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If you’re a credit card user who always pays your balance off in full each month, you should definitely be using a rewards credit card to earn some additional perks for your good spending habits. But with so many options out there, how do you pick one? Well, if you love to travel and if you’re truly looking to receive the most value from your credit card rewards, then you should definitely consider the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express.
On the surface, this credit card appears to be just another hotel-branded rewards card, which may lead consumers to write it off if they don’t frequent Starwood Hotels. However, taking a closer look will reveal that there is much more to this generous piece of plastic than an occasional free hotel stay. Here’s what you need to know about the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express:
- 25,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
- 2 Starpoints® for each dollar of eligible purchases spent on the Card at participating SPG® & Marriott Rewards® hotels. 1 Starpoint for all other purchases.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees
- 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.
- Terms Apply
- See Rates & Fees
The Bonus Offer: 25,000 Starpoints!
Starpoints are often considered the most valuable kind of points you can accrue for free travel. However, the problem with Starpoints is that they're usually pretty difficult to pile up compared to other rewards programs. Luckily, there is a great sign up bonus to help you kickstart your rewards earning; you get 25,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months..
When you compare this card to another hotel cards like the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card* which offers 60,000 Bonus points after new cardholders spend $1,000 in the first 3 months, you may think that it isn’t as good because the sign up bonus seems relatively small in comparison. However, when comparing offers, it’s important to remember that quality beats quantity when it comes to credit card rewards. Let’s take a look at why this is the case:
The King of Flexibility
Any credit card rewards enthusiast will tell you that the key to winning the rewards game is to accumulate flexible rewards, and flexibility is exactly what makes the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express stand out. With this card, every dollar you spend earns you valuable Starpoints which can be redeemed in a number of ways to ensure that you get a great value on your redemption. The SPG program has over 30 airline transfer partners, including major carriers like American Airlines, British Airways, and Delta, and allows you to transfer your Starpoints directly to their respective frequent flyer programs, usually on a 1:1 basis.
On top of that, they give you a 25% bonus when you transfer at least 20,000 points to some of their best partners. This means that 20,000 Starpoints can be transferred for 25,000 American Airlines AAdvantage Miles. Because airlines are always changing the structure of their rewards programs, accruing flexible Starpoints is an excellent rewards strategy; when the time comes to redeem for your next trip, instead of being stuck with having to redeem on just one carrier, you can research which transfer partner will get you the most value for your miles and transfer to that program, potentially saving hundreds of dollars.
Free Nights and More
With the amazing value that can be gleaned from the airline transfer partners, it’s easy to forget that the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express is still technically a hotel rewards card. Redeeming your Starpoints for free nights at Starwood Hotel properties can offer a fantastic value and is certainly not something to overlook. If you choose to redeem your Starpoints for free nights, you would have access to over 1,300 hotels & resorts in nearly 100 countries worldwide with redemptions starting at only 3,000 Starpoints for a Category 1 property.
The Starwood Properties portfolio consists of nine distinct brands including St. Regis®, The Luxury Collection®, W® Hotels, Le Méridien®, Westin®, Sheraton®, Aloft®, Element? Hotels and Four Points® by Sheraton. An additional perk that makes redeeming your Starpoints for free nights even more attractive is that you receive the 5th night free if you redeem for 4 consecutive nights; the feature can increase the value of your Starpoints by 20%!
A less common, but still worthwhile way to redeem your Starpoints is through one of their SPG Moments promotions. If you value exciting experiences, you could use your Starpoints to gain VIP access to some of the biggest concerts, sporting events and other exclusive opportunities. Many of the deals available through SPG Moments are so exclusive that they aren’t even available to the public!
Is This The Best?
Picking “the best” of anything is always a tough decision because what’s best for one person might not be best for someone else. But the combination of having some of the most competitive hotel redemptions on the market and the best program for transferring points to airline partners could make this card a one stop shop for consumers looking for the most rewarding travel credit card.
In the wake of the recent merger with Marriott Hotels, it’s still unclear what the future of the SPG program will look like. But for now, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express certainly offers one of the best values on the market when it comes to travel rewards credit cards.
*Editorial Note: This content is not provided by American Express. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express. Terms and limitations apply.
*The information related to IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card has been collected by CompareCards.com and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.