20% Bonus Buying Starwood Points This Week Only

Starwood is a 20% bonus on purchased points. Starwood points are the most valuable loyalty currency, and there’s leverage in any bonus they offer, however I don’t think this offer is cheap enough to justify buying.

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.

This offer drops the price per point down to 2.92 cents apiece.

When Starwood offers its semi-regular though infrequent 25% discount on purchased points the price to buy points is as low as 2.625 cents apiece (which translates into transfers to 20,000 airline miles plus 5000 bonus miles at 2.1 cents per mile in a wide variety of programs).

A 25% discount was offered in April, twice in 2014, and once in 2013. You can only buy 20,000 points per calendar year per account, so buying with this offer would preclude the possibility of buying under a better offer if one were made late in the year. (And if you purchased 20,000 back in April you cannot buy more.)

Of course you can overcome the restriction by having other people in your household buy points for their own accounts. Starwood allows you to transfer points free between family member accounts registered at the same address.

Here’s the full list of airline mileage transfer partners:

Frequent Flyer Program Exchange Ratio (Starpoints : Miles)
Aeromexico Club Premier 1:1
Aeroplan/Air Canada 1:1
Air Berlin 1:1
Air China Companion 1:1
Air New Zealand & Air Points 65:1
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan 1:1
Alitalia MilleMiglia 1:1
All Nippon Mileage Club 1:1
American Airlines AAdvantage 1:1
Asia Miles 1:1
Asiana Airlines 1:1
British Airways Executive Club 1:1
China Eastern Airlines 1:1
China Southern SkyPearl Club 1:1
Delta Air Lines SkyMiles 1:1
Emirates Skywards 1:1
Etihad Airways 1:1
Flying Blue 1:1
Gol Smiles 2:1
Hainan Airlines 1:1
Hawaiian Airlines 1:1
Japan Airlines Mileage Bank 1:1
Jet Airways 1:1
Korean Air Skypass 1:1
Miles and More 1:1
Qatar Airways 1:1
Saudi Arabian Airlines Alfursan 1:1
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer 1:1
Thai Airways RoyalOrchidPlus 1:1
United Mileage Plus 2:1
Velocity Frequent Flyer 1:1
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club 1:1

Points.com processes these transactions, so buying Starpoints does not earn a bonus as hotel or Starwood spend with various credit cards.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. If you have not yet heard him say it ad nauseam, @Gary Leff would like for your to know one more time that “Starwood points are the most valuable loyalty currency…”, despite the fact that in order to earn enough of them @ 1/$ to be able to take advantage of their touted “transferability”, most folks would probably first go bankrupt.

    Moreover, the purported transferability that supposedly makes starpoints so special is not that special at all for anyone who plays this game with a full deck, is well informed and has a calculator. Below is the LONGER list of Hilton HHonors transfer partners, so of the bat the number of transfer partners is nothing special. More to the point is that it is tough to take seriously these repeated claims about how “starpoints are the most valuable loyalty currency” knowing that (a) one, e.g., earns at least 6 times more HH points a pop than one earns starpoints (meaning that in terms of starpoints, the exchange of HH points to, e.g., AA miles would be competitively ~1:1.1), and (b) HH points, which have always been easy to earn loads of, have become even easier earn because of the “new” HHonors’ highly lucrative and generous bonus points offers, as a result of which I have earned on average 48HH/$ on HH hotel spend so far and am on pace to earn 1,000,000 HH points for the first time this year.

