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Through September 20, 2015, Starwood is offering a 20% bonus on the purchase of Starpoints.
How much do Starpoints cost?
Starwood ordinarily charges 3.5 cents per purchased Starpoint. So if you max out this promotion you can purchase 24,000 Starpoints for $700, which is 2.92 cents per Starpoint.
As a reminder, you can purchase a maximum of 20,000 Starpoints per account per calendar year (with the bonus that’s a maximum of 24,000 Starpoints), and accounts have to be at least 14 days old in order to participate in this promotion.
This promotion isn’t quite as good as the one we saw earlier this year, whereby Starwood offered a 25% discount on purchased points. That brought the cost per purchased point down to 2.625 cents. They offered nearly identical promotions to that twice last year, in May and December.
For what it’s worth, points purchases are processed by points.com, so wouldn’t qualify as airfare for the purposes of credit card spend. That means you’d only earn one Starpoint per dollar spent if you use the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express. Given how valuable Starpoints are, that might still be the best card on which to put this purchase. Either way you’d want to use a card which maximizes your return on everyday, non-bonused spend.
How to get around annual Starpoint purchase limit
One way to get around the limit of only being able to purchase 20,000 Starpoints per account per calendar year is to make a household points transfer. Starwood allows members registered at the same address to transfer Starpoints between accounts. This means if you have four people at your address with Starwood accounts, you can all purchase Starpoints through this promotion and you could then transfer the points to one account.
Should you buy Starpoints?
This isn’t a rate at which I’d personally buy Starpoints. Starwood seems to sell Starpoints for 25% off twice per year, which ends up being a significantly better rate. However, with a short term, specific use in mind, this could still represent a decent value.
Transferring points to an airline partner
Starwood has about two dozen airline transfer partners, and when you transfer points to them you receive a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 points you transfer.
If you’re buying Starpoints at the rate of ~2.92 cents each, that means you’re basically picking up miles at 2.36 cents each, assuming you transfer in the right increments. For some mileage currencies (like Japan Airlines Mileage Bank, for example), that’s a pretty good deal.
One thing to keep in mind is that converting Starpoints into airline miles isn’t an instant process — it takes anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks.
Cash & Points and Fifth Night Free
Two of Starwood’s two most lucrative hotel redemption options are Cash & Points and Fifth Night Free. Through Cash & Points you can redeem part cash and part points for an award stay, though it is capacity controlled.
There are no blackout dates on Fifth Night Free. As the name suggests, when you redeem points for a five night redemption, the fifth night is complimentary.
Say you want to stay at the Walt Disney World Swan over New Years. The paid rate is $420 per night, while it’s 10,000 Starpoints for a free night. Five nights would cost you a total of 40,000 Starpoints (with the fifth night free), which averages out to 8,000 Starpoints per night. If you picked up Starpoints at 2.92 cents each, you’d be paying ~$235 to purchase the points for a $420 hotel room — that’s almost half off!
This promotion doesn’t last long, and it’s certainly better than no promotion. With a short term use in mind it certainly could make sense to purchase Starpoints. However, I suspect we’ll see a 25% discount on the purchase of Starpoints again in the coming months, so it could make sense to wait.
When Starwood offers a 25% off promotion on the purchase of Starpoints, that’s a rate at which it could make sense to speculatively pick up points, in my opinion.
Do you plan on buying Starpoints with a 20% bonus?