Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express: A hotel rewards card worth checking out

Young couple walking into a hotel lobby, about to use their Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card Young couple walking into a hotel lobby, about to use their Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card Image:

In a Nutshell

Though you'll pay an annual fee ($0 intro, $95 after first year), Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express offers rewards redeemable toward flights on more than 150 airlines and hotel stays at over 1,300 hotels.

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These offers are no longer available on our site: Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card, Hilton Honors Card from American Express, The Hyatt Credit Card

Are you a frequent traveler? Do you often find yourself coming “home” to a Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG®) or Marriott Rewards® hotel?

If so, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express could be a valuable addition to your wallet.

From our partner

Unlike other popular travel rewards cards that emphasize airfare and airline miles, this one places a priority on hotel stays. It’s not for everyone, but it’s a great all-around hotel card that offers the chance to earn extra rewards at more than 1,300 participating hotels and resorts across more than 100 countries.

You can earn six Starpoints® for every $1 of eligible purchases spent at participating SPG® and Marriott Rewards® hotels and two Starpoints® for all other purchases. Cardholders who are also members of the SPG® loyalty program can earn up to five Starpoints® for every $1 of eligible purchases spent at participating Starwood hotels.

What’s a Starpoint®, you ask?

It’s the specific rewards currency associated with SPG® hotels, but you can redeem Starpoints® for more than just hotel stays. You can also transfer them to more than 30 airline frequent flyer programs (mostly on a one-to-one basis) and redeem them for flights on over 150 airlines through SPG® Flights.

What are credit card points and miles (really) worth?

Now, let’s take a look at how quickly the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express can help you rack up rewards — and whether it’s worth the $0 intro, $95 after first year annual fee.

What we like Heads up
  • Earn six Starpoints® for every $1 of eligible purchases spent at participating SPG® and Marriott Rewards® hotels
  • Starpoints® can be transferred to over 30 airline frequent flyer programs
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Annual fee: $0 intro, $95 after first year
  • Other travel cards may provide a lot more flexibility
  • Not a great choice if you don’t regularly travel

  1. The rundown: Everything we like about Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
  2. Heads up: What you should consider before applying for the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
  3. Do the math: How to get the most out of Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
  4. The competition: How Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express stacks up against similar cards
  5. Bottom line: Is Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express right for you?
  6. Reviews roundup: What our members say about Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

The rundown: Everything we like about Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

With no foreign transaction fees and other essential travel perks, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express is pretty much a no-brainer if Starwood properties are your second home.

Here’s what we like most about it.

An annual fee that won’t break the bank

The $0 intro, $95 after first year annual fee is in-line with what we’ve seen from other travel rewards cards in this category.

A generous welcome offer

You’ll earn 75,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.

Great rewards-earning potential

Earn six Starpoints® for every $1 of eligible purchases spent on the card at participating SPG® and Marriott Rewards® hotels and two Starpoint® for all other eligible purchases.

It pays to join the SPG® loyalty program

When you use your card at participating Starwood hotels, you’ll earn up to five Starpoints® for every $1 spent on eligible purchases — two as a card member on top of the two or three you can earn as an SPG® member.

Redemption flexibility

Starpoints® can be transferred to over 30 airline frequent flyer programs, mostly on a one-to-one basis. What’s more, you’ll receive a 5,000 Starpoint® bonus when you transfer 20,000 Starpoints® to a participating frequent flyer program in one transaction.

Lots of ways to use those Starpoints®

Redeem Starpoints® at over 1,300 participating hotels and resorts in more than 100 countries and for flights on more than 150 airlines with SPG® Flights with no blackout dates.

Heads up: What you should consider before applying for Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

“This is a great card for frequent travelers, especially if you typically stay at Starwood hotels,” says Brandon Yahn, founder of the personal finance website Student Loans Guy and former Credit Karma employee. “If a person doesn’t travel much or tends to travel a lot with other hotel chains, then this card may not be the right fit.”

Yahn notes that other travel cards may provide a lot more flexibility than the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express. For example, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers you the chance to earn two points per $1 on travel and dining purchases worldwide and one point per $1 on all other purchases. Depending on how you redeem those points, they may offer more value and flexibility than Starpoints®.

From our partner

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

From cardholders in the last year

See Details, Rates & Fees

In the end, it basically comes down to two factors: where you spend your money and how you redeem your rewards. If you’re a frequent Starwood hotels guest, Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express could be your best bet in terms of rewards value.

Do the math: How to get the most out of Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

For Alex Miller, founder of the rewards strategy website Upgraded Points, the best benefit from the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express is the points transfer options.

