Starwood Preferred Guest is running a very brief promotion through September 20 that enables you to buy Starpoints and receive a 20% bonus. The maximum amount you can purchase — 20,000 for $700 — will become 24,000 with this bonus, resulting in an average cost per point of 2.92 cents.
I still consider this price to be high. The most recent similar offer was in April of this year. Back then we were provided a 25% discount, so you still received 20,000 points but paid only $525. This has been more common, with about two such sales per year, with an average cost of 2.625 cents per point. The current “bonus” promotion represents an 11% increase in cost.
But paying more doesn’t mean there aren’t still some valuable uses of Starpoints even when you pay close to 3 cents each. I’ve recently been looking at hotel stays in Mexico and Asia, where there have been many properties between Categories 2 and 4. That means paying anywhere between 3,000 and 10,000 points per night. If you redeem for five nights at once, then you save 20% because your fifth night is free.
Buying points means you can stay five nights at a Category 4 hotel for about $233 per night or at a Category 2 hotel for about $70 a night — just be sure to check that the paid rates aren’t even lower. Some of those hotels in Thailand and elsewhere have rates well under $100. You may find it difficult to locate a situation where the room costs more than the points.
If you’re already looking at these cheaper properties, also consider SPG’s Nights & Flights option. This lets you redeem points for free nights and free flights as part of the same reward. It’s only valid for Category 3 and 4 hotels. Here’s an example for the latter:
Five nights at a Category 4 hotel would normally require 40,000 points (already discounted from 50,000 points because you get the fifth night free).
You could also redeem your Starpoints for airline miles instead: 50,000 miles would normally cost 40,000 points (you again save 20% buy redeeming for blocks of 25,000 miles).
If you instead choose to redeem for BOTH five nights and 50,000 miles, SPG will deduct only 70,000 Starpoints.
This means you save three times: You get the usual two discounts for a large redemption on a hotel stay and for airline miles, and you get third discount for redeeming them at the same time. If you chose to do this with a Category 3 hotel, you’d still get five nights and 50,000 miles but would pay only 60,000 Starpoints.
What You Shouldn’t Do
I generally don’t recommend buying points so you can redeem them at an expensive Category 6 or 7 property. Some of these require a ridiculous number of points even though they aren’t that expensive in terms of dollars.
One example is my recent stay at the Hotel Alfonso XIII in Seville, Spain. It wanted 20,000 Starpoints per night, which would be $584 if I bought them through this promotion. But room rates are often as low as ~$330 per night if you book in advance, and you’ll get additional benefits if you book through the Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts program.
For many of these higher category properties, it’s more difficult to accumulate enough points to book five nights at once and get the fifth night free. They also don’t participate in Nights & Flights.
How to Get More Points
Although this promotion is only available to accounts that have already been open for 14 days or more, you probably have friends and family with their own Starwood accounts who could purchase on your behalf. You can easily transfer points across accounts if you’re patient.
Starwood Preferred Guest requires that account transfers may only occur between accounts at the same address for at least 30 days, but it doesn’t require that they be from family or a spouse. That means you and several people can all partake in this deal and then pool your points. This can be beneficial when trying to book a more expensive award or when trying to take advantage of someone’s elite status during the stay.
Just remember to buy Starpoints before the promotion ends on September 20.