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Starwood Preferred Guest Rewards Card Review

Starwood Preferred Guest Rewards

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.

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Top 10 Points Credit Cards for Everyday Spending Bonuses

When it comes to everyday spending bonuses, you have plenty of cards to choose from. We’ve selected the top ten credit cards for everyday spending, meaning you can get more than a 1% rewards rate on more than one “everyday spending” category, such as gas or groceries.

In this post, we’re focusing on credit cards that earn points or miles in a rewards program. Take a look and see if any of these capture your interest!

1. Citi ThankYou Cards

There are 3 different versions of this card, and each one offers some great bonuses.

The Citi ThankYou Preferred card offers a 20,000 point sign on bonus after spending $1,500 in the first three months. Earn two points for every dollar spent on dining, travel and entertainment, one point on every dollar spent in other categories. There is no annual fee for this card. There is a 12 month 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers. You can redeem your points for cash, statement credit or gift cards. There is a separate offer for the Citi ThankYou Preferred card which also has no annual fee and offers a 15-month 0% introductory APR with no annual fee, and no sign on bonus.

The Citi ThankYou Premier credit card has a 20,000 point bonus after spending $2,000 in the first three months, and an additional bonus of 30,000 points after spending another $3,000 in the first three months of the second year you have the card. Earn 3 points for every dollar spent on dining, travel and entertainment, one point on all other purchases. There is no annual fee. Redeem for cash, statement credit, travel rewards and gift cards.

The Citi ThankYou Prestige offers 30,000 ThankYou points after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months of card membership. Earn 3x points on Air Travel and Hotels, 2x points on Dining at Restaurants and Entertainment and 1 ThankYou Point per $1 spent on other purchases.

2. Barclaycard Arrival World Mastercard

Earn 20,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in the first three months. Earn two miles per dollar spent on all dining and travel purchases, one point per dollar on all other purchases. There is an introductory APR of 0% for the first 12 months that you have this card. Redeem for cash back or travel rewards; when redeeming for travel rewards you earn an additional 10% bonus on the travel purchases. There is no annual fee for this card.

Apply Now: Barclaycard ArrivalTM World MasterCard®

3. Chase Sapphire Preferred

Earn 40,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 in the first three months that you have the card. Earn an additional 5,000 points for adding another authorized user in the first three months. Earn two points for every dollar spent on dining and travel purchases, and one point for every dollar spent in other categories. Redeem for cash, travel, gift cards and more. There is no annual fee for the first year, after that the annual fee will be $95.

4. Barclaycard Rewards Mastercard

Although there is no sign on bonus for this card, you will earn two points for every dollar spent on gas, groceries, and utilities. Earn one point for every dollar spent in other categories. There is no introductory APR for this card. Redeem your points for travel, cash back, or gift cards. There is no annual fee for this card.

Apply Now:

Barclaycard® Rewards MasterCard® – Excellent Credit

Barclaycard® Rewards MasterCard® – Average Credit

5. American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card

Earn 25,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $2,000 in the first three months you have the card. Earn three points for every dollar spent on flights, two points for every dollar spent at gas stations and grocery stores, and one point for every dollar spent in other categories. There is no annual fee for the first year, after that the annual fee will be $175. Redeem your points with flexible options through many travel partners or gift cards.

6. Amex Everyday Preferred Card

Earn 15,000 points, plus a one year membership to Amazon Prime (worth $99 per year) after spending $1,000 in the first three months that you have the card. Earn a 50% bonus on all points when you make at least 30 purchases per month using the card. Earn three points for every dollar spent at grocery stores, up to $6,000 annually. Earn two points for every dollar spent at gas stations. Earn one point for every dollar spent on all other purchases. There is an introductory APR of 0% for the first 15 months. Use your Membership Rewards to pay for flights and hotel stays. The annual fee for this card is $95.

7. Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card

Earn 40,000 bonus sign on points after spending $1,000 in the first three months you have the card. Earn six points for every dollar spent at Hilton hotels. Earn three HHonors points for every dollar spent at grocery stores, gas stations and drug stores. Earn two HHonors points for every dollar spent on all other categories. There is no annual fee for this card. Redeem your HHonors points for hotel stays at participating Hilton group hotels and other travel.

8. Playstation Card from Capital One

Earn 5,000 bonus points after you make your first purchase in the first 90 days that you have the card. Earn 10 points for every dollar spent on Playstation Store purchases. Earn three points for every dollar spent on Playstation purchases at Sony Stores. Earn three points for every dollar spent on quick serve restaurants, movie theaters and mobile phone service. Earn one point for every dollar spent in other categories. There is a 0% introductory rate until September 2015 on purchases and balance transfers. Redeem your points for Sony products, movies, music and more. There is no annual fee for this card.

