The Starwood Preferred Guest® from American Express has one of the most profitable reward offers on purchases. Although the card has few limitations as it’s a co-branded card, we identify it as one of best hotel cards with the most lucrative rewards.
- Relatively low 16.24% - 20.24% variable APR;
- Cost-efficient rewards offer for hotel stays;
- No foreign transaction fee;
- Opportunity to move towards elite Starwood Preferred Guest® (SPG) status;
- List of benefits at SPG brand hotels, such as free in-room Wi-Fi.
- Best rewards available only if you stay at Starwood brand hotels (Sheraton, Westin, Four Points, etc.);
- $95 annual fee waived for the first year.
How to use this card
Earn 25,000 reward points as a sign-up bonus after you spend $3,000 on this card in 3 months.
With American Express Starwood Preferred Guest® credit card you earn up to 5 reward points (called Starpoints®) for each $1 spent on eligible purchases at Starwood brand hotels, 2 Starpoints® at Marriott hotels, and 1 Starpoint® on all other eligible purchases. Eligible purchases include goods and services minus returns and other kind of credits.
You can redeem your Starpoints® on a wide range of options (gift cards, entertainment, charity, etc.), but one of the best options to redeem Starpoints® is on free hotel stays at Starwood brand hotels. When redeemed for hotel stays, Starpoints® will be worth of around 2 cents per point. This is much better option compared to redemption for hotel stays provided by other credit cards. When you stay at Starwood brand hotels with this credit card, free in-room premium Internet access is guaranteed (regular customers pay $15 for in-room Internet at SPG brand hotels).
In case if you prefer to redeem your points on airfare, you can do that via SPG Flights portal, or transfer them to one of 30 airline partners. Each time you transfer 20,000 Starpoints® to airline partners, you earn additional 5,000 Starpoints® as a bonus.
With American Express Starwood Preferred Guest® credit card you can move towards Gold or Platinum status of Starwood Preferred Guest® loyalty program. To earn Gold Preferred Guest status, stay at SPG brand hotels 10 eligible times or for 25 eligible nights. Gold status also will be granted if you spend at least $30,000 on American Express Starwood Preferred Guest® credit card per year. You earn Platinum Preferred Guest status with 25 eligible stays or 50 eligible nights.
With Gold status you get an additional Starpoint® for eligible purchases. In addition, you will be granted the possibility to make late checkouts, as well as with welcome gifts during your stays at SPG brand hotels, and free Wi-Fi access. With Platinum status you get all benefits of the Gold status member, as well as free access to the club and executive levels at the hotel and free access to the health club.
How much it costs
$95 annual fee is waived for the first year. A variable APR 16.24% - 20.24% will be applied based on your creditworthiness. 29.99% penalty APR to new transactions on your account might be applied (for at least 6 months) if you make any payment late or your payment is returned. Also up to $38 fee might be charged for late or returned payments.
The bottom lineThe Starwood Preferred Guest® from American Express is a top priority for anyone who often stays at SPG brand hotels while travelling. In our opinion, this credit card has one of the most attractive reward offers for hotel stays among other travel cards, and also grants you with list of nice complimentary services. The path towards elite SPG status will be quite short if you stay often at SPG hotels.
However, this card has few shortcomings. First, with American Express Starwood Preferred Guest® you can’t transfer your Starpoints® to Southwest or United Airlines, which is a pity for travelers who often fly with these airlines. Second, although the list of SPG brand hotels is quite long (11 brands), this card is virtually useless for frequent travelers who prefer hotel stays at other hotel brands.