    Participating HHonors Airline Transfer Partners (note it’s longer than SPG’s):

    Aeroflot Russian Airlines
    Aeroplan (Air Canada)
    Air Berlin
    Air China
    Air New Zealand
    Alaska Airlines
    All Nippon Airways
    American Airlines
    British Airways
    Cathay Pacific Airways
    China Southern
    CSA Czech Airlines
    Delta Air Lines®
    Frontier Airlines
    Gulf Air
    Hawaiian Airlines®
    Japan Airlines
    Jet Airways
    Kingfisher Airlines
    KLM/Air France (Flying Blue)**
    Malaysia Airlines®
    Mexicana Airlines (kms)
    Miles & More (Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines)
    Olympic Air
    Qantas Airways
    Qatar Airways
    Saudi Arabian Airlines
    Singapore Airlines
    South African Airways
    THAI Airways International
    United Airlines®
    US Airways®
    Virgin America
    Virgin Atlantic Airways

    Bottom line: It’s time to get a new tune to sing. The one about how great starpoints are has been off the Top 10 Chart for a while now 😉


  2. @DCS why do you have such a hard time understanding that the most valuable currency has nothing to do with how easy it is to earn? I am very clear that I am talking about the value of a single point. You may be able to get tons of Venezuelan bolivars easily. That doesn’t make a bolivar more valuable than a US dollar. Just like a Hilton HHonors point is not close to as valuable as a Starwood Starpoint.

    Starwood is not an especially good program for rewarding in-hotel spend [except for SPG’s most frequent guest elites who earn a strong bonus].

    But a Hilton point is worth about 2/5th of a cent. A Starwood point is worth > 2.2 cents.

  3. Different strokes for different folks, DCS. Glad that Hilton works for you, SPG works for me and is my main earning card. Probably have too many of them actually. And no, I’m not bankrupt.

  4. @Gary — You are the one having a hard time understanding a very simple concept. Before you can use points, you must first earn them. Therefore, one’s ability to earn points is one of the major considerations in assessing both the objective and subjective “value” of loyalty points. We purchase the same meal costing $10 in the same restaurant and you pay with your SPG AMEX and I pay with my AMEX Surpass, you’d walk out with 10 starpoints and I would walk out with 60 HHonors points. Those are all the points from that purchase we’d have to work with, and the 1:6 is the “currency conversion factor” between the two loyalty currencies because we were able to purchase EXACTLY THE SAME ITEM.

    That is why this statement is misguided and shows your and other bloggers’ confusion about this simple concept: “But a Hilton point is worth about 2/5th of a cent. A Starwood point is worth > 2.2 cents.”

    That comparison is completely meaningless because it’s comparing apples and oranges. Starpoints and HH points are on different scales, and the reason starpoints come out to be numerically larger is, in fact, related to its arbitrary small-number award scale, to how tough the points are to earn per spend and to how expensive SPG awards are, and not because of anything about starpoints that makes them numerically bigger and thus more “valuable”. In fact, the redemption values of loyalty points that are now being used across the board, even for airlines, were, in fact, derived from hotel redemptions and may not even be suitable for other purposes!

    Anyway, comparing HH points and starpoints without correcting for their relative or differential earn rates is like saying that 32 degrees Fahrenheit is a hotter temperature than 0 degree Celsius because the former is numerically bigger than the latter. Total nonsense! With the proper conversion factor, one knows that despite the numerical difference 32 oF and 0 oC denote exactly the same temperature but on different scales.

    Thus, a HH point may be worth, on average, 0.4 cent but I earn 6 times as many a pop as I do starpoints, therefore with the “loyalty currency conversion factor” of 6, HHonors would be worth 0.4 cent * 6 = 2.4 cents IN TERMS OF STARPOINTS, which is not material different from your estimate of 2.2 cents for each starpoint. This equality between the currencies makes sense because loyalty transactions are similar quantitatively so, therefore the the various currencies should be expected to be worth about the same when converted to the same scale, which bloggers never bother doing! To believe otherwise would be believe that AMEX is stupid enough to pay SPG 6x more real $$ for starpoints than they pay HHonors their loyalty points!!!


  5. @Michael T — This has little to do with whether or not a program works for me. It is about setting the record straight about concepts that are really trivial to understand but bloggers get wrong and makes bogus claims about all the time.

