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Today is the last day to buy Starwood Preferred Guest points for a 35% discount under the current promotion. We don’t know for sure, but this certainly could be the last chance to buy SPG points on sale before the Marriott / Ritz / SPG programs merge on August 1st. It only makes sense to buy points when you have a valuable use in mind, but with this sale one could certainly come out ahead with a number of different redemptions.
- Buy 5,000 or more SPG points and get a 35% discount (2.275 cents per point)
- Direct link to this promotion (our affiliate link, though keep in mind that you can shop through a portal to go to Points.com to save a bit more)
- You can buy a maximum of 30,000 points per year (though there are ways around that — see below)
- Sale valid until 11:59pm ET on May 31, 2018
- While transactions are processed by Points.com, many members have reported earning 2x on point purchases in the past when paying with an Amex SPG card
With the SPG and Marriott programs set to merge in August, this may be a last opportunity to buy Starpoints as we know them. These points would convert to Marriott at a ratio of 1 SPG point to 3 Marriott points, so 30K Starpoints is really 90K Marriott points down the road.
While there is a 30K limit per person in purchased points per year, Greg has previously written about how to get around that (See: How to buy more than 30K SPG points).
The maximum 30K points will cost you $682.50. Category 1 Starwood properties cost 2,000-3,000 points per night and Marriott’s chart starts at the equivalent of 2,500 SPG points per night. If you were to get ten nights out of the points, an average cost of $68.25 per night would probably put you ahead in many instances. If you take advantage of 5-night bookings for the 5th night free, you can do even better. Properties at the top end of Marriott’s chart today cost 45K Marriott points — the equivalent of 15,000 Starpoints. Two nights at a current Category 9 Marriott for $682.50 can be a deal in some markets.
Top tier Marriott/Ritz/SPG properties will cost the equivalent of 20K Starpoints (60K Marriott points – for bookings made by the end of this year at least) when the new program launches on August 1st. A night’s worth of points at the top properties would cost you $455 in this sale. That certainly isn’t cheap, but it does beat paid rates at many of the top Ritz and SPG properties (and by a pretty large margin in some cases during peak seasons), so those who would otherwise consider those paid rates can make out better with the points sale.
That said, the better move here is generally using points to either transfer directly to airlines or to buy Marriott Travel Packages (See: Why are Marriott Travel Packages a good deal?). If you’re able to use Greg’s techniques above to purchase the 90K Starpoints necessary for a 270K Marriott package, that would get you 120K airline miles in a number of programs and a 7-night Category 1-5 certificate for $2,047.50. Considering the fact that 120K is enough miles for round trip business class to most of the world if you choose the right transfer partner, that could be a deal if you value the 7-night certificate at all. I’ve previously written about that idea: Business Class to Europe + 7 hotel nights for $2225: Investing in Marriott Travel Packages. Note that while that post references a transfer bonus, many airlines now exclude the Marriott Travel Packages from earning the transfer bonus (but it can still be a solid deal).
Keep in mind that we don’t know exactly how 7-night certificates and travel packages will pan out in the new program. There have been rumors that unused certificates might be traded out for points. We have reached out for clarification on that but do not yet have the full details. Marriott has indicated that they intend to keep Travel Packages around in the new program, though the prices will change to correspond with the new chart. I don’t think I’d load up on SPG points speculatively in the hopes of a better deal coming on a travel package. At the same time, if you’re not sure where you intend to use the 7-night certificate, you’ll have to evaluate your appetite for risk in terms of holding onto it. Category 5 currently requires 25,000 points per night. Our expectation is that a 7-night Category 1-5 certificate will likely map to Category 1-4 in the new award chart (since Category 4 will require 25K per night). That may not be a bad thing as there should be the addition of a number of Starwood properties that could be attractive, but there is some gamble in it. Greg has written about possible opportunities here — see: Marriott Travel Package Arbitrage.
While I don’t generally buy points, there are a variety of reasons why it might make sense in this situation if you can get significantly more value out of the points than the cost to purchase. It’s worth running the math if you’ve got some redemptions in mind.