Table of Contents
- 1 American Express Starwood cards – what are the offers?
- 2 American Express Starwood cards – How valuable are the benefits?
- 3 American Express Starwood cards – Redeeming points with the personal card…
- 4 What are the Starwood Airline Transfer Partners?
- 5 What are the best uses of the American Express Starwood Starpoints?
- 6 How to apply…
- 7 How can I complete the minimum spend?
- 8 What if my application was denied?
American Express Starwood cards – what are the offers?
The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express is offering 25,000 bonus Starpoints when you use your card to spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months and the Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express now offers 2 free nights at participating SPG Category 1-5 hotels & resorts worldwide with a spend of $5,000 in 3 months.
With either card, you also get:
- No foreign transaction fees on international purchases
- Free in-room, premium internet access (when rooms are booked through spg.com)
- Complimentary, unlimited Boingo WiFi at more than 1,000,000 Boingo hotspots worldwide
- $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95
- Credit for 2 stays and 5 nights towards your Starwood Preferred Guest elite status
Plus with the business card you have access to the Sheraton® Club Lounge and personal cardmembers get SPG Gold Status after $30,000 in spend.
American Express Starwood cards – How valuable are the benefits?
No foreign transaction fees are a huge deal for a travel card that used to charge you foreign transaction fees for years (I first had this card in 2007!)
Boingo WiFi can be a great tool, especially in Asia and Europe where many hotspots allow you to use them without any extra fees. I have made use of this benefit at dozens of locations myself.
I’m not sure if SPG Gold Status is worth achieving anymore since only the late check-out benefit is really of interest to me.
However, the complimentary access to Sheraton lounges is a great benefit (although only the business card offers this). All that is required is a booking that comes through the Starwood channels (not Expedia) and can be revenue or award (or Cash & Points). Some lounges like the Sheraton Frankfurt Airport can be outstanding!
American Express Starwood cards – Redeeming points with the personal card…
Not too long ago I used Starpoints mostly for hotel stays. Many Starwood hotels at Category 1 (from 2,000 Starpoints/night) and 2 (from 3,000 Starpoints/night) are still great value. Also some Starwood properties make Cash & Points rates available. I usually use Starpoints when a) I get a value of 3 cents per Starpoint or better and b) there is no other comparable property in the vicinity.
Don’t forget that Starwood has a 1:1 miles transfers to airlines and adds 5,000 miles as a bonus. When you transfer in blocks of 20,000 Starpoints, you will receive 25,000 miles.
The biggest drawback is that transfers are not instant and can take 10-14 days. While some airlines let you put awards on hold (e.g. American is really good at that) most do not. So check availability first (ideally try to find a pattern of availability) and have alternative dates should the availability change between transfer and booking.
What are the Starwood Airline Transfer Partners?
These are the Starwood Transfer Partners (as of September 1st 2016):
– Aegean Airlines 1:1
– Aeromexico Club Premier 1:1
– Aeroplan/Air Canada 1:1
– airberlin topbonus 1:1
– Air China Companion 1:1
– Air New Zealand Airpoints 65:1
– Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan 1:1
– Alitalia MilleMiglia 1:1
– All Nippon Airways (ANA) 1:1
– American Airlines AAdvantage 1:1
– Asia Miles 1:1
– Asiana Airlines 1:1
– British Airways Executive Club 1:1
– China Eastern Airlines 1:1
– China Southern Airlines
– Delta Air Lines SkyMiles 1:1
– Emirates Skywards 1:1
– Etihad Airways 1:1
– Flying Blue 1:1
– Gol Smiles 2:1
– Hainan Airlines 1:1
– Hawaiian Airlines 1:1
– Japan Airlines (JAL) Mileage
– Jet Airways 1:1
– Korean Air 1:1
– LAN Airlines LANPASS Kms 1:1.5
– Lufthansa Miles and More 1:1
– Qatar Airways 1:1
– Saudi Arabian Airlines Alfursan 1:1
– Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer 1:1
– Thai Airways
– United Mileage Plus 2:1
– Velocity Frequent Flyer 1:1
– Virgin Atlantic Flying Club 1:1
– Virgin America Elevate 1:1
What are the best uses of the American Express Starwood Starpoints?
You can add your 25,000 points bounty from applying for the personal card to points that you earn with your spend to get some great deals.
Lufthansa Miles & More award to Central Asia from Hawaii
This is an awesome sweet spot since you get to see one of the most interesting places in the world and fly a great product for just a bit more than the personal card sign-up bonus.
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Award to Africa
Alaska Airlines (still) offers flights with Cathay Pacific to Asia for just 50,000 miles one-way in business class. I have taken Cathay Pacific Business Class to Hong Kong (and onwards) many times and it’s a great product!
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan also offers a free stopover in Hong Kong and charges no fees for changes and cancellations for an award up to 60 days before the flight! You can go anywhere in Asia that Cathay Pacific flies – for instance Cebu, Surabaya, Jakarta, Bangkok and many more destinations.
American Airlines AAdvantage to Africa
This is a great opportunity to try out the new Qatar Airlines Business Class to one of Africa’s highlights.
Qatar flies to Johannesburg, Cape Town, Windhoek (starting later in 2016), Addis Abeba, Zanzibar and many more destinations across the continent. Try to stay on the newly configured Boeing 787 or Airbus 350 for the best business class product.
You will need 75,000 miles for the redemption.
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer award US to Asia
Singapore Airlines First Class is still the standard any first class product needs to stand up to. Singapore Airlines flies from Los Angeles to Japan on the A380 (Suites) and the 777 from San Francisco to Hong Kong and Seoul.
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles can be had from several sources (incl. Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards) so it is not my first choice with Starpoints. The exact rates for the flights are different for online and offline bookings – just go to KrisFlyer and look up availability first.
How to apply…
Over the last two years, American Express made restrictions to who likely gets a sign-up bonus. If you had this card before you will most likely not get the sign-up bonus again. Exceptions apply if you have significant business with American Express (>$10,000 in charges every month on your AMEX cards).
How can I complete the minimum spend?
Put all your regular spend on it and read our guide to manufactured spending. $3,000 in 3 months should be really easy, as should $5,000 in 3 months for business cardholders!
What if my application was denied?
Did you know that almost all my credit card applications get initially denied and eventually approved when calling the right reconsideration numbers?
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About the author: Torsten is a serial entrepreneur who started almost a dozen ventures on four continents. Torsten's love for travel has brought him to 130+ countries and travel with most of the world's airlines. You can reach Torsten at [email protected]
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