While there are currently no Starwood group hotels (now owned by Marriot) in New Zealand anymore, the Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty programme is a favourite of mine, offering better value for Kiwis in it’s ability to buy points to transfer to one of their many International Airline partner loyalty programs.
Starwood are running a new Starpoints purchase promotion, with a discount offer of up to 35%. Aside from the targeted offer back in November 2016, this is about the best discount you can get for SPG points.
The maximum purchase is 30,000 points, and the 35% discount starts at purchases of 5,000 points. If you max out, the total cost will be $682.50 USD. The deal runs until June 30.
This is a great deal for Starwood points with value to be had from high end, usually expensive hotel stays, or transferring to one of many partner frequent flyer programs.
You can find value for the usually inaccessible currencies for points purchasing like KrisFlyer, Velocity or Asia Miles, all of whom partner with Starwood – this is about the only way to buy Velocity and some other points/miles in any meaningful volume.
The current Starpoints promotion
Discounts are tiered as follows:
- 0 to 4,000 Starpoints – no discount
- 5,000 to 30,000 Starpoints – 35% discount
At the 35% discount level this yields a cost of 2.27 US cents per Starpoint, or if all 35,000 points are transferred to airline miles with the 5,000 point bonus, 1.70 US cents per airline mile at 40,000 miles.
You’ll need to have SPG accounts that are at least 12 days old to take advantage of this deal, so sign yourself up and other family members (with their permission!) now if you think you might get in on this offer.
Finally, with a merger of Starwood and Marriott well underway, it’s worth understanding that the SPG program is going through a range of changes. For now you can transfer points out to Marriott Rewards at 3 Marriott Rewards = 1 Starpoint. This opens up some new opportunities for redemption too but these are not points to buy and hold for the long term (as usual with most points currencies).
Guide to buying Starpoints from SPG for cheap hotel stays and airline transfers
- June 2017 (current offer): 35% discount
- March-April 2017: 30% discount
- November / December 2016 – 50% discount (targeted)
- June 2016 – 30% discount
- March 2016 – up to 25% discount
- December 2015 – 25% discount
- September 2015 – 20% bonus
- May 2015 – 25% discount
- December – 25% discount
- May 2014 – 25% discount
Using Starpoints to transfer into Airline miles / points
Starwood Preferred Guest has the widest range of airline partners out there, including Velocity, Krisflyer and Asia Miles – but not Qantas Frequent Flyer. The full list of transfer partners and ratios is below.
For all 1:1 transfer partners, for a transfer of 20,000 points you’ll also get a bonus of 5,000 additional airline points or miles, which really makes it worth targeting that 20,000 point transfer as the sweet spot.
|Frequent Flyer Programs||Exchange Ratio - Starpoints:Airline Miles|
|Aeromexico Club Premier||1:1|
|Air China Companion||1:1|
|Air New Zealand & Air Points||65:1|
|Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan||1:1|
|All Nippon Airways (ANA) Mileage Club||1:1|
|American Airlines AAdvantage||1:1|
|British Airways Executive Club||1:1|
|China Eastern Airlines||1:1|
|China Southern Airlines Sky Pearl Club||1:1|
|Delta Air Lines SkyMiles||1:1|
|Japan Airlines (JAL) Mileage Bank||1:1|
|LAN Airlines LANPASS Kms||1:1|
|Miles and More||1:1|
|Saudi Arabian Airlines||1:1|
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer||1:1|
|Thai Airways International Royal Orchid Plus||1:1|
|US Airways Dividend Miles||1:1|
|United Mileage Plus||2:1|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||1:1|
Example Uses of Starpoints
I’ve used Starpoints to top up a range of my frequent flyer accounts for redemptions, including American Airlines, Velocity, Asia Miles and KrisFlyer. I’ve also redeemed Starpoints for exclusive events through SPG Moments, and for hotel stays.
The use for airline redemptions is too broad to cover off in one guide, but for starters have a read of the following guides to give you some ideas:
- The best value frequent flyer program redemptions – the programs and routes to target
- And here’s the full set of guides to buying frequent flyer miles for cheap Business or First Class travel. If you’re buying Starpoints, you’re potentially buying airline miles, so the same tips apply.
Limitations on purchase and transfer amounts
Starwood put a 30,000 limit on the maximum number of points per SPG account you can purchase per (calendar) year, so at first glance it seems like this promotion can’t be used for large purchase amounts.
However, one way to get around this restriction is to use household points transfers, where SPG allows members who have the same address on their account the ability to transfer between accounts.
There are also techniques to follow to maximise the amount of airline miles you can receive from SPG transfers.
There’s a limit of 79,000 miles that be transferred out of your account per 24 hours, and given that Starwood only awards the 5,000 point bonus for 20,000 point transfers, you’ll miss out on one chunk of 5,000 bonus points if you transfer the maximum 79,999 Starpoints.
As a result, the transfer sweet spot is 60,000 SPG points to 75,000 airline miles, so to maximise the bonus, transfer no more than 60,000 points (to a single program) per 24 hours.
Some transfer bonus examples come out as follows:
10k SPG = 10k airline miles
20k SPG = 25k airline miles (20k + 5k bonus)
30k SPG = 35k airline miles
40k SPG = 50k airline miles (40k + 10k bonus)
50k SPG = 60k airline miles
60k SPG = 75k airline miles (60k + 15k bonus)
70k SPG = 85k airline miles
79,999 SPG = 94,999 miles (79k + 15k bonus)
Starpoint purchases can be an excellent way to top up an overseas frequent flyer account, where miles or points are otherwise hard to come by. The sheer volume of their transfer partners yields a lot of opportunities to use these points.
You can also leverage them into cheaper hotel stays, but that’s completely dependent on the nightly rate a hotel is charging on a given night, versus what they want to charge in Starpoints.
There may be an opportunity for your specific hotel stay plans, so check on that if you have any stays coming up.