get a business card.

While I can not directly link to the current Ink Plus offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

I have to also mention the Alaska Airlines Visa® Business Card for this category. The sign-up bonus isn’t all that impressive on its own (30,000 Alaska miles for spending $1,000 in three months), but when you consider that you can potentially earn the sign-up bonus repeatedly in a relatively short span of time, and the fact that I value Alaska miles very highly (1.75 cents each), the card becomes a lot more interesting.

Best for Everyday Spending: SPG Business Card

The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express OPEN earns 1 Starpoint per dollar on all purchases.

Starpoints transfer to over 30 airlines, most at a 1:1 ratio. Whenever Starpoints transfer at a 1:1 ratio, you always get 5,000 bonus miles for every 20,000 points transferred. That effectively means that you are earning 1.25 airline miles per dollar on all purchases with this card. Key 1:1 transfer partners:

  • American Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Delta Air Lines
  • Alaska Airlines
  • Korean Air
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Virgin America
  • Many More, but NOT United

Here is how to transfer Starpoints to airline miles.

The card comes with 25,000 bonus Starpoints after spending $5,000 in the first six months. Points can also be used for free hotel nights, Cash & Points stays, and Nights & Flights awards.

The annual fee of $95 is waived the first 12 months.

Best Category Bonuses: The Ink Plus

The Chase Ink Plus offers 5x Ultimate Rewards on up to $50,000 each account anniversary year for purchases at:

  • office supply stores
  • cellular phone services
  • landline phone services
  • internet and cable TV services

The card also earns 2x points at gas stations and hotels on up to $50,000 each account anniversary year.

All other purchases earn 1 Ultimate Reward per dollar spent.

Best for Perks: Business Platinum Card from American Express

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express is the king of perks for business cards. The card comes with:

Here is how to set up and maximize those benefits.

The card comes with 40,000 bonus Membership Rewards after spending $5,000 in the first three months. It earns 1 Membership Rewards per dollar on all purchases except when you book on the American Express Travel website, which earns 2x per dollar spent.

The card has a $450 annual fee that is NOT waived, but if you are an avid traveler, the perks should more than make up for it.

Best for Cash Back: Costco Anywhere Visa® Business Card by CitiScreen Shot 2016-06-20 at 6.42.10 PM

The Costco Anywhere Visa® Business Card by Citi, exclusively for Costco members, earns:

  • 4% cash back on eligible gas for the first $7,000 per year and then 1% thereafter
  • 3% cash back on restaurants and eligible travel purchases
  • 2% cash back on all other purchases from Costco and Costco.com
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases

Read my full review of the card here.

Bottom Line

Depending on how much spending power your business has and how much you travel, all of the cards above have their own strengths that might benefit you and your small business more than others.

If your business has a lot of expenses and you therefore have a lot of spending power, you’ll probably want either the Costco Anywhere Visa® Business Card by Citi or the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card depending on whether you prefer cash back rewards or travel rewards.

If your business is still growing and doesn’t have a lot expenses, then perhaps you’ll get more out of the Ink Plus or the Alaska Airlines Visa® Business Card with their valuable sign-up bonuses.

If you travel often enough to highly value perks like lounge access and hotel status, whether your business has spending power or not, the Business Platinum Card® from American Express should be appealing.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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Until July 5, 2016, you can transfer 20,000 Starpoints to 33,750 British Airways Avios. The normal rate is 20,000 points to 25,000 Avios, but Avios is running a 35% bonus on transferring hotel points.

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 6.33.10 PM The only hotel-point transfer option with a decent rate is Starpoints.Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 6.33.55 PM

 

If you don’t have Starpoints, you can buy them right now for 2.45 cents each. The best number to buy would be 20,000 for $490 to maximize this promotion, since Starwood gives a bonus for every 20,000 Starpoints transferred to airlines. Then you could transfer those 20,000 Starpoints to 33,750 Avios, which is like buying those Avios for 1.45 cents each. I value Avios at 1.6 cents each, so this can be a very good deal if you use Avios for their high value uses.

This (1.45 cpp) is close to the best we’ve seen for buying Avios other than a few Spanish Groupon deals.

Key Links:

Hat Tip One Mile at a Time

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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Until July 1, 2016, Starwoodis offering a 30% discount on the normal purchase price of SPG points.

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Starpoints are normally sold in increments of 500 points for 3.5 cents per point. With 30% off, the price drops to 2.45 cents each.
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The deal applies to all purchases of 5,000 points.

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This is the second cheapest I’ve ever seen Starpoints sold, behind last month’s 2.275 cents price that was only open to SPG credit card holders. Since you can transfer Starpoints to most types of miles at a rate of 20,000 Starpoints = 25,000 miles, buying Starpoints for 2.45 cents is like buying many types of miles for 1.96 cents each.

How to Use Starpoints

There are three main ways to get huge value from Starpoints.

  1. Free nights at SPG properties
  2. Cash & points nights at SPG properties
  3. Transfers to airline miles with 25% bonus

1. Free Night Awards

Starpoints can be used for free nights at any Sheraton, W, Westin, Le Meridien, Aloft, Four Points, St. Regis, Element, or Luxury Collection Hotel. Free nights start at 2,000 points per night. And the best part is: if a standard room is for sale, you can book it with Starpoints. Free night awards are not capacity controlled like award flights are.

Here is the Free Night Awards chart:

Book a four night award at Category 3-7 hotels and get a 5th night free. Here are the total prices for five nights:

Last year I booked two free nights for 12,000 points per night at the Westin Maui when it was going for over $400 per night.

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2. Cash & Points Awards

Cash & Points awards are a way to stretch your cash and your Starpoints. You’ll generally get even more value from your Starpoints through these awards though they are capacity controlled. Here is the Cash & Points chart:

As you’ll notice, a Cash & Points night requires half the Starpoints (or fewer) of a free night plus a cash co-pay.

On a Cash & Points stay, think about it like booking a free night and then buying back half the points for the cash copay. The price of the points you are buying back varies from 1.5 cents (category 4) to 2 cents (category 1.) These are good prices to buy Starpoints.

3. Transfer to Airlines with a Miles Bonus

For people who eschew chain hotels, Starpoints are incredibly valuable to transfer to airline miles because their are so many partner airlines, and in most cases, transferring 20k Starpoints nets you 25k miles in the account of your choice, a 25% bonus!

Starpoints transfer to 30 airlines in total, mostly at favorable rates. Starpoints have far better transfer options than Membership Rewards, ThankYou Points, and Ultimate Rewards.

The best four options are Asiana, Aeroplan, Alaska, and new partner Virgin America. Starpoints transfer in a 20k points to 25k miles ratio (1:1.25) to all four airlines, and only Aeroplan is a 1:1 transfer partner of another transfer program (Membership Rewards.)

Buying 20,000 Starpoints for $490 would allow you to transfer to 25,000 miles. That’s like buying the miles for 1.96 cents each. (Not a good deal speculatively, but possibly a good deal if you have an immediate high-value use.)

