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The American Express Starwood has been around for a long time and is a great all-rounder. We show you why you should get either of the personal or business card and how to make the most of it.
What do you get?
When you sign up, you get 10,000 Starwood Starpoints right away and another 15,000 Starpoints after spending $5,000 in 6 months. If this sounds high, check our guide for Manufactured Spending.
The annual fee is waived in the first year of card membership and it's a modest $65 annually after that.
Also interesting is that Starwood allows free transfers between members as long as they are registered with the same address (and for some time, to avoid circumventing this requirement).
What I would use 25,000 Starpoints for?
As we highlighted before, 25,250 Starpoints will give you a free round trip to Brazil with LANPASS (when transferred over).
This is an economy round-trip ticket and you will be restricted to flights operated by LAN only (but you may be able to use TAM in the near future too for the same price).
So you can plan an itinerary from anywhere LAN flies in the US to Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro via Lima.
As outlined in our post. as long as you stay on LAN flights only, you will be able to redeem for 48,000 LANPASS kilometers.
There are no fuel surcharges when flying LAN, so this is a fantastic redemption, given that Brazil flights are rarely on sale.
2) Find luxurious, low category hotels in the Starwood award chart
The higher categories at Starwood do NOT usually represent good value. But once every so often, you will find a a hotel in Category 1 or 2 that fits your travel plans and looks just gorgeous.
Here are some of my favorites:
Category 1 or 2,000 Starpoints per night
The Sheraton Mustika Yogyakarta Resort & Spa is a great hotel with a great pool and lounge
Four Points by Sheraton Penang
Sheraton Luxor Resort
Category 2 or 3,000 / 4,000 Starpoints per night
Sheraton Mendoza Hotel
Four Points by Sheraton Barranquilla
The Westin Zagreb
Sheraton Lima Hotel & Convention Center
Aloft Abu Dhabi
Le Méridien Angkor
Le Méridien Chiang Mai
Aloft Kuala Lumpur Sentral
This is the hotel credit card that can give you a full 15 nights of vacation (e.g. in Yogyakarta) for free after achieving the minimum spend of $5,000. During my time of stay, the Four Points in Punta Cana went for $200/night – so the card gave me a value of $3,000, which is astonishing!
Do you have that problem as well, that sometimes you are just a few thousand miles short of a redemption in another airline program? Well, Starwood leverages its airline partners with free transfers to many of them.
Since points inflation at Starwood has been modest lately, it is my preferred 'reserve currency' which I use to fill up more 'exotic' loyalty program accounts such as Emirates Skywards, Miles & More or Etihad Guest.
How can I complete the minimum spend?
Put all your regular spend on it and read our guide for 'manufactured spending'. $5,000 in 6 months should be really easy!
What if my application was denied?
Did you know that almost all my credit card applications get initially denied and almost always approved when calling the respective credit card reconsideration numbers?
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