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You just went on a big business trip with a few employees, taking a flight and then splurging on some nice rooms at a Marriott. You happily earn 10X points per dollar from your basic member status, which seems like quite a lot, and everything seems right with the world.
But what did you miss out on? You could’ve earned 17X points per dollar, taken advantage of a late checkout time, and enjoyed free premium WiFi so you didn’t have to wait for Netflix to buffer while relaxing after a day of work.
All that and more could’ve been yours with the Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express.
For a $95 annual fee, waived the first year, you’ll earn 6X Bonus points per dollar at SPG and Marriott hotels from the card. But you’ll also get complimentary Silver Elite status at Marriott, which means you’ll earn an additional 11X Base points per dollar — for a total of 17X.
The card includes perks like a Free Night Award every year after your account anniversary, worth 35,000 points and good for stays in hotels up to Category 5. You’ll get a fast track toward the next member status level, Gold Elite, and other hotel benefits to make your stays a bit cheaper and more comfortable.
There are five different cards co-branded with SPG and Marriott that you can currently apply for. Two of them are business cards, and one is a premium travel card with a high fee.
Is the SPG Business card the right choice for you out of this lineup, or would a different option work better? Read on to learn more about this card and find out.
Business Credit Cards
|Starwood Preferred Guest Business Card from American Express (This review)||$95, $0 the first year||
|Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Business Credit Card||$99||
Personal Credit Cards
|Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express (Review)||$95, $0 the first year||
|Starwood Preferred Guest® Luxury Card (Review)||$450||
|Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card (Review)||$95||
Our Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
We give the Starwood Preferred Guest Business Card 5 out of 5 Stars for its high earn rates, and for having more than a few valuable perks.
Why We Like It
- 6X points per dollar at SPG/Marriott hotels
- 4X points per dollar in business-related categories
- 100,000-point signup bonus
- Annual Free Night Award after cardmember anniversary
- Complimentary Silver Elite status at Marriott
- Expense tracking and management tools for businesses
- No foreign transaction fees
Why It Could Be Better
- $95 annual fee, after the first year
- Free Night Award doesn’t kick in until after your first year
- Silver Elite hotel status at Marriott isn’t quite as good as similar status levels from other hotel brands
The SPG Business card could be a great option if it matches up to your typical spending and travel habits, but you may get more out of a different hotel card. Or, if you pledge no allegiance to any hotel brand in particular, you might prefer a general travel rewards card. Check out some of those alternatives below.
Insider Advice: Using This Card as Part of Your Credit Card Strategy
- Pay for SPG and Marriott hotel stays: Pay with your business card at SPG and Marriott Rewards hotel brands to earn 6X Bonus points, in addition to the 11X Base points you’ll get for being a Silver Elite member.
- Get the introductory bonus: Spend $5,000 in the first 3 months to earn 100,000 bonus points, valued at about $800 to $2,000 depending on how you redeem.
- Enjoy your status: Cardholders automatically get Silver Elite status at Marriott, with perks like priority late check-out and a mobile key. The next level, Gold Elite, can be earned by spending $30,000 in a calendar year.
- Use your Free Night Award wisely: Your annual Free Night Award, which you’ll get starting after your first year, can be used for redemption levels up to 35,000 points. That will get you a night in up to a Category 5 hotel.
- Stay connected: Register for the complimentary Boingo Amex plan to get WiFi internet access from over 1 million hotspots around the world, and never miss a day of work.
- Earn rewards on business spending: Try to put as much of your business spending as possible on credit cards, which will effectively give you a discount through the rewards you earn. This card has several business-related bonus categories, but check out other business credit cards as well.
- Wait for high-value redemptions: Only use your points when you’ll get a relatively good redemption value, like more than 1 cent per point. Low and high-category hotels tend to provide the most value per point.
- Offset the annual fee: The SPG Business card has a $95 annual fee after the first year, but you can easily get more than $95 in value simply by using your annual Free Night Award for a room that’s worth more than that.
The SPG Business Credit Card can provide a cash back equivalent of about 13.6–34% when spending at SPG and Marriott, depending on how you earn and redeem your points. Purchases in the 4X business categories will yield the equivalent of about 3.2–8% cash back.
|Introductory Bonus Offer|
SPG cardholders will earn points at SPG and Marriott properties in two different ways: from the card, and from their member status.