Buying 30,000 Starpoints for $735 would allow you to transfer to 35,000 miles, which is like buying miles for 2.1 cents each. While $735 for 35,000 miles is a terrible deal in the abstract, it is enough Asiana miles to book a one way in Business Class to Southern South America and almost enough Virgin America points (45,000) to book a one way in Business Class to Australia.

When to Buy (Math)

Is buying SPG points for 2.45 cents each a good deal?

I value SPG points at 2.5 cents each, but I don’t really want to convert hundreds of dollars to points without a plan for them. If you have an immediate high value redemption in mind, buying points can be a good deal. I listed the high value uses above. Do the math on the redemption you have in mind.

Bottom Line

You can buy 5,000 to 30,000 SPG Starpoints for 2.45 cents each until June 1. That’s too high to buy speculatively, but there are a lot of immediate uses for the points where that price offers great value.

Key Link: Buy SPG Points

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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Most airline miles charge exorbitant fees to transfer miles from one person’s account to another’s. For instance, United is currently charging $82.50 to transfer 5,000 miles from one account to another, which is more than the 5,000 United miles are even worth!

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However, SPG Starpoints can be freely transferred from one SPG account to another as long as both accounts have had the same address on file for 30 days. You would want to transfer points between SPG accounts for four reasons:

  1. Because the name on the SPG account and airline miles account must match when transferring SPG points to miles. So if I want my brother to get Alaska Airlines miles, I need to transfer my SPG points to him and have him transfer them to Alaska miles because I can’t transfer directly to his Alaska account.
  2. To maximize transfer bonuses. SPG offers 5,000 bonus miles for every 20,000 points transferred to 1:1 transfer partners. So my 10,000 SPG points and your 10,000 SPG points could transfer to 10,000 Alaska miles in my account and 10,000 in yours or could be combined to 20,000 SPG points to transfer to 25,000 Alaska miles in either account.
  3. To maximize elite status. If you and I will be splitting an SPG hotel on a free night award and you have Platinum Status and we each want to pay our half of the award, I could transfer half the points for the free nights to your account, and you could book from there to lock in your Platinum benefits.
  4. To top off an account for an award. Are you a little short of an award (whether Free Nights, Nights & Flights, or an airline transfer)? I could send you the necessary points for free.

Transfer Process

There are only two steps.

First, align the physical addresses on the two relevant SPG accounts and wait 30 days.

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This only takes a few clicks. Sign into your SPG account and click My Profile.Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 11.35.34 PM Then click Edit in the Contact Information box.Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 11.35.57 PM

Second, fill out the household transfer form at spg.com. You must transfer in increments of 1,000 points.

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The transfer is not instant. The points should show up in their new account in a few days.

Bottom Line

SPG allows free transfers of Starpoints between accounts that have shared an address for at least 30 days. Thanks, Starwood, for the customer friendly policy!

There are several reason to take advantage of the policy whether you use SPG points primarily for hotel stays or to transfer to airline miles.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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Until today (June 3, 2016), Starwood Preferred Guest personal or business credit cardholders can buy up to 30,000 Starpoints with up to a 35% discount on the normal purchase price. (If you don’t have an SPG card, get it through this referral thread and earn a fellow miles lover 10,000 SPG points.)

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Starpoints are normally sold in increments of 500 points for 3.5 cents per point. With 35% off, the price drops to 2.275 cents each.

Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 7.46.31 PM

The deal applies to all purchases of 5,000 points.

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The deal automatically appears after you enter your SPG number on this page if it detects that you are an SPG credit cardholder.

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This is the cheapest I’ve ever seen Starpoints sold. Since you can transfer Starpoints to most types of miles at a rate of 20,000 Starpoints = 25,000 miles, this is like buying many types of miles for 1.82 cents each.

How to Use Starpoints

There are three main ways to get huge value from Starpoints.

  1. Free nights at SPG properties
  2. Cash & points nights at SPG properties
  3. Transfers to airline miles with 25% bonus

1. Free Night Awards

Starpoints can be used for free nights at any Sheraton, W, Westin, Le Meridien, Aloft, Four Points, St. Regis, Element, or Luxury Collection Hotel. Free nights start at 2,000 points per night. And the best part is: if a standard room is for sale, you can book it with Starpoints. Free night awards are not capacity controlled like award flights are.

Here is the Free Night Awards chart:

Book a four night award at Category 3-7 hotels and get a 5th night free. Here are the total prices for five nights:

Last year I booked two free nights for 12,000 points per night at the Westin Maui when it was going for over $400 per night.

Screen Shot 2015-05-10 at 4.37.23 PM

2. Cash & Points Awards

Cash & Points awards are a way to stretch your cash and your Starpoints. You’ll generally get even more value from your Starpoints through these awards though they are capacity controlled. Here is the Cash & Points chart:

As you’ll notice, a Cash & Points night requires half the Starpoints (or fewer) of a free night plus a cash co-pay.

On a Cash & Points stay, think about it like booking a free night and then buying back half the points for the cash copay. The price of the points you are buying back varies from 1.5 cents (category 4) to 2 cents (category 1.) These are good prices to buy Starpoints.

3. Transfer to Airlines with a Miles Bonus

For people who eschew chain hotels, Starpoints are incredibly valuable to transfer to airline miles because their are so many partner airlines, and in most cases, transferring 20k Starpoints nets you 25k miles in the account of your choice, a 25% bonus!

Starpoints transfer to 30 airlines in total, mostly at favorable rates. Starpoints have far better transfer options than Membership Rewards, ThankYou Points, and Ultimate Rewards.

The best four options are Asiana, Aeroplan, Alaska, and new partner Virgin America. Starpoints transfer in a 20k points to 25k miles ratio (1:1.25) to all four airlines, and only Aeroplan is a 1:1 transfer partner of another transfer program (Membership Rewards.)

Buying 20,000 Starpoints for $455 would allow you to transfer to 25,000 miles. That’s like buying the miles for 1.82 cents each. (Not a good deal speculatively, but possibly a good deal if you have an immediate high-value use.)

Buying 30,000 Starpoints for $682.50 would allow you to transfer to 35,000 miles, which is like buying miles for 1.95 cents each. While $682.50 for 35,000 miles is a terrible deal in the abstract, it is enough Asiana miles to book a one way in Business Class to Southern South America and almost enough Virgin America points (45,000) to book a one way in Business Class to Australia.

When to Buy (Math)

Is buying SPG points for 2.275 cents each a good deal?

I value SPG points at 2.5 cents each, but I don’t really want to convert hundreds of dollars to points without a plan for them. If you have an immediate high value redemption in mind, buying points can be a good deal. I listed the high value uses above. Do the math on the redemption you have in mind.

Bottom Line

If you are an SPG credit cardholer, you can buy 500 to 30,000 SPG Starpoints for as little as 2.275 cents each until June 3. That’s too high to buy speculatively, but there are a lot of immediate uses for the points where that price offers great value.

Key Link: Buy SPG Points

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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It is cheaper to book the exact same Delta flights to Hawaii with Korean miles than with Delta miles.