9. USAA Rewards Amex

Earn two points for every dollar spent on gas station and grocery store purchases. Earn a 2,500 point bonus after making your first purchase within the first three months you have the card. Redeem your points for cash, gift cards, travel and more. There is no annual fee for this card.

Apply Now: USAA Rewards™ American Express®

10. PayPal Mastercard and eBay Mastercard

Earn three points for every dollar spent at gas stations and restaurants. Earn two points for all PayPal and eBay transactions. Earn one point for every dollar spent in other categories. There is no annual fee for this card.

Each of these cards has something special to offer when it comes to earning rewards for your every day spending. Any time you can earn more than one point for every dollar you spend, it is worth taking a look at the options!

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Bank of America Introduces Preferred Rewards Program

Bank of America checking account customers have a new offer to consider for a great credit card. The Bank of America Preferred Rewards Program has some unique offerings for their best customers, including great credit card benefits with added investment opportunities. Let’s take a look!

Best Customers Get the Best Deals!

For Bank of America customers, there are three tiers to the Preferred Rewards program. The first tier, the Gold Tier, is for customers who have a balance of $20K-50K in combined balances on all accounts for a period of three months. These customers will earn 5% boost on their interest rate on their Money Market accounts, which can add up for large balances. In essence, if the regular interest rate is 1%, the 5% boost will bring that rate up to 1.05%. In addition, Gold Tier customers will enjoy a 25% rewards bonus on their Bank of America credit cards.

Customers with balances between $50K-100K, combined in all Bank of America accounts, will qualify for the Platinum Tier. These customers will earn a 10% interest boost, bringing a 1% interest rate up to a 1.1% interest rate. Additionally, Platinum Tier members will earn a 50% rewards bonus on their credit cards with Bank of America.

The highest tier, Platinum Honors, is reserved for those customers with a combined balance of over $100K in their accounts over the course of three months. Platinum Honors members will earn a 20% interest boost, raising that same 1% interest rate to 1.2%. The credit card rewards are high, at a 75% bonus rate.

ATM Withdrawals

Platinum and Platinum Honors members will enjoy being able to withdraw from any non-Bank of America ATM throughout the year. There is a 12 withdrawal limit for the Platinum Tier, but the Platinum Honors members will have no limit for their non-Bank of America ATM use.

Online Investment Benefits

Members with large balances are often looking to diversify their financial portfolios, and Bank of America offers an option for using the Merrill Edge program. Platinum and Platinum Honors members will be entitled to make online trades for their investment accounts, with no fees.  The Platinum level includes 30 trades per month, while the Platinum Honors level has up to 100 trades per month with $0 charge.

Mortgage Benefits

Preferred Rewards program members will receive benefits when using Bank of America for their mortgage needs. Gold Tier members will receive a $200 relationship credit at the time of closing. The benefits hop up to $400 and $600, respectively, for the Platinum and Platinum Honors levels.

Home Equity Discounts

Preferred Rewards Program members will also receive discounts on home equity loans and lines of credit. Gold level members receive a discount of 0.125%, Platinum members get a discount of 0.250% and Platinum Honors members will reap the biggest benefits, at 0.375%. These discounts are considerable, when you take into account that mortgage and home equity rates are at very low rates already!

Great Bank of America Benefits

Preferred Rewards Program members will not pay any checking or savings account fees for many common services, including checks, cashier’s checks and stop payment orders. Top notch customer service, as always, is a priority for Bank of America, and the Preferred Rewards program customers will be able to access dedicated customer service representatives easily to handle any issues or questions.

 

Credit Card Eligibility

From the Bank of America website: “Most Bank of America® branded consumer credit cards (such as theBankAmericard Cash Rewards™ credit card and the BankAmericard Travel Rewards® credit card) are eligible to receive the Preferred Rewards bonus as long as the card account is open and in good standing.  The Preferred Rewards bonus will replace the customer bonus you may already receive with the card.

Cards not eligible for the rewards bonus:

  • Non-rewards credit cards
  • Business purpose credit cards
  • BankAmericard Privileges® (except Cash Rewards customers in the Platinum Honors tier)
  • Bank of America Accolades®
  • BankAmericard® Better Balance Rewards™
  • Merrill Lynch branded (including Merrill Accolades®, MERRILL+®, Total Merrill® Cash Back, Total Merrill Match® and Merrill Lynch®Octave™)
  • U.S. Trust branded (including Bank of America Accolades and U.S. Trust® Octave™)
  • AAA Dollars® Visa credit card
  • AAA® Gas Rebate
  • Alaska Airlines®
  • Amway™
  • Asiana Airlines®
  • Azamara Club Cruises®
  • Bass Pro Shops®
  • Celebrity Cruises®
  • Elite Rewards®
  • MelaleucaSM
  • Royal Caribbean International®
  • Spirit Airlines®
  • US Airways®
  • Virgin Atlantic Airways®

This list is subject to change without prior notice.”

