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With the ink still drying on the takeover contracts of both companies, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, and Virgin America have announced an impressive new transfer partnership.
My original thoughts after both takeovers were that we would see the rewards programs hitting the brakes on reciprocal partnerships outside of new merger buddies. Forgetting I suppose that these associations and promotions are months in the making, and both SPG and Virgin Elevate will have the next few ideas sewn up and in development already.
Starpoints Can Now Be Transferred To Virgin Elevate Points
You can find the details and T & C's
on the Virgin America website:
Starwood Preferred Guest members can now transfer Starpoints to their Elevate account. With moodlighting, a unique on-demand menu in the Main Cabin, WiFi and no blackout dates, SPG members are set to experience why Virgin America is named “Best Domestic Airline” by Travel + Leisure Magazine and “Best U.S. Airline” by Conde Naste Traveler.
1 Starpoint = 1 Elevate Point
With no minimum Starpoint transfer requirement for Platinum members, as few as 1500 points for Gold, and 2500 points for Preferred members, transfer as many as you need for your next reward trip on Virgin America.
There is also a
new page with details on how to earn Elevate Points from qualifying stays at Starwood Hotels.
As with other airline transfers out of SPG you receive a 5000 point bonus for every 20,000 points transfered to a partner airline (20,000 Starpoints transferred from SPG will total 25,000 Elevate points) making the exchange rate higher than 1:1 ratio.
Essentially, that now makes collecting Starpoints, already the most valuable hotel rewards points, that little bit more worthwhile.
My only anxieties for this partnership are for how long will it last?
Yes, Marriott and Alaska, the two purchasing companies, are transfer partners, but not with this kind of value. And although we've had a fair amount of public reassurance from senior levels at Marriott that the best parts of SPG are here for the long haul. The jury is still out on which parts of Elevate will stay and which will go once Mileage Plan takes over.
Should You Transfer SPG Points To Elevate?
The short answer is: Yes, but with one small caveat.
There is great value here but with the uncertainty surrounding the future of Elevate, only transfer out points for immediate use. With the best value redemption of Elevate points likely to be found amongst its partner airlines, plan before you shift points, the transfers are non-reversible.
On the whole, I think this is great news; it's reassuring to see things are business as usual for both Starwood Preferred Guest and Virgin Elevate, after both getting acquired, and that we will still see improvements as they move forward into the integration process at both companies.
Would it be too much to ask that we get the same value out of Marriott/Starwood and Alaska/Virgin transfers once the rewards programs are combined?
Because if this is the value to be squeezed out of industry consolidation, maybe it's not such a bad thing.
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