  • Delta charges 22,500 miles each way in economy and 40,000 miles in First Class between the mainland and Hawaii or 50,000 in flat bed Delta One
  • Korean charges 25,000 miles roundtrip in economy and 45,000 miles roundtrip in First Class or Delta One between the mainland and Hawaii

That’s a humongous difference. Instead of costing 90,000 Delta miles to get two people from your home airport to Hawaii and back, you could pay 50,000 Korean miles. Instead of paying 160,000 Delta miles for two roundtrip First Class tickets, you could pay 90,000 Korean miles–even theoretically for flat beds!

To reiterate, these are the exact same flights with vastly different prices depending on which miles you use.

Korean has access to all the same Level 1 award space Delta releases to people with Delta miles, but no other Delta award space.

What’s the catch? For bookings to Hawaii, there are two:

  1. You can only book Korean awards for yourself or immediate family members, with proof of relationships.
  2. Korean awards are the same price roundtrip or one way, so you have to book roundtrip (although an open jaw is allowed.) Delta awards can be booked one way (and then you can return home with another type of miles.)

However there are a number of benefits to booking Korean awards to Hawaii:

  1. Korean awards cost fewer miles than Delta awards
  2. Korean awards have no change or cancellation fees if your plans change
  3. Korean awards of Delta flights to Hawaii do not have fuel surcharges, so both types of awards will just have identical taxes of $11 roundtrip.
  4. Korean offers a stopover on roundtrip awards to Hawaii. Delta doesn’t.
  5. Korean miles are easy to get

Getting Korean Miles

Korean miles are a partner of two of the four major transferable points program:

  1. Chase Ultimate Rewards, 1:1
  2. SPG Starpoints, 1:1 with a bonus. Every 20,000 Starpoints transferred earns a 5,000 mile bonus, so the ideal transfers are in exact increments of 20,000 Starpoints to 25,000 Korean miles.

Right now, the two best cards to get Korean miles are the Sapphire Preferred and Ink Plus because both earn Ultimate Rewards that transfer 1:1 to Korean miles.

The Sapphire Preferred is one of the best personal credit cards on the market. It offers:

  • 50,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months
  • 5,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards for adding an authorized user
  • 2 Ultimate Rewards per dollar on travel and dining purchases
  • 1 Ultimate Reward per dollar on all other purchases
  • no annual fee the first year and $95 thereafter

While I can not directly link to the current Sapphire Preferred offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

The Ink Plus is easily the best business card on the market. It offers:

  • 60,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $5,000 in the first three months
  • 5 Ultimate Rewards per dollar at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services
  • 2 Ultimate Rewards per dollar at gas stations and hotel accommodations
  • 1 Ultimate Reward per dollar on all other purchases
  • $95 annual fee

While I can not directly link to the current Ink Plus offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

Starpoints also transfer to Korean miles, and both SPG cards are in the middle of their biggest bonuses ever.

Searching for Award Space, Transferring Miles, and Booking the Awards

You will have to search for award space on the Delta flights on delta.com; then you will call Korean Airlines and possibly email them some documents to ticket the award.

Searching Delta.com

On the home page of delta.com run an award search from your home airport to Oahu (HNL), Maui (OGG), Kauai (LIH), or the Big Island (KOA). I prefer one way searches because I think they display the results more clearly.

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At the top of the search results, select “Delta Only” to avoid Alaska Airlines flights showing up in the results (they can booked with Korean miles, but at a higher price) and change the calendar to “5 Weeks” if you are extra flexible.

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Here are the results for this fall from Los Angeles to Maui for two passengers. Days that say 22,500 have Level 1 award space that we can book with Korean miles. Other days do not.
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Similarly, here is Kauai to Los Angeles for two passengers. Again, I see surprisingly good economy award space this fall.Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 3.16.04 PM Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 3.16.09 PM First Class award space is not nearly as good. Level 1 space is 40,000 miles each way per person, so that’s what you need to find.Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 3.16.59 PM Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 3.17.03 PM Once you find the award space you want that prices at the Level 1 price, note the date, cabin, and flight number. For instance, here is an economy trip with Level 1 award space from Minneapolis to Maui, returning from Kauai to Minneapolis.Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 3.20.15 PM

Flat Beds

Delta flies flat beds from Atlanta to Honolulu, but award space is terrible on the route. These flights would still be 45,000 Korean miles roundtrip even though they are 50,000 Delta miles one way at the Level 1 price. Let us know in the comments if you find any award space on these routes.

Booking Process

I have never booked an award with Korean miles. I am relying on this post from One Mile at a Time. Basically:

  1. You call (800) 438-5000 to put the award on hold. Tell the agent that you want to book a Bonus Award and feed her the date, cabin, and flight numbers of the Delta segments you found on delta.com. For cabin, call the forward cabin on Delta’s planes “Business Class” even though Delta calls it something else.
  2. Complete the Bonus Award Application. You can only book awards for yourself, parents, grandparents, siblings, children, grandchildren, parents-in-law, and children-in-law. You have to provide proof of the relationship too, which might mean scanning and emailing a marriage certificate or birth certificate. Insane, I know, but you can literally save about $1,000 worth of miles for two people taking a roundtrip to Hawaii.
  3. Call back to ticket the award.
Transferring Miles

Transfers from Ultimate Rewards to Korean are instant, so put the award on hold before transferring.

SPG transfers take approximately five days. Also initiate these after putting the award on hold because Korean award holds are of essentially limitless duration.

Picking Seats

To pick your seats and confirm that your reservation was ticketed correctly, call Delta.

Get Creative (Routing Rules)

Here are the routing rules when redeeming Korean miles to fly SkyTeam partners, like Delta:

  • Roundtrip and one way awards are the same price, so book roundtrip awards
  • You get one stopover per roundtrip award in addition to the destination
  • You can have three segments maximum in each direction
  • You get one open jaw, at the destination only

You can get a stopover on the mainland an open jaw in Hawaii, so you can book something like:

  • Your home airport to Los Angeles
  • Hang out in LA for a few days (or weeks or months)
  • Los Angeles to one Hawaiian island
  • Another Hawaiian island to your home airport

That leaves just a single interisland flight to be booked separately (or several interisland flights depending on how many islands you want to see.

Bottom Line

Use Korean miles instead of Delta miles to book economy and First Class awards to Hawaii on Delta flights. You’ll pay fewer miles, lower fees, and be able to book the exact same seats. Plus Korean awards allow a stopover en route an open jaw at the destination.

Cards that earn Ultimate Rewards are ideal, since they transfer 1:1 instantly to Korean miles.

The Sapphire Preferred is one of the best personal credit cards on the market. It offers:

  • 50,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months
  • 5,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards for adding an authorized user
  • 2 Ultimate Rewards per dollar on travel and dining purchases
  • 1 Ultimate Reward per dollar on all other purchases
  • no annual fee the first year and $95 thereafter

While I can not directly link to the current Sapphire Preferred offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

The Ink Plus is easily the best business card on the market. It offers:

  • 60,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $5,000 in the first three months
  • 5 Ultimate Rewards per dollar at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services
  • 2 Ultimate Rewards per dollar at gas stations and hotel accommodations
  • 1 Ultimate Reward per dollar on all other purchases
  • $95 annual fee

While I can not directly link to the current Ink Plus offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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You can earn 10,000 Starpoints per referral to the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card, up to 55,000 Starpoints per calendar year. That’s double the normal Starpoints per referral (but the same annual cap.)

