Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card

Bankrate Staff  in  Hotel Advertising Disclosure
Annual Fee:
N/A
Purchase Intro APR:
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Regular APR:
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Terms and Restrictions Apply
Bankrate Score: 97 out of 100

Commonly used for: Excellent Credit, Hotel, No Foreign Transaction Fees, Rewards, Travel.

This card offer is currently unavailable on Bankrate. To see more cards in this category, please visit our excellent credit category page.

Editor’s note: This offer is no longer available. See our other travel credit cards here.


The merger of Marriott and Starwood Hotel rewards has gone surprisingly smoothly, despite some initial concerns from existing members. One question that was debated after the union was announced was what would happen to the chains’ respective cobranded credit cards. The credit card line-up for the hotel chains has remained mostly unchanged. The biggest news from the merge was the surprise announcement of a new card to the Starwood Preferred line-up: The Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Credit Card.

The united chains give cardholders access to over 6,500 hotels in over 120 countries. The choice is unparalleled and, put simply, the  Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury card has a ton to offer frequent travelers and heavy spenders on travel.

Review

The clue is in the name. This luxury card offers customers a lot of additional perks and benefits to elevate your standard hotel stay and travel. From now through to October 31, 2018, eligible card members can earn 100,000 points after you spend $5,000 in the first three months.

The card carries a hefty fee of $450 annually but it will be more than worth that as each year you can enjoy $300 hotel credit (good for Starwood or Marriott purchases) as well as a free annual hotel night, which can be redeemed for a stay worth up to $500.

The Luxury card offers excellent high earnings rewards, not just on Starwood and Marriott purchases, but on everyday spending too, which is uncommon. The card allows users to earn 6 points per dollar on spending at SPG and Marriott Rewards Hotels, 3 points per dollar on U.S restaurant spending and flights booked directly with the airlines, and 2 points per dollar on all other eligible spending.

For a co-branded hotel card, the points redemption is fairly flexible. Points are best used for Marriott and Starwood branded hotel bookings but they can also be transferred to a number of airline programs with most having a 3 to 1 transfer ratio. If you’re a United MileagePlus member your transferred points go a bit further because of the RewardsPlus® system, which gets you a 10% mileage bonus when you transfer your hotel points.

For frequent travelers, the card carries plenty of additional benefits that improve the overall value proposition. Complimentary access to Priority Pass™ Select membership gives the cardholder (plus up to two guests) access to over 1,200 airport lounges around the world. Our guide to Priority Pass gives further insight into how to sign up, where you can take advantage, and the perks offered through the membership. Additional benefits such as the statement credit every four years for either TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry (worth either $100 or $85) is a great bonus for those clocking plenty of airline miles. Similarly, busy travelers will appreciate the unlimited WiFi through Boingo.

Cardholders will automatically qualify for Gold Elite status giving them late checkout options, enhanced room upgrades, and 25% boost on points earned through the Marriott rewards program. In 2019, each year you will earn 15 nights towards the next level of Elite status. For Platinum – the next status level up – this takes the number of qualifying nights down from 75 to 60.

Who is the card good for?

For regular Starwood-Marriott guests, this card makes a lot of sense. The rewards system makes this card good as an everyday-use card as well as special use.

Rewards have clearly been designed with the frequent traveler in mind with excellent general travel benefits making it competitive with a lot of its peers. The airport lounge access and Global Entry and TSA Pre-Check statement credit are equal to what’s offered by some of the most premium travel cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve card.

The bottom-line is that if you stay regularly at Starwood and Marriott hotels you will get the most from this card and it’s well worth the $450 annual fee. The newly united SPG-Marriott rewards maintain the versatility of the prized SPG points, even if you have to spend a little bit more to get them.

While the rewards redemption is somewhat flexible if you’re a traveler looking for maximum flexibility you should consider alternatives like the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Advantages
  • 100,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months (until October 31, 2018).
  • 6 x points for Starwood and Marriott qualified purchases, 3x points at U.S restaurants and flights (booked directly with the airline), and 2x points on all other eligible spending.
  • 1 free night every year on the anniversary of the account opening.
  • Complimentary Gold Elite status.
  • $300 in statement credits each year for eligible purchases at SPG or Marriott Rewards hotel.
  • Priority Pass Select membership – which includes access to 1,000 airports lounges.
  • Statement credit for TSA Precheck or Global Entry.
  • No foreign transaction fees on international purchases.
  • Free unlimited Boingo WiFi.
Disadvantages
  • $450 annual fee.

Fees and APR

  • Annual fee of $450 per year.
  • APR for purchases and balance transfers 17.49% to 26.49%.
  • Balance Transfer fee – either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer.

How the card compares

Chase Sapphire Reserve®
  • Earn 50K bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • 3X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. Plus, no foreign transaction fees
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select
  • Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Credit Needed

Excellent Credit

Terms and Restrictions Apply | Rates and Fees
Regular APR

19.24% to 26.24%, based on your creditworthiness. These APRs will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate.

Annual Fee

$450; each additional card: $75 per year.

Balance Transfers Intro APR

This is a great travel card for brand-agnostic travelers. If you’re looking to earn maximum travel rewards for the most flexible redemption, this card might be better for you. This card gives you 3 points per $1 spent on all travel purchases, while car rentals, taxis, and Airbnb purchases have a 4.5% rewards rate. For those same purchases on the SPG Luxury card you would only get 2 points per dollar. Points can be redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate or transferred to a number of airline and hotel rewards programs. It really depends on where you spend the most as to what card will be better for you. The Sapphire Reserve card does currently offer a compelling 50,000-point sign-up bonus if you spend $4,000 on the card in the first 3 months, those points equal about $750 in travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate.