Registrations need to be done by 15 April, but stays can be anytime between 15 Feb and 15 May. As with all Starwood promos, you can earn credit “retroactively”. That’s to say, if I make 3 stays in Feb but only register in March, those 3 stays will count towards my Feb-May tally.
Here’s the offer I got
Other people are reporting bonuses like
3,000 Starpoints after the 3rd stay, 3,000 Starpoints after the 6th stay and 3,000 Starpoints after the 9th stay for a total 9,000 Starpoints bonus
Double elite stay and elite night credit
One free night certificate (up to Cat 5) after 3rd stay and 6th stay each, maximum of 2 free night certificates
Not everyone will receive an offer, but it only takes 5 minutes to register and find out.
Starpoints are one of the most valuable points currencies out there because of the great redemption opportunities that exist. What’s more, they’re very hard for us Singapore-based travellers to earn. The only credit card route we have to earn Starpoints in Singapore is through American Express, at a really crappy ratio.
So whenever Starwood announces a sale on points, I get interested. This time round they’re offering a mystery bonus of up to 50% on points purchased before 31 Dec 2016.
Note that the wording is up to 50%. From what I understand, there are 4 offers available. Starpoints regularly retail at 3.5 cents per point, so depending on what offer you get you will be paying-
25% off — 2.625 cents per Starpoint
30% off — 2.45 cents per Starpoint
35% off — 2.275 cents per Starpoint
50% off — 1.75 cents per Starpoint
Guess what offer I got?
Pfffft. 78 nights this year and on track to hit 100, and I get 25%. Why do the ones we love hurt us the most?
If you got the 50% deal, I would advise you to absolutely buy the maximum number of points you can. 1.75 cents per Starpoint is a ridiculously good deal, given that you can typically get upwards of 2 cents per Starpoint value on hotel redemptions
Remember that you don’t just need to use Starpoints for hotels though, they can also be transferred to most airline FFPs (including Krisflyer) at a 1:1 ratio. What’s more, for every 20,000 Starpoints you transfer, you get a 5,000 miles, so that’s a 1:1.25 ratio.
The full list of airline partners is here.
Aeromexico Club Premier
Air China Companion
Air New Zealand Airpoints
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
All Nippon Airways (ANA) Mileage Club
American Airlines AAdvantage
British Airways Executive Club
China Eastern Airlines
China Southern Airlines Sky Pearl Club
Delta Air Lines SkyMiles
Japan Airlines (JAL) Mileage Bank
LATAM Airlines LATAM Pass
LifeMiles® of Avianca
Miles and More
Saudi Arabian Airlines
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
Thai Airways International Royal Orchid Plus
United Mileage Plus
Virgin America Elevate
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
If you were to max out a 50% discount, you could essentially buy airline miles on any 1:1 partner for 1.4 US cents, which is very, very cheap.
For Singapore based flyers, this might present an opportunity to redeem some exotic cabin products that would normally be very difficult. For example, you could conceivably transfer to American Airlines or Etihad to book the Etihad First Class Apartment on the A380
What happens if you get the 30% or 35% offers? I’m a bit more indifferent about these. At 35% I might bite, if I had a confirmed redemption in mind and wasn’t just buying speculatively. Probably not at 30%, because there have been publicly available 30% sales before that anyone could take advantage of.
Anyway it’s a moot point for me because I’m definitely not biting at a 25% sale. The good news for those of you on the fence is that you have until the end of the year to decide, so there’s no need to rush to buy now.
A couple of people have asked me if there’s any chance Starwood will launch a cobranded card in Singapore. My answer to that is a flat no. The market here is just too small to make such an effort worthwhile. The best we can hope for is one of our banks adds Starwood as a transfer partner with a reasonable points exchange rate.
Hilton is having a 100% bonus on purchased points from now till 3 June 2016. This allows you to buy points for 0.5 US cents each. This is a non-targeted promotion, so anyone regardless of status or stay history will be able to access it.
You are limited to a maximum of 160,000 purchased points (base + bonus) per year, so you max this out at US$800 and 160,000 points.
Buying points at 0.5 US cents each can make sense if you have a high value redemption in mind. Here are some ideas
Rooms here go at 80,000 or 95,000 points per night, depending on time of year. If you buy points at 0.5 US cents each, you’re paying US$400 or US$475 a night, quite a deal at a property where the going rate is usually double that.
If you’re seriously considering going to the Conrad Koh Samui I’d strongly advise you to read a few of the tips in the hacking article. It could save you quite a bit of money
Idea 2: Conrad Maldives
Or how about the Conrad Maldives?
Rates here can be upwards of US$900 a night, but with your 95,000 HHonors points bought at 0.5 US cents each, you’re looking at a good discount.
Idea 3: New York on New Year’s Eve
Suppose you want to be in Times Square New York over New Year’s eve. Check out those prices…
$4K+ for a hotel in Times Square! But if you use your HHonors points, the same room gets cut to US$475. Hardly a steal, but if you’re determined to be there no matter what…
Idea 4: Arbitrage at some low category HHonors properties
There’s something to be said about functionality too. If the glitz and glamor of Times Square on NY eve or a private island in the Maldives doesn’t appeal to you, you can still get a very good discount on low-tier Hhonors properties.
Here is the current Hilton award chart. Note the prices for hotels in Category 1 and 2. 5,000 points is basically US$25, and 10,000 points is US$50. These are great rates if you can find a property you intend to stay in
So what are some useful properties in these categories? The definition of “useful” will of course vary depending on your travel pattern, but here are some suggestions
DoubleTree by Hilton Johor (Cat 2)
DoubleTree by Hilton KL (Cat 2)
DoubleTree by Hilton Penang (Cat 2)
Hilton Garden Inn Hanoi (Cat 2)
DoubleTree by Hilton Beijing (Cat 2)
DoubleTree by Hilton Suzhou (Cat 2)
Hilton Garden Inn Shenzhen (Cat 1)
Virtually every Hilton in Egypt is Cat 1
Hampton Inn Bakersfield (Cat 2- don’t laugh. It’s a useful rest stop if you’re making the drive between San Francisco and Los Angeles)
Remember that if you’re a top-tier elite, you can request a Hilton Diamond status match. Diamond status allows you to bypass minimum stay requirements during peak periods. Some properties may have 2 or 3 night minimum stays around New Year’s Eve or other big public holidays, but if you’re a Diamond that doesn’t affect you.
As with all promotions, I don’t recommend buying points speculatively, but if you have a trip coming up, why not see if you can make this work to your advantage?