 

Conclusion

For those Bank of America customers with larger balances, the Preferred Rewards Program is a great way to earn a little bit more and pay a little bit less when managing their financial portfolio. Bank of America is offering their customers a way to streamline their financial needs, by combining checking and savings benefits, investment perks, free services and great credit card rewards, all in one place!

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Get 60,000 Points with Citi Hilton HHonors Card

Another sign-up bonus boost?  Say it is so!  Usually, a successful application to the Citi Hilton HHonors nets you 50,000 Hilton HHonors points after meeting the spend requirements, but not so today!  Now, you’ll earn 60,000 Hilton HHonors points at sign-up.  What else is available on the card?  Let’s check out the benefits below!

 

The Benefits

Sign-Up Bonus

For this card, you’ll receive 60,000 HHonors Bonus points after spending $1,000 in four months.  That means you’ll be able to spend those for a free night at a pretty decent Hilton property (you can always check out this site for what a specific Hilton hotel will cost you).

Bonus Points

You will have plenty of opportunities to earn bonus points when using the Citi Hilton Visa Signature Card.  When you spend money at a Hilton property, you’ll earn six points for every dollar spent (that includes room rate and on-property spending, so spend away at that mini-bar!).  Furthermore, every dollar spent at supermarkets, drugstores, and gas stations will earn 3 bonus points.  This point value for these categories are found on other cards, but it’s great to see here as well.  Every other dollar spent will earn two points per dollar.

Status

You’ll receive Silver status automatically by owning this credit card (the fee-based Citi Hilton Reserve card gets you Gold status automatically).  Benefits include a 15% bonus on base points when staying at a Hilton and complimentary health club access.

Plus, if you stay four times at a Hilton in the first four months of card membership, you’ll be placed with Gold status, which gets you room upgrades, free breakfast, and more bonus points.  I’d recommend doing this, as the free breakfast and room upgrades I’ve received as a gold member at Hilton are outstanding!

Annual Fee

Another great benefit of this card over other Hilton cards is the fact that it does not have an annual fee, making cost of card membership free if you pay your bills on time and in full!

 

The Nitty Gritty

This card’s APR is 14.24%, and balance transfers of 14.24% APR as well.  Cash advances carry a stiff 25.24% fee, and a penalty APR of 29.99% applies if you make a late payment or have a returned payment.

Transaction fees are stiff as well, with foreign transaction fees racking up 3% of every purchase, balance transfers at 3% or $5, whichever is greater, and cash advances at $10 or 5%, whichever is greater.  Penalty late fees are up to $35.

 

Conclusion 

The new sign up bonus associated with this credit card, at 60,000 miles, makes this a no brainer for anyone in the market for a hotel branded credit card.  The no annual fee and low spend requirement makes it a great deal!  Also, free silver status with Hilton ain’t so bad either.

I would take advantage of the Gold status, 4-stay offer, since the benefits of this mid-level status are better than most other similar levels in the hotel space.  The breakfasts that I’ve had with this status are absolutely amazing, and my recent ‘double upgrade’ at the Waldorf Astoria Berlin to a junior suite was a welcome, awesome surprise!  Are you applying? Let us know below!

 

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SPG Card by Amex Increases Sign-Up Bonus

Everyone loves an ‘offer boost’ for that credit card they’ve been watching.  Boy, have the past two months been full of those!  The latest to offer up a little more to ‘sweeten the points pot’ is the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card by American Express.  Usually, the sign-up bonus is 25,000 points, but now, for a limited time, it is 30,000 Starpoints, and that’s for both the personal and business credit cards!

And, as a bonus for those of you that hold the card already, you can receive 5,000 points for referring people!  Receive 5,000 points for every card approval (up to 55,000 Starpoints per year).  Let’s dig into the details below, and check out some other features of the card!

 

 

Sign-up Bonus

Starwood points are some of the most valuable out there in the points and miles world.  The transfer partners in the airline space and the great hotels that Starwood has around the world makes this so.  With this credit card now, you’ll earn 10,000 SPG points on first purchase.  After that, you’ll receive 20,000 more points for spending $5,000 in the first six months of cardmembership.  These offers are identical for the personal and the business credit cards.

