The Sweet Spot Of Buying 20,000 Starpoints

Update: This offer for the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express has expired. Learn more about the current offers here.

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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+BonusAmerican Airlines AAdvantageHainan Airlines Fortune Wings ClubQatar Airways Privileges Club
AeroMexico Club PremierAsiana Airlines Asiana ClubHawaiian Airlines HawaiianMilesSaudi Arabian Airlines Alfursan
Air Canada AeroplanBritish Airways Executive ClubIberia PlusSingapore Airlines KrisFlyer
Air China CompanionCathay Pacific Asia MilesJapan Airlines (JAL) Mileage BankThai Airways Royal Orchid Plus
Air France/KLM FlyingBlueChina Eastern Airlines Eastern ClubJet Airwaystopbonus loyalty
Air New Zealand Air PointsDelta Air Lines SkyMilesKorean Air SkypassUnited Mileage Plus
Alaska Airlines Mileage PlanEmirates SkywardsLATAM Airlines LATAMPASS KmsVirgin Atlantic Flying Club
Alitalia MilleMigliaEtihad Airways GuestLifeMiles of AviancaVirgin Australia Velocity
ANA Mileage ClubGol SmilesLufthansa 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)

Bottom line

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.

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  1. I think you might have set a record for the number of posts you have done in the last 24 hours. Been a reader for 3-4 years and don’t remember a period of activity like this.

  2. I think the points is processed by, not SPG itself. Quote from Ben “you’ll earn two Starpoints for every dollar you spend purchasing points”. I don’t think I will earn two Starpoints for this promotion if using SPG Amex. Pls correct me if I am wrong.

  3. @Fanxing Zhao

    It is processed by, so it doesn’t count as travel spend. But when you use the SPG card, it does count as SPG spend, so you’ll get 2x starpoints per dollar

  4. I have hoped you’d have some great advice on where to use the 25k airline miles best (e.g. longest F or J flights with the best hard/soft product).

  5. @Lk and Hamiltus : The sweetspot for using using SPG 20K (Alaska 25K miles) is travel from India (Delhi) to south east asia ( Bangkok , Kuala Lamour, Singapore etc….) in J via Japan. This would give about 16+ hrs in business class and in lovely Apex suites. all for 25k miles.

  6. Hi Ben. If it were you, would you do:
    -SPG to Marriot Travel package ( miles +cat 5 hotel)
    – SPG Nights and Flights?
    And putting the math aside, do you think it would be easier to use the SPG hotel nights in the Nights and Flights package than the 7 night Marriott cat 5?
    Thank you in advance.

  7. @ram Thanks. Been there. I thought there may be a new super ahead of the curve type of info out there. The JL J flights are incerdible value indeed.

  8. Confirmed by reviewing my old statements of the last time I bought Starpoints that the SPG Amex DOES give 2X points for spend on Starwood points even if it’s powered by The Points Guy needs to clarify his advice because this time when I bought Starpoints I did not use the SPG Amex and should have… Thanks for the more accurate explanation and tip to use the SPG Amex.

  9. how long does it take for the points to post? I purchased some spg points yesterday and they have not posted yet…

  10. @Alexander Dremlyuga CIP = Chase Ink Preferred
    @Pam not really. CIP has a weird thing about coding differently than other 3x travel card. ive heard it codes 1x on CSR for some reason. for example, Plastiq codes as 3x on CIP but only 1x on CSR.

  11. Just did some number crunching on a recent offer. TD Bank is offering 200$ back on 500$ spend. So theoretically, it’s a 40% return rate cashback. If I buy 455$ of Starwood points (20k), converted them to airline miles, and assuming 40% return – I’d be paying 1.092 cents per mile.

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