Why the Starwood Preferred Guest Card is the Best Travel Credit Card
The American Express Starwood Preferred Guest card is the best travel credit card. The personal SPG card hasn’t left my wallet since I got it six years ago. I put all my purchases on it whenever I’m not working towards a sign-up bonus on another card.
Why would I want to put all my eggs in one basket? You not only earn more points on stays at Starwood hotels but more importantly you can also transfer Starpoints to almost any airline and get a 25% bonus! This gives you a lot of flexibility to use the points however you want. I recently covered the top 10 reasons why the SPG program is the best hotel loyalty program. One of the top reasons is because of the American Express product offered.
What makes the SPG card so great:
– Credit card sign-up bonus between 25k and 30k Starpoints (Good for 2-4 nights)
– 2 points per dollar on stays at Starwood hotels and 1 point for all other purchases
– Ability to transfer SPG points 1:1 to almost any airline in the world (Full list)
– Airline transfers of at least 20k Starpoints will receive a 5k mile bonus! (Essentially a 25% bonus!)
– Each card receives credit for 5 nights and 2 stays towards SPG elite status each year
– Spending $30k per year earns you automatic SPG Gold Status
Thrifty Tip #1: Always transfer Starpoints to airlines in increments of 20k to always maximize your 5k bonus! Further maximize your airline miles by redeeming Delta SkyMiles for one-way fares.
Thrifty Tip #2: Points do not transfer instantly to airlines so plan to wait a couple days to get your points. It’s worth the 5k bonus.
Thrifty Tip #3: You can transfer Starpoints to another person as long as they have the same address as you in their SPG account for 30 days.
Thrifty Tip #4: Almost anyone can sign-up for an SPG Business card, even if you only sell items on Craigslist or eBay. Check out this post for more details.
My strategy for using the two cards is to keep the SPG personal card open to help keep the average age of my credit accounts longer and also to earn the 5 nights towards platinum status.
This summer American Express announced the following new features being added to the SPG cards starting August 11, 2015:
- No Foreign Transaction Fees — Enjoy international travel without foreign transaction fees.
- Sheraton Club Access — If you have the SPG Business card, you’ll receive free access to Sheraton Clubs when you book paid stays. This is basically free continental breakfast and evening snacks. Nothing fancy but it’s a nice perk.
- Free Unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi — You’ll get complimentary, unlimited Wi-Fi access when you enroll in the Boingo American Express Preferred Plan.
- Free Premium In-Room Internet Access — Usually faster than the basic internet.
Of course with the new perks being added they are jacking up the annual fee to $95. If you travel for work and stay at Starwood hotels I would recommend keeping both cards open to maximize your point potential. If you’re just utilizing the SPG cards for the sign-up bonuses I’d open them and close them shortly after receiving the bonus. Then I’d apply for the business card again 12 months after closure. This is just one method but it seems to make the most sense since the annual fee is now rather hefty at $95.
I will be honest and say I have never transferred Starpoints to an airline because I highly value Starpoints for stays. Mrs. TT and I stay almost exclusively at Starwood hotels as they have hotels all over the world and we have SPG Platinum status. Starpoints are even more valuable when you earn elite status. Our elite status has earned us upgrades on recent stays at the Westin Paris Vendome and W Vieques. While SPG Platinum status may not be attainable for the casual traveler the two cards do get you 10 nights closer to the 50 nights required! Whether you use the points for hotel stays or flights it’s a smart use of Starpoints.
Starwood Preferred Guest By American Express
- 25k Starpoint bonus after $3,000 spend in 3 months
- No annual fee the first year, then $95
- No Foreign Transaction Fees
- Receive free in-room, premium internet access
- Free unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi on up to four devices at more than 1 million Boingo hotspots worldwide
- Provides 5 nights towards status per year
- If you transfer over 20k miles to an airline program you receive a 5k bonus (25% points bonus)
- This is my everyday spending card when I’m not working towards a spending bonus