The card provides 6X Bonus points per dollar at SPG and Marriott, along with 11X Base points thanks to the Silver Elite status this card grants. Normal members would earn 10X points, but Silver Elite provides a 10% bonus to equal 11X. These rates apply to most SPG/Marriott brands but there are some exceptions, as shown in the tables below.
The value of your points will vary depending on how you redeem them. If you assume a value of 0.8–2 cents per point, which is about the average range, you’d be earning a cash back equivalent of 13.6–34% at SPG and Marriott. Purchases that earn 4X points will have a cash back equivalent of 3.2–8%, with 1.6–4% for all other purchases.
The 4X bonus categories, tailored towards business expenses, are a useful addition that widen your point-earning opportunities. Extra categories like these are more common on business cards; the consumer version of this card, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express (Review), doesn’t include any 4X categories.
You can check the eligible merchants for the 4X categories on American Express’ business reward category page.
Take note that you will not be eligible for the signup bonus offer if you’ve had other SPG or Marriott co-branded cards at certain times. You will not be eligible if:
- You have or have had this card at any time in the past.
- You have or have had one of the following cards in the past 30 days:
- Marriott Rewards Business Credit Card
- Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Business Credit Card
- You have acquired one of the following cards in the past 90 days, or received a signup bonus from one of the following cards in the past 24 months:
Marriott has implemented a policy that has been referred to as the “one lane rule,” which means you can only get this signup bonus through one card product. Since there are quite a few SPG/Marriott co-branded cards, the idea is to prevent people from getting multiple signup bonuses from the same source.
Participating Hotels & Resorts
Most properties within the SPG and Marriott Rewards brand portfolios provide 10X Base points per dollar, but there are a few exceptions.
|10X Base Points|
|AC Hotels®||Aloft®||Autograph Collection® Hotels|
|Courtyard®||Delta Hotels®||Design Hotels™|
|EDITION®||Fairfield by Marriott®||Four Points®|
|Gaylord Hotels®||JW Marriott®||Le Méridien®|
|Marriott Hotels®||Marriott Vacation Club®||Moxy® Hotels|
|Protea Hotels®||Renaissance® Hotels||Sheraton®|
|SpringHill Suites®||St. Regis®||The Luxury Collection®|
|The Ritz-Carlton®||Tribute Portfolio®||W® Hotels|
|5X Base Points|
|Residence Inn®||TownePlace Suites®||Element®|
|2.5X Base Points|
|Marriott Executive Apartments®||ExecuStay®|
Marriott rewards points will expire after 24 months of no account activity. You can keep your points active simply by making a purchase with your card once every 24 months.
You’ll have a variety of ways to redeem your points, including:
- Hotel reservations
- Point transfers to a variety of airline loyalty partners
- Exclusive Moments and Experiences
- Vacation packages
- Gift cards
We recommend redeeming your points for hotel reservations, because they typically offer the highest value per point.
But that still leaves a few different options, because there are several ways to use your points at hotels:
- Standard room reservations
- PointSavers reservations
- Cash + Points reservations
- Fifth night free on standard award stays
- Room upgrades
- Purchases charged to rooms
The best deals will typically come from PointSavers reservations, which provide rooms at discounted redemption rates. Fifth night free stays are another great option, giving you a whole night for free. Standard room reservations will be the norm for most people, however, and these can still provide a good point value.
The higher the hotel category, the more points required for a night’s stay.
|Hotel Category||Standard Requirement||Off-Peak
|8 (coming 2019)||85,000||70,000||100,000|
You can browse the full list of 6,700 Marriott/SPG properties, including their categories and point requirements.
You’ll find the best redemption values at the lowest and highest hotel categories, particularly in the lower categories. The middle categories generally provide less value per point, so it will typically be better to pay the cash price at those hotels and save your points for later.
The value you get per point will also depend on which dates you book. Different dates will have different cash prices, but the point requirement is always the same. That means you’ll need to check each date to see if you’d get a good value for your points, or if it would be better to just pay the cash price.
Here are some examples of the best redemption options. First we compare a PointSavers reservation to a standard room reservation, and then we show a fifth night free redemption.
PointSavers reservations require 1,500 to 10,000 fewer points than standard reservations. You won’t always find them, and it’s just a matter of luck if they happen to line up with your travel plans, but you should definitely take advantage of PointSavers deals when possible.
Each hotel category has its own PointSavers redemption level:
|Hotel Category||PointSavers Requirement||Off-Peak
|8 (coming 2019)||80,000||65,000||90,000|
Here’s a PointSavers reservation compared to a standard reservation, using examples from three different hotel categories. You can see how much your points are worth in each case, and how the value changes with the hotel category.
