Review of the Starwood Preferred Guest® Luxury Card

Brendan Harkness

Brendan Harkness | Reviews

Sep 06, 2018 | Updated Sep 25, 2018

Credit Card Insider receives compensation from some credit card issuers as advertisers. Advertiser relationships do not affect card ratings or our Best Card Picks. American Express has not endorsed this content in any way.

Learn more about how we rate cards.

The Starwood Preferred Guest Luxury Card, issued by American Express, is a high-end hotel credit card designed for SPG and Marriott properties.

Cardholders earn at least 18.5X points per dollar at SPG and Marriott hotels and resorts – 6X from the card, and a minimum of 12.5X from being a Marriott Gold Elite member. 3X points are awarded at restaurants and for airfare purchased from airlines, with 2X points for every other purchase.

You can earn 100,000 bonus points for spending $5,000 in the first 3 months, an excellent signup bonus but pretty typical for expensive cards like this. Take note that you may not be eligible for this welcome bonus if you’ve had other Marriott co-branded cards in the past.

There are quite a few valuable perks, including a $300 hotel credit, Priority Pass Select membership, a Free Night Award every year after your account anniversary, and an application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓.

The SPG Luxury Card costs $450 per year, so it’s not for every casual traveler. There are no foreign transaction fees.

There are three cards in the SPG card family, as well as a two Marriott co-branded cards that are also good for spending at SPG properties:

Card Annual Fee Rewards
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express (Review) $95, $0 the first year
  • 6X points at SPG and Marriott
  • 2X points for other purchases
Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express (Review) $95, $0 the first year
  • 6X points at SPG and Marriott
  • 4X points at restaurants, gas stations, wireless telephone services, and on shipping
  • 2X points for other purchases
Starwood Preferred Guest Luxury Card (This review) $450
  • 6X points at SPG and Marriott
  • 3X points at restaurants and for airfare
  • 2X points for other purchases
Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card (Review) $95
  • 6X points at SPG and Marriott
  • 2X points for other purchases
Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Business Credit Card $99
  • 6X points at SPG and Marriott
  • 4X points at restaurants, gas stations, internet, cable, and phone services, and on shipping
  • 2X points for other purchases

Should you book your next hotel room with the Starwood Preferred Guest Luxury Card? It might provide the best value, although there are some other cards to consider.

Starwood Preferred Guest® Luxury Card
Apply Now

Starwood Preferred Guest® Luxury Card

For People with
Excellent Credit

  • Annual Fee: $450
  • Interest Rate: 17.49%–26.49% Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • 6X points per dollar at SPG and Marriott Rewards hotels
  • 3X points per dollar at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines
  • 2X points per dollar spent on all other purchases
  • $300 SPG or Marriott Rewards annual statement credit
  • Free Night Award every year after your card anniversary
  • Complimentary Gold Elite status, Platinum Elite status after spending $75,000 per year
  • Priority Pass Select membership
  • Fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓ application
  • $450 annual fee

Our Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

We give the SPG Luxury Card 5 out of 5 Stars for being a premium hotel card, with high spending rewards and cost-saving extra benefits.

Why We Like It

  • 6X points per dollar at SPG and Marriott properties
  • 3X points at restaurants and for airfare
  • 100,000 bonus points for spending $5,000 in 3 months
  • $300 hotel credit
  • Priority Pass Select membership
  • Free Night Award each year after your cardmember anniversary
  • Complimentary Gold Elite member status
  • Application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓

Why It Could Be Better

  • $450 annual fee
  • Point redemption values are highly variable
  • Only provides Gold Elite membership, not Platinum
  • Free Night Award only starts after the first year

The SPG Luxury Card is a good choice for anyone who stays at SPG or Marriott hotels frequently. But if you prefer other hotel brands, or tend to stay at a variety of hotels, you might want to check out some alternative cards.

Insider Advice: Using This Card as Part of Your Credit Card Strategy

  • For spending at SPG, Marriott, and Ritz-Carlton brand hotels: Pay with the SPG Luxury card to earn at least 18.5X points — 6X points from the card, and 12.5X points from your Gold Elite member status.
  • Get the signup bonus: Spend $5,000 in the first 3 months to earn 100,000 bonus points, which could be worth $800–$2,000 depending on how you redeem them.
  • Save up for a good redemption value: Don’t jump to use your points at the first opportunity. Make sure you’re getting a relatively good redemption value, or just pay with your card as normal to earn points.
  • Plan on getting your travel credits: Every year you’ll get $300 in credits for purchases at SPG and Marriott hotels, including room bookings, so plan accordingly.
  • Use your Free Night Awards: After your account anniversary you’ll get one Free Night Award every year, good for redemption levels up to 50,000 points.
  • Access Priority Pass lounges: Relax with free access to participating airport lounges for you and up to two guests with your Priority Pass Select membership.
  • Apply for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓: Your application fee for either program will be refunded in the form of a statement credit (available once every four years).
  • Offset the annual fee: You may only need to spend as little as $406 per year to offset the annual fee, assuming you use the $300 travel credit and redeem your points for 2 cents each.
  • Take note of the changing redemption schedule: In 2019, Marriott is changing some hotel classifications and will have new redemption requirements for free nights.