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I value 10,000 Starpoints at $250 and 55,000 Starpoints at $1,375.

How does the referral bonus work?

Look for an email with the subject “Limited Time: Refer a Friend, Earn Double the Starpoints” and click the Refer Now button. If you can’t find that email, but you have the SPG card, try signing in to your Amex account here.

Enter your friends’ email addresses, and they will get an email from American Express saying you are referring them to the card.

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If they apply through the link in the email and are approved, you’ll receive 10,000 bonus Starpoints, up to 55,000 per calendar year.

The referral offer is the standard offer for the card:

  • 25,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 within the first 3 months of Cardmembership
  • 2 Starpoints per dollar on SPG purchases
  • Earn 1 Starpoint for all other purchases.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95

You should probably mention to your friends that in the last year we have seen 30,000 and 35,000 points offers, and you can only get the bonus on an Amex card once per lifetime.

Here is my friend’s referral link if you want to benefit a fellow mile lover and get the card. I already have my 55,000 points for the year.

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If you want to leave your referral link in the comments, go ahead.

Terms & Conditions

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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All Nippon Airways (ANA) has reduced fuel surcharges drastically on awards that travel to or from Japan. Now you can fly to Tokyo from the United States for 75,000 miles in flat bed Business Class roundtrip plus low taxes plus a $4–yes four dollar–fuel surcharge. That’s tens of thousands of miles fewer than competitors charge.

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The above screenshot is of a roundtrip Business Class award flying ANA between Los Angeles and Tokyo in February 2017.

Routing Rules

ANA has two award charts. A cheaper one for flying only ANA flights, and a more expensive one for flying partner flights.

ANA flies between Tokyo and Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York (JFK), San Francisco, San Jose, and Washington D.C.

Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 12.25.37 PMIf you don’t live in one of those cities, you can add Saver United award space to get to one of those cities (the United hubs of Washington-Dulles, Houston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco would be easiest), but that puts you onto the more expensive partner award chart.

When redeeming ANA miles on ANA-operated flights, you can have one stopover if your flight originates outside of Japan. You can also have one open jaw.

 

US to Japan Roundtrip

ANA awards are roundtrip only– no one ways allowed. Hence all prices mentioned in this post are roundtrip.

The price of redeeming ANA miles on ANA-operated flights depends on the time of year. If you fly to Japan during any of the dates listed in the blue section of the chart (basically January, February, or April 2017), you will pay the lowest rates of 40,000 miles roundtrip in economy, 75,000 roundtrip in Business, or 150,000 roundtrip in First Class.
Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 12.28.07 PMHere are the current prices for all cabins (taxes and fuel surcharges for all are roughly $85):

Low Season (January, February, April)

  • North America to Japan in economy: 40,000 ANA miles
  • North America to Japan in Business Class: 75,000 ANA miles
  • North America to Japan in First Class: 150,000 ANA miles

Regular Season (Most of the rest of the year, including most of summer)

  • North America to Japan in economy: 50,000 ANA miles
  • North America to Japan in Business Class: 85,000 ANA miles
  • North America to Japan in First Class: 150,000 ANA miles

High Season (Christmas, New Years, late April to early May, and late July to mid-August)

  • North America to Japan in economy: 55,000 ANA miles
  • North America to Japan in Business Class: 90,000 ANA miles
  • North America to Japan in First Class: 165,000 ANA miles

Any time of year if you include a United flight (same prices as High Season)

  • North America to Japan in economy: 55,000 ANA miles
  • North America to Japan in Business Class: 90,000 ANA miles
  • North America to Japan in First Class: 165,000 ANA miles

For comparison, redeeming American Airlines miles to Japan would cost 70k/120k/160k miles roundtrip in economy/Business/First. Redeeming United miles to Japan would cost 70k/150k/220k miles roundtrip in economy/Business/First on partners.

Flights From the US to Other Countries ANA Flies To

While ANA’s award redemption rates are some of the lowest out of all of the Star Alliance options to a number of regions, their fuel surcharges can be prohibitive. Unfortunately–apart from Japan–fuel surcharges on those awards have remained intact and exorbitant. It appears that ANA has only cut fuel surcharges on awards that touch Japan.

Out of pocket costs to get to Bangkok are over $500, to Delhi are nearly $700, and to Sydney are nearly $900.

Good News from Another Angle

ANA axing fuel surcharges on awards to or from Japan is also beneficial for those of you with any type of Star Alliance miles that collect fuel surcharges when the carrier does (pretty much all of them do except United, Copa, and Avianca). You can now redeem your miles on roundtrip flights between the US and Tokyo (almost) fuel surcharge free!

However, the easiest way for Americans to collect foreign programs’ miles are through cards that earn transferrable points, so it’s most of you reading this have points that can transfer to a variety of programs rather than, say, Lufthansa or Asiana miles outright. In that case, don’t bother transferring to a different Star Alliance partner to redeem on ANA flights since ANA’s mileage prices on their own flights are by far the cheapest to Japan.

How to Search for and Book Award Space

You can search for and book award space right on ANA’s website. Read this post to learn how to use the ANA search tool.

How to Get ANA Miles

ANA is a 1:1 transfer partner of SPG points as well as Membership Rewards.

Until June 22, 2016, the Platinum Card from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz comes with 75,000 Membership Rewards after spending $3,000 in the first three months. Membership Rewards transfer to around 20 hotel and airline programs including Delta, Singapore, and British Airways.

The card has a $475 annual fee in the first year. But it comes with huge benefits like airline fee reimbursement, airport lounge access, and hotel status.

Premium Cabin Award Space to Japan During the Low Season

I checked the Los Angeles to Tokyo route’s award space in both directions for the first portion of the low season in 2017 (January 5 to February 28) to see how much space is available in Business and First Class. It appears to be completely, totally wide open in Business and First Class.

Los Angeles to Tokyo

Pretty much every week has six seats available in Business Class every day. The screenshot below is for six passengers in Business Class:

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 5.12.07 PMSix to seven days each week have four seats available in First Class. The screenshot below is for four passengers in First Class:

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 5.29.06 PM

Tokyo to Los Angeles

Beginning January 11, there are six seats available in Business Class every day. The screenshot below is for six passengers in Business Class:

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 5.15.33 PM

Also beginning January 11, there are four seats available in First Class five to seven days a week. The screenshot below is for four passengers in First Class:Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 5.35.37 PM

Bottom Line

ANA is now only charging $4 fuel surcharges on awards between the United States and Japan that used to be rendered much less attractive by expensive fuel surcharges. Depending on what time of year you travel, it will cost you 40-50,000 miles roundtrip in Economy, 75-90,000 miles roundtrip in Business, and 150-165,000 miles roundtrip in First Class. These prices are well below what competitors charge for the same routes.

Award space during the low season, which costs the least amount miles, is wide open in Business and First Class.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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Until today (April 30, 2016), you can buy up to 30,000 Starpoints with up to a 25% discount on the normal purchase price.

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Starpoints are normally sold in increments of 500 points for 3.5 cents per point. The percentage discount you receive during the current sale is based on the number of points you buy.
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Purchasing 4,500 points or fewer offers no discount, and you pay the full 3.5 cents per point.

