Until today (April 30, 2016), you can buy up to 30,000 Starpoints with up to a 25% discount on the normal purchase price.
Purchasing 4,500 points or fewer offers no discount, and you pay the full 3.5 cents per point.
How to Use Starpoints
There are three 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
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:
This year I booked two free nights for 12,000 points per night at the Westin Maui when it was going for over $400 per night.
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 (or fewer) of a free night plus a cash co-pay.
On a Cash & Points stay, think about it like booking a free night and then buying back half the points for the cash copay. The price of the points you are buying back varies from 1.5 cents (category 4) to 2 cents (category 1.) These are good prices to buy Starpoints.
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 30 airlines in total, mostly at favorable rates. Starpoints have far better transfer options than Membership Rewards, ThankYou Points, and Ultimate Rewards.
The best four options are Asiana, Aeroplan, Alaska, and new partner Virgin America. Starpoints transfer in a 20k points to 25k miles ratio (1:1.25) to all four airlines, and only Aeroplan is a 1:1 transfer partner of another transfer program (Membership Rewards.)
Buying 20,000 Starpoints for $525 would allow you to transfer to 25,000 miles. That’s like buying the miles for 2.1 cents each. (Not a good deal speculatively, but possibly a good deal if you have an immediate high-value use.)
Buying 30,000 Starpoints for $787.50 would allow you to transfer to 35,000 miles, which is like buying miles for 2.25 cents each. While $787.50 for 35,000 miles is a terrible deal in the abstract, it is enough Asiana miles to book a one way in Business Class to Southern South America and almost enough Virgin America points (45,000) to book a one way in Business Class to Australia.
When to Buy (Math)
Is buying SPG points for 2.625 cents each a good deal?
I would not buy SPG points speculatively for 2.625 cents each because I value them at 2.5 cents each. But if you have an immediate high value redemption in mind, buying points can be a good deal. I listed the high value uses above. Do the math on the redemption you have in mind.
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.
You can buy 500 to 30,000 SPG Starpoints for as little as 2.625 cents each until today (April 30.) That’s too high to buy speculatively, but there are a lot of immediate uses for the points where that price offers great value.
Key Link: Buy SPG Points