Executive Summary -
This is one of the best credit card for travel rewards and is one of the most popular with frequent flyers. We give it a 4.5 star rating. In this part, we also explain how you can combine this card with others to maximize your StarPoints.
As we mentioned in our introduction, this is one of the most popular card with the frequent flier community because of the ability to transfer points to airline partners as well as it's great loyalty program. But aside from that, SPG has made some changes to it's program that makes getting this card even more worthwhile.
Recently, SPG has allowed their members to earn lifetime time elite status. The criteria is as follows. To be a lifetime elite gold member, you require 250 qualifying nights and 5 years of being an elite Gold member status. You do not need to be Gold member for 5 consecutive years. Instead, as long as you have been for five years, it is sufficient. To achieve lifetime platinum status, you need 500 qualifying nights and 10 years of being a Platinum member.
By being a card member, you will automatically earn 5 qualifying nights and 2 stays every year. This will help you achieve the elite status faster.
Another thing to take note of is that Starwood counts any nights you stay using your StarPoints award as a qualifying night (unlike Hyatt). Hence, simply earning points from your credit card spending and redeeming them for your stays count and help you achieve the lifetime status faster.
There are other ways in which you can get more out of your card. And that involves combining this with other cards. For example, if you get this card and also the business version, you can earn more nights stay. We mentioned earlier that you get 5 qualifying nights and 2 stays every anniversary. You also get that with the business version so if you have both cards, you will get a total of 10 qualifying nights instead of 5 if you have one card. That means you are even closer to getting your elite status. Depending on how many nights you stay at Starwood Hotels, this may be something you should explore.
Another favorite combination is to pair up this card with the Platinum Card from American Express, which gives you automatic Gold Status just for being a card member. Hence, within 5 years of carrying the Platinum Card, you would have fulfilled part of the lifetime gold elite status (which is to be a Gold member for 5 years). You obviously still need to meet the required nights.
To sum up, this card is a must for the true frequent flier and those looking to get involved in the FF miles game. The number of airline partners which you can transfer points to is the key attraction (plus the 5,000 bonus miles when you transfer 20,000 points). It helps you to top up your FF account when you are short and it has a great loyalty program as well. If you redeem your points wisely, each StarPoint could be worth as much as 4 cents.
This card is also a great alternative of frequent fliers of foreign airlines. For example, if you fly Singapore Airlines, then isn't a US based KrisFlyer card. Because you can transfer StarPoints one for one to KrisFlyer, this makes it an excellent card. Take a look at their airline partner list and you will realize that many foreign carriers do not have US based affinity cards (AItalia is another example). And for those that have (like JAL and ANA), their US based cards are so bad that you would rather get the Starwood!
To conclude, we give this card a 4.5 star rating and highly recommend it for travelers.
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