Mar252010

Starwood’s Airline Direct Deposit May Earn You More Miles

Update August 4, 2011: Singapore Airlines changed to 1:1 points-to-miles exchange since this article was written. Looking back over my notes it appears that SPG changed the wording of their Airline Direct Deposit since March 2010 when the page read like this:

  1. Base members of Starwood Preferred Guest who have opted to earn miles for stays will earn 2 miles for each eligible U.S. dollar with most airlines. Elite (Gold and Platinum) members of Starwood Preferred Guest who have opted to earn miles for stays will earn 3 miles for each eligible U.S. dollar with most airlines. Exceptions are as follows:
    • Air New Zealand AirPoints:
      • All members earn a flat 20 AirPoints per stay for hotels outside of Australia and New Zealand.
      • All members earn a flat 40 AirPoints per stay for hotels within Australia and New Zealand.
    • El Al Israel: All members earn a flat 12 El Al Points per stay.
    • Iberia Plus: Base members earn 1 Iberia Plus point for every eligible $5 US spent. Elite members earn 1.5 Iberia Plus points for every eligible $5 US spent.
    • LANPass: Base members earn 3.2 kilometers for every eligible $1 US spent. Elite members earn 4.8 kilometros for every eligible $1 US spent.

There was no exception for other airlines at the time this post was written. August 2011 there are different rules clearly explaining Starpoints conversion. United/Continental are a 2:1 transfer partner for SPG points-to-miles exchanges where 20,000 point transfers offer a 25% bonus. United/Continental remain a 1:1 partner for Airline Direct Deposit while Varig changed to 2:1 transfer partner through Airline Direct Deposit.

CONVERSION EXAMPLES

1:1 example

A Preferred (base) member who has an eligible spend of $420 at a participating Starwood hotel will earn 840 Starpoints, which are then automatically converted (at a 1:1 ratio) to 840 airline miles. A Gold or Platinum member will earn 1,260 Starpoints, which then convert to 1,260 airline miles.

2:1 example

A Preferred (base) member who has an eligible spend of $420 at a participating Starwood hotel will earn 840 Starpoints, which are then automatically converted (at a 2:1 ratio) to 420 airline miles. A Gold or Platinum member will earn 1,260 Starpoints, which then convert to 630 airline miles.

10:1 example

A Preferred (base) member who has an eligible spend of $420 at a participating Starwood hotel will earn 840 Starpoints, which are then automatically converted (at a 10:1 ratio) to 84 airline miles. A Gold or Platinum member will earn 1,260 Starpoints, which then convert to 126 airline miles.

https://www.spgpromos.com/moremiles/airlines.cfm?language=en_US&EM=VTY_MoreMiles_enUS

United, Continental, Varig, and Singapore Airlines earn more miles in your account through Starwood Preferred Guest Airline Direct Deposit than Starpoints-to-miles transfers. This is true even considering the 25% bonus miles for 20,000 point transfers to airline miles.

SPG.com/moremiles is the website for airline direct deposit registration of your SPG account.

How Airline Direct Deposit with SPG works

The SPG member earns points for hotel spend at the same 2 base points per USD$1 when using Airline Direct Deposit and SPG elite members earn 3 points per $1.

Points earned are transferred directly to airline miles for the frequent flier partner you select. There are some advantages of airline direct deposit and some disadvantages.

Advantages of Airline Direct Deposit

1. Minimum transfer requirement does not apply for airline direct deposit. When earning points and then transferring points-to-miles, SPG Gold members must transfer a minimum 1,500 Starpoints for airline miles. SPG members without elite status must transfer a minimum of 2,500 points to miles. Platinum members do not have a minimum transfer requirement for points-to-miles transfers, so this is not relevant to top elites.

SPG Airline Direct Deposit will allow the $200 hotel stay to transfer directly from Starpoints into 400 or 600 miles in your frequent flier account depending on your elite level.

2. Update August 4, 2011 – I revisited this topic today and realize this information is not accurate in explaining SPG Airline Direct Deposit. Singapore Airlines changed to 1:1 airline exchange partner with SPG over past year. Continental, United, Singapore, and Varig Airlines have a points-to-miles transfer ratio of 2 points = 1 mile. Transfer 10,000 Starpoints into these programs and you only receive 5,000 frequent flier miles.

