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Through December 31, 2015, Starwood is offering up to a 25% discount on the purchase of Starpoints. The discounts are tiered, whereby 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 Starpoints Save 25%
How much do Starpoints cost?
Starwood ordinarily charges 3.5 cents per purchased Starpoint. So if you max out this promotion you can purchase 20,000 Starpoints for $525, which is 2.625 cents per Starpoint.
As a reminder, you can purchase a maximum of 20,000 Starpoints per account per calendar year, 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 offered it in May, and last year they offered nearly identical promotions in May and December.
Starpoints purchases are processed by points.com, so wouldn’t qualify as a hotel purchase for the purpose of your credit card. You’ll want to use a credit card which maximizes your return on everyday spend. That shouldn’t necessarily change your credit card strategy in this instance, given that the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Card from American Express are among the best cards out there for everyday 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 speculatively buy Starpoints, though with a specific use in mind it could make sense to take advantage of this promotion. 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 sells miles a few times per year, and the ordinary bonus is 30-40% (though at the moment they’re offering a targeted bonus of up to 50%). The 40% bonus is average, and at that rate you’re paying ~2.11 cents per mile, so it’s actually marginally cheaper to buy Starpoints through this promotion and then transfer them to Alaska.
Convert Starpoints into Alaska miles, for redemptions in Emirates A380 first class
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.
Just to give an example of how you can get value out of buying points, take a look at rates at Le Meridien Chiang Rai in December and January (I’ve long wanted to stay at this property).
Paid rates are 6780THB including tax (~$190), while you can redeem 3,000 Starpoints for a free night here. If you picked up Starpoints at 2.625 cents each, you’d be paying under $80 to purchase 3,000 Starpoints, which is a huge discount compared to the paid rate.
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.