The Rewards

SPG Luxury cardholders can earn a cash back equivalent of about 18.5–37% at SPG and Marriott properties, depending on the redemption point value. A 3–6% cash back equivalent can be earned for flights and at restaurants, with 2–4% back everywhere else.

Earning

Spending Rewards
  • 18.5X points or more per dollar at SPG and Marriott properties
    • 6X Bonus points per dollar from the card
    • 12.5X Base points per dollar or more on eligible purchases for being a Marriott member
  • 3X Bonus points:
    • for flights booked directly from airlines
    • at U.S. restaurants
  • 2X Bonus points for all other purchases
Signup Bonus Offer
  • 100,000 Bonus points for spending $5,000 in the first 3 months after account opening
    • Value: $800–$2,000 (assuming 0.8–2 cents per point)
    • Return on spend: 16–40%

You’ll earn points in two different ways when you spend money at hotels: from the SPG Luxury card itself, and from your Marriott member status.

This card provides 6X Bonus points at SPG and Marriott properties, and your member status will provide 12.5X Base points at most properties (there are some exceptions, given below). 10X Base points per dollar are awarded for normal members, but as an SPG Luxury cardholder you’ll get Gold Elite status, which comes with a 25% point bonus. If you raise your member status higher than that you’ll get a bigger bonus.

There are many ways to redeem your points, and the overall value you earn will depend on how much you get per point.

If you assume a value of 0.8–2 cents per point, which is about the range you’ll find, that will give you a cash back equivalent of 18.5–37% at SPG and Marriott properties. Purchases in the 3X categories will get a 3–6% cash back equivalent, while other purchases get 2–4% back.

Take note that you will not be eligible for the signup bonus offer if you’ve had other Marriott co-branded cards at certain times. You will not be eligible if:

This restriction exists because Marriott now has quite a few co-branded credit card offers, and it wants to prevent people from gaming the system and getting tons of bonus points.

SPG, Marriott, and The Ritz-Carlton recently combined their rewards programs, and they’re all now covered under one program. If you had any SPG points in the previous system they will be multiplied by 3 to give your new point value. And if you had multiple accounts with these brands you should merge them, which will collect all your points and benefits together in one account.

Most properties within the SPG and Marriott brand portfolios provide 10X Base points per dollar, but there are a few exceptions.

Participating Hotels & Resorts

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
Westin®
5X Base Points
Residence Inn® TownePlace Suites® Element®
2.5X Base Points
Marriott Executive Apartments® ExecuStay®

Redeeming

The points you earn will have different values depending on how you redeem them.

You may be overwhelmed by all the different redemption options available with the SPG Luxury card. But you can simplify the situation by focusing on hotel reservations, which will generally give you the highest value per point.

The redemption options include:

  • Hotel reservations
  • Point transfers to a variety of airline loyalty partners
  • Exclusive Moments and Experiences
  • Vacation packages
  • Gift cards
  • Merchandise

Hotel reservations of some kind are usually your best bet, but there are quite a few different 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 higher the hotel category, the more points required for a night’s stay.

Hotel Category Standard Requirement Off-Peak (coming 2019) Peak (coming 2019)
1 7,500 5,000 10,000
2 12,500 10,000 15,000
3 17,500 15,000 20,000
4 25,000 20,000 30,000
5 35,000 30,000 40,000
6 50,000 40,000 60,000
7 60,000 50,000 70,000
8 (coming 2019) 85,000 70,000 100,000
Starting in 2019, Marriott will introduce Category 8 hotels, along with peak and off-peak redemption values. Hotels that will end up being Category 8 are classified as Category 7 for the rest of 2018, so you can save up to 25,000 points per night by booking those hotels before the category switch.

You can browse the full list of 6,700 Marriott/SPG properties, including their categories and point requirements.

In general, you can expect to get a better value for your points when redeeming at either low or high category hotels. If you’re willing to scrape the bottom of the barrel or splurge on a room, you’ll often end up getting a better deal. The middle categories tend to give the worst redemption values.

We’ll go over two of the most valuable hotel redemption options: PointSavers reservations and fifth night free on award stays.

Pointsavers Reservations

PointSavers reservations are probably the best option for most people because you’ll get a discount of 1,500 to 10,000 points, depending on the hotel category.

