Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Review

Starwood is one of the premier hotel brands in the world, known for their luxurious hotels and exceptional customer service.  With the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express credit card you earn Starpoints, which you can redeem for free flights and hotels around the world.

Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Overview

SPG Amex cardholders earn 1 Starpoint for every $1 in purchases.  There is also a special welcome bonus of 10,000 Starpoints, which is enough for up to 2 free nights.

If you reach $40,000 in purchases each year, you will receive a free weekend night award.  Plus, receive an automatic upgrade to Starwood Gold Preferred Guest membership when you reach $30,000 in purchases each year.

Members can experience 9 distinct brands within the Starwood family, including St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, W Hotels, Le Méridien, Westin, Sheraton, Aloft, Element, and Four Points by Sheraton.  Plus, redeem Starpoints for free nights with no blackout dates at over 1,000 hotels and resorts in nearly 100 countries, and redeem Starpoints for flights with no blackout dates on more than 350 airlines.

The annual fee for the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express is $120, with a $50 annual charge for each supplemental card.

Other Card Benefits

The interest rate on this credit card is 19.99%.  As with most American Express cards it comes equipped with the following benefits:

  • Travel Emergency Assistance
  • $500,000 Travel Accident Insurance
  • Complimentary Car Rental Theft and Damage Insurance
  • Flight Delay Insurance
  • Baggage Delay Insurance
  • Lost or Stolen Baggage Insurance
  • Hotel/Motel Burglary Insurance

Cardholders also receive the Buyer’s Assurance Protection Planwhich automatically doubles the manufacturer’s original warranty up to one additional year when you charge the full purchase price to your Card.

SPG Rewards

It’s difficult to determine the value of a loyalty program like Starwood Preferred Guest because there are so many different factors to consider, including:

  • The category of the hotel, which is a rating that takes into account both the quality of a hotel and its location.  Categories range from 1 (lowest) to 7 (high end).
  • The time of year you travel, as point requirements fluctuate to reflect on and off-peak seasons.
  • If you are able to take advantage of special bonus offers and incentives.

But the SPG American Express has long been considered the most lucrative of all the hotel rewards credit cards on the market, even after a revamp of their program a few years ago.

Based on the average redemption for hotel rewards and flights, Starpoints are worth approximately $0.0215 (or 2.15%).  And with a 1:1 earning ratio for every dollar spent, that means if you spend $30,000 a year with your Starwood Preferred Guest American Express credit card you will earn a whopping $645 in SPG rewards.  Not only that, but the 10,000 Starpoint welcome bonus will give you an additional $215 in rewards.

Final Thoughts

The SPG Amex offers tremendous value for cardholders who love to travel.  When you consider that basic no-fee retail rewards credit cards like the PC MasterCard offers 1.00% rebates, the 2.15% rebate offered by SPG Amex looks pretty attractive.  Even with the $120 annual fee, you would only need to spend just under $1,000 per month to come out ahead.

Of course, there are two other factors to consider.  One, American Express is not widely accepted in Canada, so you will need to have a back-up credit card and won’t be able to take full advantage of maximizing your reward credit cards.  And two, you have to determine whether or not travel rewards is more beneficial than receiving cash back or retail rewards like free gas and groceries.

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