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Purchasing 20,000 to 30,000 points, the maximum number you can purchase per year, receives the full 25% bonus, bringing the price down to 2.625 cents per point.

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How to Use Starpoints

There are three main ways to get huge value from Starpoints.

  1. Free nights at SPG properties
  2. Cash & points nights at SPG properties
  3. Transfers to airline miles with 25% bonus

1. Free Night Awards

Starpoints can be used for free nights at any Sheraton, W, Westin, Le Meridien, Aloft, Four Points, St. Regis, Element, or Luxury Collection Hotel. Free nights start at 2,000 points per night. And the best part is: if a standard room is for sale, you can book it with Starpoints. Free night awards are not capacity controlled like award flights are.

Here is the Free Night Awards chart:

Book a four night award at Category 3-7 hotels and get a 5th night free. Here are the total prices for five nights:

This year I booked two free nights for 12,000 points per night at the Westin Maui when it was going for over $400 per night.

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2. Cash & Points Awards

Cash & Points awards are a way to stretch your cash and your Starpoints. You’ll generally get even more value from your Starpoints through these awards though they are capacity controlled. Here is the Cash & Points chart:

As you’ll notice, a Cash & Points night requires half the Starpoints (or fewer) of a free night plus a cash co-pay.

On a Cash & Points stay, think about it like booking a free night and then buying back half the points for the cash copay. The price of the points you are buying back varies from 1.5 cents (category 4) to 2 cents (category 1.) These are good prices to buy Starpoints.

3. Transfer to Airlines with a Miles Bonus

For people who eschew chain hotels, Starpoints are incredibly valuable to transfer to airline miles because their are so many partner airlines, and in most cases, transferring 20k Starpoints nets you 25k miles in the account of your choice, a 25% bonus!

Starpoints transfer to 30 airlines in total, mostly at favorable rates. Starpoints have far better transfer options than Membership Rewards, ThankYou Points, and Ultimate Rewards.

The best four options are Asiana, Aeroplan, Alaska, and new partner Virgin America. Starpoints transfer in a 20k points to 25k miles ratio (1:1.25) to all four airlines, and only Aeroplan is a 1:1 transfer partner of another transfer program (Membership Rewards.)

Buying 20,000 Starpoints for $525 would allow you to transfer to 25,000 miles. That’s like buying the miles for 2.1 cents each. (Not a good deal speculatively, but possibly a good deal if you have an immediate high-value use.)

Buying 30,000 Starpoints for $787.50 would allow you to transfer to 35,000 miles, which is like buying miles for 2.25 cents each. While $787.50 for 35,000 miles is a terrible deal in the abstract, it is enough Asiana miles to book a one way in Business Class to Southern South America and almost enough Virgin America points (45,000) to book a one way in Business Class to Australia.

When to Buy (Math)

Is buying SPG points for 2.625 cents each a good deal?

I would not buy SPG points speculatively for 2.625 cents each because I value them at 2.5 cents each. But if you have an immediate high value redemption in mind, buying points can be a good deal. I listed the high value uses above. Do the math on the redemption you have in mind.

Buy SPG Points with These Credit Cards

Starpoints purchases are processed by points.com, so the purchases will not code as a bonus “travel” or “hotel” purchase on any credit card. You will not earn category bonuses from the purchase of SPG points.

That means you should make the purchase with whatever card you need to meet a minimum spending requirement on.

Bottom Line

You can buy 500 to 30,000 SPG Starpoints for as little as 2.625 cents each until today (April 30.) That’s too high to buy speculatively, but there are a lot of immediate uses for the points where that price offers great value.

Key Link: Buy SPG Points

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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Last week I wrote about SPG’s newest airline transfer partner. You can now transfer Starpoints 1:1 to Virgin America Elevate points and get 5,000 bonus Virgin America points for every 20,000 Starpoints transferred. That’s particularly amazing because Virgin America is a 2:1 transfer partner of American Express and Citi (eg 20k Membership Rewards = 10k Virgin America points.)

One of the best deals with Virgin America points is flying Virgin Australia from Los Angeles to Sydney or Brisbane. One way awards in Business Class are only 45,000 Virgin America points (40k SPG points.)

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Roundtrips are an even better deal:

  • 40k Virgin America points in economy (35k SPG)
  • 60k in Premium Economy (50k SPG)
  • 80k in Business (65k SPG)

The Product

Virgin Australia’s old Business Class is not the nicest in the world, but you’ll hardly be slumming it.

You get a fully flat bed that is 6’2″ long with a duvet and pillow. You’ll have a personal entertainment screen and access to an onboard bar.Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 3.15.07 PM

Not all seats have direct aisle access, and reports of the food and service are less glowing than with Asian airlines, but this a solid Business Class product where you will be able to sleep and entertain yourself on the 14+ hour flights.

Plus Virgin Australia has already started rolling out a new, better Business Class that gives all seats direct aisle access.

But this bed and those sweet spots are only theoretical if there isn’t award space on the routes. How much Business Class award space is Virgin Australia releasing right now?

Virgin Australia Business Class Award Space

It is a truism of miles that airlines release Saver award space equally to all partners. (This is only very occasionally not true though phone agents say it isn’t true all the time when they are too incompetent to find the award space you know exists.) A corollary is that anywhere we can search Virgin Australia award space will show us the award space that is available with Virgin America points.

We can search Virgin Australia award space on delta.com five weeks at a time.

I did that for one passenger for the next 11 months on all four flights (LAX to Sydney and Brisbane in both directions), and the only award space that is available is within one week of departure.

Days that say “80,000” have Virgin Australia award space that is bookable for 45,000 Virgin America points one way or 80,000 roundtrip.

Los Angeles to Sydney

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 2.49.06 PMLos Angeles to BrisbaneScreen Shot 2016-04-20 at 2.49.52 PM

Sydney to Los Angeles

LAX > SYD bizSydney to Brisbane
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Good News, Bad News

The good news is that if you can wait until the last minute to book your award, you should be able to find award space. That bad news is that if you can’t, you are not going to be able to book Virgin Australia Business Class at the moment.

This pattern could change at any moment. Virgin Australia used to release 4+ award seats in Business Class basically every day, even over Christmas and New Year.

Other Business Class Options to Australia

Award space to Australia in Business Class is always tough. If you must book more than a week out to Australia, right now United offers a smattering (green and blue days) on its Los Angeles to Sydney…

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 3.07.54 PMScreen Shot 2016-04-20 at 3.08.12 PM…and Los Angeles to Melbourne routes.Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 3.08.59 PM

American, Qantas, and Delta offer less Business Class award space than Virgin Australia.

Virgin Australia Economy Award Space

If you can survive 15 hours in economy, there is plenty of Virgin Australia economy award space. This calendar shows space from Los Angeles to Sydney. All days that say “45,000” can be booked for 25,000 Virgin America points one way or 40,000 roundtrip.

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 2.56.13 PM

You Don’t Live in Los Angeles

If you don’t live in Los Angeles, that is a bit of a problem as these Virgin America awards to Australia are priced only from Los Angeles. You will need a separate award on Virgin America (that will be priced based on the cash ticket’s price) to Los Angeles, or you can get yourself there with cash or any other type of miles.

