Review of the Starwood Preferred Guest Cards from American Express

Brendan Harkness

Brendan Harkness | Reviews

Jul 19, 2016 | Updated Aug 09, 2016

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American Express offers these two very popular and rewarding travel credit cards for staying at Starwood Hotels: the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card and the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card.

The first is for typical consumers, while the second is designed for small business owners. They both offer up to 5 points per dollar at participating Starwood locations, along with a variety of benefits like hotel upgrades and discounts.

Do you love Starwood hotels and resorts? If you find yourself there often, you should consider carrying one of these cards along. Keep reading to learn more and find out if one of them is right for you.

The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

For People with
Excellent Credit

  • Annual Fee: $95 (waived the first year)
  • Interest Rate: 15.49% to 19.49% *Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • Earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on international purchases.
  • Receive free in-room, premium internet access. Booking requirements apply.
  • Enjoy complimentary, unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi on up to four devices at more than 1,000,000 Boingo hotspots worldwide. Enrollment required.
  • Earn free nights at over 1,200 hotels and resorts in nearly 100 countries with no blackout dates.
  • Some hotels may have mandatory service and resort charges.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Terms and limitations apply.

Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express

For People with
Excellent Credit

  • Annual Fee: $95 (waived the first year)
  • Interest Rate: 15.49% to 19.49% *Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 30,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your Card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Offer expires 9/14/2015.
  • New: No Foreign Transaction Fees on international purchases.
  • New: Receive free in-room, premium internet access. Booking requirements apply.
  • New: Enjoy complimentary, unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi at more than 1,000,000 Boingo hotspots worldwide. Enrollment required.
  • Earn free nights at over 1,200 hotels and resorts in nearly 100 countries with no blackout dates.
  • Some hotels and resorts have mandatory service charges.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Terms and limitations apply.

The Rewards

The rewards for both versions of the card are nearly the same.

  • Up to 5 Starpoints® per dollar on eligible purchases at participating SPG hotels and resorts
    • 2 Starpoints for the SPG credit card
    • 2 or 3 Starpoints for being an SPG member
  • 1 Starpoint per dollar on all other purchases
  • 25,000 bonus Starpoints for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months ($5,000 for the business version)
  • 5,000 bonus Starpoints for transferring 20,000 Starpoints to a participating frequent flyer program
  • Redeem Starpoints with SPG Flights at over 150 airlines, with no blackout dates
  • Transfer Starpoints to over 30 frequent flyer programs, usually at a 1:1 rate.

Starwood points are famously flexible and easy to redeem, with no blackout dates when using SPG Flights. You can check out your options on their website, including how many Starpoints you need for a particular trip and/or hotel stay.

The more you stay at SPG locations, the closer you’ll get to a higher status and better rewards. You’ll start with Preferred Guest Status, and then earn Gold and then Platinum Guest Status as you make more reservations.

The Benefits

The benefits for these cards are very similar, though the business version has a few more than the consumer card. The business card has an extra Perk and Travel benefit, along with several business-oriented features from Amex OPEN® which are designed to help you run your business more effectively.

Regular SPG members without the credit card get some good benefits, but these cards provide more – like the free WiFi, which isn’t available to SPG members without the card.

The business card includes all of the benefits here, along with the extras described below.

Starwood Preferred Guest

Perks

  • SPG Gold Status

    When you spend $30,000 or more in each year, receive Gold status for the next year.

  • Transfer Points for Flights

    Get 5,000 bonus Starpoints for transfering 20,000 miles to a frequent flyer program.

  • Annual SPG Elite Status Credits

    Get 5 nights and 2 stays towards SPG elite status each year (20 more nights to reach Gold, 45 more nights to reach Platinum)

  • Free In-room Premium Internet

    Some booking requirements apply.

  • Complimentary In-room Bottled Water

    Get free bottled water waiting for you in your room.

  • Unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi

    Up to 4 devices at more than 1,000,000 Boingo hotspots worldwide.

  • Lowest Hotel Rate Guarantee

    If you purchase reservations at a hotel on amextravel.com and find the same room being advertised for less elsewhere, you can have difference refunded to you.

  • Entertainment Access

    Discounts to card member-only events, concerts, sporting events, and shows.

  • No Blackout Dates

    On Free Night redemptions.

Account Management

  • Account Alerts

    Get alerts about account information on your phone.

  • Mobile & Tablet Banking

    Pay your credit card bill online, transfer funds, check available credit and more.

Security

  • Dispute Resolution

    Help dealing with fraudulent and unauthorized transactions.

Shopping

  • Extended Warranty

    For warranties of 5 years or less you can get up to one extra year added to the original manufacturer’s warranty; up to a maximum of $10,000, only $50,000 per year.

  • Purchase Protection

    Items purchased with your card are protected against accidental damage and theft within 90 days of the purchase.

  • Return Protection

    Provides a refund for eligible purchases if the retailer won’t take an item back.

  • Free ShopRunner Membership

    ShopRunner provides free shipping on some items. Visit their website to register.

Travel

  • Travel Accident Insurance

    Added financial security if accident or death is caused when traveling by plane, train, ship, or bus.

  • Global Assist® Hotline

    When you travel 100 miles or more from home you can get help with travel accidents such as a lost passport, the need for a lawyer, sudden illness, and more. You pay for all third-party service costs.

  • Roadside Assistance Hotline

    Assistance with services such as towing, changing a flat, or boosting a battery in case of emergency. You cover third party costs. Restrictions Apply.

  • Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance

    Stolen or damaged vehicles are covered if you use your card to pay and reserve the rental, and you decline the collision damage waiver. Not all rentals or vehicles are covered. Provides secondary coverage only, not liability coverage.

Starwood Preferred Guest Business

The business version of this card includes all of the benefits listed above, as well as the following.

Perks

  • Sheraton Club® Lounge Access

    Relax in the Sheraton club with a complimentary breakfast, snacks throughout the day, and free WiFi. Learn more here.

Travel

  • Baggage Insurance Plan

    When you buy a Common Carrier ticket, your lost, damaged, or stolen bags may be covered, up to $1,250 for carry-on bags and up to $500 for checked bags.

Amex OPEN Business Benefits

  • Account Alerts

    Get alerts about account information on your phone.

  • Account Manager

    Ability to give other a trusted employee or business partner permission to manage your account.

  • Mobile & Tablet Banking

    Pay your credit card bill online, transfer funds, check available credit and more.

  • OPEN Forum®

    Talk and learn with other business owners and industry experts.

  • Online Statements

    View your transaction history and easily prepare reports for customers and budgeting.

  • ReceiptMatch℠ with QuickBooks®

    Manage your account easily with Quickbooks.

  • Free Employee Cards

    Get additional cards for your employees and earn points when they spend.

The Costs & Fees

Card Annual Fee Regular APR Regular Balance Transfer APR Cash Advance APR Foreign Transaction Fee
Starwood Preferred Guest $95 (waived the first year) 15.49% to 19.49% *Variable 15.49% to 19.49% *Variable 25.49% *Variable None
Starwood Preferred Guest Business $95 (waived the first year) 15.49% to 19.49% *Variable Not Available 25.49% *Variable None
Card Penalty APR Late Fee Returned Payment Fee
Starwood Preferred Guest 29.49% *Variable Up to $37 Up to $37
 Starwood Preferred Guest Business 29.49% *Variable Up to $38 $38

As you can see, the terms and fees for these cards are just about the same. Their annual fees are waived for the first year, you’ll get a reasonable interest rate, and you won’t be charged for foreign transactions.

The main difference between these cards is that the consumer version offers the ability to transfer a balance, while the business card does not.

Insider Tip: You may be able to get the annual fee on these cards waived. Just call customer service and ask nicely to have it waived, explaining that you’ve been a good, responsible customer for some time. Or, if you’re thinking of canceling the card, you can let them know that you’d consider staying with them if they waive the fee. In some cases they may offer a different incentive, like bonus points.

And if you’re in the military on active duty, you can submit an online request for SCRA benefits, which will probably include having the annual fee waived.

The Bottom Line: 5 out of 5 Stars

If you love staying at Starwood properties and do so pretty often, the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card and the Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card could save you quite a bit of money, and make your stays much more enjoyable. If you’re already an SPG member but you don’t have one of these cards, you should definitely consider what you’re missing.

You’ll earn points for every dollar you spend there, and the higher your SPG status the more you’ll earn. A variety of cost-saving benefits come with these cards as well, like free WiFi, credit towards higher status and better benefits, and access to the Sheraton Club lounge (that last one for business cards only).

For small business owners, the business card would be the obvious choice of these two. You’ll get all the same rewards and benefits, plus some extras, like the OPEN business features designed specifically for your needs. And even if you don’t care much about those features or aren’t sure if you’ll use them, you won’t be paying anything extra so you can ignore them if you want.

Whether you use the consumer or business card, you’ll get a pretty good value despite the annual fee. As long as you visit enough SPG properties every year, the card should pay for itself in the reward points and benefits you get. And if you avoid interest charges by paying off your balance in full every month, that one annual fee is all you should need to worry about.

We gave these cards 5 out of 5 Stars because when it comes to staying at Starwood properties, these cards probably provide the best deal you’ll be able to find. You can get quite a few points per dollar, and you’ll be rewarded for spending more – always a great feature. The annual fee is very reasonable for the features it provides, which includes everything from the regular SPG membership and more. As long as you use the card enough and make use of the extra benefits, it should pay for itself.

Applying for the Starwood Preferred Guest Cards

Want to learn more or apply for these cards? Just click the name below.

The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

For People with
Excellent Credit

  • Annual Fee: $95 (waived the first year)
  • Interest Rate: 15.49% to 19.49% *Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • Earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on international purchases.
  • Receive free in-room, premium internet access. Booking requirements apply.
  • Enjoy complimentary, unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi on up to four devices at more than 1,000,000 Boingo hotspots worldwide. Enrollment required.
  • Earn free nights at over 1,200 hotels and resorts in nearly 100 countries with no blackout dates.
  • Some hotels may have mandatory service and resort charges.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Terms and limitations apply.

Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express

For People with
Excellent Credit

  • Annual Fee: $95 (waived the first year)
  • Interest Rate: 15.49% to 19.49% *Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 30,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your Card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Offer expires 9/14/2015.
  • New: No Foreign Transaction Fees on international purchases.
  • New: Receive free in-room, premium internet access. Booking requirements apply.
  • New: Enjoy complimentary, unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi at more than 1,000,000 Boingo hotspots worldwide. Enrollment required.
  • Earn free nights at over 1,200 hotels and resorts in nearly 100 countries with no blackout dates.
  • Some hotels and resorts have mandatory service charges.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Terms and limitations apply.
Not the right cards for you? To check out our picks for the best travel credit cards, see the Best Travel Credit Cards – 2016.

Was this review helpful to you? Go ahead and share it with a friend! And if you use one of these cards, click here to leave your own  review of the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card, or click here to leave a review of the Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card, we’d love to hear from you!

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