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Updated- 10/5/06

Why is this card so hot?! This card earns you free hotel nights, OR free flights.... and at a great rate too. You earn 1 hotel point for every dollar spent toward a free hotel room, or up to 1.25 real airline frequent flier miles. On top of its rewards, the card comes with premium card holder benefits. Starwood is the parent company of Sheraton, Westin, W Hotels, St. Regis, Le Meridien, and The Luxury Collection.

The Basics-
Annual fee- $30, generally waived for the first year, and worth the money any year.
Rewards- Hotel points (1/$) or Real Airline Miles (up to 1.25/$)
APR's- 2.9% Intro, then 17.49%
Bonus- 10,000 bonus points
Apply- Thru This Link Link fixed.

Current Limited-Time Offers
Please let me know if you are aware of any additional current offers for the card.

    * [l=10,000 bonus points to sign up] https://www201.americanexpress.com/drivetoweb/DrivetoWebServlet?CardType=6&campaignId=610&request_type=verify[/s]
    * 4,000 bonus points for staying at Four Points by Sheraton Register now and stay 4 nights for 4,000 bonus points by booking online or call 888-625-4988 and mention registration code NBE. (Thanks g10ny)


Card Benefits
Sure, the rewards are great, but the card itself is excellent as well with a lot of premium credit card features for a low annual fee.

    * Buyers Assurance Extended Warranty
    * Purchase Protection
    * Return Protection
    * Best Value Guarantee (BVG)




Hotel Rewards-
What could be better.... no capacity restrictions, no blackouts! As AyresFan puts it, if you can get a Starwood room for cash, you can get it for points too. All point requirements are based on hotel category. The more basic hotels are category one, as you move up in quality or move to more sought after locations, you move up in category. Find Category Listings here.

Airline Rewards-
You can transfer Starwood points into 'real' frequent flier miles on a 1 to 1 ratio into twenty-six airline frequent flier programs. You can start transferring at just 2,500 miles. Then, the offer really gets great.... For every 20,000 SPG points you turn into miles, you will receive a 5,000 mile bonus. So you are essentially earning 1.25 miles per $ (thats more miles for general purchases than any airline card I know.) Read "Play the System" below in this OP before transferring.


    Good Redeptions- Here are the airlines you can transfer 1 Starpoint=1 mile with. Then if you transfer 20,000 points to one of these programs, you'll get 5,000 additional miles. New- Click the linked airlines to view their mileage award charts. That way you'll have a good idea of which program requires the fewest miles for your free trip. As long as they have availability, that would be the airline to transfer miles to.

    Poor Redemptions- And here's the programs which you should rule out transferring miles to.

      United (2 Starpoints=1 mile), Varig (2=1), Air New Zealand (65=1), Jet Blue (N/A), Southwest (N/A)




Play the System-
With a traditional Airline Credit Card- You are stuck with a steep annual fee ($30-$70 more than this card) and a lackluster choice in rewards. If you have ABC Airline's Credit Card, have all the miles you need, and then realize that XYZ is having a mileage reward sale offering free trips to your destination for fewer miles, or with better schedules.... too bad. You are stuck with ABC.

With the Starwood Card- You can hand pick your rewards. With a bit of research (or advice from fellow FW'ers) you can transfer your points into an airline mileage program requiring the fewest miles and/or offering the best seats, schedules, or bonus offers. Don't forget, it's free and instant to sign up for a frequent flier account. So don't limit yourself to transferring miles into frequent flier programs you are a member of now.

So maybe you've never flown on Singapore Airlines or any of its partners in your life. With SPG, you can still sign up for their mileage program, transfer your points to their program, and travel on this fine airline or one of its partners for free your very first time.

    A True Example: I had the American Airlines Master Card, spent $50,000 with the card and got a free coach ticket to Italy for 50,000 miles. If I had tthe Starwood AMEX card, for that same $50,000 in spending I would have earned 60,000 miles in Cathay Pacific (a partner with British Airways). That would have beeen enough for a free Business Class Ticket on BA.


