March 11th, 2011

Starwood Hotels Preferred Guest Program: Beware of Misleading Miles Transfer Calculations (Bonus Miles)

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Update: I decided to transfer my Starwood points to America Airlines miles instead as it is a 1:1 ratio (including bonus miles) and much better deal.

I’m a Starwood Preferred Guest Member (Platinum), and have been part of the program since 2006. It’s a great hotel rewards program, and usually, I spend my points on hotel stays… Lately, I’ve been spending them on Amazon.Com gift cards and transferring to flight miles.

Transferring Starpoints to United Miles

A few days ago, I was planning a trip, I decided to transfer some points from Starwood to my United Mileage Plus account. I logged in to the SPG member website and clicked on this button to start:

Starwood Transfer Miles Screen

Next to the button is text which states: “Enjoy a 5,000-mile bonus when you transfer 20,000 Starpoints to miles (must be transferred as part of the same transaction to receive the bonus miles).

I transferred 66,000 miles to United. Based on the text next to the button above, I calculated that I would get 15,000 bonus miles + 33,000 miles (2 Starpoints :1 Mile conversion) = 48,000 total United miles. After the transfer, I received an e-mail from Starwood that I would only be receiving 40,500 miles.  So basically, Starwood was giving me 7,500 bonus miles instead of the 15,000 miles that their website verbiage implies. Seems like false advertising or a computer glitch, right?

Starwood Platinum Guest Customer Service Response

Normally, Starwood has great customer service, especially for platinum members. Unfortunately, this was not the case for this transaction. I sent their customer support an e-mail and did not hear back from them for three days, so decided to give them a call today.  Neither the customer service representative or their supervisor could give me the extra 7,500 miles that their website verbiage implies. The only thing they could do was put in a “bug ticket” to update their misleading website text and reverse my transaction.

Starwood Members: Beware, The 2:1 Miles Conversion Ratio Includes Bonus Miles

If you are transferring your Starpoints to any of the airline miles programs which have a 2:1 ratio (Continental, United, Singapore, VARIG), beware. You won’t be getting 5,000 bonus miles for every 20,000 Starpoints transferred. Instead, you will get 2,500 bonus miles for every 20,000 Starpoints.

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