Top 10 Best Ways to Use SPG Points

As part of my Award Booking service, I'm often asked the best way to use SPG points (Starwood Preferred Guest points), since some folks have built up hundreds of thousands of these points with credit card spend and stays at Starwood hotels.  Overall, the highest value use of SPG points is transferring to airline partners, especially since the Starwood Cash & Points Devaluation. SPG offers a ton of airline transfer partners, and if you transfer SPG points in increments of 20,000 points, you receive a 25% transfer bonus, yielding you 25,000 miles (for most partners). So here are a few pros and cons of SPG points:

Pros of SPG Points

  • 25% transfer bonus when you transfer in increments of 20,000 SPG points
  • Many airline transfer partners, including American Airlines and Singapore KrisFlyer
  • No excise tax even when transferring to U.S. airline programs, unlike AMEX Membership Rewards points


Cons of SPG Points

  • Transfer is not instant–tends to take 1-2 weeks, so you do need to transfer without being able to put an award on hold
  • Much more difficult to earn large numbers of SPG points, compared to Chase Ultimate Rewards or AMEX Membership Rewards points
  • Forget transferring to United MileagePlus, since this is at a 2 SPG point: 1 United mile ratio
 
10 Best Ways to Use SPG Points

1. Cathay Pacific First Class to South Africa via Hong Kong for 140K Alaska Miles Roundtrip: Transfer SPG Points to Alaska Mileage Plan

For 112,000 SPG points, you can fly Cathay Pacific First Class to South Africa via Hong Kong, using Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles. If you don't already have a stockpile of Alaska miles, the SPG transfer option to Alaska is very handy, and you can even book when Cathay Pacific's own award calendar opens, unlike American, where you have to wait for American's award calendar. 

While Cathay Pacific's First Class isn't the newest or an enclosed suite product, I still find it the most comfortably padded first class bed, and I love how wide the seat is, and that there are only 6 seats in First Class.

Best Ways to Use SPG Points - Cathay Pacific First Class

 

2. Cathay Pacific First Class to Asia via Hong Kong for 135K AA Miles Roundtrip: Transfer SPG Points to American AAdvantage

Ever since British Airways devalued its award chart, the best deal to fly Cathay Pacific First Class to Asia via Hong Kong has been using American AAdvantage miles. And now, with the BankDirect Devaluation and No More 50K Citi AA Credit Card Offers it's become harder to earn AAdvantage miles, so the SPG transfer option to American AAdvantage could come in handy. It doesn't hurt that taking into account the 25% transfer bonus, it comes to just 108,000 SPG points for the roundtrip

 

3. Singapore Suites to Asia from NYC for 187K Singapore Miles Roundtrip: Transfer SPG Points to Singapore KrisFlyer

Singapore Suites is a great way to get to Asia as well, although it is more expensive compared to redeeming AA miles for Cathay Pacific: 150K SPG points for the roundtrip. That said, by transferring to Singapore KrisFlyer, you get access to full Singapore KrisFlyer award availability when the calendar opens.

Best Ways to Use SPG Points - Singapore Suites

 

4. Emirates First Class to the Maldives for 155K JAL Mileage Plan Miles Roundtrip: Transfer SPG Points to Japan Mileage Plan

If you want to experience the only in-air shower aboard a commerical aircraft, that would be Emirates First Class. A good route to try is via Dubai to the Maldives (MLE), which is 155,000 Japan Airlines Mileage Plan Miles, or 124,000 SPG points for the roundtrip. And if you're flying to the Maldives, I highly recommend staying at the Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa!

Best Ways to Use SPG Points - Emirates First Class

 

5. Etihad First Class to the Maldives or India for 180K AA Miles Roundtrip: Transfer SPG Points to American AAdvantage

Etihad is a non-oneworld partner of American Airlines, and Etihad First Class offers a true enclosed suite product, with turndown service, great pajamas (at least for women), an onboard chef, and complimentary Six Senses spa treatment in its First Class Lounge, not to mention complimentary Etihad Chauffeur pickup and dropoff service. It will take 144K SPG points when transferring to AA vs. 124K for Emirates via JAL Mileage Plan, but Etihad award availability tends to be a bit better.

Best Ways to Use SPG Points - Etihad First Class Suite

 

6. Singapore Suites to Europe for 115K Singapore Miles Roundtrip: Transfer SPG Points to Singapore KrisFlyer

While often overlooked as a means to getting to Europe, you can fly Singapore Suites or business class to Frankfurt from JFK. Yes, you'll forego access to the Lufthansa First Class Terminal, but the great thing is that you can book Singapore Suites and Business Class in advance, whereas you can only book Lufthansa First Class up to 15 days in advance with United or other Star Alliance miles. This award will run you 92,000 SPG points, taking into account the 25% transfer bonus.

 

7. Cathay First Class NYC to Vancouver for 75,000 Avios Roundtrip: Transfer SPG Points to British Airways Avios

 
It's just 75K Avios for Cathay First Class to Vancouver from NYC JFK! There's really no better way to get between those cities, or even between NYC to the Pacific Northwest since you can do a short hop from Vancouver to Seattle, etc. This works out to 60K SPG points, although I would note that if you have a lot of AMEX MR points, you'd be better off right now using the 35% AMEX transfer bonus to British Airways Avios that ends on June 7, or hoping for a more lucrative transfer bonus from AMEX Membership Rewards to Avios later this year.

 

8. Aer Lingus Boston to Dublin in Business Class for 50,000 Avios Roundtrip: Transfer SPG Points to British Airways Avios
 
After the British Airways award chart devaluation and conversion to a mostly distance based award chart, nonstop short flights became the best redemption values. The unique thing about Boston to Dublin is that it's one of the very shortest transatlantic routes, and as such manages to be just 25,000 Avios roundtrip for coach and 50,000 Avios roundtrip for business class. With the 25% SPG transfer bonus, you're looking at 40K SPG points for roundtrip in Business Class, or 20K SPG points for roundtrip in coach. If your final destination isn't Ireland, you can get a cheap revenue flight to your final European destination; note that British Airways often doesn't have great intra-Europe award availability.
 
Unfortunately you can't search Aer Lingus availability online, so you'll just have to call British Airways to find out availaility and book this award.
 
 

9. United Economy U.S. to Hawaii or Central America for 35,000 Singapore Miles Roundtrip: Transfer SPG Points to Singapore KrisFlyer

While my above choices have focused on international first class and business class, I realize that some folks just want to get from point A to point B with as few miles as possible. It's pretty hard to beat 35,000 KrisFlyer miles (28,000 SPG points) for roundtrip in coach from the East Coast to Hawaii on United, or from the West Coast to Central America, for example Costa Rica. This is using Singapore's partner award chart, so you will need to call in to book.
 
 

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