American Airlines AAdvantage and Starwood Preferred Guest have announced a conversion bonus promotion that will run until 14 September, 2016. AAdvantage members will earn a 20% bonus on any Starpoints converted into miles. You can find details here.
Starwood Preferred Guest members ought to know that the sweet spot for converting points into miles is 20,000 Starpoints. This is because SPG adds an additional 5,000 bonus miles, meaning that members will receive 25,000 miles in a large number of airline frequent flyer programmes.
As a result, an SPG member converting 20,000 Starpoints during this promotion will receive 30,000 AAdvantage miles.
Is it worth it? In part, that depends on your personal valuation of an AAdvantage mile, which was surely reduced when the programme / award chart devalued quite substantially earlier this year.
However, I can at least tell you how much an AA mile would cost indirectly, should you have taken advantage of previous offers to buy SPG points at a 35% discount (late May 2016), a 30% discount (late June 2016) or the more standard 25% discount (March-April 2016).
The 35% discount worked out to 2.28 US cents per Starpoint, which would then become 1.52 US cents per AA mile (assuming you convert chunks of 20,000 Starpoints to earn 30,000 AA miles).
The 30% discount worked out to 2.45 US cents per Starpoint, which would then become 1.63 US cents per AA mile.
Finally, the 25% discount worked out to 2.63 US cents per Starpoints, which would then become 1.75 US cents per AA mile.
The lowest price I have seen for buying AA miles has been around 1.7 US cents each, although AA more frequently sells miles in the 1.9-2.1 US cents range. Of course, the price for buying miles might have nothing to do with their actual value but, at the very least, if you purchased Starwood Preferred Guest points earlier this year at a sizable discount, and then choose to convert them to AA miles this August, you will have saved a reasonable amount…
SPG offered a conversion bonus with British Airways Executive Club earlier this year. It is curious to see the effects of the Marriott merger in practice. Not only are SPG selling Starpoints at a larger discount than was typical in prior years, but they are also offering attractive conversion bonuses to get those Starpoints liabilities off their books in exchange for airline miles. I can only assume that Starwood is making a profit between the revenue from selling points and the cost of buying airline miles for members!