Earn up to 2.25 AA miles per dollar spent on Aussie credit cards

By Chris Chamberlin, July 10 2014

UPDATE | A new promotion is underway for members of Starwood Preferred Guest, paying out a 20% bonus on mileage transfers to American Airlines' AAdvantage program and reeling in up to 2.25 AA miles per dollar spent on Aussie credit cards.

When combined with the existing SPG bonus, 20,000 Starpoints becomes 30,000 AAdvantage miles – that's more than enough for an economy Qantas flight from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane to Hong Kong or Singapore.

Better yet, converting 40,000 Starpoints across to AA pockets you a cool 60,000 AAdvantage miles, which gets you a one-way Qantas business class flight to Asia, plus the journey home in economy (or vice versa).

That's achieved by first moving 80,000 Diners Club Rewards points through SPG to pick up the bonuses, before sending them onwards to AA.

Although Diners Club members can convert their DC Rewards points across to AAdvantage directly, 80,000 Diners points would shrink to just 40,000 AAdvantage miles – whereas for no cost, these can be sent via Starwood to become 60,000.

It's a similar story for American Express Membership Rewards members, who ordinarily can't convert MR points into AAdvantage miles.

If you have a high-earning card like the AMEX Business Accelerator, you'll earn one Starpoint per dollar spent, which turns into an easy 1.5 AAdvantage miles through this promotion.

When stacked against Qantas Frequent Flyer, AAdvantage miles can get you further when travelling in business or first class, and have a significantly lower co-pay amount when booking flights on a number of routes.

Here's why your credit card points should become AA miles – notice the vast differences between Qantas and AA redemptions on the same flights:

The current 20% promotion runs through July 31 2014, so as soon as your receive your monthly points hit, we'd suggest getting the transfers started immediately.

The article below explains how it's done with both American Express and Diners Club cards, and shows how to pick up a cool 25% bonus through SPG – which can be combined with this 20% offer for AAdvantage members.

PREVIOUS | Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) is the loyalty program of brands like Westin, Sheraton and W Hotels, but is also great for funnelling credit card points across to the various airline loyalty programs.

For every 20,000 Starpoints converted into airline points or miles, SPG dishes out a bonus 5,000 points, which bounce across to most airline programs on a 1:1 basis.

SPG is also an oft-overlooked redemption partner of both American Express Membership Rewards and Diners Club Rewards, so you can convert points from those credit cards to SPG.

Diners Club Rewards to AAdvantage, Krisflyer and Velocity

Diners Club Personal cardholders earn three Diners Rewards points per dollar spend with most merchants, and six Rewards points when dining out on Wednesdays.

Travellers might be tempted to convert these directly into American Airlines AAdvantage miles, Singapore Airlines Krisflyer miles or Virgin Australia Velocity points on a 2:1 basis, but there’s a better way.

First, send at least 40,000 Diners points across to SPG – the conversion rate is identical to the airlines above, and SPG membership is free.

You’ll wind up with 20,000 Starpoints, which is the same number of points or miles you’d have earned by transferring your Diners points directly to an airline.

However, by then sending your newfound Starpoints onwards to AAdvantage, Krisflyer or Velocity on a 1:1 basis, you’ll pick up a bonus 5,000 points along the way – landing in the account of your favourite airline.

That boosts the earning rate of your Diners Club card from 1.5 points/miles per dollar to 1.875 with Singapore Airlines, American Airlines and Virgin Australia on regular transactions.

On Wednesday dining, it’s even more noticeable, bumping up from 3 to 3.75 points or miles per dollar.

Diners Club Rewards to Air Canada, Thai and Virgin Atlantic

The SPG method is also great for grabbing miles in Aeroplan, Royal Orchid Plus and Flying Club – the loyalty programs of Air Canada, Thai Airways and Virgin Atlantic.

When transferring to these airlines directly, Diners only pays out one mile for every four Diners Club Rewards points earned, which is just 0.75 airline miles for every dollar spent.

By using SPG as the middleman, 40,000 Diners points become 25,000 miles with Air Canada, Thai Airways and Virgin Atlantic, as the SPG conversion rate with these airlines is again 1:1.

For every dollar spent, you’ll now be reeling in a cool 1.875 airlines miles, as opposed to the 0.75 miles you’d earn by transferring directly.

Like AAdvantage, Krisflyer and Velocity, the haul on Wednesdays catapults to 3.75 airline miles for every $1 spent at restaurants if moving points through SPG.

AMEX Membership Rewards to AAdvantage

The AMEX Business Accelerator card pulls in two AMEX Membership Rewards (MR) points per $1 spent, which becomes one Starpoint.

As this particular card – and many other AMEX cards – attract more generous rates when transferring directly to the likes of Krisflyer and Velocity, sweeping points through SPG isn’t great here.

That’s because one MR point becomes one airline point or mile in these programs, so Business Accelerator users already net two points per dollar spent.

Instead, SPG opens the door to turning AMEX MR points into miles with Alaska Airlines and AAdvantage, which aren’t available as direct transfers from MR.

Following the same transfer method as Diners Club Rewards, 40,000 AMEX MR points becomes 25,000 miles with either Alaska or AA.

As we’ve already covered, these programs provide quite favourable redemption rates on Qantas and Oneworld flights in both business and first class – often with a lower co-pay component than Qantas Frequent Flyer.

United miles are also a possibility via SPG, but those 25,000 Starpoints convert into just 12,500 miles with MileagePlus, which isn’t great.

While 12,500 United miles could give your account balance a nice top-up, 25,000 AAdvantage or 40,000 Krisflyer miles could prove more useful.

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Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!


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