Review of Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

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Editor's Rating: 4.5/5.0
Perhaps an essential card for the true frequent flyer. For folks who stay frequently at Starwood Hotels, there is no need to tell you how generous the Starwood Preferred Guest program is. But aside from being a hotel credit card, you can transfer StarPoints to more airline partners than any other card. A must have card for frequent flyers.
Intro Purchase APR Regular APR Annual Fee Issuer Credit Needed
N.A. 15.24% to 19.24%*(variable) $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $65 American Express Excellent
Feature Summary
  • Starpoints® bonus: earn up to 25,000 bonus points: 10,000 after your first purchase and another 15,000 after you spend $5,000 within the first 6 months of Cardmembership
  • That's enough for a weekend getaway to a Category 4 Hotel.
  • Free Hotel Nights: redeem Starpoints at over 1,100 hotels in nearly 100 countries worldwide - with no blackout dates. Some hotels may have mandatory service and resort charges.
  • Free Flights: redeem Starpoints on over 350 airlines with SPG Flights - with no blackout dates
  • No limits on the number of Starpoints you can earn
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $65
  • Terms and Restrictions apply.

This card has been one of the most popular ones among frequent travelers for the longest time. There are really a couple of reasons for this. The first one is that the SPG program and hotels are rated very highly by business travelers. Their program was one of the first that allowed their frequent guest members to book any room using points with no blackout dates as long as they had a room available. Back when they introduced this, other hotel loyalty programs had blackout dates. Most frequent flier programs also has blackout dates, so SPG was such a breadth of fresh air!

Another reason this is such a popular card is that the SPG program allowed you to transfer the points you earn into frequent flier miles of over 30 airlines partners (mostly at a one for one ratio). In fact, the SPG program had more airline partners than the Membership Rewards program from American Express and the Diners Club program.

Starwood has recently1 allowed their members to earn permanent lifetime elite status based on the number of nights you have stayed with them. You would also require to be an elite member for a number of years (though not consecutive). Because having this card gets you night stays every year, this will help you towards earning elite status. Furthermore, night stays using awards also count towards lifetime elite status (we'll have a more detailed discussion on this later on). Now, let's get on to how this card allows you to earn points.

How You Earn StarPoints? - This card allows you to earn up to 5 points for every dollar that you spend at Starwood Hotels. What do we mean by "up to 5 points"? It means that for every dollar that you spend at Starwood Hotels, you get double points from Amex and double points as well from Starwood. If you are a SPG elite member, you get triple points from Starwood, making it a total of 5 points for every dollar you spend at their Hotels.

Annual Night Stays and Credits - Every year (before 15th February), you will receive 5 nights and 2 stays in your SPG account just from having and using the card. This will help you towards achieving elite status. For example, to achieve Gold Status, you will need 25 nights. That puts you 20 nights away from achieving that. For Platinum Status, you need 50 nights. So by having this card, you will only need 45 more nights.

Late Check-Outs and Room Upgrades - One of the perks of having this card is that you can request 4pm late check-outs. You will also get room upgrades if they are available when you check in.

I mentioned earlier that one of the great features of the SPG program is the ability to transfer StarPoints to frequent flier miles. We will explore this topic next.

Next: Airline Transfer Partners »

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