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American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Business card review

Published: November 15, 2017
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Ratings Policy
Business Rating:
4.4 rating
4.4 rating
4.4 / 5
Rewards Value 4.7
Annual Percentage Rate 0.3
Rewards Flexibility 3.9
Features 5.0

In a nutshell:

Business owners can get extraordinary mileage out of the Starwood Preferred Guest Business credit card, thanks to the high value of Starpoints and some great tools for managing business expenses.

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Rewards Rate

  • 2:1 participating SPG and Marriott hotels
  • 1:1 general purchases
  • Terms apply

Sign-up Bonus

  • Earn 25,000 points if you spend $5,000 in first 3 months
  • Terms apply

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

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($4,000 monthly spend)
$1,323

APR
16.24-20.24% (variable) (See rates and fees)

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • Points don’t expire
  • No blackout 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: Free Sheraton lounge access, upgrade to gold status when you spend more than $30,000, no foreign transaction fees, free hotel Internet and Boingo Wi-Fi access, five nights and two stays toward SPG elite status each year, no fee for employee cards, tools to manage business receipts and expenses, designate an account manager, set individual limits on employee cards, extra savings on business purchases with OPEN Savingss

While “Starwood” may elicit visions of posh hotel stays at luxurious resorts, including Sheraton, Westin and W hotels, the Starwood Preferred Guest Business credit card stands out from the crowd because it performs well as both a hotel card and a general travel rewards card.

The Starwood business card – like many hotel credit cards – showers loyal customers with a giant sign-up bonus and loads of bonus points. However, while most other hotel cards are strictly targeted towards loyal customers of a particular hotel chain, the versatility of Starwood’s rewards currency – the Starpoint – gives the card broader appeal. Starpoints have an exceptionally high value when applied to Starwood hotel stays – up to 2.4 cents per point by our estimates. They also transfer to frequent flier programs at an exceptional 1:1 rate.

One major plus: Since Starwood was acquired by the Marriott Corporation, the card has expanded to its earning bonus so that you can now earn bonus points on stays at participating Marriott hotels as well as Starwood properties. This opens up a lot more options for earning Starpoints.

The business version of the Starwood Preferred Guest card carries the same $95 annual fee as the personal version and surpasses it by offering free Sheraton lounge access and a suite of business tools (including ReceiptMatch, account alerts and a year-end summary of charges).

For all of these reasons, business owners who spend a lot on travel and hotels will find that the Starwood Preferred Guest Business credit card is a very valuable piece of plastic.

Value of points makes up for the low earning rate

The rate at which you earn rewards with the Starwood business card is modest compared to some cards, but those Starpoints go much further toward a rewards purchase than with other cards’ programs. The Starwood business card awards two points per dollar spent on Starwood and Marriott hotel purchases (up to five points per dollar when combined with your earnings from Starwood’s loyalty program), and one point per dollar on everything else.

A high-value sign-up bonus

Starwood’s business card offers a 25,000-point sign-up bonus if you spend $5,000 in the first three months. This doesn’t seem as impressive as the 40,000- to 50,000-point bonuses offered by some cards, but when you factor in the high value of Starpoints, it rivals some of the best bonuses in the industry. Depending on how you spend your Starpoints, the sign-up bonus can be worth as much as $600.

Starpoints are worth a premium

The value of this card hinges upon Starpoints. With Starpoints, you can redeem a relatively low number of points for free nights at some top-tier hotels. We estimate the value of a Starpoint to be around 2.4 cents – more than double the value of points for most rewards programs.

Starwood gives you a ton of flexibility when redeeming Starpoints. Starwood has 30 frequent flier partners (around 150 airlines), and you can transfer your points to most of these partners at a 1:1 rate. While other hotel cards let you transfer points to frequent flier programs, the transfer rate is usually a fraction of the Starpoints’ 1:1 rate. Starwood even rewards cardholders for transferring points in large batches – you get 5,000 bonus points when you transfer 20,000 points.

What happens if you do not have enough Starpoints to cover a hotel stay? You can redeem your points for a room upgrade starting at 1,000 points or use Starwood’s cash plus points option. Starwood even offers a 50% Off Award, meaning you can book a room with 1,000 points at many locations and get 50 percent off the room rate for up to five nights.

The end result: With the Starwood business card, you can get a good value on airline tickets as well as free hotel nights.

A booster shot to earn elite status

If you are aiming for elite status in the Starwood program, the Starwood card can give you a nice boost. Each year you get five nights and two stays toward elite status. If you spend $30,000 in a year, you also get an automatic upgrade to gold status. Moreover, American Express lets you have both a personal and business version of the Starwood card, so you can combine your bonus nights from both cards to get an even bigger bump toward elite status.

Valuable travel perks

The Starwood card comes with some very nice perks for business travelers. The card gets you free in-room internet access at any Starwood hotel and free Boingo WiFi access, which gives you good internet coverage in airports throughout the U.S. and Europe.

One of the most valuable perks of the Starwood business card is the free entry to Sheraton club lounges. A feature unique to the business version of the card, this gives you access to elegant lounges in 350 Sheraton locations worldwide, where you will find complimentary food and drinks.

Added business benefits for cardholders

Another feature unique to the business version of this card is American Express OPEN, a suite of tools that help business owners manage their accounts. For example, you can add employee cards at no fee and set individual limits for each of those cards. You also can appoint an account manager to oversee your account, and ReceiptMatch makes it easy to add and tag receipts from a mobile device while you are on the go.

An added perk: OPEN Savings is a nifty benefit that gives you an extra discount when you use your card at participating merchants. You can elect to get 5 percent savings or two rewards points per dollar on purchases from some of American Express’s featured partners, including FedEx, Hertz and HP.

Why get the Starwood Preferred Guest Business card?

  • You frequently travel and stay at Starwood and Marriott hotels.
  • You’re trying to earn elite status in the Starwood Preferred Guest program.
  • You want to leverage your business spending to earn free travel and hotel stays.
  • You want a flexible travel rewards card with hotel and airline rewards.
  • You prefer to stay at luxury hotels.
  • You would benefit from the card’s tools to manage your business spending.
  • You want to add multiple employees to your account for no extra fee.
  • You plan to designate another person to manage your account.

How to use the Starwood Preferred Guest Business card:

  • Use your card for most purchases in the first three months in order to earn the card’s sign-up bonus.
  • If you transfer points, do so in 20,000-point increments to earn 5,000 bonus points.
  • Stay at Starwood and Marriott hotels when you travel – you can earn up to five bonus points through your card and the Starwood loyalty program when you pay with the Starwood card.
  • Redeem your points for a five night stay to earn the fifth night free.
  • Redeem 1,000 points to get 50 percent off your stay at participating Starwood hotels.
  • Pair this card with the personal version of the Starwood Preferred Guest card to earn extra stays toward elite status.
  • Use your card at participating merchants to get discounts and rewards points through the OPEN Savings program (don’t forget to enroll).

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