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How to Use Amex Starwood Points to Fly to Hawaii

Hi Travel Junkies,

Today we wrap up our Hawaii coverage by tackling the last major points program, Starwood Preferred Guest.

To recap, here are my previous overviews of how to fly to Hawaii using points with the other major points programs:

Chase Ultimate Rewards

Amex Membership Rewards

Citi ThankYou Points

BryceinHawaii

With so many ways to fly to Hawaii for free it’s easy to sit back and relax

Let’s get to it.

 

How to Earn Starwood Points

Starwood points are a bit harder to come by than points from other major programs. In fact, there are only 2 major credit cards that can be used to earn this valuable rewards currency.

The Starwood Preferred Guest Card by American Express (“SPG”) – The Starwood Preferred Guest by American Express comes with 25,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 in your first 3 months. The card has a $95 annual fee that is waived for the first year.

The Starwood Preferred Guest Business Card by American Express – The business version of the SPG, it basically is the same product. 25,000 bonus Starpoints after you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months, $95 annual fee that is waived for the first year.

You can also “earn” Starpoints by transferring points from American Express Membership rewards but with a 2:1 transfer ratio it’s probably not a good move.

SPGamex

Starwood Preferred Guest – one of my go-to cards for spending

Another thing to note about Starpoints is that their numbers look “small”. By that I mean that many people pass them over because the card “only” offers 25,000 bonus points.

But as you’re about to see, they pack a mighty punch.

 

How to Redeem Starwood Points

Starwood points are first and foremost a hotel rewards currency that can be used to book free/discounted nights at any Starwood property (Sheraton, W, Westin, Le Meridien, etc.).

Personally I think Starwood points offer perhaps the best value among hotel currencies but we will save that discussion for another day.

Like other major rewards programs, Starwood points can also be redeemed for things like gift cards, shopping, and rental cars.

Hopefully you know this by now, but these types of redemptions are almost always a bad move. So don’t do them unless you hate money.

Starpoints

Redeeming Starpoints for things like gift cards is usually a bad move

Also like other major programs, Starpoints can be transferred to a variety of different airline partners and redeemed for free flights.

And the best part?

Starwood gives you 5,000 bonus miles for every 20,000 Starpoints transferred.

So 20,000 Starpoints = 25,000 airline miles in any of Starwood’s transfer partners (more on these later.)

40,000 Starpoints = 50,000 miles. Etc. Just be sure to transfer your points in 20,000 point increments to get the bonus.

You should also note that Starwood point transfers can take as many as 10 days to complete.

In my experience this is closer to 2 days but regardless, it’s far from “instant”. So there is always the risk that flight availability will disappear during that waiting period.

And finally, Starwood was just acquired by Marriott so there’s no telling what will happen to their points program. There’s a pretty good chance that significant changes are on the horizon so don’t bank on Starpoints being around for much longer.

With all that said, let’s talk about those airline transfer partners.

Here’s a quick list of them (with their transfer ratios):

Aegean Airlines (1:1)

Aeromexico  (1:1)

Aeroplan/Air Canada (1:1)

Air Berlin (1:1)

Air China (1:1)

Air New Zealand (65:1)

Alaska Air (1:1)

Alitalia (1:1)

All Nippon Airways (1:1)

American Airlines (1:1)

Asia Miles (1:1)

Asiana Airlines (1:1)

British Airways (1:1)

China Eastern Airlines (1:1)

China Southern Airlines (1:1)

Delta Air Lines (1:1)

Virgin Atlantic (1:1)

 

Best Starwood Redemptions for Hawaii

1) Transfer to Korean Air to Book Flights on Delta:

Like the other major reward programs, transferring Starpoints to Korean Air to book award flights on Delta is probably your best bet to get to Hawaii.

You can book a Delta economy saver award from anywhere in the US to any of the major Hawaiian islands for just 25,000 Korean miles round-trip.

Which would only be 20,000 Starpoints (thanks to the 5k transfer bonus). Meaning the 25,000 bonus points offered by either Starwood card would be enough to get a round-trip flight to Hawaii.

To do this simply Search Delta.com to find saver availability before transferring your points to Korean Airlines and calling to book.

AMEX1

You can book Delta saver awards to Hawaii for just 25,000 Korean Miles Round-Trip

2) Transfer to British Airways to Book Flights on American Airlines/OneWorld Partners:

You can transfer your Starpoints 1:1 (plus the 5k per 20k transfer bonus) to British Airways Avios and use them to book travel on American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and other OneWorld Partners.

AAPlane

You can use British Airways Avios to book AA flights to Hawaii

As previously discussed, British Airways uses a distanced-based award chart so this is really only a good move for anyone flying from West Coast cities.

Flights should be ~12,500 Avios each way, depending on where you are flying from, and availability has to be found on AA.com (for OneWorld availability) and AlaskaAir.com (Alaska Airlines availability).

You’ll have to call British Airways to complete the booking. Don’t forget to ask them to waive the phone booking fee because the flights could not be booked online.

 

3) Transfer to Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer to Book on United Airlines:

You can transfer Starwood points 1:1 (plus the bonus) to Singapore Airlines Krisflyer Program and use them to book United Saver Award tickets to Hawaii for just 35,000 miles round-trip.

UnitedPlane

Use Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Miles to book United flights to Hawaii

Singapore Krisflier miles can be used to book any United Airlines Saver award seats other than those that are specifically being specifically set aside for United Elite Members.

Once the transfer is complete you’ll need to call Singapore Airlines to complete the booking. Have the specific flight numbers ready to read to the booking agent.

 

4) Transfer to Hawaiian Airlines

Like many of the other major points programs, Starwood points can be transferred 1:1 to Hawaiian Airlines.

Hawaiian

Starwood can be transferred 1:1 to Hawaiian Airlines

You can book a Coach SuperSaver ticket between Hawaii and North America for just 20,000 Hawaiian miles each way, which is a fantastic use of your Membership Rewards Points.

Hawaiian flies to all the major airports in Hawaii and availability tends to be good right up to the last minute.

You can also book flights between the islands of Hawaii for 7,500 Hawaiian Airlines Miles for a Coach SuperSaver ticket.

Booking is easy, simply go to Hawaiian Airlines’ website and run a standard award search. Then transfer your miles from Amex to Hawaiian and complete the booking.

 

5) Transfer to American Airlines

You’ll only want to do this if you can take advantage of an American Airlines off-peak award ticket, which will cost 20,000 AA miles each way.
Here are the current off-peak award dates for Hawaii:

To Hawaii: December 29 – March 12, August 11 – November 18, November 24 – December 10 
From Hawaii: January 7 – March 19, August 18 – November 27, December 3 – December 25

Make sure to search availability on AA.com before transferring your Starpoints.

 

6) Transfer to Alaska Airlines to book on Alaska and partners

Alaska Airlines has one of the more extensive route networks to and from Hawaii and a variety of different airline partners to choose from.

More importantly, Alaska Airlines tends to have the best availability to Hawaii, even weeks or days prior to departure.

I ran a sample search from SFO to HNL and found 20k options on 15 out of 31 days next month.

AMEX2

Alaska Airlines tends to have great availability to Hawaii

BryceBeachBallin

Great availability = more opportunities to visit Maui

That’s it! Tons of ways to fly to Hawaii thanks to Chase Ultimate Rewards Points, American Express Membership Rewards Points, Citi ThankYou Points, and Starwood points.

As always, feel free to email me with questions.

Happy Travels,

Bryce

Photo Credit: AA.com, HawaiianAirlines.com, USAToday.com, VirginAmerica.com

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