This means you’ll get a better value per point, compared to standard reservations. You may not always find a PointSavers option when traveling, but they’re worth looking for when booking rooms.

The redemption requirements for PointSavers reservations are as follows:

Hotel Category PointSavers Requirement Off-Peak (coming 2019) Peak (coming 2019)
1 6,000 4,000 8,500
2 11,000 8,000 13,000
3 16,000 12,000 18,000
4 22,500 17,500 27,500
5 32,500 27,500 37,500
6 45,000 35,000 55,000
7 55,000 45,000 65,000
8 (coming 2019) 80,000 65,000 90,000

So, what does a PointSavers reservation look like?

Let’s say you want to reserve a room at the Aloft Cleveland Airport, in Ohio. This is a category 1 hotel, so a night would usually cost 7,500 points. But if you find a PointSavers deal you can book a room for just 6,000 points.

That same room would normally cost $123 for non-Marriott members, after taxes and fees. What are your points worth in this example?

Reservation Type Cash Price Points Required Point Value (cents) Cash Back Equivalent
Standard Reservation $123 7,500 1.64 30.30%
PointSavers Reservation $123 6,000 2.05 37.85%

In this case you’d be getting 2.05 cents per point, which is an excellent value. The cash back equivalents above assume you’re making purchases at SPG/Marriott, earning 18.5X points per dollar.

This is probably one of the highest valuations you’re likely to find for Marriott points, and that’s because we’re looking at a category 1 hotel. You may find similar point values with hotels in the highest categories, although those will obviously require many more points to book.

Fifth Night Free on Award Stays

You’ll get your fifth night for free when redeeming points for five nights or more. You must book at least five award nights to get the fifth free. If you book ten nights, you’ll get the fifth and tenth nights free.

You only need enough points to book four nights — when you book five or more nights with points, one night will be discounted automatically. Only standard room reservations are eligible for this offer.

Let’s use two hotels for this example:

Category 4 hotels require 25,000 points per night, so five nights would require a total of 100,000 points (because you only need enough points for four nights). And category 7 hotels require 60,000 points per night, so you’d need 240,000 points to book five nights.

We’ll use standard room prices for non-Marriott members to calculate the point values for five nights, after taxes and fees.

Hotel Cash Price Points Required Point Value (cents) Cash Back Equivalent
Courtyard Lake Placid (Cat 4) $871.35 100,000 0.87 16.10%
JW Marriott Nashville (Cat 7) $2,196.50 240,000 0.92 17.02%

These point values are not bad, probably around the average you can expect. Keep in mind that the hotel category, location, and time of year will all play a role in determining the value of your points when redeeming.

How to Offset the Annual Fee

The SPG Luxury card has a $450 annual fee, so you should make sure to get more out of the card than you put into it.

Each year you’ll get a $300 hotel credit, good for SPG and Marriott hotel stays. This reduces the effective annual fee down to just $150, which should be pretty reasonable for anyone who stays with these hotel brands frequently.

So, how much would you need to spend to earn $150 in points? The answer depends on what you buy, and how you redeem your points.

Here’s how much you’ll need to spend at several different point values (CPP = cents per point). We’ll assume you’re spending at SPG/Marriott properties, earning 18.5X points per dollar.

Earn Rate 0.8 CPP 1 CPP 1.5 CPP 2 CPP
18.5X points per dollar $1,014 $811 $541 $406

If you can manage to get 2 cents per point, you’ll only need to spend $406 per year to offset the remaining $150. But that uses a relatively high redemption rate, which you’ll probably only find using PointSavers redemptions at lower category hotels. Your mileage will vary depending on where and when you redeem points.

Keep in mind that we didn’t include any of the other cost-saving benefits in these calculations, which can go a long way towards offsetting the annual fee.

You’ll get a Free Night Award every year after your cardmember anniversary, with a redemption value of 50,000 points — that will get you a room in a category 6 hotel, which could be worth over $500, depending on where you use it.

Cardholders also get complimentary Priority Pass Select membership, providing free access to airport lounges all over the world. Gold Elite status with Marriott is automatic, which includes more intangible benefits like late check-out and welcome gifts. And there’s a fee credit for the application for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓, worth up to $25 per year.

So, if you make good use of the card benefits, you could potentially offset the annual fee without any actual spending after the first year, using your annual Free Night Award.

The Benefits

$300 SPG/Marriott Hotel Credit

Each cardmember year, you’ll get up to $300 in statement credits for eligible purchases at SPG and Marriott properties, including room reservations.

You must pay with the SPG Luxury card to get the credits. Any incidental expenses must be charged to your room, and then paid for using the SPG Luxury card.