The three hotels we’ll use for this example are:
- Courtyard Harlingen: A Category 1 hotel in Virginia, designed for business travelers.
- Sheraton Bay Point Resort: A Category 4 hotel in Florida.
- The St. Regis San Francisco: A Category 7 hotel in California.
Here are sample prices for a high-cost standard room at each hotel, after taxes and fees. We’ve included how many points you’d need to redeem for that hotel category, and the value of those points. The cash back equivalents assume you’re spending at SPG/Marriott properties, earning points at the 17X rate.
Keep in mind that these hotels and booking dates were chosen somewhat randomly, so you’ll probably find slightly different redemption values.
Standard Room Reservations
|Hotel||Cash Price||Points Required||Point Value (cents)||Cash Back Equivalent|
|Courtyard Harlingen (Cat 1)||$151||7,500||2.01||34.16%|
|Sheraton Bay Point Resort (Cat 4)||$178||25,000||0.71||12.10%|
|The St. Regis San Francisco
|Hotel||Cash Price||Points Required||Point Value (cents)||Cash Back Equivalent|
|Courtyard Harlingen (Cat 1)||$151||6,000||2.52||42.78%|
|Sheraton Bay Point Resort (Cat 4)||$178||22,500||0.79||13.44%|
|The St. Regis San Francisco
So a standard room redemption at the Category 1 hotel we included would give you a point value of 2.01 cents each, which is very good when it comes to Marriott points. But the same room with a PointSavers reservation will give 2.52 cents per point, quite a nice bonus.
As you can see, your points won’t go as far for rooms at higher category hotels, with the middle categories providing the worst redemption values. As you get into the higher categories you’ll start to see a better return on your spending, but those rooms will also cost way more points to book.
You’ll have to decide whether you want to use your points for more night stays or for higher-quality rooms. You could redeem 60,000 points for a luxurious night in a Category 7 hotel, for example, or you could use those points to get 8 nights at a Category 1 hotel.
Fifth Night Free on Award Stays
Your fifth night is free on award stays of five nights or more. For stays of ten nights you’ll get both the fifth and tenth nights for free.
Fifth night free deals are only available when booking with points, not when paying cash prices.
This deal only applies to standard room reservations. And you only need enough points for four nights — when you book five award nights you’ll automatically get a one-night discount.
Using the three hotels above, here’s how much you’d normally pay for five nights. We show the cash prices and point requirements, along with the point values you’d get. The cash back equivalents assume you’re spending at SPG/Marriott and earning 17X points per dollar.
|Hotel||Cash Price: 5 Nights||Points Required: 4 Nights||Point Value (cents)||Cash Back Equivalent|
|Courtyard Harlingen (Cat 1)||$755||30,000||2.52||48.73%|
|Sheraton Bay Point Resort
|The St. Regis San Francisco
So you’ll obviously be saving a significant number of points compared to the standard reservation requirements. The point values you’ll get for fifth night free redemptions will sometimes resemble the values you’d get for PointSavers reservations.
How to Offset the Annual Fee
The SPG Business card costs $95 after the first year. You should be sure to use it enough to offset that fee and recoup your costs, so you get a positive expected value every year.
Luckily enough, you can completely offset that fee just by using a single benefit: your annual Free Night Award, which also begins after your first year.
The Free Night Award can be used for room redemptions up to 35,000 points, so it’s good for standard rooms in hotels up to Category 5.
We’ve found rooms in Category 5 hotels going for over $300 per night, while others are as low as $130 or so. Say you use your Free Night Award for a room that’s somewhere in-between, worth about $200.
That would offset the annual fee for over two years all at once, giving you far more than $95 in value. Use your award every year for a room like that and this card will completely pay for itself, and then some. And if you use it for more expensive rooms you’ll make out even better.
This makes the SPG Business card a safe bet even if you don’t travel very often. As long as you can use that free night every year for a good deal, you’ll be getting more out of the card than you’re putting in. And we didn’t even take into account any of the other benefits or rewards you can earn, which also provide plenty of value and serve to offset the annual fee even further.
Free Night Award
Every year you’ll get a Free Night Award after your account anniversary, beginning after your first year with the card. So you’ll need to wait a year before getting your first free night.
