How to Convert 75,000 Starpoints into First Class Flights

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Earlier this year, I wrote about Marriott Rewards Travel Packages. You can refresh your memory by re-reading it here. But essentially these packages involve a combination of air miles and a certificate good for a 7-night stay at a Marriott hotel.

I recently learned something new about these Travel Packages, which is definitely worth sharing. But rather than a 3-line post, I decided to develop it into a longer post. So… how can you turn 75,000 Starpoints into First Class flights?

Start With 90,000 Starpoints

I know, I know… I promised you 75,000. But I’ll get to that later. You will need to start with 90,000.  Buy them, travel hack the Best Rate Guarantee, apply for the credit card or convert some Amex MR points... it’s not that difficult.

Link your Starwood Preferred Guest account with your Marriott Rewards account. Make sure you have recent activity in your Marriott account. Don’t be like Joe!

Convert those 90,000 Starpoints into 270,000 Marriott Rewards points.

Choose an Airline and Book a Marriott Rewards Travel Package

Forget about Avios, we’re interested in American Airlines AAdvantage or Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan. The most efficient option for Marriott Travel Packages is always the Category 1-5 + 120,000 miles option that costs you 270,000 Marriott Rewards points.

American Airlines AAdvantage

Between now and 15 June, 2017, you will earn 25% bonus miles when you convert hotel points to AAdvantage miles. You can read about this here. Don’t do this speculatively, but if you are aiming for an AAdvantage reward funded by hotel points, now is the time to book it…

Thanks to the bonus, instead of 120,000 miles from Marriott you will actually receive 150,000 miles.

What does 150,000 AA miles get you?

Well of course the first thing I am going to mention is an Etihad (or Qatar) reward in First Class. 125,000 AA miles gets you a return reward in First Class to any of Abu Dhabi, Maldives, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Oman, etc. You want to try this at least once in your life. Trust me…

But if you’re willing to get creative, you could also use 150,000 AA miles to fly to North America or Africa one-way in First Class and one-way in Business Class. (actually 85K + 57.5K = 142.5K) AAdvantage offers a region-based reward chart, which means it doesn’t cost you any more miles to start in Dublin or Copenhagen or anywhere else in Europe for that matter (check out my post touting Dublin) So it actually wouldn’t be ruinously expensive (in terms of surcharges) to book a mixed British Airways First Class / Business Class reward starting from Dublin…

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

If you follow the writing of Joe or myself, you probably already know what I’m going to propose. No 25% bonus if you choose a Marriott Travel Package with Alaska miles, but those 120,000 Alaska miles are going to get you one-way to Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific in First Class and the other way in Business Class. (70K + 42.5K)

Or you could fly to the United States in Business Class (50K on AA) and then fly JAL First Class to India via Japan (70K in First Class one way). Or Cathay Pacific to South Africa with a stopover in Hong Kong (again 70K in First Class one way) Two-thirds of a round-the-world journey – mostly in First Class – for your 120K miles…

OK OK… I’ll tell you about the 75K…

Almost everybody I have ever encountered wonders how to best make use of the 7-night certificate at a Marriott Rewards Category 1-5 hotel; most hotels in that category aren’t really the kinds of hotels you want to spend an entire week at. Some people simply pay more points to upgrade their certificate to a more attractive reward category (I did this to get a week in a Category 6 hotel over Christmas). Other people beg for a year’s extension (to the original one-year expiration date). Still others waste part of the certificate by booking a 3-4 night getaway, rather than a full week.

But according to the bloggers over at Award Wallet, there is another option. You might have to HUACA (hang up and call again) a couple of times, but Marriott Rewards allows members to cancel their 7-night certificate and receive a refund of some points.

Once the 120,000 miles have safely arrived to your airline account, Marriott Rewards cannot recover them. So you call MR to cancel the 7-night hotel reward certificate and you shouldreceive 45,000 points as a refund.

Convert those 45,000 Marriott points back into 15,000 Starpoints and… voila… you’ve spent a net 75,000 Starpoints on at least 120,000 airline miles, which you will hopefully then use on a very nice First Class reward.

Does this make you drool over the possibilities, or appear way too complicated? That’s what travel hacking is all about!!!


  1. Roger says

    Where does it say in T&C say for AAdvantage that one will receive 25% bonus for Marriott travel package.

  2. Roger says

    I know about promo (25% bonus on points transfer from hotel partners) and will be doing this in first week of next month once I have enough SPG points. But I was trying to find suitable wording within the promo T&C to include and say Marriott travel package is also included.
    The AA website does not give any pointers neither does Marriott. I am not complaining even at 120K though, so definitely worth a punt for 25% extra AA Miles

  3. Pangolin says

    That all sounds as straightforward as signing up to the ill-fated Garuda Indonesia Airlines offer from a few months ago!

    Note to readers: Garuda offered some overly generous promo (90% off an F award flight) that got jumped on by FFers with alacrity. Whether they’d realised the mess they’d created for themselves before or after, the response was to curtail the damage by hedging the offer with a series of absurd restrictions on how to sign up.

  4. S says

    Can I make a request on a post on the intricacies/limits on transferring spg points within a household? It seems in line with your recent posts because its obviously an easy way to get a big chunk of spg points.

      • S says

        That’s what I thought, but then there are a load of blog posts around May 2016 which suggest there is a 30k limit, and some FT posts afterwards suggesting not so I’m not really sure what the situation is.

        • Craig Sowerby says

          The 30K limit is the annual limit for buying points. This annual limit was increased in early 2016, which might be the reason for it showing up in blogs.

          Pooling points is at SPG’s discretion.

          The good thing about FT is that you can usually find somebody who has experienced something first hand. The bad thing is that a lot of people add their opinions (in an effort to be helpful, if I’m being charitable) without actually knowing the facts. It can be hard to tell sometimes, but in this case I assume that people tend to think in terms of buying the annual maximum (i.e. 30K points) for their partner (during a promo) and then passing those over to their main account.

  5. John Peden says

    Has anyone successfully had their hotel certificate refunded? I’ve called twice today and been told that it straight up isn’t possible.

    A bit of Googling looks like it’s a pretty rare occurrence. Luckily, I’ve found two pretty nice category 4 properties in Shanghai where my brother’s wedding is next year so will likely just use it for that if the worst comes to the wost.

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