Hopping Around Australia/NZ/Oceania

Your best bets if you want to see more of the area than just Sydney and Brisbane are to use Avios to fly Qantas or Virgin America points to fly Virgin Australia, including flights to remote Pacific Islands for only 9,500 Virgin America points one way.

How to get SPG Points

The Starwood Preferred Guest personal and business credit cards from American Express now come with 25,000 bonus Starpoints for spending $3,000 and $5,000 respectively in the first three months of cardmembership.

Searching For Award Space, Transferring SPG points and Booking

While you can price out a partner redemption on Virgin America’s website using their award calculator (it also conveniently shows out of pocket taxes and fees), you can neither find award space nor book there.

If Virgin Australia space shows up on delta.com, it is bookable with Virgin America points, so search delta.com. Note the date, cabin, and flight number and call 877-359-8474 to speak to a Virgin America representative. Unfortunately there is an unavoidable $20 phone booking fee.

Bottom Line

Virgin America offers an incredible deal on flat bed award space to Australia: 45,000 points one way in Business Class or 80,000 points roundtrip. The problem is that Virgin Australia releases very little award space, and all of it is in the week before departure at the moment.

Either wait until the last minute to book Virgin Australia award space with Virgin America points, book United Business Class to Australia, or book wide open Virgin Australia economy award space to Australia with Virgin America points.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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Effective immediately, you can transfer SPG Starpoints to Virgin Elevate points at a 1:1 rate. Like all 1:1 partners of SPG, you get 5,000 bonus miles for every 20,000 points transferred, so 20,000 Starpoints equals 25,000 Virgin America points.Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 12.17.34 PM Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 12.17.47 PMThis is 2-and-a-half times the Virgin America points that you get from competing transferable points. Virgin America is a 2:1 transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Points and American Express Membership Rewards, so 20,000 of those transferable points equals only 10,000 Virgin America points. 

I have always thought that SPG Starpoints (2.5 cents each) were more valuable than Membership Rewards (2 cents each) and ThankYou Points (1.9 cents each), but not two-and-a-half times more valuable!

The reason that Membership Rewards and ThankYou Points offered 2:1 transfers to Elevate Points, and the reason today’s news that Starpoints transfer 1:1 (4:5 in increments of 20,000 Starpoints) is because Virgin America has a very deflated award chart.

Virgin America’s points are very valuable. I value them at 2.3 cents each, which means that Starpoints are worth 2.875 cents each when transferring to Virgin America points. Why are they so valuable?

Yes, you’re reading this right that it costs only 80,000 Virgin America points roundtrip in flat bed Business Class from the United States to Australia!
Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 12.22.07 PM

Check out my full recent posts on Sweet Spots with Virgin America Points that also details the routing rules. Let’s look at the sweet spots in light of the news that SPG Starpoints transfer 20,000 SPG points to 25,000 Elevate points:

  • Virgin America offers revenue-based redemptions on its own flights. Elevate points are worth about 2 cents each toward any Virgin America flight with no blackouts. That means SPG points are worth about 2.5 cents toward any Virgin America flight.
  • 80,000 Virgin America points (65,000 SPG points) is a roundtrip in Business Class between Los Angeles and Brisbane or Sydney with Virgin Australia
  • 45,000 Virgin America points (35,000 SPG points) is a one way in Business Class between Los Angeles and Brisbane or Sydney with Virgin Australia
  • 20,000 Virgin America Elevate Points (20,000 SPG Points) is a roundtrip in Economy between the western United States and Hawaii on Hawaiian Airlines
  • 3,000 Virgin America Elevate Points (3,000 SPG Points) is a one way Economy interisland flight on Hawaiian Airlines
  • 3,600 Virgin America Elevate Points (3,600 SPG Points) is a one way in Economy on Singapore Airlines within Southeast Asia (like Bangkok to Singapore for example, or Singapore to Bali)

Warning: using Elevate points for Emirates or Virgin Atlantic awards will incur high fuel surcharges. However there are some premium awards flying Virgin Atlantic Upper Class that could be worth it if you’re cash rich and points poor, like:

  • New York, Newark, Washington DC, Atlanta or Chicago to London: 35,000 Elevate Points (30,000 SPG Points) + $1,100
  • Roundtrip from Boston or Detroit to London: 35,000 Elevate Points (30,000 SPG Points) + $910

Upper Class is Virgin Atlantic’s Business Class and is the best cabin on the plane. It offers offers a flat bed, Clubhouse access, and access to an onboard bar.

Bottom Line

Starting today, SPG points transfer 1:1 to Virgin America points, and 20,000 SPG points are worth 25,000 Virgin America points. That’s amazing because 20,000 Membership Rewards or ThankYou Points are worth 10,000 Virgin America points.

Virgin America’s points are very valuable. I value them at 2.3 cents each.

You can get 2.5 cents of value from your SPG points on Virgin America flights, book a roundtrip to Europe in flat beds for 30,000 SPG points plus fuel surcharges, or book a roundtrip in flat beds to Australia for 65,000 SPG points and no fuel surcharges.

Most programs charge 100k+ miles to Europe and 150k+ to Australia.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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The Starwood Preferred Guest personal and business credit cards from American Express now come with 35,000 bonus Starpoints for spending $3,000 and $5,000 respectively in the first three months of cardmembership.

Links:

The normal sign up bonus is 25,000 points, the twice yearly limited time offer is 30,000 points. This is the highest public sign up bonus ever on these cards. (And some people say the hobby is dying…)

American Express recently introduced a rule that you can only get the bonus once per lifetime on each of its cards. Eligibility is separate for each card. That means if you’ve only ever had the business card, you can still get the personal card or vice versa. But if you’ve had the personal card before, you can’t get this bonus on the personal card. If you’ve had the business card before, you can’t get this bonus on the business card.

If you get both cards, you’ll have to spend $8,000 total in the first three months of cardmembership. In return, you’ll get one Starpoint per dollar spent plus a 35,000 point bonus on each card for a total of 78,000 Starpoints. I get at least 2.5 cents of value per Starpoint in the following ways, meaning a total value of at least $1,950 to me.

Here are the main ways to get value from Starpoints:

1. Free Night Awards

Starpoints can be used for free nights at any Sheraton, W, Westin, Le Meridien, Aloft, Four Points, St. Regis, Element, or Luxury Collection Hotel. Free nights start at 2,000 points per night. And the best part is: If a standard room is for sale, you can book it with Starpoints. Free night awards are not capacity controlled like award flights are.

Here is the Free Night Awards chart:

Book a four night award at Category 3-7 hotels and get a 5th night free. Here are the total prices for five nights:

There can be tremendous value in the free night awards. For instance:

These are old examples. The prices have surely changed. Just pay attention to the ideas embedded in them.

Le Méridien Chiang Rai Resort, Thailand is a stunning category 2 hotel that goes for only 3,000 points on the weekends. One weekend night in January goes for $123, so that redemption would be worth 4.1 cents per point.

3k Starpoints or $123

And more importantly, 78,000 Starpoints would be enough for up to 39 weekend nights at some properties.

