Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) has one of the most valuable currencies out there, because of how versatile their points are. SPG Points, or Starpoints, can be redeemed for free nights, and can be transferred to many airline partners at a 1:1 ratio.
Starwood is running a sale until the end of the year, where you can buy Starpoints at up to 50% off. This is a targeted offer, so you will have to log in and see what your percentage discount is. For example, I was targeted for a 35% off discount, but my sister was targeted for the 50%!
Note that you won’t get the discount unless you buy 5,000 points or more. But if you are targeted for the 50%, this is a really good deal, and is the best price I’ve seen SPG offers their points. Previously, the best discount I’ve seen Starwood offer was 35% off, so this is quite a big leap. At 35% off, you will buy Starpoints at 2.275 cents each, which is not a bad buy if you have specific uses in mind. At 50% off, you are buying points for 1.75 cents each, which is pretty incredible.
You are allowed to buy up to 30,000 points per calendar year, so if you already took advantage of a similar deal earlier in the year, you will have to sit this one out. SPG does allow you to transfer points between family members (both members must have shared the same address for at least 30 days), but they have been giving transfers a bit more scrutiny. There are reports of transfers being denied, because SPG says you are technically only allowed to “add” 30,000 points to your account via purchases, including transfers. This is a your mileage may vary situation, so I wouldn’t bank on it working.
Redeeming for Free Nights
30,000 points is enough for a off-peak night at a Category 7 hotel, like the St. Regis New York or the St. Regis San Francisco. However, you can also redeem your Starpoints for lower end hotels. For example, the Great Wall Sheraton Hotel Beijing is a fantastic Category 2 property, which costs just 4,000 Starpoints a night ($70 if you have 50% off).
If you don’t have enough points, you can also use SPG’s Cash and Points option. This gives you the option to redeem a
“free night” by paying half the points, and then use cash to cover the remaining points. You are essentially “buying” the points from 1.5 cents to 2 cents apiece, depending on the category.
Finally, now that SPG and Marriott have merged, you can also transfer Starpoints to Marriott or Ritz-Carlton points in a 1:3 ratio. Buying 30,000 SPG points at $525 (after 50% off) means you are getting the equivalent of 90,000 Marriott points. That’s enough for 2 nights at a Category 9 Marriott hotel, like the JW Marriott Essex House New York. Alternatively, you could also redeem them for 3 nights at a Tier 1 Ritz-Carlton.
Redeeming for Flights
One of my favorite uses of Starpoints, though, is redeeming them for flights. This is because SPG partners with a large number of airlines, most of which you can transfer Starpoints to at a 1:1 ratio. SPG throws in 5,000 miles when you transfer 20,000, so you are basically getting a 1:1.25 ratio if you transfer in increments of 20,000.
Even if you are starting from a zero balance, you could buy 20,000 points, and transfer them to your airline of choice for 25,000 miles. With the 50% off, you are basically buying miles for 1.4 cents each. That could be a fantastic deal for certain airlines, like Alaska. Alaska charges 50,000 miles to fly from the US to Asia in Cathay Pacific Business Class, so getting their miles at 1.4 cents each is like buying a one-way ticket for $700 + tax. Amazing!
Should You Buy?
I rarely suggest buying points speculatively, just because programs can always devalue, and hogging points is just not a good practice. However, if you are targeted, I would strongly suggest buying SPG points at 50% off. There are just so many ways to use Starpoints, and this is hands down the best discount I have ever seen.
Keep in mind that SPG points purchases are processed by Points.com, so you will not earn a travel or hotel category bonus on your credit card. I suggest using a card that rewards everyday spend best, like the Chase Freedom Unlimited, or the Citi Double Cash. You could also use the Amex SPG card, though you will only earn 1 point per purchase, but I know some of you value SPG points immensely, so that could be worth it.
This offer ends December 31, 2016, and you can buy SPG Points here.