SPG Airline Direct Deposit is a program for automatically transferring Starpoints earned from hotel stays directly into miles with a frequent flyer program. The member enrolled in Airline Direct Deposit earns Starpoints at the regular rate for earning points and then points posted from hotel stays are converted into miles. When points post from a hotel stay they will be automatically converted to miles and this may take two weeks or so for some programs. Even SPG Platinum elite amenity points, typically 500 points for most Starwood brands, will convert automatically to miles. One time promotion bonuses may not transfer automatically to airline miles with SPG Airline Direct Deposit.
United Mileage Plus and Continental OnePass members improve miles earning with SPG by choosing Airline Direct Deposit with a 1 Starpoint = 1 Mileage Plus mile exchange rate compared to transferring Starpoints to miles with these two programs where the exchange rate is 2 Starpoints = 1 mile.
Transferring 20,000 Starpoints with a 25% bonus only earns 12,500 miles with Continental or United.
Airline Direct Deposit of 20,000 Starpoints = 20,000 Mileage Plus miles.
The Air China Syndrome
Air China Phoenix Miles is another frequent flyer program where there appears to be an advantage to choosing Airline Direct Deposit. Phoenix Miles is a program based on kilometers rather than miles. SPG Terms & Conditions for Airline Direct Deposit specifically state Air China Phoenix Miles members earn 1.6 kilometers for each Starpoint converted.
SPG Points-to-Miles exchange rate is shown for Air China Companion as 1:1 and I think this means the rate is only 1 Starpoint = 1 kilometer (Companion is old name of Phoenix Miles program). I do not see anything in the SPG rules indicating there is a separate miles to kilometers conversion when exchanging Starpoints to Phoenix Miles.
Airline Direct Deposit with Air China Phoenix Miles makes 20,000 starpoints worth 32,000 kilometers whereas points-to-miles transfer of 20,000 Starpoints at 1:1 with 25% bonus = 25,000 kilometers. This makes Air China Phoenix kilometers a far better deal through SPG Airline Direct Deposit.
Airline Direct Deposit 20,000 Starpoints = 32,000 km in Air China Phoenix Miles.
SPG points-to-miles exchange 20,000 Starpoints = 25,000 km in Air China Phoenix Miles.
The LAN Advantage in SPG points-to-miles exchange
LAN Airlines is the only other kilometer-based frequent flyer program for comparison to Air China. The SPG Airline Direct Deposit terms specifically state 1 Starpoint = 1.6 miles, and I assume this is based on the kilometer conversion.
LAN Airlines is the only SPG points-to-miles airline partner with a 1 Starpoint= 2 miles transfer ratio.
Airline Direct Deposit 20,000 Starpoints = 32,000 km in LanPass
SPG points-to-miles transfers 20,000 Starpoints = 50,000 km in LanPass.
Airline Direct Deposit is a confusing program and with some of the material on the SPG webpages out of date including labeling Air China’s frequent flier program Companion and showing Southwest Airline members earns 0.5 Rapid Reward credit per stay when that frequent flier program now uses points rather than credits does not help members clearly understand their options when choosing miles for Starpoints.
Airline Direct Deposit and Incidental Spend on award stays and other incidental spend.
Here is another interesting aspect of SPG Airline Direct Deposit where earning miles may be more valuable than points. Award stays like free night rewards and Cash & Points do not earn elite credit for stays and nights. Incidental spend is eligible for earning Starpoints for charges to the hotel folio like meals, drinks, spa and other items that earn Starpoints.
The Southwest Airlines factor:
Change your earning to Southwest Airlines SPG Airline Direct Deposit for ineligible Starwood stays and dining-only visits to Starwood Hotels. Incidental spend stays and any points earned are converted directly to Southwest Airline points and the flat rate for SPG is 600 points per stay. For example a $30 meal on a Cash & Points award will earn only 60 or 90 starpoints. This is less than $3 value.
600 Rapid Rewards points is about a $10 value.
¹ Air New Zealand members earn a flat 40 Airpoints for stays within Australia and New Zealand, and a flat 20 Airpoints outside Australia and New Zealand.
² El Al Israel members earn a flat 12 points per stay.
³ Southwest Rapid Rewards members earn a flat 600 Rapid Rewards Points per eligible stay at any hotel that participates in the Starwood Preferred Guest® program.
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.
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.
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.
Do these programs actually work this way for earning miles with SPG Airline Direct Deposit?
I am pretty sure the Mileage Plus miles are earned in the way I have shown in this post. The other topics are how I think the Airline Direct Deposit program works. I found little anecdotal evidence for members using SPG Airline Direct Deposit. Please comment if you have direct knowledge confirming or contradicting the information in this post.