Airline Direct Deposit with SPG means a $200 hotel stay will earn Starpoints normally (400 points or 600 points for SPG elite) and those points will be converted to miles based on the 1:1 conversion formula when enrolled in Airline Direct Deposit. $200 hotel stay earns 400 miles (elites=600 miles) with Continental/United Mileage Plus.

Airline Direct Deposit is a way around this restriction to earn 1 mile for every point earned from your hotel stays. You can double, or nearly double, your miles in these frequent flier programs with airline direct deposit.

20,000 Starpoints earned will result in 20,000 miles through airline direct deposit rather than settling for 12,500 Continental OnePass or United Mileage Plus miles with a 20,000 points-to-miles transfer.

 

3. Air New Zealand  Airpoints can be earned at the rate of 20 Airpoints per hotel stay or 40 Airpoints per hotel stay in Australia and New Zealand with airline direct deposit. This can be much more lucrative than points-to-miles transfers where 65 Starpoints = 1 Airpoint.

A $130 hotel stay will earn 260 Starpoints for a non-elite or 390 Starpoints for an elite member. The points-to-miles transfer at 65:1 will result in a non-elite member needing to spend about $1,300 to reach the minimum transfer requirement of 2,500 starpoints and the member will receive 40 Air New Zealand Airpoints.

Assume you have 10 hotel stays for $1,300. You will earn a minimum of 200 Airpoints with Airline Direct Deposit compared to just 40 Airpoints through points-to-miles transfers (60 Airpoints if SPG elite).

If your hotel stays are in Australia and New Zealand you can earn 400 Airpoints from ten Starwood hotel stays. An SPG Platinum member would need to spend around $6,700 to earn 20,000 Starpoints and a points-to-miles transfer would then result in 384 Air New Zealand Airpoints.

Will you spend $6,700+ for 10 or 20 hotel stays? Airline direct deposit is the way to go for Air New Zealand Airpoints.

4. El Al and Iberia Airlines do not participate in points-to-miles transfers, but you can earn frequent flier credit in these two programs through SPG airline direct deposit.

El Al members earn 12 El Al points per hotel stay.

Iberia members earn 1 Iberia Plus points per USD$5 or 1.5 points per $5 if SPG elite. Iberia is a 10:1 airline partner meaning 1,000 Starpoints converts to 100 airline miles.

Disadvantages of SPG Airline Direct Deposit

1. The versatility to transfer Starpoints into a variety of frequent flier accounts is limited. Personally, as a Platinum member, I can transfer my Starpoints into any of the 28 airline programs participating in points-to-miles transfers. Airline direct deposit means all your Starpoints are transferred into the one airline program you designate.

You can really work the SPG program and change your airline preference between hotel stays or even move back and forth between earning points and airline direct deposit, but that can be a hassle.

2. One of the main disadvantages of airline direct deposit is losing the 25% bonus in miles for 20,000 Starpoint transfers in the points-to-miles transfer program.

Airline Direct Deposit means 20,000 points will convert to 20,000 miles. This is great if you are earning in CO, UA, or SQ. You get an extra 7,500 miles for every 20,000 points earned compared to just 12,500 miles through a points-to-miles transfer.

But if using airline direct deposit for a 1:1 airline transfer partner, then your points are transferred as they are earned and you do not get the advantage of the 25% bonus for transfers of 20,000 Starpoints to miles. 

Loyalty Traveler advice:

Airline Direct Deposit is an advantage over earning Starpoints primarily if you want United, Continental, Singapore, Air New Zealand, Varig, El Al, or Iberia frequent flier credit. You are probably better off sticking with Starpoints if your miles preference is one of the 1:1 airline transfer partners.

Personally, I save all my SPG Starpoints for hotel travel. I don’t rack up Starpoints with credit card spending so my hotel stays are my source of limited points. I get good value on the order of $30 to $50 per 1,000 points by using them selectively for Cash & Points awards and hotels charging extraordinarily high rates during my stays.

People have different needs and Starpoints can be even higher value if used for a premium frequent flier award.

I’ve only transferred Starpoints in 20,000 point blocks once to airline miles, years ago, and the miles put me in reach of a 150,000 British Airways First Class award ticket. Considering the retail cost of the British Airways First Class ticket was $26,000, my Starpoints had an award value around $216 per 1,000 points. That is value difficult to beat with a free hotel stay.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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