Statement credits will take eight to 12 weeks to post to your account.

Free Night Award

You’ll get one Free Night Award every year after your card membership anniversary, after paying the annual fee and renewing your SPG Luxury card. That means you’ll need to wait a full year before getting your first free night.

The Free Night Award will show up in your loyalty member account eight to 12 weeks after your acccount anniversary, as an e-certificate. You’ll also receive an email confirmation.

Free Night Awards are good for stays with redemptions levels of 50,000 points or less. That will get you a room in a hotel up to category 6. You can check the Free Night Award Chart to see the redemption requirements for each property.

You can use your Free Night Awards by applying the e-certificate while booking rooms. Each Free Night Award e-certificate will expire one year after being issued.

Free nights are commonly awarded with premium hotel cards, although you don’t always have to wait a full year. The Hilton Honors Aspire card, for example, offers a free night every year but it’s only good for weekend stays. You also have a chance to earn an extra free night per year by spending $60,000 with that card.

Complimentary Priority Pass Select Membership

Cardholders get complimentary Priority Pass Select membership. You and up to two guests can relax in over 1,000 Priority Pass airport lounges around the world. Additional guests will cost $27 each.

You must manually enroll in this benefit, after which you’ll receive a Priority Pass Select membership card.

Authorized users of the SPG Luxury card do not get their own Priority Pass memberships.

Premium travel cards like this usually offer some form of airport lounge access. The most common is this Priority Pass Select membership, but there is some variety. Airline credit cards sometimes offer access to their branded lounges, while the Platinum Card® from American Express (Review) is the best overall, providing wide-ranging access to a variety of lounges.

Application Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓

Cardholders will receive a statement credit for the application fee of either Global Entry ($100) or TSA Pre✓ ($85).

You must pay with the SPG Luxury card, and whichever program you apply to first will get the credit. The statement credit will be given whether you’re approved or not.

This credit is available once every four years. That means you’re getting a yearly value of up to $25, assuming you apply for Global Entry.

Many high-end travel cards provide this credit, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Platinum Card® from American Express (Review). But out of all the SPG and Marriott co-branded cards currently available, this is the only one that provides an application fee credit.

Complimentary Gold Elite Hotel Status

SPG Luxury cardholders get complimentary Gold Elite status with SPG/Marriott, which comes with a variety of perks.

Gold Elite is two steps above the basic Member status, and includes:

  • 25% bonus on base points on hotel stays
  • Complimentary enhanced in-room internet access
  • Enhanced room upgrades, when available
  • 2 p.m. late checkout
  • Welcome gift of points
  • Ultimate reservation guarantee
  • Exclusive member rates

These benefits can definitely enhance your stays, although you’re only getting a mid-range member status. This is a bit disappointing compared to some other cards. The Hilton Honors Aspire, another $450-per-year card, provides Diamond status with Hilton, the highest member level.

Fast Track to Platinum Elite Status

Spend $75,000 on eligible purchases in a calendar year with your SPG Luxury card to earn Platinum Elite member status with SPG/Marriott.

This upgrade will last for the remainder of the current year and also the subsequent year.

Platinum Elite perks include:

  • 50% bonus points on hotel stays
  • Hotel lounge access
  • Complimentary breakfast
  • Enhanced room upgrades, including Select Suites
  • Welcome gift choice
  • Annual gift choice for members with 50 qualified nights
  • 4 p.m. late checkout
  • Dedicated elite reservation line

15 Elite Night Credits

Each year you’ll get 15 Elite Night credits towards a higher member status.

Your card account must be linked to your active Marriott Loyalty Program account to get the credits. You can only get a maximum of 15 Elite Night credits per year from credit cards, even if you have other cards that provide this benefit, like the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus or Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card.

Each member status level requires a certain number of Elite Nights in a given calendar year:

Membership Status Elite Nights Required
Silver Elite 10
Gold Elite 50
Platinum Elite 75

Since SPG Luxury cardholders get automatic Gold Elite status, these Elite Night credits will count towards Platinum Elite status. Take note that automatic Gold status does not reduce the requirement for Platinum Elite status. You’ll just get 15 Elite Night credits per year, which leaves you with 60 nights required to reach Platinum Elite status.

Bonus Points when Transferring to Airlines

You can transfer your points to over 40 airline loyalty programs, where you may find a better value for them.

Marriott will add 15,000 bonus points for every 60,000 points you transfer. So if you transfer 60,000 points you’ll get credit for transferring 75,000. If you transfer 120,000 points you’ll get credit for transferring 150,000, etc.

Most transfers are at a 3:1 rate (3 Marriott Rewards points for 1 airline point or mile), although some are a bit different. You can transfer 3,000–240,000 points per day.

