Reviews The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express review

The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express review

Published: April 25, 2017
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Ratings Policy
Hotel Rating:
4.2 rating
4.2 rating
4.2 / 5
Rewards Value: 3.9
Annual Percentage Rate: 4.2
Rewards Flexibility: 4.4
Hotel Options: 4.5
Features: 5.0

In a nutshell:

This best-in-class hotel rewards card comes with great perks and offers a high rewards value, thanks to the versatility of Starpoints.

Learn more about this card

Rewards Rate

  • 2:1 at participating hotels
  • 1:1 general purchases
  • Terms apply

Sign-up Bonus

  • 25,000 points if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months
  • Terms apply

Annual Bonus
None

Annual Fee
$95, $0 in first year (See rates and fees)

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$526

APR
15.99-19.99% (See rates and fees)

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • No blackout dates
  • No expiration dates
  • No point limits
  • 1:1 point transfer to most frequent-flier partners
  • High redemption value for hotel and airline purchases
  • Earn bonus points when you convert 20,000 points into miles
  • Redeem points on gift cards, travel, entertainment packages, donations and more

Cons

  • Lower points value on less expensive hotels
  • A lot of points are needed to redeem for weekday travel

Hotel Options

  • Properties: 5700+
  • Countries served: 110+

Other Notable Features: No foreign transaction fee, free night’s stay when you redeem your points for 3-5 consecutive nights, free hotel Internet and Boingo Wi-Fi, car rental and travel accident insurance, travel and roadside assistance

Rewards Rating:
4.3 rating
4.3 rating
4.3 / 5
Rewards Value: 4.6
Annual Percentage Rate: 3.1
Rewards Flexibility: 3.9
Features: 5.0

In a nutshell:

For $95 a year, the perk-heavy American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card offers one of the most valuable rewards programs on the market, making it our go-to card for year-round travelers.

Learn more about this card

Rewards Rate

  • 2:1 at participating hotels
  • 1:1 general purchases
  • Terms apply

Sign-up Bonus

  • 25,000 points if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months
  • Terms apply

Annual Fee
$95, $0 in first year (See rates and fees)

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$526

APR
15.99-19.99% (See rates and fees)

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • No blackout dates
  • No expiration dates
  • No point limits
  • 1:1 point transfer to most frequent-flier partners
  • High redemption value for hotel and airline purchases
  • Earn bonus points when you convert 20,000 points into miles
  • Redeem points on gift cards, travel, entertainment packages, donations and more

Cons

  • Lower points value on less expensive hotels
  • A lot of points are needed to redeem for weekday travel

Other Notable Features: No foreign transaction fee, free night’s stay when you redeem your points for 3-5 consecutive nights, free hotel Internet and Boingo Wi-Fi, car rental and travel accident insurance, travel and roadside assistance

Travel Rating:
4.3 rating
4.3 rating
4.3 / 5
Rewards Value: 4.6
Annual Percentage Rate: 3.1
Rewards Flexibility: 3.9
Features: 5.0

In a nutshell:

Coveted by travel card experts for its generous rewards value and flexible redemption options, the Starwood Preferred Guest credit card is an ideal card for frequent travelers.

Learn more about this card

Rewards Rate

  • 2:1 at participating hotels
  • 1:1 general purchases
  • Terms apply

Sign-up Bonus

  • 25,000 points if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months
  • Terms apply

Annual Fee
$95, $0 in first year (See rates and fees)

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$526

APR
15.99-19.99% (See rates and fees)

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • No blackout dates
  • No expiration dates
  • No point limits
  • 1:1 point transfer to most frequent-flier partners
  • High redemption value for hotel and airline purchases
  • Earn bonus points when you convert 20,000 points into miles
  • Redeem points on gift cards, travel, entertainment packages, donations and more

Cons

  • Lower points value on less expensive hotels
  • A lot of points are needed to redeem for weekday travel

Other Notable Features: No foreign transaction fee, free night’s stay when you redeem your points for 3-5 consecutive nights, free hotel Internet and Boingo Wi-Fi, car rental and travel accident insurance, travel and roadside assistance

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If you’re a frequent traveler with a taste for luxury hotel stays, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more valuable rewards card for less than $100 a year. The Starwood Preferred Guest credit card offers one of the most generous travel rewards programs out there, earning it a devoted following among rewards card aficionados. You may be better off looking elsewhere, though, if you don’t spend a lot of time at pricey hotels and resorts. To get the most value from this card, you need to be a frequent guest at upscale Starwood properties, such as the Westin, Sheraton or St. Regis. 

Stellar redemption value

The star points offered through the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card aren’t your ordinary credit card rewards points. According to Wallaby.com, one star point is roughly worth at least twice what most rewards card points are worth, making the card one of the most generous on the market. If you use points to redeem free Starwood property hotel stays or complimentary airfare through one of American Express’ many travel partners, the points are even more valuable – particularly if you travel during peak season, when airfare and hotels are at their priciest.

Great for frequent fliers

Like many travel rewards cards, the Starwood Preferred Guest credit card lets you transfer your rewards points to a range of frequent-flier programs. But unlike some competitors, Starwood has partnerships with a large number of domestic and international carriers, including United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, Air Canada, British Airways, Air Berlin, Qatar Airways, Asiana Airlines and more. This makes it easy to redeem miles on a wide range of flights around the world. Starwood also lets you trade points for miles at a 1:1 ratio or better for the majority of frequent-flier programs, making the card’s transfer program even more valuable for frequent travelers.

Premium perks for less 

The Starwood card comes loaded with a range of premium perks that are often reserved for more expensive credit cards, including free Internet access in select hotel rooms and Boingo hot spots, access to ticket pre-sales and VIP events, and a free night’s stay when you redeem your points for three to five consecutive nights. The Starwood card also helps minimize the risk of travel by offering travel accident and rental car insurance, roadside assistance and global emergency assistance.

Good sign-up bonus

To help sweeten the pot, American Express is also offering new cardholders 25,000 bonus points – worth more than $800 in free hotel stays or airfare – if you spend $3,000 in the card’s first three months. If you transfer 20,000 of those points to a participating frequent-flier program, you’ll also receive an additional 5,000 bonus points you can use toward a wide range of complimentary goodies.

Not for budget travelers

The Starwood Preferred Guest credit card is one of the best points rewards cards you can get if you spend a lot of time on the road and prefer to kick back in luxury rather than to save money on cheap hotels. But if you’re traveling on a budget, the Starwood card is less appealing – especially since you need to stay at a relatively high-end property to earn the card’s five-points-per-dollar rewards rate on hotel purchases. Cardholders new to Starwood properties, such as the Westin, also need to watch out for extra fees on hotel amenities, such as self or valet parking, which can substantially inflate the cost of your stay.

Reasons to sign up for it:

  • You travel frequently and prefer to stay at high-end hotels.
  • You want more flexible airline transfer options.
  • You’re looking for a card that gives you more bang for your buck on rewards.
  • You spend enough money each month to easily take advantage of the card’s sign-up bonus.

How to use it:

  • Use your card for most purchases for at least the first three months that you have it so you can take advantage of the card’s bonus offer.
  • If you’re a frequent flier, save your points so you can claim additional bonus points when you’re ready to redeem. If you convert 20,000 points into miles, you’ll get 5,000 bonus points for free.
  • Stay at Starwood properties as much as you can when you travel so you can rack up more points and qualify for Starwood Elite Status. Your Starwood card will give you a head start by automatically crediting you with five nights and two stays at qualifying hotels and by giving you automatic Gold status if you spend $30,000 within a calendar year.

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