Who Is the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card From American Express Good For?
The Starwood Preferred Guest American Express credit card seems to have two big drawbacks right off the bat: namely, the low sign-up bonus and the very high credit score required. These are actually indicators of the audience the card is intended for: people who spend several thousand dollars per month on their credit cards and appreciate a card with luxury perks.
If you feel like that doesn’t apply to you, don’t rule it out yet. With a low annual fee and high value points, the SPG American Express can be a crucial cog in any well-oiled award-earning machinery because of its numerous transfer partners and benefits.
With almost all airline transfer partners, you’ll get a 25 percent bump on miles transferred in 20,000-point increments. Periodic transfer bonuses (typically with just one airline at a time, though there is nearly always one going on) give you an extra 25-50 percent bonus miles.
$95 after the first year
15.49% – 19.49%, based on credit history
Very high, 750+
The SPG credit card from American Express typically carries a 25,000-mile sign-up bonus, which rises to 30,000 during promotion periods, which run once or twice per year for around one month. You have to spend $3,000 within the first three months to get the bonus.
Though the maximum bonus seems low compared to other cards, the high value of the points (typically valued above 2 cents per point) makes it comparable to the 50,000 maximum bonus for many other high-value transfer point cards.
- Up to 5 Starpoints per dollar on Starwood purchases
- 1 Starpoint per dollar on everything else
The bonus points awarded for Starwood stays are significantly higher than the bonus for many other cobranded cards, with five Starpoints awarded per dollar spent at Starwood hotels. On the flip side, all other purchase categories only earn one Starpoint per dollar.
What Do Your Points Get You?
Starpoints have two primary uses: hotel nights and flights. Many hotel loyalty programs serve the primary purpose of rewarding stays at their hotel chains and offering perks at their hotel chains.
However, Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints, which are only available through this credit card or by staying at Starwood hotels, are some of the most powerful transfer points for accumulating airline miles. When transferring Starpoints to nearly every one of SPF’s 30 airline partners in every major airline alliance, SPG American Express cardholders nearly always receive 25 percent bonus miles on the transfer.
In addition to airline transfers, Starpoints can be used to book rooms at nine Starwood hotel chains:
- St. Regis
- The Luxury Collection
- W Hotels
- Le Meridien
- Four Seasons
Cardholders can book these rooms at significantly lower redemption rates than with most cobranded hotel cards. They also have options to redeem fewer Starpoints with advantageous cash + points and flights + nights redemption rates.
- 25 percent bonus miles on many airline transfers
- Flights + nights option saves you 15,000-20,000 points when you redeem points for five hotel nights and 50,000 airline miles at once
- 79,999 points may be transferred at once
- Transfers to LAN result in 1.5 miles per Starpoint transferred (before the 25 percent bonus)
- Points take a long time to transfer (up to two weeks for some partners)
- Only one airline transfer per member per airline program is permitted in one 24-hour window
- Preferred members (the base level awarded with the card) must transfer a minimum of 2,500 Starpoints per airline transfer
- Starpoints can only be transferred to frequent flyer accounts with the same name as the SPG account
- Transfers to United require two Starpoints per mile
- Transfers to Air New Zealand require 65 Starpoints per mile
How Far Do Your Points Dollars Go?
Your Starpoints have the most value when redeeming them for higher-end redemptions, whether upper cabin flights or Starwood hotels.
The value of a Starwood hotel redemption can vary widely, so it pays to shop around. Sometimes a hotel requires 10,000 points per night to book, but it may be a room that costs in the high $100s, whereas you can often find Starwood hotels for 7,000 points per night with room rates in the low $200s.
Generally, Starpoints give you a value of around 1.5 -2.3 cents per dollar on rooms and 1.3-4.3 cents per dollar on flights (with economy at the lower end and premium cabins at the upper end).
Additional Cardholder Benefits:
- Travel accident insurance
- Rental car loss and damage insurance
- Global assist hotline for concierge travel services
- Roadside assistance hotline
- Return protection up to $300 per item, up to 90 days from purchase when a merchant will not accept the return
- Purchases protected from theft or damage for 90 days from purchase
- One extra year added to manufacturers original warranties