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

Unlimited Boingo WiFi

Cardholders get complimentary access to over one million land-based Boingo WiFi hotspots around the world. Up to four devices can be connected at once.

You must register for the Boingo American Express Plan and authenticate your Amex card before you’ll have access to this service.

Other Benefits

  • Lowest Hotel Rate Guarantee: For reservations purchased on amextravel.com.
  • No Blackout Dates: On award redemptions.
  • ShopRunner Membership: Free two-day shipping and returns at select retailers.
  • Entertainment Access: Discounts to cardmember-only events, concerts, sporting events, and shows.
  • Instant Card Number: Use your new card account instantly if Amex can verify your identity (you may not have access to the full credit line).

Shopping Benefits

  • 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 two additional years.
  • Return Protection: Provides a refund for eligible purchases if the merchant refuses to accept a return.

Travel Benefits

  • Premium Roadside Assistance: Call for help with roadside problems, like flat tires or dead batteries. No fee for the first four occasions.
  • Premium Global Assist Hotline: Help with travel accidents and emergencies. Some costs may be covered.
  • Travel Accident Insurance: Up to $500,000 in coverage against accidental death and dismemberment when traveling by common carrier.
  • Baggage Insurance Plan: Covers your lost, stolen, or damaged bags, up to $2,000 for checked bags and up to $3,000 for checked and carry-on 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: Get 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
17.49%–26.49% Variable 17.49%–26.49% Variable 26.99% Variable
Annual Fee Foreign Transaction Fee Balance Transfer Fee Cash Advance Fee
$450  0% See Terms 3%, $5 minimum
Penalty APR Late Fee Returned Payment Fee
29.99% Variable Up to $38 Up to $38

The SPG Luxury card has a lot of fancy features but the terms and fees are very simple, like most credit cards.

You’ll pay a $450 annual fee for the privilege of using this card. But as we saw above you can offset that fee with as little as $406 in spending at SPG/Marriott properties, assuming you get a very good redemption value and make use of your $300 hotel credit.

There are no foreign transaction fees, which is expected for travel cards (especially expensive travel cards like this).

You can check the official terms and conditions of the SPG Luxury Card.

What is the Credit Limit of the SPG Luxury Card?

There is no specific minimum or maximum credit limit for the SPG Luxury 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 six to 12 months or so.

Customer Support

Phone Support

Amex Customer Support 1-800-528-4800
Marriott Rewards 1-801-468-4000
SPG Rewards 1-888-625-4988

As an SPG Luxury cardholder you’ll have customer support from American Express, Marriott, and SPG. Generally, if you have a question about earning or using your points you should call Marriott or SPG. Contact American Express for other issues with your card.

American Express is known for having excellent customer service compared to the other major credit card issuers. Each year J.D. Power publishes its Credit Card Satisfaction Survey, ranking all the card issuers by several criteria. In 2018, American Express came in second out of 11 issuers, earning 4 out of 5 points in the “Interaction” category, which includes customer support experiences. That gives them a “Better Than Most” rating by J.D. Power.

Occasionally we’ve had some trouble when contacting Amex with questions. Sometimes the reps don’t seem to quite understand, and it might take a few moments to get the point across. But in general we’ve been able to get the answers we need, even if we had to be transferred around a bit.

Web Support

Amex Twitter Customer Support @AskAmex

As an Amex cardholder you can reach out to customer support through the live web chat, which will pop up after you log in to your account. The customer service reps you’ll speak with have access to your account, so you can ask them questions about anything.

Anyone can contact Amex at its Twitter customer support handle, @AskAmex. Be sure not to give any personal or account information out on Twitter or other social networks.

The Bottom Line

The Starwood Preferred Guest Luxury Card is your high-end option for SPG and Marriott stays, and if you spend a lot of money with these hotel brands it should be a strong contender.

You’ll be getting 6X more bonus points per dollar than a normal Marriott member, plus the status boost to Gold Elite for 12.5X more points per dollar. You may want to consider a different rewards card for other purchases to get a better value, although the 3X rate for airfare and at restaurants is pretty good too.

The $300 travel credit goes a long way towards offsetting the $450 annual fee. And when you consider the Free Night Award and other perks, like airport lounge access, you may conclude that the fee is actually on the cheap side.

There are some other cards designed for SPG/Marriott spending, along with cards that are co-branded with other hotel chains. And then there are general travel cards you can use with any hotel brand, and with airlines too. Check out some of those alternatives to the SPG Luxury card below.

How To Apply for the Starwood Preferred Guest Luxury Card

Click the “Apply Now” button below to apply for the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury card. American Express will typically check your credit reports from the three bureaus.

