Starwood has a promotion for buying or gifting Starpoints at up to 25% discount of the usual price. The purchase price of a Starpoint under this offer is 2.6 cents each at the highest discount. The offer is valid for purchases between March 11 and April 30, 2013, and you can access it here.
Any one account cannot receive more than 20K Starpoints in a calendar year, whether they are gifted or purchased by the account holder.
Last year, Starwood didn’t have a Starpoint sale before the summer. Seems that they are trying to get into the more frequent point selling bandwagon.
The award chart was just adjusted and approximately 20% of the properties moved up in award categories. Also, the number of Starpoints and cash were both raised in Cash & Point awards.
You could also consider buying Starpoints, if you need miles with any of the partner airlines of SPG. 20K SPG transfers to 25K air miles with most of the partners. The price of an airline mile acquired by buying Starpoints first and then moving them to an airline is 2.1 cents each. This includes the SPG transfer bonus.
Using Starpoints for “free” hotel nights is not such a good deal as few years ago due to yearly category creep that was this year combined with increase in Cash & Points requirements. It is still a decent way of buying 25K airline miles for $525.