Through July 14, 2017 (tomorrow), you can buy up to 30,000 Starpoints with up to a 35% discount on the normal purchase price. This sale was supposed to end June 30, but Starwood extended it a couple weeks.
Starpoints are normally sold in increments of 500 points for 3.5 cents per point. Getting a 35% discount brings the price down to about 2.28 cents per Starpoint.
The maximum amount you can buy is 30,000 (for $682.50), and that limit is set on a calendar year basis. Your account also must be at least 14 days old to qualify for the discount.
How to Use Starpoints
There are six main ways to get huge value from Starpoints.
- Free nights at SPG properties
- Cash & points nights at SPG properties
- Transfers to airline miles with 25% bonus
- SPG Nights and Flights
- Transfer to Marriott for Hotel + Air Packages
- 18,667 SPG to Marriott to 25,000 United Miles
1. Free Night Awards
Starpoints can be used for free nights at any Sheraton, W, Westin, Le Meridien, Aloft, Four Points, St. Regis, Element, or Luxury Collection Hotel. Free nights start at 2,000 points per night. And the best part is: If a standard room is for sale, you can book it with Starpoints. Free night awards are not capacity controlled like award flights are.
Here is the Free Night Awards chart:
Book a four night award at Category 3-7 hotels and get a 5th night free. Here are the total prices for five nights:
There can be tremendous value in the free night awards. For instance:
The cheapest SPG property in Hawaii is the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay, a category 4 property that costs 10k points per night or 40k for five nights, using the 5th Night Free pricing. If you read my post from earlier today, you’d know that while premium cabin award space to Hawaii is hard to come by, the majority of it is available to Kona!
The property goes for $348 per night after taxes for a five night stay in March: $1,740 total. Instead you could pay 40,000 Starpoints and get 4.35 cents per point in value. And more importantly, you’d be here:
2. Cash & Points Awards
Cash & Points awards are a way to stretch your cash and your Starpoints. You’ll generally get even more value from your Starpoints through these awards though they are capacity controlled. Here is the Cash & Points chart:
As you’ll notice, a Cash & Points night requires half the Starpoints of a free night plus a cash co-pay.
Unless I were taking advantage of the 5th Night Free with Free Night Awards, a discounted weekend night, or I was cash poor at the moment, I would look to choose a Cash & Points award over a Free Night.
To see why, let’s look at the Sheraton Frankfurt Congress Hotel, a Category 3 property. For a Tuesday this month, the hotel wants 149 euros for the refundable rate. Or you could spend 7,000 Starpoints for a Free Night, or you could spend 3,500 Starpoints + $55.
- 149 euros is $167
- 7,000 Starpoints for a free night is a respectable 2.39 cents per point
- 3,500 Starpoints + $55 is a fantastic 3.2 cents per point
This choice of hotel was random, not because it has an abnormally valuable Cash & Points option. I’d frankly consider 3 cents per point about average for a Cash & Points redemption.
3. Transfer to Airlines with a Miles Bonus
For people who eschew chain hotels, Starpoints are incredibly valuable to transfer to airline miles because their are so many partner airlines, and in most cases, transferring 20k Starpoints nets you 25k miles in the account of your choice, a 25% bonus!
Starpoints transfer to more than 30 airlines in total, mostly at favorable rates.
The best three options are Aeroplan, Alaska Airlines, and Asiana. Starpoints transfer in a 20k points to 25k miles ratio (1:1.25) to all three airline airlines, and none is a transfer partner of Ultimate Rewards or ThankYou Points. Click here for the reasons to transfer to those three airlines.
Other partners where I would consider transferring Starpoints include:
- British Airways Avios for its distance-based chart’s sweet spots like 12,500 miles to Hawaii from the west coast
- Delta for Virgin Atlantic Upper Class without fuel surcharges
- Flying Blue (Air France) for one way awards on Delta metal
- Hawaiian for incredible award space to Hawaii, Asia, and Australia
- Singapore to book Singapore Suites Class
- Virgin Atlantic for incredibly cheap awards to London
- Miles & More (Lufthansa) to book Swiss First Class
- LifeMiles (Avianca) for its good Star Alliance award chart and no fuel surcharges
(Note that many of the airlines on this bulleted list are Membership Rewards or Ultimate Rewards partners, and I would rather transfer those points to these airlines, since I value Starpoints more.)
