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Starwood has become more active lately when it comes to selling Starpoints. In the past they’d sell Starpoints at a discount a couple of times a year, while lately they seem to be selling them at a discount every couple of months, and in many cases the discounts are even bigger than before.
That’s the biggest non-targeted bonus we’ve ever seen them offer (last month they offered a 35% discount for those with the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express or Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express, which was the absolute biggest we’ve ever seen).
Starwood processes their points purchases through points.com, as is the case with many loyalty programs which sell points. Points.com provides the back-end technology and support, and presumably they take a cut on the sale as well (for that matter, points.com does a lot more than facilitate the sale of points).
The reason that’s worth knowing is because generally making a purchase through points.com doesn’t qualify as airline or hotel spend, since it’s being processed by a third party. Their merchant category isn’t for an airline or hotel, but rather for online services.
In other words, when you buy Alaska Airlines miles through points.com, you don’t earn triple points on airfare for using the Citi Prestige® Card or Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express, because it’s not actually an airline processing the purchase.
So when people have tried to purchase Starpoints, I’ve always recommended using a card which maximizes your return on everyday spend, since points.com doesn’t qualify for any major bonus category. As luck would have it, Starwood’s co-branded credit cards are among the best for everyday, non-bonused spend anyway.
However, what I hadn’t realized until now (thanks to the readers who made me aware) is that you earn double Starpoints on your credit card spend when purchasing Starpoints with the SPG Personal Amex or SPG Business Amex.
I value Starpoints at ~2.2 cents each, so to me earning double Starpoints on the purchase of Starpoints represents a return of ~4.4% on those purchases.
The next thing I need to test out is if you earn double points on all points.com purchases using the SPG Personal Amex or SPG Business Amex, or if they somehow have it specially coded so it only earns bonus points on the purchase of Starpoints…
The moral of the story is that if you’re going to buy Starpoints, use your co-branded Starwood credit card!