Starwood Cards = 23 Nights Here

As another example of Free Night Awards, the cheapest SPG property in Hawaii is the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay, a category 4 property that costs 10k points per night or 40k for five nights, using the 5th Night Free pricing.

The property goes for $302 per night after taxes for a five-day stay in March: $1,510 total. Instead you could pay 40,000 Starpoints and get 3.76 cents per point in value. And more importantly, you’d be here:

Get the 5th Night Free on the Big Island
2. Cash & Points Awards

Cash & Points awards are a way to stretch your cash and your Starpoints. You’ll generally get even more value from your Starpoints through these awards though they are capacity controlled. Here is the Cash & Points chart:

As you’ll notice, a Cash & Points night requires half the Starpoints of a free night plus a cash co-pay.

Unless I were taking advantage of the 5th Night Free with Free Night Awards, a discounted weekend night, or I was cash poor at the moment, I would look to choose a Cash & Points award over a Free Night.

To see why, let’s look at the Sheraton Frankfurt Congress Hotel, a Category 3 property. For a Tuesday this month, the hotel wants 149 euros for the refundable rate. Or you could spend 7,000 Starpoints for a Free Night, or you could spend 3,500 Starpoints + $55.

Comparing them:

  • 149 euros is $163
  • 7,000 Starpoints for a free night is a respectable 2.32 cents per point
  • 3,500 Starpoints + $55 is an incredible 3.09 cents per point

And I chose this hotel because I’ll be in Frankfurt next week, not because it has an abnormally valuable Cash & Points option. I’d frankly consider 3 cents per point about average for a Cash & Points redemption.

3. Transfer to Airlines with a Miles Bonus

For people who eschew chain hotels, Starpoints are incredibly valuable to transfer to airline miles because their are so many partner airlines, and in most cases, transferring 20k Starpoints nets you 25k miles in the account of your choice, a 25% bonus!

Starpoints transfer to 30 airlines in total, mostly at favorable rates.

The best three options are Aeroplan, Alaska Airlines, and Asiana. Starpoints transfer in a 20k points to 25k miles ratio (1:1.25) to all three airline airlines, and none is a transfer partner of Ultimate Rewards or ThankYou Points. Click here for the reasons to transfer to those three airlines.

Other partners where I would consider transferring Starpoints include:

(Note that many of the airlines on this bulleted list are Membership Rewards or Ultimate Rewards partners, and I would rather transfer those points to these airlines, since I value Starpoints more.)

The one glaring weakness in the airline transfer partners is that United is not a 1:1 transfer partner, 20k Starpoints transfers to only 12,500 United miles. Avoid that transfer, and earn Ultimate Rewards instead to transfer to United.

But apart from that, the transfer partner list is astoundingly excellent. You can get on most commercial flights worldwide through one of these transfer partners.

Other Important Things to Know about the Starwood Preferred Guest Program

Status

Both the Starwood personal and business cards confer 2 stay credits and 5 night credits toward elite status, and they are cumulative, so if you get approved for both cards, I’ll have 4 stays and 10 nights credited to your account, leaving you just 6 stays or 15 nights short of Gold Status.

Gold Status entitles you to free internet and a 4 PM checkout. You also get an extra Starpoint per dollar on Starwood purchases, so cardholders with Gold Status get 5 Starpoints per dollar.

Other than stays, you can also get Gold Status by having an American Express Platinum card or spending $30k per year on a Starwood credit card.

4x or 5x

Cardholders can earn 4 points per dollar on Starwood purchases, 5 points per dollar if they have Gold Status. This breaks down to 2 points per dollar for the spending normally plus another 2 points per dollar if the spending is on a Starwood card.

Combine Points

You can combine points between Starwood accounts if both parties have had the same address on file for 30 days.

This is hugely important, since certain blocks of Starpoints are critical. For instance, if you and your wife each have 10k Starpoints, you could each transfer them to your respective American Airlines accounts and have 10k miles in two accounts. Or you could combine the Starpoints and send the points to one person’s American Airlines accounts, leaving you with 25k American Airlines miles in one account after the transfer bonus.

Your Parents’ Card

Your parents like to travel, they’re jealous of your trips, and they want a rewards card. But they don’t want to keep track of category bonuses, ten programs, and tons of promotions. (OK, maybe I’m just describing my parents.)

Tell each of your parents to get the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express. Of course you can do better than putting all of your spending on this card by taking advantage of other card’s bonuses, but you can do pretty well by putting all your spending year after year on this card and building a balance of valuable hotel points that can also transfer to 30 airlines. When people come to my Award Booking Service with a stash of Starpoints, I know the job will be easy.

Big Spenders

I’ve argued before that Big Spenders Should Be Using One of These Three Cards (And They Probably Aren’t). One of those cards is the Starwood card. Because of its transfer partners and transfer bonus, using the card is like earning 1.25 miles per dollar in almost any airline program.

Nights & Flights

I probably should give Nights & Flights more billing because it might be a better deal than Free Night Awards, Cash & Points awards, and airline transfers. With Nights & Flights, you get five hotel nights and 50,000 airline miles for only 60-70k Starpoints.

Unfortunately the award is limited to Category 3 and 4 hotels. But the price is unbeatable. Going back to the Sheraton in Kona discussed above, for 70k Starpoints, you could get five free nights at the property plus 50k American Airlines miles to get there (you only need 35k).

Moments

A lot of airlines and hotels, want you to blow your points on overpriced experiences and merchandise, but Starwood Moments have some good values. I spent 5,500 Starpoints for two tickets to a Captial Cities concert, plus the chance to meet the band beforehand, and free food and drinks at a reception.

All in One Place

Starwood has an awesome chart that compares many of the redemption options discussed here and some worse options not discussed here.

Referrals

If you have the personal or business card, you can refer friends to these offers and earn 5,000 bonus Starpoints for each friend who gets the card. Log in here to get your referral links. You can post or request referrals in the comments.

Recap

Currently, both the personal and business versions of the Starwood Preferred Guest credit card have a 35,000 Starpoint sign up bonus until March 30, 2016, their largest ever.

Getting both cards gives you 78,000 total Starpoints after meeting their minimum spending requirements. Through Free Nights, Cash & Points, airline transfers, and Nights & Flights, you can plan to get at least 2.5 cents of value per Starpoint.

These are the set-it-and-forget-it cards. For people who don’t have that attention span, these are go-to, everyday cards to keep in your wallet for a long time to build up balances towards incredible vacations.

Further Reading:

Links:

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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The Chinese insurance company Anbang has topped Marriott’s latest bid for Starwood, the company that manages these hotel brands.

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This soap opera has been ongoing since November when Marriott offered $72.08 per share for Starwood. Anbang and Marriott have gone back and forth with the latest Anbang offer worth $82.75 per share.

I haven’t been covering the twists and turns and won’t cover them again until a sale is completed. When that happens, we will have plenty of time to sort out what that means for our SPG points.

