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If you’re a frequent guest at Starwood hotels looking for enhanced rewards, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express is a great way to maximize the value of your hotel stays. This review will cover some of the perks of the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card (or SPG), as well as explain when a different card may be a better fit.
- Up to five Starpoints® per dollar spent with Starwood (cardholders receive four Starpoints® until they have reached Starwood Preferred Guest® Elite status, after which they receive five Starpoints per dollar)
- 25,000 bonus Starpoints® for new cardholders who spend at least $3,000 within three months of account opening
- No annual fee for the first year; $95 in following years
- Credit for 5 nights and 2 stays per year that counts towards achieving SPG Elite status, which requires a minimum of 20 nights or 10 stays per year
At a glance
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
- Earn 25,000 Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
- Earn 2 Starpoints® for each dollar of eligible purchases spent at participating SPG® & Marriott Rewards® hotels. Earn 1 Starpoint for all other purchases.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees on International purchases.
- Redeem Starpoints® at over 1,300 participating hotels and resorts in over 100 countries and for flights on more than 150 airlines with SPG flights, all with no blackout dates.
- $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
- Planning a road trip? Rent your car, fill up your tank, book your hotel, and pay for it with your American Express® Card.
- Terms Apply.
1 Point Per Dollar
(Waived first year)
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express deep dive
The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express is a popular hotel card for those who frequently stay at Starwood properties, and also offers the option to redeem points for air travel, stays with non-Starwood hotels, charity donations, and more.
Get it: If you’re a regular guest of Starwood properties looking to be rewarded for your frequent stays
The best use of Starpoints is toward free stays at Starwood hotels, so this card makes the most sense if you already do, or are planning to spend a lot of time at Starwood properties. This includes 11 distinct brands, including St. Regis, W Hotels, and more. Further, the card gives you credit toward SPG Elite status, so it’s a good accelerator if you’re already a Starwood Preferred Guest® looking to achieve elite status more quickly.
Some of the benefits of the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express include:
- 25,000 bonus Starpoints®: When you spend at least $3,000 on your SPG card within three months of when your card is approved, you’ll earn 25,000 Starpoints, redeemable for free nights at Starwood hotels, as well as for other purchases such as flights and car rentals
- A year with no fee: The SPG card comes with an annual fee of $95, but it’s waived for year one, giving you the chance to try it on for size before having to pay up
- Points galore for qualified purchases: Figuring out the points earned when using this card is a little complicated to explain because some of your Starpoints® are awarded by American Express, and others come from Starwood. Specifically, American Express offers two Starpoints® per dollar spent with Starwood, and Starwood awards two or three points per dollar depending on whether you’ve reached Starwood Preferred Guest® Elite status. Non-Starwood purchases are awarded one point per dollar, with the exception of card fees, cash advances, and other cash equivalents, which do not earn points
- Get a jumpstart on elite status: Starwood Preferred Guest® cardholders receive credit for 5 nights and 2 stays per year that count toward obtaining SPG Elite status. SPG Gold status is achieved with either 10 stays or 25 nights per year, and Platinum status requires a minimum of 25 stays or 50 nights annually
- The option to redeem for flights without blackout dates: While bonus points are only awarded for qualifying hotel purchases on this card, they can be redeemed for free flights on over 150 airlines. Most points transfer on a one-to-one basis with frequent flier programs through SPG Flights, and you can receive 5,000 bonus Starpoints per 20,000 points transferred to an airline frequent flier program.
Keep in mind that these benefits do come with Terms and Restrictions, so give them a read before you start using your new SPG card.
Skip it: If you’re not up for an annual fee, and you don’t frequent Starwood hotels, or would like to earn bonus points for a wider variety of purchases
While it is possible to redeem Starpoints with non-Starwood hotels and for a number of other awards, these points are most valuable when redeemed for stays at Starwood properties. Further, bonus points are only awarded for purchases with Starwood.
Accordingly, brand-agnostic hotel-goers might be better served by a travel rewards card that offer high-value redemption options for a wider variety of awards, as well as bonus points for purchases with a larger number of merchants.
Consider these drawbacks of the Starwood Preferred Guest® card:
- A fee you can’t fight: The SPG card from AmEx does come with an annual fee of $95, which is waived for the first year
- Comparatively few hotel properties for best-value point redemption: The best use of your Starpoints (when it comes to hotel bookings) is for booking free nights at Starwood properties, which include 11 different brands, but only about 1,300 properties to choose from. These points can be transferred to any of Marriott’s more than 4,000 properties at a rate of 1 Starpoint for 3 Marriott Rewards points, but you’ll be losing some value in the transfer
- Premium treatment reserved for frequent Starwood guests: While this card will accelerate your path towards Starwood Preferred Guest® Elite status, you’ll still have to stay in Starwood properties for a number of nights (at least 20 per year) before achieving it. If you’re looking for additional perks like upgrades and access to restricted areas such as Executive lounges, keep in mind that you’ll need to earn it with stays in Starwood properties—the Starwood Preferred Guest® credit card won’t automatically grant you access to these perks
The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express is a no-brainer if you’re a frequent guest of Starwood looking to boost your Starwood Preferred Guest® rewards. Conversely, it’s not ideal for travelers looking to be rewarded for stays with any hotel brands or other travel expenses. If you’re in the market for a more general travel rewards card, check out other options.