Newbie wants to Maximize Amex and Starwood points

Discussion in 'Newbies' started by heyfinley, Sep 26, 2014.  |  Print Topic

  1. heyfinley

    heyfinley Member

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    Hi Milepoint. I'm super new to all this and wanted to get your expert opinion.

    I'm getting married soon to a lovely woman who also happens to be a teacher. We are deferring our honeymoon until the summer of 2015, when school is out of session. We are based in New York City and very much want it to be a fantastic adventure through many European destinations – places like northern Italy, Denmark, Norway, Croatia, or the Czech Republic.

    Not knowing any of this, a relative has kindly offered to give us ~59,000 Starwood points. She says they must be used by the end of the year and she cannot make use of them. I have 1,000 Starwood points of my own, for what it's worth.

    I am enrolled in Amex Membership Rewards and I currently have ~90,000 points.

    We've both flown economy our whole lives and I'd love to travel to Europe in an upgraded seat. I'm so new at this I'm not sure if what I have is even good enough for a free flight, let alone two upgraded ones.

    My questions to the community:

    • What can I expect to get out of the points I have? Good enough for a NYC <-> Europe round trip for two? I don't know where to start with this piece of the puzzle.
    • Assuming it's even possible, would it make sense to transfer the Starwood and Membership Rewards points to a single carrier and book the trip that way? If not, what's the best way to utilize the Starwood points?
    • I've heard a lot of talk about using stopovers and "open jaws" to get more out of a flight, but I'm not sure how to do so. Are there are any specific techniques I should look into?
    Huge thanks in advance for any light you can shed on this!
     
  2. traveltoomuch

    traveltoomuch Silver Member

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    I'm not sure where the starpoint "use by the end of the year" is coming from. Perhaps her account has been inactive and they're scheduled to expire. If so, any account activity (e.g. a transfer out) should be enough to extend the expiry on whatever is left.

    Other than Singapore KrisFlyer, I'm not sure when transfer partners these programs have in common. KrisFlyer has some sweet spots in its award chart, but once points post there, they do have a hard expiry date.

    Getting transatlantic award seats in the summer can be tricky, in general. I would look for seats, then figure out what programs offer the best prices on them and transfer as appropriate.
     
    ACMM likes this.
  3. lapointdm

    lapointdm Silver Member

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    You could redeem 60,000 SPG for nights and flights which would be 50,000 airline miles and 5 nights at a category 3 starwood property. Those 50,000 miles could be combined with the miles you get from amex to get 140,000 miles. Or you could use those 50,000 miles from SPG to get british avios you could fly from boston to dublin in business class 1 way for the both of you. (http://mommypoints.boardingarea.com...w-fees-low-miles-europe/#sthash.rlDZmW2l.dpbs ). Then you could go to a different country and use the amex rewards to fly back with a different airline.

    You might get more bang for your buck from miles by flying two different airlines. One on the way there and one on the way back.
     
    traveltoomuch likes this.
  4. lapointdm

    lapointdm Silver Member

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    Oh and in addition starwood is having a 10% bonus when your transfer to british airway avios miles. I'm not sure if that works with nights and flights but if it did you could end up with 55,000 avios instead of 50,000 and those extra avios could be used for a short flight from ireland to the mainland (if it works). Unfortunately that transfer bonus is only good until September 30th so not a lot of time to think about that.
     

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