American Express Starwood Preferred Guest

4 / 5

At a Glance

  • Welcome bonus after $1,500 spent 1st 3 months
  • 5x earn rate for SPG/Marriott dollars
  • $120 annual fee

Hits

  • Massive points
  • Annual free night
  • Additional rewards value

Misses

  • Card is only for those that travel or take holiday

50,000 Bonus Points, Annual Free Night & More

American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Review

Update Aug 2018: In light of the exciting Marriott merger, this card has been updated.

Starwood Preferred Guest – Value Under a Different Name

The Starwood Amex

The Starwood Preferred Guest credit card is a fascinating example of very good value crushed by the weight of a bad name. Of course, we do sympathize with the brand manager – how else would you describe a network of hotels including Sheraton, The W, Westin, Le Meridien, St Regis, and others? With the SPG cards, you get points redeemable at any of these properties, or the properties held by sister group Marriott.

As we will see in the review, points are quite flexible as they may be used directly to book your next vacation or business trip.

Sign Up Bonus

The 50,000 bonus points are yours, but they will require $1,500 in spend within three months of activation AND $120 annual fee. Additionally receive an annual free night at eligible location across the globe. This together with points provides unique value.

Points very valuable –  SPG and Marriott dollars equate to 5 points for each dollar spent. When comparing SPG AMEX to Marriott, SPG hails two points for every general purchase compared to 1 from Marriott rewards card. You can see more in our SPG vs. Marriott credit card comparison.

Earn Rate

The points themselves are pretty valuable – we took a lap around the internet and found that they are widely considered to be worth above 2 cents each. This means you get massive return when you use it at Starwood or Marriott properties, and a great rate everywhere else as well.

Starwood or Marriott PropertiesEverything Else
Points Per Dollar 2 1

The value of the points are maximized when using them for room redemption.

What can you get for Your Points?

Let’s dig into point redemption scenarios to try and uncover the value.

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Starpoints Needed by Category
Free Night - Weekday 3,000 4,000 7,000 10,000 12,000-16,000 20,000-25,000 30,35,000
Weekends 2,000 3,000 7,000 10,000 12,000-16,000 20,000-25,000 30,35,000
Cash / Points 1,200+25 1,600+30 2,800+45 4,000+60 4,800+90 8,000+150 15,000+275
Please do note that there are pretty frequent blackout periods for the cash/points options, which is quite frustrating.

Point-only purchases experience much fewer blackouts, but anything more than a few nights in category 3+ hotels (pretty hard to find category 1 or 2 hotels in tourist destinations) will require a bit of saving. However, once you’ve covered your $1,500 spend requirement to release your 50,000 bonus, you are already on your way to earn enough points to get a night at a category 3 hotel for free.

Insurance

Travel medical insurance is a big omission, and might be a deal breaker for those considering SPG as the primary travel card.

InsuranceBenefit
Travel Accident Insurance Up to $500k coverage if injured whilst on travel carrier
Trip Interruption Covers non-refundable travel arrangements and transportation (up to $1,500 per insured person) should your trip be interrupted / delayed
Rental Theft and Damage Coverage up to $85k car value. Card must be used.
Lost Baggage Up to $500 coverage for lost or stolen luggage.
Flight Delay Up to $500 compensation when flight delayed, to be used for hotel, restaurant expenses, etc.

Additional Bits and Bobs

If you spend $30k on the card within a year you will be automatically upgraded to a Starwood Gold Preferred Guest Gold Elite, which gives you lots of great perks when staying at Starwood properties, like late checkout, upgrade to a better room at check-in, free internet, and a bunch of other stuff.

The card comes with buyers assurance, which extends the manufacturer’s warranty by 50% up to a full year, and purchase protection, offering a refund if a purchase is found at a lower price within 60 days.

Closing Balance

There is value in the SPG card, the massive bonus, annual free night and rewards points are worth a great deal if used to redeem hotel rooms – definitely compensating for the $120 fee. If you are a frequent hotel guest, the massive earn rate at SPG and Marriott properties will pay you back in spades. We wouldn’t call it the best travel credit card in Canada, but it’s value is overlooked and if you are a frequent hotel guest this is an important card to have in your wallet.

Disclosures
Card Type Credit
Annual Fee $120
Supplementary Card Fee $0
Purchase Regular APR 19.99%*
Cash Advance Rate 22.99%*
Penalty APR 23.99%-26.99%*
Welcome Bonus - conditions apply **50,000 welcome bonus points*

Charge $1,500 within three months

5 points for every dollar spent a SPG or Marriott locations

2 points for every general dollar spent a

Annual free night on anniversary date of card at select properties

Upgrade to gold elite status with $30k in purchases

Balance Transfer No
Disclosure

*American Express is not responsible for maintaining or monitoring the accuracy of information on this website. For full details and current product information click the Apply now link. Conditions apply

**Earn a Welcome Bonus of 20,000 points when you charge $1,500 in purchases to your Card in your first three months of Card membership.

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