This Free Night Award is good for hotel rooms at SPG and Marriott brands, with redemption requirements of 35,000 points or less. That will get you a room in a Category 5 hotel.
The award will appear as an e-certificate in your Marriott rewards account 8 to 12 weeks after your card account anniversary. It will be expire one year after being issued.
You can explore the Free Night Award Chart to see where you can use your Free Night Awards when planning your next trip. There are no blackout dates for Free Night Award redemptions.
Free nights are a pretty common perk to find on hotel credit cards, although they come in various shapes and sizes. The Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Business Card offers the same exact benefit, for example.
Some other cards make you work for the free night, like the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card. It provides a “free” Weekend Night Reward, but you’ll need to spend $15,000 in a calendar year to get it. And if you spend a total of $60,000 in a year you’ll get a second Weekend Night Reward.
Complimentary Silver Elite Status
You’ll get automatic Silver Elite status at SPG/Marriot, which provides:
- 10% bonus on Base points earned
- Priority Late Checkout
- Ultimate Reservation Guarantee
- Dedicated Elite Reservation Line
- Free WiFi
- Mobile Key
- Exclusive Member Rates
This comes with free WiFi, but cardholders get complimentary premium WiFi as well just for having the card.
It’s nice to get a complimentary member status, but Silver Elite isn’t quite as good as what you’d get from some other loyalty programs. Hilton’s Gold status, for example, which you’ll get with co-branded cards like the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card, comes with an 80% point bonus and complimentary breakfasts, among other perks.
Fast Track to Gold Elite Status
Cardholders can earn Marriott’s Gold Elite status by spending $30,000 or more in a calendar year with the SPG card. On January 1st, 2019, this requirement will increase to $35,000.
If you reach the spending requirement you’ll get Gold status for the remainder of that year, along with the entire following year. So if you want to maximize this perk you should aim to hit the requirement as early in the year as possible.
The upgrade to Gold will take effect within 8 to 12 weeks of meeting the requirement.
Gold Elite status comes with all the perks of Silver Elite, plus a few more:
- 25% bonus on Base points earned
- Enhanced In-room Internet access
- Enhanced Room Upgrades, when available
- 2 p.m. Late Checkout
- Welcome Gift of Points
The spending requirement is quite high, but if you’ll be spending that much anyway it’s great to get something more out of it. But if you plan to spend that much you should consider using the premier SPG/Marriott card, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Luxury Card.
That card costs $450 per year but the fee is offset by a $300 travel credit, a Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership, and the same Free Night Award you’ll get with the SPG business card. The SPG Luxury card also comes with complimentary Gold Elite status, with a fast track to Platinum Elite.
Premium Internet Access
Cardholders get premium on-property WiFi internet access at participating locations. You must provide your loyalty member account number when checking in.
Internet access is limited to one room only, regardless of how many rooms are booked.
15 Elite Night Credits
Link your SPG Business card account to your Marriott rewards account to get 15 Elite Night Credits per year.
You can earn a maximum of 15 Elite Night Credits every year through credit cards. So even if you have other cards that provide the same benefit, like the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Business Card or the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card, you’ll only get 15 credits per year.
Your Elite Night Credits will be awarded on or before March 1st.
Elite Night Credits are used to increase your Marriott member status. Each status level has an Elite Night requirement:
|Membership Status||Elite Nights Required|
Your automatic Silver Elite status does not affect your Elite Night requirements. So Gold Elite will require 35 Elite Nights after getting your credits, and Platinum Elite will require 50.
Bonus Points for Airline Transfers
The points you earn can be transferred to over 40 different airline partners, where you may find a better value for them. But in general we recommend avoiding point transfers and sticking with the redemption options described above to get the best return on your spending.
Marriott will add 15,000 bonus points for every 60,000 points transferred. So a 60,000-point transfer will actually be credited for transferring 75,000 points. A 120,000-point transfer will be credited for 150,000 points, etc.
You can transfer 3,000 to 240,000 points per day. Most transfers are at a 3:1 rate (3 Marriott points for 1 airline point or mile).
Some of the participating airline loyalty programs include:
|Marriott Rewards Airline Transfer Partners (partial list)|
|Aeromexico Club Premier||Air France/KLM Flying Blue||Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan||American Airlines|
|British Airways Executive Club||Delta SkyMiles||Emirates Skywards||Etihad Guest|
|Frontier Airlines EarlyReturns||JetBlue TrueBlue||Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards||United MileagePlus|
Complimentary Boingo Wifi
Get complimentary unlimited WiFi at more than 1,000,000 Boingo hotspots worldwide, for up to four devices.