Most applicants will get an instant decision, although in some cases it can take longer. American Express may request more information to process the application, like income verification.

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)
Starwood Preferred Guest® Luxury Card
Apply Now

Starwood Preferred Guest® Luxury Card

For People with
Excellent Credit

  • Annual Fee: $450
  • Interest Rate: 17.49%–26.49% Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • 6X points per dollar at SPG and Marriott Rewards hotels
  • 3X points per dollar at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines
  • 2X points per dollar spent on all other purchases
  • $300 SPG or Marriott Rewards annual statement credit
  • Free Night Award every year after your card anniversary
  • Complimentary Gold Elite status, Platinum Elite status after spending $75,000 per year
  • Priority Pass Select membership
  • Fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓ application
  • $450 annual fee

Alternatives to the Starwood Preferred Guest Luxury Card

 

The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express (Review) is the downgraded version of the SPG Luxury card, with a lower annual fee ($95 after the first year) and less valuable benefits. But the spending rewards are pretty similar.

If you like SPG and Marriott hotels but the SPG Luxury card seems like a bit too much, this card may be more your style.

Rewards

Spending Rewards
  • 17X points or more per dollar at SPG and Marriott properties
    • 6X Bonus points per dollar from the card
    • 11X Base points per dollar or more on eligible purchases for being a Marriott member
  • 2X Bonus points on all other purchases
Signup Bonus Offer
  • 75,000 Bonus points for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months after account opening
    • Value: $600–$1,500 (assuming 0.8–2 cents per point)
    • Return on spend: 20–50%

You’ll be earning slightly fewer points per dollar at SPG and Marriott properties because this card only provides complimentary Silver Elite status (10% bonus), not Gold (25% bonus). But if you already have Gold status, or end up getting it, your spending rewards will be more like the SPG Luxury card.

If you assume a value of 0.8–2 cents per point, that 17X rate will provide a cash back equivalent of 13.6–34%. Not quite as much as the SPG Luxury card, but still very good.

There is no 3X category with the downgraded SPG card. The signup bonus is 25,000 points smaller too, although it requires $2,000 less to earn.

However, you won’t be eligible for this card’s signup bonus if you’ve had any other Marriott co-branded cards recently, similar to the restrictions on the SPG Luxury card given above.

You’re earning points in the same rewards program as the SPG Luxury card, so all the earning and redemption options are the same as those above.

Benefits

The basic SPG card has fewer cost-saving benefits than the Luxury version. Some of the biggest differences are a lack of travel credits and airport lounge access, a lesser member status, and the Free Night Award is capped at the 35,000-point redemption level, rather than 50,000.

  • Complimentary Silver Elite status: Includes a 10% point bonus, priority late checkout, an elite reservation line, and more.
  • Fast Track to Gold Elite status: Spend $30,000 in a given year to earn Gold Elite status.
  • Annual Free Night Award: Awarded after your cardmember anniversary, good for redemptions of 35,000 points or less.
  • Bonus Points for airline transfers: Get 15,000 bonus points for every 60,000 points transferred to airline loyalty programs.
  • Premium Internet Access: Free in-room premium WiFi at Marriott and SPG hotels.
  • Boingo Internet Access: Free access to over one million WiFi hotspots around the world.
  • Entertainment Access: Presale and preferred tickets to events in big cities around the U.S.
  • Complimentary ShopRunner membership: Free two-day shipping and returns at participating online merchants.
  • Purchase and travel protections: Like Roadside Assistance, Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance, and Purchase Protection.

Terms & Fees

The basic SPG card is much cheaper at just $95, waived the first year. The other card terms are mostly the same as the SPG Luxury card, including no foreign transaction fees.

Read more in our Review of the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card

 

The Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card (Review) is another option for spending at SPG and Marriott, but this card is issued by Chase instead of American Express. It’s also much cheaper than the SPG Luxury card at just $95.

It’s actually pretty similar to the basic SPG card above, but the annual fee isn’t waived the first year. Some of the benefits are a bit different as well, because they’re provided by Chase and Visa rather than American Express.

Rewards

Spending Rewards
  • 17X Marriott Rewards points or more per dollar at Marriott and SPG properties
    • 6X Bonus points per dollar from the card
    • 11X Base points per dollar or more for being a Marriott member
  • 2X Marriott Rewards Bonus points on all other purchases
Signup Bonus Offer
  • 75,000 Marriott Rewards Bonus points for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months after account opening
    • Value: $600–$1,500 (assuming 0.8–2 cents per point)
    • Return on spend: 20–50%

The Marriott Rewards Premier Plus provides complimentary Silver Elite status, rather than Gold Elite like the SPG Luxury card. So you’ll earn slightly fewer Base points at Marriott and SPG properties, although it doesn’t come out to a huge difference.