    Au contraire, I am an equal opportunity opportunist. Later this year to early next year, as I have done every year since 2011, I will spend (a) Hyatt GP points for 3 nights at Grand Hyatt Singapore, 3 nights at Park Hyatt Siem Reap and 3 nights at Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok; (b) Marriott Rewards points for a one-night award stay at JW Marriott Bangkok; and (c) HHonors points for 3 nights at Hilton Shanghai, 3 nights at the brand new Waldorf=Astoria Beijing and 5 nights at the aspirational Conrad Koh Samui. A couple of weeks ago I did a one-night cash+points stay at Sheraton Brussels Airport, which covers all the major hotel loyalty programs and not just HHonors, although the latter is my primary program since I consider it to be the most mature, with Marriott Rewards as a close second. I love staying at Hyatt properties, not because of the Gold Passport loyalty program, which is a joke, but because of Hyatt’s tastefully done hotels and overall service that is second to none. I avoid SPG precisely because they are the least rewarding and most expensive program in the business; few can who play the miles/points game on their own dime can afford SPG.

    Like I said, I am an equal opportunity opportunist 😉


  6. @DCS you’re mixing concepts. Of course you have to earn/generate/whatnot points before you can use them. And we can do an earn analysis for different contexts. But don’t try to substitute that analysis when I’m talking about something different, so you can create a straw man for your favorite program.

    And for avoidance of doubt, unbonused spend on the Hilton Amex Surpass card earns 3 points per dollar, so worth 1.2 cents in rebates vs 2.2 cents via the Starwood Amex. There’s a reason I only suggest the Starwood Amex for unbonused spend.

  7. @Gary & DCS – I enjoy this blog a lot but you two sure spend quite a bit of time talking past each other.

    I do have to admit that both you have points but saying SPG points are the most valuable means nothing by itself without DCS’ conversion factor.

  8. Seems like an easy concept to me. SPG points are not easy to get BUT once you have them they are worth the most. Maybe english is not DCS’s first language…

  9. Hmm. Well, English is my first language and I don’t think it is an easy concept. I don’t think Gary does either:
    “Many different folks have taken a stab at how much miles are worth. For this post I’m not going to give you a single number. I’m going to share my own rough and ready number for several different programs. And I’m going to explain how I think about the value of miles — why they are different for different people, and for different circumstances of how you plan to use them.”

    Easy? And Larry doesn’t mention the acquisition cost which I think DCS was trying to do. He used the temperature example but I once worked in New Zealand where the Kiwi dollar was worth .58 US dollar. Obviously the U.S. dollar was worth more but if I took a contract there that would pay me $100K Kiwi dollars or $50K US dollars (forget taxes) which would I take?

    P.S. I don’t find your comments helpful unless you are just trying to mimic Donald Trump.

  10. You guys still don’t get it…

    Gary on 20k miles calendar year limit does it start over in Jan or on your ann date?

  11. Quick Question….if i were to purchase points with my SPG card…would the cost (of buying the points) go towards my promotional offer of spending 3k in 3 months for 30k points?

  12. @Larry said on September 15, 2015 at 7:37 pm: “Seems like an easy concept to me. SPG points are not easy to get BUT once you have them they are worth the most. Maybe english is not DCS’s first language…”

    Sounds to me like a comment from someone who’s drunk too much of @Gary’s kool-aid about how “starpoints are the most valuable points currency.” I wonder whether English is your first language since you do not seem to grasp the simple fact that there is nothing that starpoints offer that other points currencies that are much easier to earn in huge quantities do not offer. In fact, your very caveat that “SPG points are not easy to get BUT once you have them they are worth the most” makes them inferior since earning the points in the first place is really the raison d’être of blogs such this one. Read my detailed comments and you just might learn things that even the self-proclaimed “Thought Leader in Travel” has a hard time grasping… 😉

    Good luck and G’day!

  13. I think I’ll stick with Gary for my learning instead of someone who chooses to read posts just to complain about them.

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