American Express Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card
Would you like to stay in some of the best hotels in the World for free? If so, here’s a credit card you need to know about. The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express is an amazing travel rewards card from an awesome hotel brand that includes 11 upscale properties such as Sheraton, Le Méridien, W Hotels and St. Regis.
If that’s not enough to pique your interest, Starwood actually merged with Marriott in 2016, giving this card an even broader reach, as you now also have access to more than 6,000 Marriott properties in over 122 countries. Yes, with this card in your wallet, you will get a couple of free nights at some of the best hotels in the World and a lot of other perks.
- Earn 75,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
- 6x points at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.
- 4x points at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping. 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at a participating hotel. Certain hotels have resort fees.
- Enjoy complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status with your Card. Plus, earn Gold Elite status after making $35,000 in eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Terms apply.
- 6x points at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.
- 4x points at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping
- 2x points on all other eligible purchases
Recommended Credit Profile
Rates & Fees
- Annual Fee$125
- Great ForSPG/Marriott HotelsTravelShopping
- Regular Purchase APR15.74% - 24.74% Variable
- Cash Advance APR25.24%
- Cash Advance FeeEither $5 or 3% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater.
- Foreign Transaction FeeNone
To start you off right, American Express offers 25,000 bonus Starpoints if you spend just $3,000 in the first 3 months. That's in addition to the points you’ll be getting anyway for spending that much money on your new card. The 25,000 points you receive can be used toward free nights in Starwood brand hotels – which are all pretty amazing properties. You can also use Starpoints for free air travel.
So think about it: that’s spending just $1,000 a month or $250 a week in those first three months to get the bonus. If you happen to be traveling, that’ll add up in a snap – but you can also just use the card for paying ordinary expenses such as groceries, gasoline, utility bills, clothing or even big-ticket items like property taxes or new tires for your car. The $95 annual fee is waived for the first year, leaving you more cash to splash at those free hotels you’ll be getting.
Racking Up Regular Points
So, after that bonus kick-start, how do you rack up the points you need to keep the perks coming? That’s where this card is unbelievable! Compared to other travel card programs that offer as few as 1 point per dollar spent, the Starwood Preferred Guest card gives you the chance to earn as much as 5 Starpoints for each dollar you spend.
You didn’t read that wrong, and here’s how they make that magic happen: first, you earn 2 points from AMEX per dollar spent just for using the card at a Starwood property, and then you also earn 2 or 3 Starpoints (depending on the hotel) for all eligible purchases at participating SPG & Marriott Rewards hotels. That means a whopping 5 points for swiping this piece of plastic! For all your everyday purchases, you continue to earn 1 Starpoint, day-in and day-out, regardless of where you are. Remember this as well: there are no point limits and no expiration dates with the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express.
Imagine that you are staying at the Sheraton Resort and Spa in Fiji with your family. You want to take a boat trip which costs $500 to rent the boat for the day. Put the boat on your room and pay the room bill with you Starwood Preferred Guest credit card and you will have an extra 2,500 points added to your balance. This is unheard of! Just by putting the cost of the boat ride on your room, you are getting about $25 back in value based on 2,500 Starpoints.
Now let the good times roll: redeem those points for the things you want. The obvious way to use Starpoints is on a well-deserved vacation, starting with your hotel. You can trade points for free nights at more than 1500 participating Starwood properties spread across at least 100 countries.
Seven different hotel categories for point redemption determine how many points you need for a free night, starting with just 3,000 points and going all the way up to a jaw-dropping 35,000 points per night for luxury hotels such as St. Regis Florence and W Hotel in South Beach, Miami. If you’re a Marriott fan, it’s now possible to turn your Starpoints into Marriott hotel stays as well.
Here’s a realistic look at why we love this card. Let’s say you get the 25,000 bonus points and then spend $2,000 a month, or $24,000 a year, on everyday purchases, receiving 1:1 points-per-dollar. In addition, you spend $2,500 at Starwood properties that year at 2:2 points-per-dollar. You would bank an incredible 54,000 points that first year. That’s enough to spend 5 nights at Le Méridien New Orleans or 13 nights at Four Points Sheraton in Punta Cana.
If you have any points lingering in your account, spend them on extras like golf, spa treatments, dinner and upgrades when kicking back in those free hotels. Feel like spreading some good will? Donate Starpoints to The American Red Cross or Clean the World. Toss some points to family members in increments of 1,000, or purchase gift cards from retailers such as Amazon.com, Pottery Barn and Bliss!
Time to Soar
Depending on how many points you’ve accumulated, you can even use them for air travel. This happens in one of two ways. The first option is to transfer your points on a typically 1:1 basis into one of 30 partner frequent flyer programs, which include international and domestic partners such as Delta, American Airlines, British Airways and Qatar Airways.
Starwood even adds another 5,000 bonus points to every 20,000 points you transfer at one time. This is amazing! These points are truly transferable. Not only do you not get dinged for transferring your Starpoints, you actually get rewarded for doing so.
The second option is a real stunner! Starwood operates a program known as SPG Flights that lets you use a dedicated website to book tickets with at least 150 air carriers, with ZERO blackout dates. That’s a huge savings it you’re traveling during peak periods or holidays. There’s no need to transfer points or book through the airline’s own website.
We’ve come to expect a lot from our reward credit cards, and the extra perks of this one make it a slam-dunk. Here are a few of our favorites:
- A credit of five nights and two qualifying stays toward Elite status just for being a card member, and an upgrade to Gold status for spending $30,000 in a calendar year
- Fifth night free when spending Starpoints for 4 free nights
- No blackout dates for hotel stays
- Boingo hot spot access and free premium Internet access in select hotel rooms
- Travel accident and rental car insurance>
- Roadside Assistance Hotline>
- Global Assist Hotline for medical, legal and financial assistance>
- Extended warranty on eligible everyday purchases>
- Ticket presales for entertainment, music, sports and culture events >
- Cell phone protection from theft and accidental damages>
One of the best perks of using this car involves car rental insurance. When you arrive in Orlando to go to Disney World with your family, you are standing at Hertz Rental Car. They ask you that big mind-boggling question: Would you like us to add coverage to the vehicle for $20 a day. That is going to run you $140 extra for you 7-day vacation. You can say no confidently, knowing that American Express has your back in case of any accidents.
SMALL ANNUAL FEE FOR BIG REWARDS
The Starwood AMEX card charges a $95 annual fee after the first year. Considering that just one hotel room at an upscale property costs more than that, the annual fee easily pays for itself. Assume you choose a free hotel room that requires 12,000 Starpoints. Using just the 1:1 points-per-dollar conversion for making everyday purchases, you’d only need to spend $1,000 per month on the card to earn that free room. In your first Bonus Points year, that’s three free nights!
NO FOREGIN TRANSACTION FEES
Here’s a biggie: this card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees! Many credit and debit cards tack on a fee every time you use your card abroad, typically about 3 percent. If you spend $6,000 on a European vacation using a card that charges a foreign transaction fee, you’ll get slammed with $180 on your next statement.
All in all, you can easily see why the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express is a no-brainer if you love to travel, dream about staying in great hotels, and don’t mind saving some money!