Should You Convert Starpoints To AAdvantage Miles?

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The annual bonus offer from Starwood/American Airlines has been doing the rounds for a few days now and it’s very tempting to take it up.

Now through August 7, 2105, you’ll earn a 20% bonus when you convert your Starpoints® to AAdvantage miles” is what the promotion says.AAdvantage And StarpointsBut should you be taking up this offer or not? Contrary to what a lot of people seem to think, it’s not a foregone conclusion that you should.

Let’s get the math out of the way first:

Starpoints ordinarily convert to AAdvantage miles at a rate of 1:1 and, for every 20,000 Starpoints you convert, SPG automatically gives you another 5,000 AAdvantage miles bonus. That makes the effective transfer rate 1:1.25.

With the current bonus that’s being offered the effective transfer rate becomes 1:1.5 which, as I’ve already mentioned, looks very tempting.

The thing with Starpoints is that they’re not particularly easy to collect, especially if you’re not staying at a lot of SPG properties, but Starpoints can get you some truly wonderful stays – see this blog for a few of my favourite European Starwood properties.

Outside of staying at Starwood properties the only other way to earn Starpoints is by using an American Express SPG branded credit card (personal and/or business). None of the major credit card currencies convert to Starpoints – which means that Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou points and Amex Membership Rewards are of no help if you’re looking to build up a Starpoints balance.


Even if you have an Amex SPG card it’s still not exactly a bonanza of points when you spend. The Amex SPG will earn you just 1 Starpoint/dollar on all spend outside of Starwood properties, rising to 2 Starpoints/dollar when you spent at Starwood hotels and resorts. There are no bonus categories (like a lot of other cards offer) and no easy ways to rack up the points.

All this makes Starpoints the most valuable mainstream points currency out there, and if you have a healthy balance you should think carefully before converting them to something else.

Not only are Starpoints extremely valuable, but there’s also something else worth bearing in mind when considering a conversion to AAdvantage – devaluation.

AAdvantage is the best and most lucrative frequent flyer program in the US, possibly the world, and I love it. I’m a huge fan. But if there’s one thing that just about everyone can agree on (in the miles & points world) it’s that a devaluation is coming to AAdvantage.

AAdvantage is so much more rewarding than the competition that it’s almost impossible to believe that the new American hierarchy won’t devalue it in some way when they’ve finished combining American and US Airways – and no one can predict what that devaluation will look like.

American Airlines AAdvantage

Is the spectre of a devaluation enough to make me stop collecting AAdvantage miles? Of course not. Even a bad devaluation would probably leave AAdvantage looking better than MileagePlus and it’s very hard to imaging a devaluation so bad that AAdvantage reaches the depths of awfulness that SkyMiles has reached. But it’s enough to make me think twice about converting my hard-earned Starpoints.

On top of all that, AAdvantage miles are easier to collect than Starpoints. Sure, they cannot be collected via Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards or Amex Membership Rewards either, but there’s a whole host of credit cards (some with big sign-up bonuses) that will earn AAdvantage miles. Add to that the fact that you can earn AAdvantage miles when you eat out (via AAdvantage Dining) or when you shop online (via AAdvantage eShopping Mall) and you can start to see why I value Starpoints more.

To Convert or Not To Convert

When to convert:

  • If you have a low number of Starpoints with little prospect of building them up into a meaningful award any time soon.
  • If you have a solid plan for how to use your newly acquired AAdvantage miles and if you intend to put that plan in to action (book the award) soon.

When not to convert:

  • When the conversion would be a speculative one. i.e if you don’t have a solid plan for the points and only have a rough idea what you’d use them for – AAdvantage could easily devalue before you plan a trip and find award space – that could be painful.
  • If you’re not sure which option you prefer – a stay at a top hotel or a premium flight. If you’re not sure that you won’t want to use your Starpoints for a hotel stay then don’t convert them.

Don’t forget, you can convert Starpoints to AAdvantage miles at 1:1.25 all year round – and that isn’t bad. So, if you don’t have a solid plan for your miles and if you haven’t checked that the award you want is actually available, why rush to convert?