You must register for the Boingo American Express Plan and authenticate your Amex card before you’ll have access to this service.
Reports to Business Credit Bureaus
American Express business card activity will end up being reported to the credit bureaus. You’ll be able to improve your business credit, but negative activity will hurt your personal credit as well.
As long as your account is in positive standing, the activity will be reported to Small Business Financial Exchange (SBFE). SBFE is not a credit bureau, but it relays data to three business credit reporting agencies: Dun & Bradstreet, Equifax Business, and LexisNexis.
If your account enters a negative status, such as from late payments or charge-offs, the activity will be reported to other agencies. An account with a negative status will be reported to:
- Dun & Bradstreet
So your positive activity will be reported to SBFE. But your negative activity will be reported to a business credit bureau, plus the three typical consumer credit reporting agencies. All American Express business credit cards and charge cards report activity in this way.
This means you can use the the SPG Business card to improve your business credit, but not your personal credit. However, you can still hurt your personal credit with it.
- No Blackout Dates: On award night redemptions.
- Lowest Hotel Rate Guarantee: For eligible hotel reservations made on amextravel.com.
- Amex Offers: Discounts and savings at a changing selection of merchants, such as Uber, J.Crew, and Ashley Furniture.
- ShopRunner Membership: Free two-day shipping and returns at select retailers.
- Entertainment Access: Discounts to cardmember-only events, concerts, sports, and shows.
- Employee Cards: Get up to 99 employee cards, all for free.
- Account Manager: Designate a trusted individual to manage your card account (must be at least 18).
- Spend Manager: Add receipts and notes to your transactions to simplify expense management.
- Connect to QuickBooks: Easily transfer data from your card account to QuickBooks.
- Year-End Summary: An interactive overview of your annual spending, organized into categories.
- OPEN Forum: A place to share ideas and learn from other Amex business card users.
- Purchase Protection: Eligible items are covered against damage and theft for 120 days (90 days for NY residents).
- Extended Warranty: Warranties of five years or less can be doubled by up to an additional two years.
- Return Protection: Provides refunds for eligible purchases if the merchant refuses to accept a return within 90 days.
- Roadside Assistance: Call for help with roadside problems, like dead batteries or towing needs. Service fees will apply.
- Global Assist Hotline: Help with travel accidents and emergencies.
- Travel Accident Insurance: Up to $100,000 in coverage against accidental death and dismemberment when traveling by common carrier.
- Baggage Insurance Plan: Covers your lost, stolen, or damaged bags, up to $1,250 for carry-on bags and up to $500 for checked bags.
- Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance: Eligible rental vehicles are covered against damage and theft, as long as you decline the rental company’s own insurance.
Account and Security Benefits
- $0 Fraud Liability: You won’t be held responsible for fraudulent transactions (contact customer support immediately if you suspect fraud).
- Dispute Resolution: Help dealing with fraudulent and unauthorized transactions.
- Account Alerts: Get notified about account information on your phone.
The Terms & Fees
|Purchase APR||Balance Transfer APR||Cash Advance APR|
|17.74%–26.74% Variable||Not Available||27.24% Variable|
|Annual Fee||Foreign Transaction Fee||Balance Transfer Fee||Cash Advance Fee|
|$95, $0 first year||None||Not Available||3%, $5 minimum|
|Penalty APR||Late Fee||Returned Payment Fee|
|29.99% Variable||Up to $38||$38|
The terms and fees of the SPG Business card are typical for a credit card, and should be easy to understand.
You’ll have a $95 annual fee to pay after the first year, but as described above you can completely offset that fee using your Free Night Award. So rather than costing you $95 per year, it should be easy to come out on top.
Any purchases you make will accrue interest at your given APR, unless you pay your full statement balance every month. This strategy lets you completely avoid accruing interest on purchases.
This card does not allow balance transfers (meaning you can’t transfer a balance to this card; you can still transfer balances away from it). If you’re looking to move a balance to a lower-interest card check out the Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards: 2018.
There’s no fee on foreign transactions, so feel free to use this card outside the U.S. without worrying about extra charges.
What is the Credit Limit of the SPG Business Card?
There is no specific minimum or maximum credit limit for the SPG Business Card. Your credit line will be based on your overall creditworthiness, including your credit scores and other finances (especially income).