The one glaring weakness in the airline transfer partners is that United is not a 1:1 transfer partner, 20k Starpoints transfers to only 12,500 United miles. Avoid that transfer, and earn Ultimate Rewards instead to transfer to United, or transfer to Marriott before transferring to United for a better rate (more on that below).
But apart from that, the transfer partner list is astoundingly excellent. You can get on most commercial flights worldwide through one of these transfer partners.
4. SPG Nights & Flights
I probably should give Nights & Flights more billing because it might be a better deal than Free Night Awards, Cash & Points awards, and airline transfers. With Nights & Flights, you get five hotel nights and 50,000 airline miles for only 60-70k Starpoints.
Unfortunately the award is limited to Category 3 and 4 hotels. But the price is unbeatable. Going back to the Sheraton in Kona discussed above, for 70k Starpoints, you could get five free nights at the property plus 50k American Airlines miles to get there (you only need 40k).
5. SPG to Marriott for Hotel + Air (including Southwest Companion Pass)
The best value redemption of Marriott points is Hotel + Air packages. You redeem a certain number of Marriott points for seven free nights at a Marriott or Ritz Carlton hotel plus a certain number of miles in the airline program of your choosing. Here is the chart to convert Marriott points to Southwest Rapid Rewards.
Along the left, you see the Category of the Marriott hotel or Tier of the Ritz Carlton hotel where you’d get your seven free nights. Along the top, you see the number of Southwest points you’d get.
For 270,000 Marriott points, transferred from 90,000 Starpoints, you can get a week in a Category 5 Marriott and 120,000 Rapid Rewards. Unfortunately Rapid Rewards acquired from any hotel points transfers don’t qualify towards the Companion Pass anymore. But you can redeem a Hotel + Air package for dozens of airlines’ miles.
You get 10% more miles if you choose United miles because of the special Marriott-United relationship.
6. 18,667 SPG to Marriott to 25,000 United Miles
While SPG points have a great transfer rate of 20,000 Starpoints = 25,000 miles with a few dozen airlines–my favorites being Asiana, American, and Alaska–United is not on that list. Twenty thousand Starpoints is a measly 12,500 United miles.
Now, with an intermediate step, you can turn SPG points into United miles at a better rate.
- Transfer 19,000 SPG points to 57,000 Marriott points
- Transfer 1,000 Marriott back to 333 Starpoints (necessary step because the starting amount of transfers from each program has to be an even thousand)
- Transfer 56,000 Marriott (18,667 Starpoints) to 25,000 United miles
Or you can turn 8,000 Starpoints into 10,000 United miles.
When to Buy
Is buying SPG points for 2.28 cents each a good deal? Crunch your own numbers for your travel plans. Immediate, high value uses always merit buying points during a sale.
But what about speculatively?
We value SPG points at 2.5 cents each, so yea, 2.28 cents a piece is a pretty good deal. I’d say it’s right on the verge of being good enough to buy speculatively. On almost every buy miles or points deal, we say not to buy unless you have an immediate, high value use. However this deal is good enough, and there are so many good options for redemptions, that I think you can safely buy if you just have a few possible high value uses in mind or an immediate, high value use.
If you don’t have a few possible high value uses in your back pocket, don’t do it. Cash is better than points any day in that case.
Buy SPG Points with These Credit Cards
Starpoints purchases are processed by points.com, so the purchases will not code as a bonus “travel” or “hotel” purchase on any credit card. You will not earn category bonuses from the purchase of SPG points.
That means you should make the purchase with whatever card you need to meet a minimum spending requirement on or whichever card earns the type of reward you value the most.
You can buy 5,000 to 30,000 SPG Starpoints for as little as 2.28 cents each through the end of tomorrow, July 14. Take a look to see if you want to purchase anymore before the sale ends!