Review: American Express Starwood

Introducing the American Express Starwood Perferred Guest card. Considered to be one of the most rewarding and flexible travel card by the frequent flyers.

amexspgStarwood is one of the largest hotel companies in the world, owning 9 brands across the world, such as Westin, Sheraton, W, St. Regis, Le Meridien… etc. As a registered member, you earn 2-4 star points per USD spent at any of the 9 brands. Now with this card, you can earn star points from your everyday purchases. Why do you want these points? They are worth about 3-4 cents each depending on how you use them, and you get 1 point per dollar spent on this card, essentially yielding a 3-4% return.

Let’s look at what this card offers:

  • 1 SPG point for every dollar spent
  • 20,000 welcome bonus after $500 spending in 3 months
  • Upgrade to SPG Gold member after $30,000 annual spending
  • Free weekend night when you reach $40,000 annual spending
  • $120 annual fee

A solid return from the card isn’t the only reason that makes this card a top tier; flexibility is another strength that lies within the SPG program. Aside from the obvious choice to redeem free nights with SPG points, you can also transfer them to many frequent flier programs. Below is a list of partners and their transfer rate (data from SPG website):

FREQUENT FLYER PROGRAM EXCHANGE RATIO (STARPOINTS:MILES)
Aeromexico Club Premier 1:1
Aeroplan/Air Canada 1:1
Air Berlin 1:1
Air China Companion 1:1
Air New Zealand & Air Points 65:1
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan 1:1
Alitalia MileMiglia 1:1
All Nippon Airways (ANA) Mileage Club 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 Sky Pearl Club 1:1
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 Bank 1:1
LAN Airlines LANPASS Kms 1:1:5
Miles and More 1:1
Qatar Airways 1:1
Saudi Arabian Airlines 1:1
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer 1:1
Thai Airways International Royal Orchid Plus 1:1
US Airways Dividend Miles 1:1
United Mileage Plus 2:1
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club 1:1
Virgin Australia 1:1

In addition, there will be a 5000 bonus points for each 20,000 SPG points you transfer out. Which effectively makes the transfer rate for most of these airline programs to 1:1.25.

One thing to note though, unlike most American Express cards, this one is not a charge card, rather, it comes with a credit limit like other credit cards. So be careful and watch your limits when you are on a spending spree.

What I like about this card:

  • Solid reward program
  • Generous signup bonus, which I consider to be worth about $600 or more
  • Flexibility of the SPG program
  • Immune to devaluation of a frequent flier program (you have 30 to choose from)
  • 5000 bonus for every 20,000 points you transfer out
  • SPG Gold status after $30,000 annual purchases

What I don’t like about this card:

  • $120 annual fee
  • Point transfers are not instant
  • No bonus for specific merchant categories (e.g. gas, groceries, travel), you don’t even get bonus points for SPG hotels

In summary, this is an excellent card for those who travels a lot and can make good use of the SPG points. Personally I only redeem SPG points when I get over 3 cents per point. Though if your annual spending is less than $20,000 annually and do not travel a lot, I would recommend looking at a different card.

Link to apply the card HERE.

Note: The application links on this page are referral links, and I receive referral bonus through successful applications. To enhance the experience for my readers, I will never place any ads on my blog, referral bonus is the only source that helps me maintain this blog. If you believe the information on my site has helped you, I would really appreciate your support by going through this link. 🙂

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