You can request a credit limit increase from American Express whenever you’d like. If you want higher limits we recommend requesting an increase once every 6 to 12 months or so.
|Amex Business Customer Support||1-800-492-3344|
You’ll be served by a few different customer support teams if you have this card. Contact Marriott or SPG for any concerns about using your points, or anything related to booking and staying in hotels. Contact American Express for questions about your card account, regarding payments, credit limits, and similar topics.
American Express is known for having top-notch customer support, at least compared to other card issuers. In J.D. Power’s annual Credit Card Satisfaction Survey it came in 2nd out of 11 issuers in 2018, and has been ranked highly in previous years as well (it came in first in 2017).
With the SPG Business card you’ll be dealing with Amex’s business customer support, which is typically a grade above the customer support for personal cards. This is basically true for every card issuer.
So, in general, you can expect to speak with competent customer service reps if you have reason to call. But if you’re having a problem getting your point across, don’t be afraid to ask to speak to someone else. Or you can always hang up (politely) and call again to get a different rep.
|Amex Twitter Customer Support||@AskAmex|
Anyone can tweet to Amex’s customer support account with questions, @AskAmex. Be sure never to reveal personal or account information on Twitter or other social media networks.
American Express cardholders can also contact Amex through its live web chat system. A prompt for this will appear after you log in to your account.
The Bottom Line
The Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express could be an excellent way to earn rewards for your business spending, especially if you spend a lot of time in SPG and Marriott hotels.
Using this card is an easy way to get complimentary Silver Elite status, which will provide 11X points per dollar at eligible hotels in addition to the 6X points you get from the card. So you’ll be earning points at a much higher rate than normal members.
Try to put as much of your business spending as possible on the card, taking advantage of the 4X categories. The more spending you can run through the card, the more rewards you’ll earn.
You won’t really need to worry about this card’s $95 annual fee (waived the first year) if you use your annual Free Night Award wisely, for a room valued at more than that. This should be pretty easy to do because that award will get you a night at a Category 5 hotel, which could be worth over $300.
The SPG Business card has some useful perks, but you might be better off with a different card that’s co-branded with SPG and Marriott, like the upgraded SPG Luxury card. You may prefer a card associated with a different hotel brand, or maybe a general travel card that’s good for booking with any hotel or airline. Check out some alternative cards like that below.
How To Apply for the Starwood Preferred Guest Business Card
You can apply for this card securely on the American Express website.
They may check your credit reports from all three of the major consumer credit bureaus. Most applications are processed in just a minute or two, but in some cases it can take longer. Amex may request more information to verify your identity or income.
Qualifications and Requirements
- Must be 18 to apply
- Personal identifying information, including SSN, email address, and phone number
- Total annual income, and source of income
- Monthly mortgage/rent payment
- SPG, Marriott Rewards, or Ritz-Carlton rewards account number (if available)
Alternatives to the Starwood Preferred Guest Business Card
- Starwood Preferred Guest® Luxury Card (Review): $450 annual fee; 6X points at Marriott/SPG; 100,000-point signup bonus; $300 travel credit; Priority Pass Select membership
- Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Business Credit Card: $99 annual fee; 6X points at Marriott/SPG, 4X points on other purchases; 75,000-point signup bonus
- Hilton Honors American Express Business Card (Review): $95 annual fee; 12X points at Hilton, 6X points on other purchases; 125,000-point signup bonus
- Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card (Review): $95 annual fee; 3X points on travel, shipping, and other business expenses; 80,000-point signup bonus
There is no business version of this luxury card, but if you’ll be spending plenty of time and money with these hotel brands you should strongly consider it anyway. It doesn’t have business-related benefits, but it includes all of the other perks of the SPG Business card, plus more.
|Introductory Bonus Offer|
So the rewards program here is a bit different than the SPG Business card’s. You’ll earn slightly more points per dollar at SPG and Marriott hotels because this card grants Gold Elite status, which ends up providing 12.5X Base points per dollar among other benefits.
That means you’ll get a total of 18.5X points per dollar, and if you redeem those points for 0.8–2 cents each you’d earn a cash back equivalent of 14.8–37%.
The other bonus categories are different as well. Rather than earning 4X points for certain business-related expenses, this card provides 3X points for flights and at restaurants.
Despite having a much higher fee, the Luxury card has the same 100,000-point signup bonus as the SPG Business card. This isn’t a huge surprise because business cards tend to have bigger-than-average signup bonuses.
