Buy Starpoints With 20% Bonus Through September 20, 2015

Filed Under: SPG

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Through September 20, 2015, Starwood is offering a 20% bonus on the purchase of Starpoints.

Starpoints-Bonus

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.

Starpoints-Bonus-1

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.

Starwood-Points-Transfer

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.

Specifically:

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!

Walt-Disney-World-Swan

Bottom line

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?

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Comments

  1. Hi Ben,
    So if I purchase 4 night with cash and points I would get 5th night free? Going to Bangkok in Feb.and wanted to book Royal Orchid…Thanks!

  2. Disappointing offer almost laughable at nearly 3 cents a point
    Thanks but Ill pass on it
    Probably had to subsidize the thousands of folks who will be jamming Sheraton Club lounges with their Amex SPG business cards
    And we thought the Club lounge offerings were weak and stingy before they opened the floodgates

  3. might sound like a newbie question, however I’d be grateful if you could help/advise Ben. With this promotion or in general points and miles promotions, if the values are close to each other but not the same per point/mile, does it make sense to go for an offer whereby more miles/points are offered as a bonus or should one go for an offer whereby there’s a discount on purchase. So to summarise, does it make sense to buy starpoints with 20% bonus VS buying starpoints with 25% discount.

    PS – if it helps anyway, the points are indeed needed so not speculative purchase but redemption can be over the next 6-8 months.

  4. “Given how valuable Starpoints are, that might still be the best card on which to put this purchase”

    The bogus and outdated claim about how “valuable” starpoints and the SPG AMEX are continues, despite the fact that in order to earn enough of starpoints @ 1/$ to be able to take advantage of the touted “transferability” that supposedly makes them so “valuable” most folks would probably first go bankrupt.

    Moreover, the purported transferability of starpoints, in fact, isn’t that special at all for anyone who plays this game with a full deck, is well informed and has a calculator. Below is the LONGER list of Hilton HHonors transfer partners, so that, off the bat, the number of transfer partners per se is nothing special. More to the point is that it is tough to take seriously these repeated claims about how “valuable” starpoints are knowing that (a) one, e.g., earns at least 6 times more HH points a pop than one earns starpoints (meaning that in terms of starpoints, the transfer of HH points to, e.g., AA miles would be competitive at ~1:1.1), and (b) HH points, which have always been easy to earn loads of, have become even easier to earn because of the “new” HHonors’ highly lucrative and generous bonus points offers, as a result of which I have earned on average 48HH/$ on HH hotel spend so far and am on pace to earn 1,000,000 HH points for the first time this year. This means that if I am short on the miles of any of HH airline transfer partners, I can easily top them off by transferring some of my huge load of HH points without feeling any pain. Also, while HHonors offers the option to transfer their points to the miles of various airlines, their preferred model is for members to redeem their points for hotel stays. This is the complete opposite of the SPG model where their top-tier awards are by far the most expensive in the business, and they offer a favorable transfer rate of startpoints to air miles, which clearly favors redemption of starpoints for award tickets over free stays at SPG properties. I know I prefer the Hilton model, by far.

    Participating HHonors Airline Transfer Partners (note that it’s longer than SPG’s):

    Aeroflot Russian Airlines
    Aeromexico
    Aeroplan (Air Canada)
    Air Berlin
    Air China
    Air New Zealand
    Alaska Airlines
    All Nippon Airways
    American Airlines
    British Airways
    Cathay Pacific Airways
    China Southern
    CSA Czech Airlines
    Delta Air Lines®
    Etihad
    Frontier Airlines
    Gulf Air
    Hawaiian Airlines®
    Icelandair
    Japan Airlines
    Jet Airways
    JetBlue
    LAN**(kms)
    Kingfisher Airlines
    KLM/Air France (Flying Blue)**
    Malaysia Airlines®
    Mexicana Airlines (kms)
    Miles & More (Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines)
    Olympic Air
    Qantas Airways
    Qatar Airways
    Saudi Arabian Airlines
    Singapore Airlines
    South African Airways
    TACA
    THAI Airways International
    United Airlines®
    US Airways®
    Virgin America
    Virgin Atlantic Airways

    If one needs air miles for award travel, transferring tough-to-earn starpoints to miles is NOT be the best way to do it, when there are better credit cards out there that can earn airline miles at a higher rate (e.g., I have already earned ~45K miles by spending $25K on my UA Explorer, which are miles that I can use on any of 27 *A carriers without transferring anything, whereas a $20K spend on the SPG AMEX would net you “just” 25K miles, at most 35K miles for a $25K spend!)…

    Bottom line: It’s time to get a new tune to sing. The one about how great starpoints and SPG AMEX are has been off the Top 10 Chart for a while now 😉

    G’day!

  5. DCS please be corrected.
    If you joined united explorer visa and spent $25,000, you would have 70,000 united points (spend $1000 get 30,000 points plus 5,000 for supp card plus 10,000 bonus for spending $25,000 plus 25,000 points for the $25,000 spend). If you join spg AX and spend $20,000 you would get (spend $3,000 get 30,000 points plus 20,000 on spend plus bonus 10,000 on transfer to airlines equals 60,000 airline pints on most airlines transfers (not United, etc.) or $35,000 spend on united explorer= 80,000 points and $35,000 spend on spg AX = 80,000 points ( 3 – 5000 bonuses on airline transfers now) . Therefore not much difference.

  6. @don schering — You be corrected because yours is a case of calling apples oranges. You are talking about sign up bonuses and I am talking about the long-term value of the loyalty cards.

    I have had my UA Explorer visa since its inaugural year (I do not even recall if I got a sign-up bonus back then), and I have also had the SPG AMEX for a while, primarily because I found out that I had SPG Gold status through my AMEX Biz Platinum and when I have status in a program I always get the associated co-branded credit card in order to maximize the points on those occasions — even if rare — when I would make a purchase (a stay, e.g.) that awards loyalty points for that program. Two weeks ago I stayed at Sheraton Brussels Airport where the SPG Gold status came in handy…

    I would not get a sign-up bonus with either card this late in the game. More to the point is that I do not get loyalty credit cards simply to get sign-up bonuses. I get a card for its long-term value…

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