When is it Worth it to Buy Starpoints?

Starwood Preferred Guest currently (through June 30, 2011) has a 20% discount to buy Starpoints. Is it worth taking advantage of? If you're only using Starpoints to transfer to airline frequent flyer points, probably not–even if you need to top off your account for an award, in most cases it will work out cheaper to just buy the miles directly through the mileage program, even with the 5000 point bonus you receive when transferring 20,000 Starpoints to airline partners. See Ben Schlappig's article for more analysis on when it makes sense to buy miles for international award travel.

On the other hand, if you're intent on bidding for one of the special experiences promoted as “Moments by Starwood Preferred Guest” and need to top up your account to have a chance at winning premium concert tickets or other celebrity experience, then buying Starpoints, especially with the current 20% discount, is worth it depending on how much you want to win.

For Starwood hotel redemptions, it's a bit more grey. Buying to redeem a free night outright is most likely not worth it unless you're really just short a few points. On the other hand, one of Starwood's best redemption values is using Cash and Points. Unfortunately, many of the most popular hotels do not offer a Cash and Points redemption option or have significant blackout dates, but for those that do offer it, there can be good savings potential. Here are a few examples, all for Aug. 12-13, 2011. In two cases the current 20% discount for buying points and using the Cash and Points redemption option saves you money; in one example it doesn't, however, so you do need to do the math before deciding if it's worth it.


Example 1: The Westin Paris Vendome

Westin Paris Vendome, Paris France can be booked with cash and points

Cash & Points: From 8000 Starpoints (=$224) + $150 = $374

Cash: From 305 Euros (=$499)

So in this example, you'd save $125 over paying cash for the room.


Example 2: The Westin Sydney

Westin Sydney can be booked with cash and points


Cash & Points: From 4800 Starpoints (=$134) + AUD 90 (=$96) = $230

Cash: From AUD 290 (=$310)

In this case you'd save $80 over paying cash for the room.


Example 3: The Westin Tokyo

Westin Tokyo is not a good deal using cash and points


Cash & Points: From 8000 Starpoints (=$224) + $150 = $374

Cash: From 26,500 Yen (=$328)

So in this case you'd overpay by $46 using Cash & Points, even with the current 20% discount, and be better off simply paying cash for the room.

Also note that Cash and Points awards are subject to blackout dates, and that you won't receive any Starpoints even for the cash component that you pay. If you do see a hotel you want to stay in that shows no Cash and Points availability online, it doesn't hurt to call to see if you can book with Cash and Points; the hotel may make it available and depending on the amounts, it could be a great deal.

Have other thoughts about when and when it's not worth it to buy Starpoints? Describe them in the comments.

Check out and apply for the Best Travel Credit Cards.

If you enjoyed this, please follow TravelSort on Twitter or  like us on Facebook to be alerted to new posts. 

Become a Member to find your perfect luxury or boutique hotel at up to 50% off: TravelSort Hotels

0 0 vote
Article Rating
Share This:
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments