Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
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The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express was refreshed in anticipation of the unification of the Starwood and Marriott rewards systems. The card has long been beloved by points and miles maximizers for good reason and since the refresh it still offers cardholders a ton of value. The rewards structure is generous, and, crucially, the points are easily transferable to one of the dozens of airlines with which SPG has an alliance.
This ranks among the most well reviewed credit cards on Bankrate.
The top reasons to get a hotel-branded credit card are because you:
- Are a frequent guest at properties within that hotel’s portfolio.
- Want to earn free stays.
The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express goes further than most hotel cards, though, because of its generous redemption options. Not only can you redeem points for free hotel stays, you can use points to book airline travel, as well.
What’s more, this card boasts one of the most generous rewards rates of any travel card. After the refresh, the card’s welcome bonus was significantly beefed up. You can now earn 75,000 bonus points if you spend $3,000 within the first 3 months of opening your card.
You’ll now earn 6 points per dollar spent using this card on eligible purchases at participating Starwood and Marriott Rewards hotels. This card also earns 2 points per dollar on every other purchase. Every year on the anniversary of opening your account you receive one Free Night Award good for a hotel stay with a redemption level at or under 35,000 points at participating hotels.
This card automatically qualifies you for Silver Elite status and when paired with a free membership to the Marriott Rewards loyalty program, it can fast-track you to free nights or free flights. Although SPG fans were nervous that their highly-prized points would be worth a lot less after the merger with Marriott, the impact was not as bad as expected. Points did lose a little value in the shake-up (around one third) but 75% of hotels in the Starwood-Marriott-Ritz-Carlton umbrella could be booked for the same or fewer points as they could before. It’s also worth mentioning that your options have vastly increased as a result of the merger with plenty of hotels from the budget to luxury ends of the spectrum.
Who should get this card
Frequent travelers who like to stay with Marriott or Starwood chain hotels stand to benefit the most from owning this card. Especially business travelers who like to use a personal card for business expenses.
The card is also good for those who want hotel perks like free WiFi, and if you have Gold and Platinum status, free upgrades, late check-in, and increased points earnings for your stays.
Points-maximizers seeking a co-branded card with high hotel rewards and the ability to transfer those points to airline purchases.
Fees and APR
- There’s an annual fee of $95, waived the first year.
- Variable APR on purchases of 17.49%-26.49%.
- Pay no foreign transaction fees when making purchases outside the U.S.
Extras, perks and using points
With this card, you get free WiFi at over a million Boingo hotspots worldwide and free in-room WiFi at participating SPG and Marriott Rewards properties. You also get roadside assistance, travel accident insurance, access to a global assistance hotline, extended purchase warranty protection and mobile phone damage and theft insurance.
Points can be redeemed for free nights and upgrades at more than 2,600 resorts and hotels.
You can also redeem points for travel on more than 150 airlines with no blackout dates. The exchange rate is 1:1 on most airlines.