Starwood generally has two sales a year on its valuable Starpoints currency, during which it offers a 25% discount on purchase of up to 20,000 points. If you maximize the offer you’ll pay $525, or 2.625 cents per point — a discount from the regular 3.5 cents per point. (Fortunately there are no pesky airline taxes, which kick in when you buy miles.) Smaller discounts apply if you purchase fewer than 20,000 points.
Many people won’t want to buy Starpoints even at this lower price because it could be cheaper and more convenient to pay cash on the dates you want to travel. But they are still a good deal at other hotels, especially if you take advantage of some great deals in SPG’s rewards program.
- Starpoints can be used online without blackout dates as long as a standard room remains available. But if you call in to book, there may be unpublished specialty rooms or suites available for just a little bit more.
- Book a longer stay and take advantage of your fifth award night free. That means you’ll redeem 20% fewer points.
- Transfer your points to an airline loyalty program. While I don’t do this because I already have lots of miles, some people find this an easy way to get miles with programs that have generous award charts like Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer or Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan. Get 25,000 miles when you transfer 20,000 points.
- Nights & Flights awards let you book five nights at a Category 3 or 4 property and get an additional 50,000 airline miles (participating airlines must have 1:1 transfer ratios; see a list of transfer ratios).
The lesson is that you really need to know how you’ll be using your points before you consider buying more of them. If you do decide to buy, remember that you can purchase miles for multiple accounts owned by your friends or family. If those individuals live at the same address (or if they change their address and wait at least 30 days) then they can initiate a free transfer to consolidate points in the same account. My wife and I have done this on occasion because I have elite status and she does not, so points are generally more useful when I redeem them.
This promotion runs through May 31, 2015. Purchases are processed by Points.com, so no credit card category bonuses will apply.