In another look at what the new Marriott and SPG merger gives to us, we now have the ability to transfer Ultimate Reward points to 30 new airlines. But, this is certainly not a great use of UR points but it is a very good way to top up an account with some of these airlines. Here is how you do it.
You Can Transfer Ultimate Reward Points to 30 New Airlines
One of the big selling points with the SPG program has long been the ability to transfer Starpoints to many airlines at a 1:1 ratio. When transferred in blocks of 20,000 Starpoints, you would also receive a 5,000 mile bonus making the transfer even better. It is possible to regularly get more than this value from Starpoints when you use them for actual hotel stays but it is a great way to get miles in accounts that do not have transfer partners.
How This Works
As a result of the new Marriott and SPG merger, you can now transfer Marriott points to SPG instantly at a 3:1 ratio. Since Marriott is a transfer partner of Chase’s Ultimate Rewards, you can transfer Ultimate Rewards to SPG through Marriott.
After you get your Ultimate Reward points to SPG Starpoints, you can then freely transfer them to 30 different airlines that you do not have access to with a straight transfer from Ultimate Rewards (like British Airways, Singapore, United, Flying Blue, and Virgin Atlantic).
But Should You Do This?
Now, it is important to know that this is definitely not a great way to get value from your Chase Ultimate Reward points. It is very easy to get 2 cents per point or more depending on the partner you transfer to. If you transfer from Ultimate Rewards -> Marriott -> SPG -> an airline, your transfer rate to most of those airlines will be 3 Ultimate Reward points equal 1 mile. Not good at all! If you transferred 60,000 Ultimate Reward points, you could get 25,000 airline miles (for most of the airlines) because of the 5,000 mile bump but that is the best you could hope for and certainly not a great transfer.
Topping Up Your Account
The real good part about this new transfer opportunity is if you are in need of topping up your SPG account for a certain airline transfer. If you are at 18,000 or 19,000 Starpoints and you want to get to 20,000 Starpoints to get that 5,000 mile boost, it may be worth it to transfer 6,000 or 3,000 Ultimate Reward points through the chain to get those points.
Just Buy and Reimburse Yourself
Another way to do this is to purchase SPG Starpoints outright for $35 for 1,000 points. Then, you could pay yourself back with 3,000 Ultimate Reward points for $30 (if you really needed to). When SPG runs sales, the cost is even better.
American Express points also transfer to SPG and it can be done directly. The regular rate is at 3:1 except for when they have sales. But, Chase Ultimate Rewards can be much easier to get for most people so it may be preferable to use them over Amex Membership Rewards. It is completely up to you though!
Obviously, this is not something everyone should do but if you find yourself in need of a couple of thousand Starpoints, it is nice to be able to get them from Ultimate Rewards and to do it instantly and free!
Are there other scenarios where such a transfer would make sense for you?