Things to remember-
1) Signing up for a frequent flier program is free, instant, and easy. When you are ready to convert points into miles, don't just look into frequent flier programs you are already a member of. Find the best mileage offer, and if you aren't a member of that program, sign up!
2) Just because ABC airlines doesn't fly between your city and your 'goal destination,' it doesn't mean that they don't have an excellent reward on one of their partner airlines between those two cities. (ie, look at my example.... Cathay has the better offer to Europe, on BA, than BA has itself.

    In the "Airline Rewards" section above, you can click on the linked airlines, and I've set up the link to take you directly to the airlines frequent flier redemption chart so that you can see exactly how many miles they require for a free trip to various destinations. I'll continue to add more links.


Transfer Times-
From what I've heard it can take a long time to transfer your SPG points into miles. Several weeks I think. Please reply to this post and let us know your experience. If thats the only bad part about this card.... no problem. Just keep in mind that when you transfer points into a program, they may have reward seat space available today, but they may not have it by the time your miles make it into the airline account, those seats may no longer be available. The best way to combat this (and get the most value of your miles in any situation) is to plan out your free trip well in advance.

Best Reward-
Since you can transfer SPG points to so many airline frequent flier programs, I'd like to create a list of the SPG partner airlines offering the best awards to each destination. It's a work in progress, so the results may change over time (and I don't guarantee their accuracy.) Of course results may differ by your exact deparure city, departure time, routing etc. This list is primarily just 'saver' awards (those which require the fewest miles but often come with the greatest blackouts and capacity restrictions. For this list though, I'll just assume leaving from the Continental U.S. Hopefully this 'short list' will give you an idea of which airline to transfer your miles to in order stretch your points. Y=Coach, C=Business, F=First


    Dest.-..Class-..Airline-...Miles-..Additional Info-
    Alaska.....Y....Alaska.....20,000..Other airlines usually 40,000
    Hawaii.....Y....????......????
    Europe.....?....????.......????
    Europe.....C....Cathay.....50,000..Book on British using Cathay Miles (parners)
    Asia.......?....????.......????
    Australia..Y....Qantas.....48,000
    Africa.....?....????.......????
    Mexico.....Y....American...25,000..Most airlines 35,000
    Canada.....?....????.......????



Other Links-

    * cbass98's Thread Discusses the 6,000 points bonus for signing up. (The standard bonus is 4,000)
    * Travel Credit Cards An in depth discussion about which credit cards to use to get you on your next trip, and which ones to use once you're there. A good place to see how Starwood compares against other travel reward cards. Plus the OP has a formula to calculate the value of a mile.
    * FlyerTalk SPG Thread Also a good resource.


More coming.... reply with any additional information.[/L]

Member Summary
Most Recent Posts
Thanks; I didn't realize it was still advertised. The link on their home page only shows the 10k offer now. I'll forwa... (more)

thok (Apr. 26, 2009 @ 3:49p) |

Same thing happened with my HHonors Bonus Points
It was like 30k for signup and if you spent 5k in 6 months they would bo... (more)

PorStaker (Apr. 30, 2009 @ 10:54p) |

AMEX is getting so tight! 200k household income, 1 card with them, $300 balance reporting on my credit file of about 100... (more)

PorStaker (May. 01, 2009 @ 12:16a) |

Starwood Preferred Guest program discussion on FlyerTalk for reference.

AMEX also gives a 50% off rack rate coupon with your card. It is good for up to 5 nights but can not be combined with other offers. Note that half off RACK may be higher or lower than other best available rates.

Best Value Guarantee (BVG) no longer availible.

2/27/08 - deleted link to spgcard.com - link is dead.
Best signup offers are currently:

SPG Personal Amex - 10,000 SPG points with first use and 15,000 bonus points if you spend $15,000 in your first 6 months.