All of the redemption options mentioned above for the SPG Business card also apply to the Luxury card.
The SPG Luxury card has a much better set of benefits than the SPG Business card, which are sure to make your trips more comfortable — at both hotels and airports.
- $300 SPG/Marriott hotel credit: Valid for room bookings and other eligible purchases at SPG/Marriott properties.
- Free Night Award: A free night every year after your cardmember anniversary, good for redemption levels up to 50,000 points (Category 6 hotels).
- Complimentary Gold Elite hotel status: With perks like a 25% bonus on Base points, enhanced room upgrades, and 2 p.m. late checkout.
- Fast track to Platinum Elite status: Spend $75,000 in a calendar year to earn Platinum Elite status.
- 15 Elite Night Credits: Annual credits toward a higher member status.
- Complimentary Priority Pass Select membership: You and two guests can enter Priority Pass airport lounges for free (additional guests cost $32 each).
- Global Entry or TSA Pre✓ application credit: A credit for the application fee of either Global Entry ($100) or TSA Pre✓ ($85), once every four years.
Terms & Fees
The SPG Luxury card costs $450 per year. There are no foreign transaction fees.
This may seem like a high price to pay for a credit card, but consider a few of the cost-saving benefits you’ll get: a $300 annual travel credit, a Free Night Award, and Priority Pass Select membership. Those could serve to fully offset the fee, leaving you with a premium-level card that won’t cost you a dime.
Read more in our Review of the Starwood Preferred Guest Luxury Card
The Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Business Credit Card is very much like the SPG Business card, but it’s issued by Chase rather than American Express. There are a few important differences in the rewards and fees, but overall these cards are more alike than different.
|Introductory Bonus Offer|
The rewards program for the Marriott Business card is different than the SPG Business card in a couple important ways.
First off, the point-earning opportunities are the same at SPG and Marriott hotels. You’ll get a total of 17X points per dollar, 6X from the card and 11X from your member status.
But the Marriott card’s 4X categories are slightly different than the SPG card’s. Gas stations, restaurants, and shipping are included with both cards. But where the SPG card has a category for wireless telephone services, the Marriott card includes internet, cable, and phone services instead. So you’ll have more point-earning opportunities with the Marriott card for non-hotel spending.
When it comes to the introductory bonus offers, however, the SPG card wins for offering 100,000 Bonus points compared to just 75,000 with the Marriott card. It will take $2,000 more in spending to earn the SPG card’s bonus, but as long as you can hit that minimum spend requirement you’ll be coming out ahead.
The Marriott Business card has mostly the same benefits as the SPG Business card, with some minor differences.
You’ll get a few extra perks with the Marriott card that don’t come with the SPG card:
- Visa Signature Concierge: Call for non-emergency assistance whenever you need it, like help finding a good hotel or restaurant.
- Premier Experience Events: Invitations to exclusive events in big cities around the world.
- Dedicated Customer Support Line: Call 1-800-346-5538 for 24-hour customer service.
- Visa SavingsEdge business discounts: Enroll to get automatic discounts at a variety of merchants that sell business products and services.
The Marriott card does not include two benefits that you’ll get from the SPG card: complimentary Boingo WiFi access and ShopRunner membership.
The shopping and travel protections of the Marriott card are serviced by Chase and Visa, rather than American Express. So you’ll find a few small differences there as well, although the protections you get will be pretty similar from both cards.
Terms & Fees
The Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Business Card has a $99 annual fee, which is not waived the first year. There are no foreign transaction fees.
So the Marriott Business card costs more than the SPG Business card, which has a $95 annual fee only after the first year. The Marriott card also has a smaller signup bonus, and these two factors lead us to recommend the SPG card over the Marriott.
Summing it all up, it looks like you’ll get more out of the SPG card while paying less, which makes it the obvious choice. But if you happen to prefer Chase over American Express you may want the Marriott card instead.
If you’re not a huge fan of Marriott, you might like the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card (Review). It’s a hotel card on the same fee level as the SPG Business card, but it’s co-branded with Hilton instead.
|Introductory Bonus Offer|
You’ll earn quite a lot of points per dollar at Hilton properties with this card, although those points are not valued as highly as Marriott rewards points. This card grants automatic Hilton Honor Gold status, for an 80% bonus on Base points earned at Hilton. That gives you 18X Base points per dollar, in addition to the 12X points you get from this card for a total of 30X.
