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As I first wrote about at the beginning of the month, through March 16, 2018, Starwood is offering a 35% discount on purchased Starpoints when you buy at least 5,000 points in one transaction.
Starwood ordinarily charges 3.5 cents per purchased Starpoint. If you max out this promotion you can buy up to 30,000 Starpoints (which is the maximum number of points you can buy per calendar year) at a cost of $682.50, which is a rate of 2.275 cents per Starpoint.
That can be a great deal for one of three uses:
- You can redeem the Starpoints directly for hotel stays using free nights redemptions, cash & points, etc.
- You can transfer the Starpoints to Marriott Rewards at a 1:3 ratio, meaning that this is a way to acquire Marriott Rewards points for ~0.76 cents each
- You can transfer the Starpoints into airline miles at a 1:1 ratio, with a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 points transferred
That last method is something that’s often overlooked as an option, so in this post I wanted to look at that in a bit more detail, especially in the context of the other opportunities to buy miles & points that I frequently talk about.
Starwood Preferred Guest is transfer partners with the following 35 airline programs, and most of them allow 1:1 transfers:
|Aegean Airlines Miles+Bonus||American Airlines AAdvantage||Hainan Airlines Fortune Wings Club||Qatar Airways Privileges Club|
|AeroMexico Club Premier||Asiana Airlines Asiana Club||Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles||Saudi Arabian Airlines Alfursan|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||British Airways Executive Club||Iberia Plus||Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer|
|Air China Companion||Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||Japan Airlines (JAL) Mileage Bank||Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus|
|Air France/KLM FlyingBlue||China Eastern Airlines Eastern Club||Jet Airways||topbonus loyalty|
|Air New Zealand Air Points||Delta Air Lines SkyMiles||Korean Air Skypass||United Mileage Plus|
|Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan||Emirates Skywards||LATAM Airlines LATAMPASS Kms||Virgin Atlantic Flying Club|
|Alitalia MilleMiglia||Etihad Airways Guest||LifeMiles of Avianca||Virgin Australia Velocity|
|ANA Mileage Club||Gol Smiles||Lufthansa Miles & More|
As mentioned, Starpoints convert into airline miles at a 1:1 ratio, with a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 points transferred. So whenever possible you’ll want to convert Starpoints into airline miles in increments of 20,000 points. So if you’re acquiring Starpoints at 2.275 cents each and convert them at a ratio of 1:1.25, then you’re really paying just 1.82 cents per airline mile.
Also note that if you use the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express or Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express to purchase Starpoints, you’ll earn two Starpoints for every dollar you spend purchasing points. I value Starpoints at ~2.2 cents each, so to me that’s a further ~4.4% return, and that would reduce the cost per acquired mile from 1.82 cents each to 1.74 cents each.
If your goal is to acquire airline miles it could make sense to buy 30,000 Starpoints if you currently have 10,000 Starpoints, for example. But if you don’t currently have any Starpoints, the sweet spot is buying exactly 20,000 Starpoints, as that allows you to acquire 25,000 airline miles for $455.
There are two things to be aware of, though:
- The transfers aren’t instant, so expect for it to take a few days for the miles to post
- You’re limited to buying 30,000 Starpoints per account per calendar year, meaning the most practical number of miles you could generate is 25,000 (by buying 20,000 Starpoints)
There are many great uses of Starpoints, and one of the best is being able to convert them into airline miles at a 1:1 ratio, with a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 points transferred.
The reason I think it’s worth specifically mentioning this is because of all the other bonuses we see from airlines directly on purchased miles. For example, a couple of days ago I wrote about how Alaska is offering a 40% bonus when you buy miles, which is a great deal, as it allows you to buy Alaska miles for 2.11 cents each. While that can be a good option, in reality the best value is buying Starpoints, and then converting them into airline miles, which will cost you 1.82 cents per airline mile in the end. The major downside, though, is how limited you are in how many points you can buy at that cost.