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As a travel hacker, redeeming points is always a bit of a trade-off.  I am a firm believer that it’s always a good idea to diversify your points across a wide variety of different programs.  It does no good to have a million American AAdvantage miles, if only Delta can get you where you’re going.

But all those tradeoffs sometimes come with a downside – it is hard to decide between 2 options, and sometimes that causes problems

(SEE ALSO: The worst feeling in the world: Screwing up a travel booking)

(SEE ALSO: 10,000 SPG or 50,000 Hilton points: which would you rather spend?)

My Seattle flight dilemma

We need to fly the eight of us from Seattle to Cincinnati for a trip next year.  Originally, we were looking at using Alaska miles to make the trip.

But because it’s just a one-way trip, Alaska charges 25,000 miles since they don’t offer one-way awards on Delta (even though Delta now does)


Delta does have the availability at only 12,500 miles per person


Transferring miles to Delta from partners

So now I’m in a situation where I need to transfer some miles to Delta.  Even though I have about 250,000 Alaska miles (thank you Bank of America!), that doesn’t do me any good, because I don’t want to spend 200,000 of those miles when I could spend only 100,000.

The 2 partners that transfer miles to Delta directly are Starwood hotels and American Express Membership Rewards

Another option is using Citi ThankYou Points or Chase Ultimate Rewards to transfer to one of Delta’s partners (like Air France, Korean Air or Virgin Atlantic), though my Chase balance is getting low because I just redeemed over 100,000 points to book the rest of this trip

So…. 60,000 SPG points or 75,000 American Express Membership Rewards?

A nice benefit of Starwood points is that even though they are nominally hotel points, they can transfer to a variety of airline partners (including Delta).  PLUS, for each 20,000 points that you transfer, you get a 5,000 point bonus, so 20,000 SPG points becomes 25,000 airline miles.

I have about 25,000 Delta miles between Carolyn and I, so I would need about 75,000 points to transfer to Delta to get the 100,000 SkyMiles we’d need for 8 of these tickets.

60,000 SPG points is fewer points, but it would about deplete my current SPG point balance. 75,000 Membership Rewards would put a healthy dent in my American Express Membership Rewards balance as well, but those are at least a little easier to earn.  I originally had sort of mentally “reserved” my SPG points for a Disney stay at the Swan / Dolphin hotel, but I’m not sure that’s going to happen any time soon (or even if that’s the best way to stay Disney).

So what do you think?  Should we transfer 60,000 SPG points or 75,000 American Express points?

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