SPG Business Amex - 10,000 SPG points after first use.

10/21/08: for what it's worth: AMEX Credit Bureau tells me that it reports the prior months' activity to the three credit bureaus on the 16th of each month.

generally speaking, starwoods are pretty nice properties to stay at too. a big advantage of the SPG program is no blackout dates or quotas, if there is a 'standard' room available, you can book it with points.

a good combination with the SPG card for non-frequent starwood guests is the ameniti program (on a good deal like the last one), as this immediately gets you gold SPG status. the perks aren't great (upgrades for golds are almost non-existent), but you do get an extra starpoint per dollar spent during SPG stays, and you may also get access to targeted promos like the recent 50% off one reward redemption.

also AMEX will do their own targeted promos occasionally - i got selected for a 50% bonus on AMEX starpoints earned for a 2 or 3 month period earlier this year - got an extra 5k points or so out of that.

cryptopunk said:
a good combination with the SPG card for non-frequent starwood guests is the ameniti program (on a good deal like the last one), as this immediately gets you gold SPG status. the perks aren't great (upgrades for golds are almost non-existent), but you do get an extra starpoint per dollar spent during SPG stays, and you may also get access to targeted promos like the recent 50% off one reward redemption.


Yes, and the ameniti program is good to sign up just for the bonus United miles too. I didn't realize that it paired up so well with SPG too. You could get a bundle of miles between the two programs. I'll have to work on adding more info about Ameniti in this post in the future.

There are several strategies in attaining gold with SPG. Hopefully people will reply with additional information.

I'll keep adding to the OP, so that it serves as a synopsis of this thread. Of course I'll try to give credit to whomever steers me toward new information.

OP, I'm pretty sure that Starwood is not the parent company of Hilton.

StarHusker said: OP, I'm pretty sure that Starwood is not the parent company of Hilton.
I'm 100% sure. I think that the OP meant to put "Sheraton" where the H word is.

Hilton has their own affinity AMEX product, but in my humble opinion it is not worth having, even with no fee!

StarHusker said: OP, I'm pretty sure that Starwood is not the parent company of Hilton.

Oooops. I was thinking one thing and typing another. Thanks. It's corrected

one other spg AMEX benefit not yet mentioned is the free 50% off rack rate cert (1 stay, up to 5 nights) you get each year. this isn't terribly useful, but i've always managed to find some use for them - usually save $20-50/night. they're more usuable overseas than in the states (frequently the internet rate is less than half the rack rate). but with a little diligence a useful benefit.

also, keep up with the spg.com website, where there are usually a few different promos running.

BVG

Thanks to FFGuru for your effort on this thread. Also thanks to CBass for the application link, it's a great deal. I'm probably going to apply for this card later in the week. It's hard to resist with the extra bonus points and fee free for the first year. Even though I don't often stay at Starwoods when I travel the perks of the card make it worth the fee.

I'm wondering though, is it possible to earn the additional 6K points in the first year but just eating lunch at a Starwood hotel and that would count as a stay?

SoBeyondTheNorm said: I'm wondering though, is it possible to earn the additional 6K points in the first year but just eating lunch at a Starwood hotel and that would count as a stay?
Lunch is not equal to a stay.

Don't forget that they are one of the only programs that I know of that will let you redeem a combination of cash & points towards a night stay. So you can 'save' a bit on your per night stays, even with a low amount of points accumulated.

