Starwood Preferred Guest Rewards Card Review

Advertiser Disclosure

Do you have big travel plans this year? Or are you always on the road for work? Is so, and if you are a fan of the hotels like the Westin, Le Meridian or W Hotels, the American Express® (AMEX) Starwood Preferred Guest® (SPG) Rewards card or the SPG business card is a big win for your travel plans. This card pairs up with the existing SPG hotel rewards program to amplify the rewards you collect on eligible purchases. Spend on hotels and flights, accumulate 2, 3, 4, or even 5 points for each dollar, and then take your self on that trip you’ve been waiting for.

Starwood Preferred Guest Rewards Card

Starpoints® Rewards

For every $1 spent on eligible purchases, you earn 2 Starpoints. These points can total to 4 or 5 Starpoints for that same $1 you spend because you receive Starpoints from both the AMEX SPG Card and from the SPG Membership card.

You can use the points to stay at any of the 1,300 participating hotels in over 100 countries. And there are no black-out dates. Instead of blocking off limited rooms for rewards guests, Starwood has a simple policy for booking: if a suite is available and you have the Starpoints, it’s yours. The hotels are ranked by category with the higher ranking hotels requiring more points, obviously. However, for the still very nice category-one Sheraton or FourPoints hotels, you can stay for only 2000 Starpoints on weekends or 3,000 on weekdays. If you’re using your card to book hotels, it won’t take long before you’ll be booking a night or two for free. You can also use the SPG online airline ticket reservation system to book a flight with over 150 airlines. If you transfer 20,000 Starpoints to a participating frequent flyer program like Delta SkyMiles®, you’ll actually get 5,000 bonus points. It’s nice to have a benefit in transferring for once!

Eligible purchases range from hotel night stays at the Starwood or partner hotels (like Caeser’s Palace or Planet Hollywood) or food and beverages purchased at Starwood hotels. Starpoints can be earned when purchasing flights on Delta or Air Emirates as SPG Rewards can be connected with the airlines’ miles systems, with additional perks available for elite members. You can even earn with Uber! Take Uber for hopping around the city during your stay and you’ll earn Starpoints, too!

The double Starpoints eligible purchases are generally travel-related, however, any purchase will earn you 1 Starpoint for $1 spent. These additional points can rack up and help earn your way to more free night stays.

 

Starwood Preferred Guest Rewards

 

One Card Leads to Another

In order to reap the benefits of potentially 5 Starpoints on eligible purchases, you have to be a member of the Starwood Preferred Guest Rewards Program. Conveniently, membership is free, though the level of benefits of Starpoints eligibility per dollar spent is tiered. The Preferred (a.k.a. basic) level is 1 Starpoint for $3 spent. If you have 10 Eligible Stays or 25 Eligible Nights in a calendar year, you’ll become a Gold level member, earning 1 for every $2 spent. If you can’t quite make that level of stays, there’s another benefit of the AMEX SPG Rewards Card in that each year you’ll receive credit for five nights and two stays towards an SPG Elite status. Those bonus stays could put you over the top to your Gold level and extra Starpoints. If you’re a particularly big spender, $30,000 in eligible spending will also up your elite status to the Gold level. There’s also a Platinum level, but the points per dollar are the same as Gold, so although it sounds flashy and has other hotel perks, in looking at pure Starpoints rewards, who cares?

 

A Warm Rewards Welcome

To entice you to sign up, AMEX is providing a welcome offer of 25,000 Starpoints if you spend $3000 on the card within the first three months. The purchases can be made on the main card, or on an additional card if you have one, and purchases from both cards count towards the total.

This welcome offer can translate into a great trip fairly easily. The Welcome rewards can translate into six free nights at a category 2 hotel, such as certain Westin or Sheraton hotels. If you’re feeling indulgent, you can put all your points towards a one night stay at a top category hotel at one of the premier global destinations. If you’re looking at using the points for air travel, the 25,000 Starpoints can pay for a flight ranging from $280 to $345, which could take you on a nice domestic adventure.

The Fine Print

For the first year, the annual fee of $95 is waived. This first year provides a nice trial period to see if the card is a good fit for your travel and rewards lifestyle. You may discover that your travel plans don’t quite match the hotels or airlines offered (unlikely given the global coverage, but anything’s possible!). On the other hand, the Starpoints could add up very quickly with the combination of the AMEX SPG Rewards card and the SPG Membership card, and the year two annual fee could be paid off in one trip.

The annual percentage rates (APR) are fairly reasonable for this credit card. They range from 15.49% to 19.49% depending on your creditworthiness. This card allows a balance to be carried unlike other AMEX cards, and though it is not recommended, a balance without late payments will only accumulate the interest charges and no additional fees.

During international travel, there are no foreign fees charged to the card for use abroad. This perk seems only appropriate given that this card is intended to take you globetrotting. While planning your travel, keep in mind that point transfer to other airlines, or your welcome bonus rewards can take a while to arrive. The transfer can take up to 12 weeks, so be sure to give yourself lots of leeway before booking.

Extra Benefits

As the SPG Rewards card is an AMEX card, it comes along with a number of additional benefits. For insurance, the card comes with a baggage insurance plan, a travel accident plan, as well as extended warranties for purchases. If you’re on the road and something goes awry, there’s the convenient roadside assistance hotline to connect you to a repair truck and help you on your way. If things really go wayside and your rental is damaged or stolen, AMEX provides auto rental insurance. Though all the insurances have their limitations, it’s a reassuring set of tools to literally have in your back pocket in case your travels don’t go according to plan.

Conclusion

The AMEX SPG Rewards Card is a great rewards card for the avid traveler who loves Starwood Hotels. If you enjoy the high-end comfort of these hotels (and who doesn’t?), and spend quite a few nights on the road, the Starpoints will rack up quickly with the combined point system and you’ll be enjoying the benefits. If you don’t stay at Starwood Hotels, this card holds some perks in the airline bookings, but there’s likely a better for a rewards credit card out there. For the Starwood lovers, this rewards card is a great deal.