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Through April 15, 2016, Starwood is offering up to a 25% discount on the purchase of Starpoints. The discounts are tiered, where you receive a bigger discount the more Starpoints you purchase, as follows:
- Buy 5,000-9,500 Starpoints, Save 10%
- Buy 10,000-14,500 Starpoints, Save 15%
- Buy 15,000-19,500 Starpoints, Save 20%
- Buy 20,000-30,000 Starpoints, Save 25%
How much do Starpoints cost?
Starwood ordinarily charges 3.5 cents per purchased Starpoint. If you max out this promotion you can purchase 30,000 Starpoints for $787.50, which is 2.625 cents per Starpoint.
You can purchase a maximum of 30,000 Starpoints per account per calendar year (this limit was recently increased from 20,000 Starpoints), and accounts have to be at least 14 days old in order to participate in this promotion.
When Starwood offers a bonus on purchased points (which seems to be about twice per year), this seems to be the standard offer. Most recently they a 25% discount on the purchase of points last November, and prior to that, last May.
Keep in mind that Starwood points purchases are processed by points.com, so don’t count as hotel spend for the purposes of your credit card. That means if you buy points you’ll want to use a card which maximizes your return on everyday, non-bonused spend, like the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card or Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express.
How to get around annual Starpoint purchase limit
One way to get around the limit of only being able to purchase 30,000 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 speculatively buy Starpoints, especially with the uncertainty involving the upcoming merger with Marriott, and what that means for the value of Starpoints.
However, with a specific use in mind it could absolutely make sense to purchase points. 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 buy 20,000 Starpoints for $525, you could convert those into 25,000 airline miles. That’s a rate of 2.1 cents per mile. For many mileage currencies, that’s a pretty good deal.
For example, Alaska is selling miles for ~2.11 cents each at the moment, so buying Starpoints and converting them into Alaska miles is ever-so-slightly cheaper (we’re talking about 0.01 cents per mile). I’m not saying that’s the best strategy for buying Alaska miles, but rather that there’s potentially merit to buying Starpoints so you have flexibility, and then can later convert them into Alaska miles if you want.
Convert Starpoints into Alaska miles, for redemptions in Emirates A380 first class
There’s also a lot of value to be had in converting Starpoints into Japan Airlines Mileage Bank miles for the purposes of redeeming on Emirates.
The one caveat 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
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.
For example, take the Walt Disney World Dolphin, which is a Category 4 SPG property, making a free night redemption 8,000-10,000 Starpoints per night. Over New Years, the paid rate is $479 per night, plus taxes and the resort fee:
Meanwhile five nights would cost you 40,000 Starpoints, and you’d just be stuck paying the $25 per day resort fee:
That means you’re basically saving $2,694 by redeeming 40,000 Starpoints, which is a value of ~6.74 cents per point. That means you’re saving significantly more than half by buying points, compared to the paid rate.
There are lots of other equally good examples out there.
This promotion runs for roughly six weeks, so you have plenty of time to decide whether you want to buy Starpoints with up to a 25% discount. There are definitely circumstances where it can make sense to, though it all depends on what you’d usually redeem points for.