I am rooting for SPG to remain independent (either not be purchased or purchased by the Chinese company) over a Marriott purchase because Marriott’s points are worth about 0.5 cents each while SPG points are worth 2.5 cents each. I see a Marriott purchase as a death sentence for the SPG program as we know it, though one in which execution will be stayed for at least a year from the purchase announcement.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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3

Aeroplan has brought back its huge transfer bonuses that it last offered in April, August, and December 2015.Screen Shot 2016-03-15 at 1.19.21 PM

Right now 40k Starpoints plus taxes will get you a roundtrip economy class trip to Europe, 145k Starpoints will get you two roundtrip Business Class ticket to Europe, and 110k will get you two roundtrip First Class tickets to Hawaii.

Starpoints always transfer to dozens of airlines at a 1:1 rate with a bonus of 5,000 miles for every 20,000 Starpoints transferred. On top of that standard bonus, until April 18, 2016, Aeroplan is giving a bonus of up to 55k miles on transfers of hotel points to Aeroplan miles.

Transfers in from any of these partners count, and the best deal is to transfer in SPG Starpoints.
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The normal transfer bonus on Starpoints-to-miles plus this special Aeroplan transfer bonus combine to mean you can get up to 59% more Aeroplan miles than you had Starpoints. If you transfer 160,000 Starpoints, you end up with 255,000 Aeroplan miles, a 59% transfer bonus. You can redeem the Aeroplan miles on a cheap award chart on Air Canada flights or any Star Alliance carrier.

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If you redeem to Western Europe on United, Swiss, Turkish, Brussels, Ethiopian, or Scandinavian flights, you’ll pay only 40k/80k/95k Starpoints roundtrip in economy/Business/First with no fuel surcharges.

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  • How can you take maximum advantage of this promotion?
  • How can you avoid the fuel surcharges?
  • Where do you search? How do you search?
  • Where do you book?
  • How good of a deal is 40k Starpoints to Europe?
  • What about the announced devaluation of Aeroplan’s award chart?
  • How does Aeroplan’s award chart compare to United’s and other Star Alliance charts?

The Deal

Starpoints always transfer to dozens of airlines at a 1:1 rate. For every 20k Starpoints transferred, you get 5k bonus miles. My favorite airlines transfer partners are American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and Asiana.

Ordinarily I wouldn’t consider Air Canada’s program, Aeroplan, because Aeroplan collects fuel surcharges on most partners, though not on flights operated by:

  • United
  • Singapore
  • South African
  • Egyptair
  • Air China
  • Ethiopian
  • Avianca
  • TACA
  • Copa
  • Swiss
  • Turkish
  • Brussels
  • Scandinavian

However Aeroplan is running a compelling promotion through April 18, 2016. Transfer hotel points and get bonus Aeroplan miles. All transfers from the listed partners will be summed to determine one’s bonus threshold.

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The relevant transfers for Western Europe awards with Aeroplan miles are:

  • 40k Starpoints transfer to 50k Aeroplan miles + 10k bonus Aeroplan miles for 60,000 total Aeroplan miles (50% bonus). This is enough miles for a roundtrip economy award to Western Europe* from the continental US, Alaska, and Canada.
  • 80k Starpoints transfer to 100k Aeroplan miles + 25k bonus Aeroplan miles for 125,000 total Aeroplan miles (56% bonus). This is enough miles for a roundtrip Business Class award to anywhere in Europe from the continental US, Alaska, and Canada with 10k or 15k miles left over.
  • 95k Starpoints transfer to 115k Aeroplan miles + 25k bonus miles for 140,000 total Aeroplan miles (47% bonus). This is enough miles for a roundtrip First Class award to Western Europe* from the continental US, Alaska, and Canada.

*Western Europe includes the countries defined as Europe 1 on the chart, Europe 2 is more expensive.

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Similar deals are available to Southern South America. Check the award chart to see how many Aeroplan miles you need.

Three Caveats Before Transferring

Even with this transfer bonus, you may be able to book a flight for fewer Starpoints by transferring them to a Star Alliance carrier with a cheaper award chart than Aeroplan. Check out this comprehensive comparison of the Eight Best Star Alliance Award Charts for the award you have in mind before transferring.

It can take up to two weeks for transfers from Starwood to Aeroplan to arrive. The exact award space you want may be gone by the time your Aeroplan miles are in your account.

The maximum Starpoints you can transfer in a day is 79,999, and you want to transfer in 20,000 point incremenets, so the effective maximum is 60,000 points. To get the bigger bonuses, you may need to make a transfer per day for several days.

Maximizing Aeroplan Awards

Aeroplan awards allow for two stopovers in addition to your destination.

Aeroplan collects fuel surcharges on most partners. For instance, fuel surcharges of over $500 per person per roundtrip are instituted on Lufthansa economy awards. Only fly partners listed in this article to avoid fuel surcharges.

Searching for Surcharge-Free Space

We want to book our Aeroplan award on partners on which no fuel surcharges are collected. The best place to search for space on United flights is united.com. On an advanced search, tick the box to search only United flights.

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Search results–and the search calendar–will only display United flights.

To search for other surcharge-free options to Europe like Swiss, Brussels, Turkish, Scandinavian, or Ethiopian, find routes that they fly and check Nonstop Flights Only on the united.com advanced search.

Once you’ve found your surcharge-free flights, head to aeroplan.com to book them. Aeroplan will have access to all Saver United space, and all partner space that shows up on united.com. You can mix-and-match these partner flights and still have no fuel surcharges.

Booking on Aeroplan.com

Booking the award space on aeroplan.com is easy. Search the dates and cabins you found on united.com. On united.com, I found award space from Washington to Brussels and return in Business Class at the Saver price on United flights for two passengers.
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Then I searched for the space on aeroplan.com.

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Each flight I found was the top result for the day I searched. I pieced it together for 110,000 Aeroplan miles + $52. For two people, during the current bonus, you could book this roundtrip in flat beds for 145,000 Starpoints (transferred to 220,000 Aeroplan miles) + $105.

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Lufthansa First Class

Many people will want to use this deal to book Lufthansa First Class. I don’t recommend that.

Asiana miles can always book Lufthansa First Class for 50,000 Asiana miles one way between the United States and Europe. That’s 40,000 SPG points every day.

With this promotion you’d need 50,000 SPG points for a one way Lufthansa First Class booking with Aeroplan miles or 95,000 SPG points for a roundtrip. That’s worse than the everyday Asiana rate.

Asiana and Aeroplan collect the same fuel surcahrges on Lufthansa flights.

After finding award space in Lufthansa First Class from Washington DC to Frankfurt on united.com, I brought it up on aeroplan.com.

It costs 70,000 Aeroplan miles (50,000 SPG points) + $456 one way.

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Getting the Starpoints (Aeroplan Miles)

Right now the SPG personal and business cards are each offering their biggest bonus ever!

Bottom Line

  1. Search for award space on united.com for Aeroplan partners on which Aeroplan doesn’t collect fuel surcharges.
  2. Open an Aeroplan account.
  3. Transfer the correct number of Starpoints to your Aeroplan account to book your dream award, taking into account the standard Starpoints to Aeroplan miles bonus (20k points = 25k miles) and the special limited time bonus being offered by Aeroplan until April 18.
  4. When the points arrive, redo your search on aeroplan.com and book.
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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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