Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) is a very solid loyalty program and is one of the few hotel currencies available from credit card spend in Australia.
Starpoints are a flexible currency and, among other things, can be transferred out to over 30 different airline programs, picking up bonus points of up to 25% on the way.
A savvy points collector can therefore achieve significant savings in points redemptions compared to booking through more common frequent flyer programs like Qantas and Velocity Frequent Flyer.
How to earn Starpoints
The most common ways for travellers in Australia to get their hands on Starpoints are through discounted purchase points promotions and via transferring American Express Membership Rewards points.
Choose your airline program
One benefit of SPG is the ability to transfer to airline programs which are otherwise unavailable for direct earn opportunities via credit card in Australia.
Here is a full list of the programs:
|Frequent Flyer Programs||Exchange Ratio - Starpoints:Airline Miles|
|Aeromexico Club Premier||1:1|
|Air China Companion||1:1|
|Air New Zealand Airpoints||65:1|
|Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan||1:1|
|All Nippon Airways (ANA) Mileage Club||1:1|
|American Airlines AAdvantage||1:1|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||1:1|
|British Airways Executive Club||1:1|
|China Eastern Airlines||1:1|
|Delta Air Lines SkyMiles||1:1|
|Japan Airlines (JAL) Mileage Bank||1:1|
|LATAM Airlines LATAM Pass||1:1:5|
|Lufthansa Miles and More||1:1|
|Saudi Arabian Airlines||1:1|
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer||1:1|
|Thai Airways International Royal Orchid Plus||1:1|
|United Mileage Plus||2:1|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||1:1|
Do you notice anything missing?
Qantas is a notable exception in the list of participating programs, however, you can transfer to partners like Emirates Skywards, American Airlines AAdvantage or Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan and redeem a Qantas flight from there.
Transferring the points
The benefit of using SPG is a 5,000-point bonus for every 20,000 Starpoints you transfer to a qualifying airline program—that’s an extra 25%!
This means that if you have 50,000 Starpoints (or 100,000 Amex Membership Rewards points) burning a hole in your wallet, they’ll convert to 60,000 frequent flyer points (in most cases).
The 5,000-point bonus is an ongoing component of the Starwood program, so it is always there for you to exercise. However, you do need to transfer a full 20,000 points per transaction (not 10,000 + 10,000) in order to qualify for the bonus.
SPG members can transfer up to 79,999 Starpoints within a 24-hour period. If you want to transfer more points, you can do this over multiple days and the bonus will still apply for every increment of 20,000 Starpoints transferred.
Japan Airlines’ frequent flyer program offers some great value redemptions if you are willing to do some research!
1. 20,000 Starpoints to fly Qantas A330 Business Class between the East and West Coast of Australia one-way
This excellent flight with a lie-flat seat and delicious food would usually set you back 36,000 Qantas Points but through American Airlines’ program only costs you 20,000 AAdvantage miles.
Plus, if you transferred 20,000 Starpoints over to AA, you’d still get the 5,000-point bonus to use another time (or for another passenger!).
2. 45,000 Starpoints for a Qantas Business Class flight to the US one-way
You could use 96,000 or more Qantas Points to book this flight or you could transfer 45,000 Starpoints to Alaska Airlines, giving you a 10,000-point bonus, which would cover the 55,000 Mileage Plan miles needed to make the Transpacific trek in style!
45,000 Starpoints for a direct Business Class flight from Australia to the US is a steal!
Plus, that price includes any connecting flights within Australia in Qantas Business Class in order to reach Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane.
3. 35,000 Starpoints to fly Hawaiian Airlines Economy Class from Brisbane to Honolulu one-way
If you want to fly to Hawaii, you might be better to transfer your points directly to Hawaiian Airlines instead of trying to redeem indirectly through Virgin Australia.
That’s because flights on Hawaii’s flag carrier can be booked through Velocity for the same amount of points but often availability is limited.
I did a test search for this route and could easily find redemption seats on Hawaiian Airlines. However, through Velocity, only full-priced Any Seat awards were available, which cost 86,500 points (and I had to route via Sydney).
Transferring 35,000 Starpoints plus the 5,000-point bonus gives you the 40,000 HawaiianMiles needed for this flight.
4. 35,000 Starpoints to fly Japan Airlines Business Class to Japan one-way
With Japan Airlines now flying direct to Tokyo from both Sydney and Melbourne, there are more opportunities to experience excellent Japanese hospitality.
This redemption would cost 72,000 points through Qantas but by transferring just 35,000 Starpoints (less than half) to JAL Mileage Bank or AAdvantage, you’ll get the 5,000-point bonus, giving you the required 40,000 points needed to book this flight!
Plus, if you fly on certain weekdays and book a roundtrip ticket, you’ll be charged only 70,000 JAL miles instead of the usual 80,000 miles!
I love Starpoints because they work like a bank, with the ability transfer into the right program at the right time. This means you don’t have to worry about trying to earn the miles directly with the relevant airline.
The two main opportunities for significant SPG earn in Australia are by transferring from American Express Membership Rewards and buying Starpoints directly.
Once you have a balance of Starpoints, there are significant benefits in transferring them out to any of the over 30 partner airline programs.
If you transfer wisely and pick up the 25% point bonus on the way through, there are plenty of options for premium class airline travel almost anywhere in the world!