See below:

-------------------------------------
Redeem Your Starpoints
CASH & POINTS*

Stretch your Starpoints! Starwood Preferred GuestŪ lets you redeem free nights using a combination of cash and StarpointsŪ. Please note that participating hotels outside the U.S. feature the same Starpoint values combined with the local currency equivalent at time of reservation.*

Minimum Starpoints Needed, by Hotel/Resort Category* per night:
Cat 1 Cash & Points 1,200 Starpoints + $25
Cat 2 1,600 Starpoints + $30
Cat 3 2,800 Starpoints + $45
Cat 4 4,000 Starpoints + $60
Cat 5 n/a
Cat 6 n/a

* Terms & Conditions:

Offer is valid for all Starwood Preferred Guests.
Offer is valid at promotion participating properties only.
Offer is based upon availability and on single or double occupancy; charge may apply for additional guests.
Guest is responsible for all taxes and service charges affiliated with the award reservation.
Local guarantee and cancellation policy applies.
Guest will not receive Starpoints or airline miles for their reservation; therefore, a Cash & Points stay does not qualify as an eligible stay toward earning elite level or toward any promotions requiring nights or stays.
Due to local currency fluctuations for hotels outside the U.S. the cash component of this award will be quoted at the time of the reservation and will remain static until the reservation is consumed.

Have any of you ever stay in a country for a period of time (more than 6 months) and using the SPG?

I'll be having a job rotation to a country(Asia) where they only have 3 type of AMEX cards and 2 of them are charge cards. I am wondering if it's a good decision to keep using my SPG (or any AMEX cards in general) in that country or just apply for new cards in that country?

PS: I'll be there for up to 2 years.

yes, i spent a year in europe using my AMEX spg regularly. they only gotcha is that AMEX puts a foreign currency conversion surcharge onto each charge (2%). if you can apply for a card issued in the country you'll be in, then i'd recommend going that route.

for more information on the starwood program, i woudl recommend checking out flyertalk

OP: The title confuses me a bit. One can double the Starwood reward points if one pays income tax with this card. The "2x points for taxes" may be modified to "double points for tax payment."

Great thread! Thanks OP!

Not all starwood hotels allow you to do that.
WVU said: Don't forget that they are one of the only programs that I know of that will let you redeem a combination of cash & points towards a night stay. So you can 'save' a bit on your per night stays, even with a low amount of points accumulated.

See below:

-------------------------------------
Redeem Your Starpoints
CASH & POINTS*

Stretch your Starpoints! Starwood Preferred GuestŪ lets you redeem free nights using a combination of cash and StarpointsŪ. Please note that participating hotels outside the U.S. feature the same Starpoint values combined with the local currency equivalent at time of reservation.*

Minimum Starpoints Needed, by Hotel/Resort Category* per night:
Cat 1 Cash & Points 1,200 Starpoints + $25
Cat 2 1,600 Starpoints + $30
Cat 3 2,800 Starpoints + $45
Cat 4 4,000 Starpoints + $60
Cat 5 n/a
Cat 6 n/a

* Terms & Conditions:

Offer is valid for all Starwood Preferred Guests.
Offer is valid at promotion participating properties only.
Offer is based upon availability and on single or double occupancy; charge may apply for additional guests.
Guest is responsible for all taxes and service charges affiliated with the award reservation.
Local guarantee and cancellation policy applies.
Guest will not receive Starpoints or airline miles for their reservation; therefore, a Cash & Points stay does not qualify as an eligible stay toward earning elite level or toward any promotions requiring nights or stays.
Due to local currency fluctuations for hotels outside the U.S. the cash component of this award will be quoted at the time of the reservation and will remain static until the reservation is consumed.

bozo007 said: SoBeyondTheNorm said: I'm wondering though, is it possible to earn the additional 6K points in the first year but just eating lunch at a Starwood hotel and that would count as a stay?
Lunch is not equal to a stay.


Actually, some people have reported success buying things at the hotel. The trick is it needs to appear on your credit card as being billed by the Hotel, not the resturant. Often the resturant will allow you to pay your bill at the front desk if you ask, so give it a try.