This rewards program happens to be the exact same as the basic SPG card above.

Take note that you won’t be eligible for this card’s signup bonus if you’ve had any other Marriott co-branded cards recently, similar to the restrictions on the SPG Luxury card given above.

Benefits

You won’t get all the cost-saving perks of the SPG Luxury card, but the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus does have a few nice benefits that travelers can take advantage of.

  • Annual Free Night Stay: One free night after your cardmember anniversary, good for redemption levels up to 35,000 points.
  • Complimentary Silver Elite status: Including a 10% point bonus, priority late check-out, reservation guarantees, and more.
  • Fast Track to Gold Elite status: Spend $35,000 in an account year to earn Gold Elite status.
  • 15 Elite Night Credits per year: Towards a higher member status (beginning in 2019).
  • Complimentary Premium In-room Wifi: At SPG and Marriott hotels.
  • Visa Signature Concierge service: Call for non-emergency help at any time.
  • Shopping and travel protections: Like Purchase Protection, Extended Warranties, and a Baggage Insurance Plan.

Terms & Fees

The Marriott Rewards Premier Plus has a $95 annual fee. There are no foreign transaction fees.

So it’s less expensive than the SPG Luxury card, which could make it better for people who don’t travel as much. But remember that the annual travel credit and Free Night Award can go a long way towards offsetting the Luxury card’s fee, with the potential to completely nullify it.

Read more in our Review of the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card

 

The Hilton Honors Aspire Card is the premium travel rewards card for Hilton hotels, with top-notch spending rewards and benefits. If you prefer Hilton properties to those in the Marriott/SPG portfolio, this might be the card for you.

This card is issued by American Express, like the SPG Luxury card, so some of the features will be similar.

Rewards

Spending Rewards
  • 34X points per dollar at Hilton properties
    • 14X B points per dollar from the card
    • 20X Base points per dollar for being a Hilton Diamond member
  • 7X Bonus points for:
    • Flights booked on Amex Travel or directly with airlines
    • Car rentals from select companies
    • U.S. restaurants
  • 3X Bonus points for all other purchases
Signup Bonus Offer
  • 100,000 Bonus points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months after account opening
    • Value: $400–$1,000 (assuming 0.4–1 cent per point)
    • Return on spend: 10–25%

You can see that you’ll be earning a massive number of points at Hilton properties — 34X per dollar! But take note that Hilton points aren’t typically as valuable as those in the Marriott/SPG program, and you may be lucky to get 1 cent per point when redeeming.

Even so, you’ll be getting a 13.6–34% cash back equivalent at Hilton with this card, assuming 0.4–1 cent per point. That’s a bit less than the range you’ll be getting with the SPG Luxury, but still a good rate.

The Aspire card’s 7X category is similar to the SPG Luxury card’s 3X category, except that it also includes car rentals.

Benefits

The Hilton Honors Aspire card has some excellent benefits which make the $450 annual fee seem not so high after all.

You automatically get the highest possible member status with Hilton, whereas the SPG Luxury card only gives you Gold with Marriott, a medium-level status. There’s also more potential value from travel credits, and you don’t have to wait a full year before getting your free night award.

  • Complimentary Hilton Honors Diamond Status: With a 100% bonus on Base points, digital check-in, gym access, and more.
  • $250 Annual Hilton Resort Statement Credit: Good for charges from Hilton resorts.
  • $100 Hilton On-Property Credit: Good for incidental charges at participating Hilton properties, for every eligible stay of two-nights or more.
  • $250 Annual Airline Fee Credit: Good for incidental airline fees, not ticket prices.
  • Two Annual Weekend Night Rewards: One free weekend night per year, and you can earn an additional night be spending $60,000 in a given year.
  • Priority Pass Select membership: Complimentary airport lounge access for you and up to two guests.
  • Personal Concierge: Call for assistance with a variety of tasks, like making reservations at restaurants or for travel.
  • Purchase and travel protections: Like Premium Roadside Assistance, Travel Accident Insurance, and Return Protection.

Terms & Fees

The Aspire card has terms and fees that are the same as the SPG Luxury card, where it really counts: a $450 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.

These cards are similar in many ways, with the main difference being where they provide their rewards and benefits. If you’re wondering which would be right for you, ask yourself which hotel brands you tend to spend the most money and time with.

 

The Chase Sapphire Reserve Card (Review) is a high-end general travel rewards card, earning points for a range of travel expenses, including any hotel or airline. It has the same $450 annual fee as the SPG Luxury card, although most of the perks are different.