“[Many] other hotel credit card or hotel loyalty program [do not] offer you the ability to transfer reward points to 30-plus partners, including airlines, at [such] a generous 1:1 ratio,” says Miller. On top of that, if you convert your Starpoints® to miles with an airline’s frequent flier program, you’ll get 5,000 bonus miles for every 20,000 Starpoints® you transfer.

Compared to other hotel points, Starpoints® tend to be more valuable for hotel stays and upgrades, says Miller. Redemptions for hotel stays start as low as 2,000 Starpoints® per night, and upgrades start as low as 1,000 Starpoints®. Plus, when you book award stays for five nights with Starpoints® at any of Starwood’s Category 3–7 hotels, the fifth night will be at no charge.

Another awesome card benefit: You can use your Starpoints® to bid on SPG® Moments, exclusive events that may include meet-and-greets with Major League Baseball teams, VIP culinary experiences and red carpet access at film premieres.

The competition: How Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express stacks up against similar cards

Hotel brand or chain Credit card
Marriott Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card
Hilton Hilton Honors Card from American Express
The Hyatt The Hyatt Credit Card

Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card

If you have this card, you’ll earn five points per $1 spent at participating Marriott Rewards® and SPG® hotels. You’ll also get two points per $1 spent on airline tickets purchased directly from the airline and at car rental agencies and restaurants. Earn one point per $1 spent on other purchases.

 

From our partner

Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card

From cardholders in the last year

Hilton Honors™ Card from American Express

With this card, you’ll earn seven Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each $1 spent at a participating hotel or resort within the Hilton Portfolio. Also, earn five Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each $1 spent at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations. You’ll earn three Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases.

The Hyatt Credit Card

From our partner

The Hyatt Credit Card

From cardholders in the last year

Earn three points per $1 spent on purchases at Hyatt hotels and resorts. Also, get two points per $1 at restaurants, on airline tickets purchased directly from the airline and at car rental agencies. You’ll get one point per $1 on other purchases.


Bottom line: Is the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express right for you?

All things considered, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express is one of the best hotel rewards cards on the market.

The Starpoints® earned with this card can be redeemed for hotel stays at an impressive number of properties, and the card’s partnerships with numerous airlines makes for easy point transfers. Of course, if you’re looking for an extra-creative way to use your Starpoints®, you may want to consider bidding on exclusive events.

With that said, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express isn’t for everyone. If you’re a budget-conscious traveler, you’re probably better off earning points or miles with a general rewards card like Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Freedom®.


Reviews roundup: What our members say about Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

“Good Filler/Catch All Card”

★★★★★

Jan 10, 2018

I use this card whenever American Express is accepted and I have random expenses that I cannot get better rewards for by using another card. They also have random convenient instant rebates I didn’t know about until recently at places like Starbucks and Five Guys Burger though the offers are sporadic and unpredictable. Lastly I use this for group or business travel when Starwood properties are the apparent cost effective option.

-Credit Karma user jconwuem

“Perfect for frequent SPG/Marriott guests”

★★★★★

Oct 30, 2017

I applied for this card in January 2015 right after our mortgage began reporting. My Experian FICO was 672, so I was surprised that they approved me with a credit line of $7,500. I’m not sure if my SPG Gold status played into their decision, but I was SPG elite for 5 years before applying.

There are numerous perks to this card–enough to warrant its fit with the first annual fee waived–especially now that there are many more opportunities to earn Starpoints through Marriott stays. I used points to pay for one week in a W Marvelous Suite, which is way more than the $95 annual fee.

With responsible use comes credit line increases. This is our primary spend card and it was a breeze getting the business version of this card with instant approval.

-Credit Karma user nole1977

“Loving my SPG Card so far!”

★★★★★

May 28, 2017

My boyfriend and I travel A LOT, and I was looking to get a card that offered good travel benefits. Applied this month and instantly got approved with a $10K limit – my other AMEX Everyday Card only has a limit of $1,400, but I had gotten that card way back when in college and hardly used it. I think I will be getting rid of that one shortly.

I easily charge $3-$5k in bills monthly so I reached the promotional $3k within a few weeks and am excited to have that 25,000 point reward to use. This seems like it’s going to be a great card for me since I have a lot of bills and pay all of my cards in full every month.

Just an FYI, my experian score is around 720 and I hardly ever carry a balance.

-Anonymous

“Great Rewards”

★★★★★

May 08, 2017

I travel alot this card will come in VERY handy with the Reward Points, 3rd American Express Card. Decided to apply with Credit Karma Very Good Odds, received instant approval, will put card to very good use. Thank you American Express.

-Credit Karma user BBerryAddict

 

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