FFGuru said: You cannot transfer points to miles until you have reached the 20,000 point threshold.
FFGuru, thanks for putting this together. A few points:
1. I don't believe this statement is true. The minimum number of points in a transfer is 2,500 for regular members, 1,500 for gold members, and no minimum for platinum. You can see this in the SPG T&C here (under EARNING AND USING STARPOINTS WITH PROGRAM PARTNERS).
2. One thing you should point out about the hotel awards is that they are not capacity controlled (as cryptopunk noted earlier). Meaning if there is a room you can reserve using cash, you can also use points to reserve the room. This is a huge benefit.
3. Normally SPG accounts will expire if there is you are not an "active" member. SPG updated their T&C within the last year to indicate that earning points with the AMEX SPG card makes someone active. But if you cancel your AMEX SPG card, you need to keep your account active by earning points "as a result of activities at participating Starwood Properties" or use your points within a year from the last time you earned any. They are very strict about this.

Link goes to paypal.

Great thread.

I have had my SPG card for 5 years. I was able to get the $30 fee waived the first 3 years. THey would not waive the 4th year, but as others have pointed out, it is well worth the $30.

Thanks OP for all these detailed info!

bugpowder said: Link goes to paypal.
Because OP used a http tag for a https link.

StarHusker said: bugpowder said: Link goes to paypal.
Because OP used a http tag for a https link.


fixed... sorry

ss315 said: Great thread.

I have had my SPG card for 5 years. I was able to get the $30 fee waived the first 3 years. THey would not waive the 4th year, but as others have pointed out, it is well worth the $30.


Did you threaten to cancel for the first three years?

Does anyone know how many days it takes to transfer the starwood points into one of those mileage programs?

FFGuru said:
* Double Points for paying off your taxes Thru April 17
Don't overlook the 2.49% "convenience" fee charged by the payment service provider. That negates most, if not all, of the benefit of double points.

TheGrayMan said: FFGuru said:
* Double Points for paying off your taxes Thru April 17
Don't overlook the 2.49% "convenience" fee charged by the payment service provider. That negates most, if not all, of the benefit of double points.


Good point, TheGrayMan, thus the "double points for taxes" may not qualify to be a "striking feature" of this card (highlighted in thread title).

Good point. Thanks!

76hhma said: ss315 said: Great thread.

I have had my SPG card for 5 years. I was able to get the $30 fee waived the first 3 years. THey would not waive the 4th year, but as others have pointed out, it is well worth the $30.


Did you threaten to cancel for the first three years?


OK, I tried (this is my second year) to get my annual fee ($30) waived today. After some conversation with the retention dept., I got a statement credit for $15; FYI. ss315 must be very good at negotiating to have annual fee waived for three years.

the perks aren't great (upgrades for golds are almost non-existent)

I dont agree with that.. I've been SPG Gold for 3 years now and have ALWAYS been upgraded at various SPG properties worldwide.

Great post OP

ps. Anyone travelling to Amsterdam should book their stay at the SPG property call the Pulitzer Hotel. It was featured in the movie Oceans 12. Just returned and it was great (and free!)

This card has a bunch of nice features like BVG and free extra warranty time (matching up to a year). Great for that new De11 600m lappy...

As snipped from AMEX's web site [My notes are in italics]:

Buyer's Assurance [Double a 1 yr warranty]
With the Buyer's Assurance Plan, you can shop worry-free knowing that the terms of the original manufacturer's warranty will be matched up to one additional year, on warranties of five years or less that are eligible in the U.S.

Online Fraud Protection Guarantee
Use the American Express Card online, and you won't be responsible for any fraudulent charges. Period. No fine print, no deductible - just pure protection, so you can shop with confidence anywhere on the Internet.

Purchase Protection Plan
Shop with confidence and the Purchase Protection Plan, which protects eligible purchases made with the Card against accidental damage and theft for up to 90 days from the date of purchase.

Return Protection
If you try to return a designated item within 90 days from the date of purchase and the merchant won't take it back, American Express will refund the full purchase price, up to $300 per item, excluding shipping and handling.