At a value of 0.4–1 cent per point, you’d be getting a cash back equivalent of 12–30% at Hilton properties. That’s not quite as good as our estimates for the SPG card, but it’s not bad either.
There are quite a few additional bonus categories where you can earn 6X points per dollar, and this selection is wider than what you’ll get with the SPG card. Purchases at the 6X rate will get a cash back equivalent of 2.4–6%, at the point values given above. All other purchases, earning at the 3X rate, will be equivalent to 1.2–3% cash back.
The signup bonus here is pretty big, and requires less spending than the SPG Business card’s. But the potential value is quite a bit lower as well.
The Hilton Business card offers a set of perks that are mostly comparable to the SPG Business card, although some of the benefits are better with one card than the other. The free nights you can get with the Hilton card aren’t as useful as those of the SPG card, for example, because you have to earn them by spending. But the Hilton Honors Gold status you’ll get is generally considered better than Silver Elite with Marriott.
The Hilton card also includes limited access to Priority Pass airport lounges, a rare find on a hotel card at this fee level.
- Annual Weekend Night Reward: Spend $15,000 in a calendar year to earn a Weekend Night Reward, good for one weekend night (Friday, Saturday, or Sunday night) in a standard room.
- Second Annual Weekend Night Reward: Get a second Weekend Night Reward by spending a total of $60,000 in a calendar year.
- Complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status: Includes an 80% point bonus, complimentary breakfasts, late check-out, and more.
- Fast track to Hilton Honors Diamond status: Spend $40,000 in a calendar year to earn Diamond status, with benefits like a 100% point bonus and Executive Lounge access.
- Limited Priority Pass Select membership: Provides 10 free visits to Priority Pass airport lounges.
- Amex Offers: Extra discounts at a changing selection of merchants, including Lyft, Sam’s Club, and Sherwin-Williams.
- Employee cards: Get up to 99 employee cards, all for free.
- Shopping and travel protections: Such as Purchase Protection, a Baggage Insurance Plan, Travel Accident Insurance, and more.
Terms & Fees
The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card costs $95 per year. There are no foreign transaction fees.
So it’s more expensive than the SPG Business card for the first year. But if you’d take a Hilton over a Marriott or SPG hotel, you’ll probably get more out of Hilton’s co-branded business card.
Read more in our Review of the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card
The Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card (Review) is a general travel rewards card. Unlike the other cards mentioned here it’s not co-branded with any particular hotel, making it a good choice for any travel expenses that might come up.
|Introductory Bonus Offer|
This card provides 3X Ultimate Rewards (UR) points on a wide variety of travel expenses, which include hotels, airfare, car rentals, parking garages, and more. The other 3X categories include some purchases you’ll also find in the SPG Business card’s 4X category, mainly shipping and phone services.
UR points are typically worth 1 cent each, but you’ll get a 25% bonus when redeeming for travel expenses through the Ultimate Rewards travel portal. So that bumps them up to 1.25 cents per point.
At that rate you’d be earning a cash back equivalent of 3.75% in the 3X categories. Other purchases will get just 1.25%.
But the Ink Business Preferred also allows you to transfer your points to hotel and airline loyalty programs, including Marriott. Depending on the travel accommodations you book that could let you get more out of your rewards, as much as 2 cents per point or more.
At 2 cents per point you’d be earning a cash back equivalent of 6% in the 3X categories, and 2% for every other purchase.
The Ink Business Preferred has benefits that are more suited for travel in general, rather than being focused on one particular hotel brand.
- 1:1 Point Transfer: Transfer your UR points to over a dozen airline and hotel partners, including Southwest, United, Marriott, and Hyatt.
- Referral bonus points: Earn 20,000 bonus points for every friend you refer who successfully applies, up to 100,000 points per year.
- Shop Through Chase: Extra point-earning opportunities at a changing selection of merchants, including Macy’s, HP, Walmart, and more.
- Free employee cards: Get up to 70 additional cards to distribute to employees. More cards are available if you split your account.
- Cell Phone Protection: Provides up to $600 in coverage against damage and theft when you pay your phone bill with the card.
- Shopping and travel protection: Including Purchase Protection, Travel and Emergency Assistance, and Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, among others.
Terms & Fees
The Ink Business Preferred is a bit more expensive than the SPG Business card, with a $95 annual fee starting at year one. There are no foreign transaction fees.
Read more in our Review of the Chase Ink Business Preferred Card
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