Review: The Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Card
Update: American Express is running a 30,000 Starpoints sign-up bonus promotion until June 30th 2014 if you use the link below. You can apply here. For many years, Starwood points have widely been considered the gold standard of travel miles and points within the industry. There's a good reason for that: SPG points are extremely flexible allowing you access to a number of options: 1. Points bookings: Fairly straightforward, you can use your SPG points to book reservations at Starwood properties. These bookings range from 2000 points a night to 35,000 points! 2. Points and Cash bookings: Starwood allows you to combine cash and points to book nights at their hotels. An added benefit is that these nights actually count towards your annual stay/nights credit and especially at the higher category tiers, tend to be a great way to get outsized value for your points. Nights range from 2000 points + $50 for the lowest categories to 15,750 points and $290. 3. Transfer to Airlines: The real reason that SPG points are so valuable is that you can also transfer them into over 25 different airlines. There are a few exceptions, but for the most part, you also get a 5000 mile bonus when you transfer 20,000 points at a time, which essentially gives you a 25% bonus. This flexibility is fantastic! 4. Nights and Flights: One of the lesser known elements of the program, this allows people with big SPG balances to use their points to book hotel + airline mile packages. Currently, it's 60,000 SPG points for five nights at any of the brand's Category 3 hotels + 50,000 airline miles with any program with which they partner. 70,000 SPG points will get you into a Category 4 hotel + 50,000 miles as well. These are fantastic redemption rates.
Having said all that, the signup bonus for the SPG card is only 10,000 points after first spend and an additional 15,000 points after $5,000 spend in six months. Still, using some of the manufactured spending techniques I've detailed here and signing up for both the personal and the business card is an easy way to get 60,000 SPG points in a hurry. That's good for 80,000 airline miles or 5 nights at a category 3 hotel plus 50,000 miles! There are some ancillary benefits to the card (2 points per $1 spent at SPG hotels, AMEX customer service) but for the most part, the main draw of this card is the 25,000 point signup bonus. The first year's annual fee of $65 is waived as well, so you really have very little to lose. Update: American Express is running a 30,000 Starpoints sign-up bonus promotion until June 30th 2014 if you use the link below. You can apply here.