Starwood is offering up to a 25% discount on purchased points. And even though it’s just a 25% discount, it can make real sense.
Through May 31 here’s the tiered discount:
- 10% off 500–9,500 Starpoints
- 15% off 10,000–14,500 Starpoints
- 20% off 15,000–19,500 Starpoints
- 25% off 20,000 Starpoints
This isn’t an uncommon offer — Starwood offered this in April and November of last year, and they offered it in 2013. But it’s also the biggest discount I’ve seen.
The ‘normal’ price on Starpoints is 3.5 cents per point. Ouch. Fortunately, unlike airline miles, you don’t pay an additional tax on top. And there’s not also a ‘processing fee’ like many of the airlines charge.
If you max out on the discount, and buy 20,000 points, it would cost you $525… that’s 2.625 cents per point.
Still not compelling, it can be possible to get better than 2.6 cents per point in value from hotel redemptions but only the best redemptions do orders of magnitude better.
Here’s what it opens the door for, though. Most Starwood airline mileage transfer partners are at a 1:1 ratio, and they give you an additional 5000 miles when you transfer 20,000.
You can view buying 20,000 Starpoints as really buying 25,000 airline miles — and then you are buying miles at 2.1 cents apiece.
That’s going to be too rich for most people, but if you need to top off for instance an Alaska Airlines account towards a good specific award then this can be a reasonable way to do it as it’s a lower price than Alaska usually sells miles for even when they’re running promotions.
Another play is Japan Airlines miles, JAL’s Mileage Bank is one of my favorite programs for distance-based oneworld awards and for Emirates redemptions (which are often cheaper than those offered by Alaska).
If you want to buy more than 20,000 Starpoints, remember that:
- Each member’s account can buy 20,000
- Starwood allows you to transfer points between each member of a family at the same residential address
Many will take a pass on this, but some will find it strategically useful.