Best Value Guarantee [ a.k.a. BVG, necessary on some FW deals ]
Getting the lowest price is easy. If you see an identical covered item advertised in print at a lower price than you paid, within 60 days of the purchase date, we will reimburse you for the difference, up to $250 per item excluding taxes, shipping and handling, and up to $1,000 annually per Card Account. For more details, or to file a claim, call 1-800-557-8317.

I think someone else mentioned this in the thread, but if you want to get the additional 6K pts, you may not need to stay at the hotel. You can try to buy a Coke at the cafe or something. As long as the charge comes from "Starwoods" and not "Tom's Diner," you may be able to get the 1K bonus. Some guys on Flyertalk have had this happen (seems like a 50/50 shot). Doesn't hurt to try.

FFGuru said: Rewards- Hotel points (3/$ @ Starwood, 1/$ elsewhere) or Real Airline Miles (up to 1.25/$)

This is good card, but this statement is not very accurate, this card is flat 1 point/dollar card. the extra 2 points when staying at Starwood is coming from SPG program, you will get it if you are SPG member and use whatever card.

76hhma said: 76hhma said: ss315 said: Great thread.

I have had my SPG card for 5 years. I was able to get the $30 fee waived the first 3 years. THey would not waive the 4th year, but as others have pointed out, it is well worth the $30.


Did you threaten to cancel for the first three years?


OK, I tried (this is my second year) to get my annual fee ($30) waived today. After some conversation with the retention dept., I got a statement credit for $15; FYI. ss315 must be very good at negotiating to have annual fee waived for three years.


Just a bit of persistence. And yes, I did threaten to cancel if they did not waive the fee.

Cbass98 said: I think someone else mentioned this in the thread, but if you want to get the additional 6K pts, you may not need to stay at the hotel. You can try to buy a Coke at the cafe or something. As long as the charge comes from "Starwoods" and not "Tom's Diner," you may be able to get the 1K bonus. Some guys on Flyertalk have had this happen (seems like a 50/50 shot). Doesn't hurt to try.

This may work, but it is a big YMMV. Basically if the hotel hotel restaurant bill can be charged to your room (no you don't have to be staying there) it may work. Some Starwoods retaurants are independent of the hotel they are in. Kinda like McDonalds in Wally World...

I have had the card for 4 years and have been very pleased with it due to the $30 fee and all of the features. Thanks for the thread OP ... I will have to try the trick with the buying a coke at a Starwood hotel.

cryptopunk said: they only gotcha is that AMEX puts a foreign currency conversion surcharge onto each charge (2%). if you can apply for a card issued in the country you'll be in, then i'd recommend going that routeOr just use any Capital One CC.

this card is GREAAAAAAAAAT
me and husband always go on one-night mini-honeymoons for free at various hotels in tri-state area
its a blast when its free
you can get upgraded to gold for free, (there was a thread abt this on FW), and then you get 3 pts for every dollar that you spend in the hotel, on say, movies, drinks, etc
plus you get the reg 1 pt per dollar for using the card, so technically you get 4 pts for every dollar you spend in the starwood hotel
i SWEAR by this card, worth e/ penny of the $30

DBTZ said: this card is GREAAAAAAAAAT......
you can get upgraded to gold for free, (there was a thread abt this on FW)


I remember that thread too, but I can't seem to find it anywhere. Do you remember where you saw it? I know you can get upgraded to Gold automatically by joining Ameniti (United Airlines' premier travel club) That may be an option, and when combined with the free companion travel, it may make it worth the steep Ameniti membership. For more info on Ameniti click here. Have they stopped giving out tremendous bonus miles for signing up?

How else can one upgrade to Starwood gold for the free upgrades?

Skipping 446 Messages...
AMEX is getting so tight! 200k household income, 1 card with them, $300 balance reporting on my credit file of about 100k credit limits and a 770 credit score was just denied... Not sure what they want. Maybe just less business.



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