Rewards

Spending Rewards
  • 3X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on:
    • Travel (only after using up the $300 travel credit)
    • Dining
  • 1X Ultimate Rewards point per dollar on all other purchases
Signup Bonus Offer
  • 50,000 bonus points for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months after account opening
    • Value: $500–$1,000 (assuming 1–2 cents per point)
    • Return on spend: 16.67–33.33%
Redemption Bonus
  • 50% point bonus when redeeming for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, equivalent to:
    • 4.5X points for travel and dining
    • 1.5X points for other purchases

Take note that you’ll only start earning 3X points on travel purchases after you use up the full $300 travel credit every year. So once you spend $300 on travel expenses you’ll get the credit, and then will earn 3X points for travel going forward.

The Ultimate Rewards (UR) points you earn can be redeemed in several different ways, much like the points you earn with the SPG Luxury card.

UR points are normally worth 1 cent each, or even less in some cases. But they can be redeemed through Ultimate Rewards for travel expenses for a 50% bonus, which would make them worth 1.5 cents each.

That would give you a 4.5% cash back equivalent on travel and dining, with 1.5% back for other purchases.

But the Sapphire Reserve also lets you transfer your points to a variety of airline and hotel partners at a 1:1 rate (Marriott Rewards is actually included among the partners). That means you could get an even better value for your points, as much as 2 cents per point or perhaps more.

At 2 cents per point you’d be earning a 6% cash back equivalent on travel and dining, with 2% back for every other purchase.

This rewards program is much more flexible than the SPG Luxury card’s. You won’t be limited to just SPG and Marriott hotels for the best earn rates. Instead you’ll be free to spend at any hotel, airline, car rental, travel agency, and parking garage, among other travel-related merchants.

Benefits

The Sapphire Reserve has an excellent travel credit, which can be applied to many different types of purchases. You won’t be limited to hotel spending like the SPG Luxury card. Cardholders also get the same Priority Pass Select access, and the Global Entry/TSA Pre✓ credit.

  • $300 Annual Travel Credit: Good for a wide variety of travel expenses, including hotel rooms and airfare.
  • Priority Pass Select membership: Free airport lounge access for you and up to two guests.
  • Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection: Perks at participating locations, like daily breakfast for two, free WiFi, and room upgrades.
  • Global Entry or TSA Pre✓ application fee credit: Credit for the application fee of either Global Entry ($100) or TSA Pre✓ ($85), once every four years.
  • Elite Hotel Benefits at Relais & Châteaux: Accelerated progress towards Club 5C member status.
  • Visa Infinite Concierge: Available at any time for non-emergency assistance.
  • Special Car Rental Privileges: Upgrades and discounts at Avis, Silvercar, and National Car Rental.
  • Purchase and travel protections: Such as Price Protection, Travel and Emergency Assistance, and Trip Delay Reimbursement.

Terms & Fees

Despite the other differences, the terms and fees of the Sapphire Reserve are very much like the SPG Luxury card.

It costs $450 per year, and there are no foreign transaction fees.

Read more in our Review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

Starwood Preferred Guest® Luxury Card
Apply Now

Starwood Preferred Guest® Luxury Card

For People with
Excellent Credit

  • Annual Fee: $450
  • Interest Rate: 17.49%–26.49% Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • 6X points per dollar at SPG and Marriott Rewards hotels
  • 3X points per dollar at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines
  • 2X points per dollar spent on all other purchases
  • $300 SPG or Marriott Rewards annual statement credit
  • Free Night Award every year after your card anniversary
  • Complimentary Gold Elite status, Platinum Elite status after spending $75,000 per year
  • Priority Pass Select membership
  • Fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓ application
  • $450 annual fee
Not a fan of SPG and Marriott? See some other great card options in the Best Hotel Credit Cards of 2018.

Was this review helpful to you? Go ahead and share it with a friend! And if you have the Starwood Preferred Guest Luxury Credit Card, feel free to leave your own review and let us know what you think!

Was this helpful?

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by bank advertisers. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by bank advertisers. It is not the bank advertisers' responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

The Insider

Brendan Harkness
Low-Interest Credit Cards
Brendan Harkness | Sep 20, 2018

Credit cards are known for their high interest rates, but is this true across the board? Read about some credit cards with unusually low APRs here.

Read More
Susan Shain
Chase Sapphire Reserve vs Amex Platinum: Which One Is Better for You? 
Susan Shain | Sep 20, 2018

It's tough to choose between the Chase Sapphire Reserve vs Amex Platinum. We compare them head-to-head and determine which is the superior pick.

Read More
Susan Shain
The Ultimate Guide to Air Miles Credit Cards (Plus Our 8 Favorites)
Susan Shain | Sep 19, 2018

Wondering how air miles credit cards work — and which one to choose? We'll help you start earning major travel rewards with our top 8 favorite cards.

Read More