 

Annual Fee 

The regular annual fee for this SPG credit card is $65, but for the first year, the fee is waived.  So, the cost of cardmembership could be $0 during the first year!

 

Earning Starpoints 

As a co-branded credit card, you’ll receive bonus Starpoints for spend at Starwood hotels.  For all purchases at Starwood’s brands, including spend charged to the room, you’ll receive two points per dollar.  All other purchases will receive one point per dollar.

 

Gold Status with Spend

One major benefit for the Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card is the ability to earn automatic Starwood Gold Status when you spend $30,000 on the card in a calendar year.  Gold status nets you upgraded rooms, late checkout at 4 p.m., and a choice of free Starpoints, wifi, or a free beverage at check-in.

You’ll also receive three points per dollar spent during your Starwood stays, instead of two.

 

Two Stay credits 

For those that can’t spend $30,000 per year on a credit card, the credit card does offer you two stays and five nights credited toward elite status.  That means, you’ll only have to have 8 stays or 20 nights to receive gold status.   And, if you have both the personal and business card versions, you’ll only have 6 stays or 15 nights to receive gold status.

 

Benefits of Starpoints 

Starpoints are particularly useful for the frequent traveler because they can be transferred to a number of airline partners across multiple alliances.  And, when you transfer in 20,000 mile increments, you’ll receive a 5,000 mile bonus in whatever program you transfer to.

 

The Nitty Gritty

APR is between 15.24% and 19.24%, with APR for cash advances at 21.24%.  Penalty APR is 27.24%.  Foreign transaction fees are 2.7%, and for cash advances, you’ll also pay a fee of $5 or 3%, whichever is greater.  If you miss a payment, you’ll also pay a $35 fee.

 

Conclusion 

The new bonus of 30,000 Starpoints at sign up is an excellent offer, and the new referrals make life a little better for loyal cardmembers.  Has this post convinced you that now is the time to apply?  Let us know below!

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Korean Air SKYPASS Visa Signature Review

US Bank may be a bank that you normally not think of as a travel credit card issuer, but, in fact, they do!  One such credit card is the Korean Air Skypass Visa Signature card.  There is a business version of this card as well, with a smaller bonus of 10,000 miles.  The sign-up bonus for the card is currently 15,000 miles after your first purchase.  Let’s dig into the details of the Korean Air Skypass Visa and see if it is worth applying for, shall we?

 

 

Sign-Up Bonus

As mentioned above, the sign-up bonus for this card is 15,000 miles.  Unlike many other cards, which require a certain spend requirement of you to receive these points, the Korean Air Skypass Visa offers you 15,000 miles after your first purchase!  These miles are very useful for a number of reasons.  For one, Korean Air is a member of SkyTeam, which means you may use these miles on a number of partners, including Delta, Air France, and KLM, and Korean Air-specific partners like Alaska Airlines.

Another great thing about the Korean Air program is that it is a Chase Sapphire transfer partner, so if you have some Ultimate Reward points hanging around, you may transfer directly into this program, free of charge.

 

Annual Fee

The annual fee for this card is a steep $80, which is steep for the sign-up bonus offered.  And, worse, it isn’t waived for the first year, so that is something to definitely think about before applying for this card.

 

Regular Spending

For spend on Korean Air, you’ll receive two miles for every dollar spent.  For every other dollar spent on the card, you’ll receive one mile per dollar.

 

Other Benefits/Things of Note

These days, it is almost expected to have no foreign transaction fees when you travel with your credit card.  Thankfully, this card does not have any of those fees, either!  You’ll also receive two Korean Air VIP Lounge passes per year, so make sure that you live or will be traveling through an airport with one of these before you jump at that benefit.  A good feature of this card as well is the chip-and-signature technology, which makes paying for things possible in places like Europe that almost exclusively utilize this technology (I should know, I’m writing from there now!).

Another novel feature is the fact that 20,000 miles of this card can be used toward elite status!  This used to be a feature on some cards, but has largely gone the way of the dinosaurs as of late.  Since this is a Visa Signature card as well, you’ll receive purchase protection, travel insurance, Visa Sginature Luxury Hotels, and special events and promotions.

And lastly, an added perk worth noting is that cardmembers enrolled in online banking can receive their monthly Experian credit score for free. It’s nice to have free access to your score on a regular basis!

 

Conclusion

What a great card!  Though the steep annual fee of $80 isn’t great, the sign up bonus is hefty and nearly instant, and the fact that 20,000 miles can be used toward elite status certainly helps!  But, what do you think?  Is the Korean Air Skypass Visa card worth the price of admission?  Let us know below in the comments if you’ve applied, and how you plan to use those points!