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Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express review

Published: November 7, 2018

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Published: November 7, 2018

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Ratings Policy
Business Rating:
4.4 rating
4.4 rating
4.4 / 5
Rewards Value 4.6
Annual Percentage Rate 0.2
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 its generous bonuses on spending categories.

Learn more about this card

Rewards Rate

  • 6 points per dollar at participating SPG and Marriott hotels
  • 4 points per dollar on U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, wireless phone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping purchases
  • 2 points per dollar on other purchases
  • Terms apply

Introductory Bonus

  • 75,000 points if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months
  • Terms apply

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

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($4,000 monthly spend)
$1,315

APR
17.74-26.74% (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 silver elite status, 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

The Starwood Preferred Guest program has officially merged with the Marriott rewards program, but don’t fret – the new Marriott program has maintained many of the features that made Starwood Preferred Guest one of the world’s favorite hotel loyalty programs, and the updated Starwood Preferred Guest Business card is still a great card for hotel rewards.

In place of Starpoints, you now earn Marriott points with the Starwood Preferred Guest Business card. Marriott points are worth about a third the value of a Starpoint, but the updated Starwood Preferred Business card has doubled the points that you earn on regular purchases, tripled the rewards rate for hotel purchases and added in other spending categories, to easily make up for the lower point value.

Great earning rate

The card offers an incredibly generous earning rate. You get six points per dollar on SPG and Marriott purchases and four points per dollar on U.S. restaurant, U.S. gas station, wireless phone services (purchased directly from a U.S. provider) and U.S. shipping purchases. The remainder of your purchases earn two points per dollar.

Even when you account for the lower-than-average value of Marriott points, the Starwood Preferred Guest Business card offers one of the highest earning rates for a travel card. And, with the added bonus categories, you have even more opportunities to maximize the points on your spending.

Good introductory bonus

The card offers a pretty generous introductory offer that can take you a long way toward funding a vacation at Marriott hotels. New cardholders get 75,000 bonus points if they spend $3,000 in the first three months. Even when you take into account the inflated value of Marriott points – worth about 0.8 cents on average by our estimates – the bonus can score you a fair number of free hotel nights, worth up to 12 nights at the lowest-tier hotel.

Moreover, with the Marriott program’s fifth-night free benefit, which offers a free fifth night on any rewards stay, you can stretch your bonus even further. If you use the 75,000-point sign-up bonus to book consecutive five-night stays, you can score up to 15 rewards nights.

Free annual night award

Adding significantly to its ongoing value, the Starwood Preferred Guest Business card offers a free night award certificate each year on your card anniversary. The certificate is very valuable – worth up to 35,000 points – but it comes with a couple limitations. It’s only valid for category 5 hotels and lower — which means category 6 and 7 hotels are off limits. Also, you’ll need to make sure to redeem it in a timely manner, since it expires in 12 months.

Flexible redemption options

The best news is that the updated Marriott rewards program incorporates many of the features that made the Starwood Preferred Guest program so flexible and popular among travel points enthusiasts. Your points don’t expire and there are no restrictions or blackout dates – if a room is available, you can book it with points.

Also, just like the SPG program, the new Marriott program will now allow you to transfer points to a large number of airline partners at a 3:1 ratio (basically the same as SPG’s 1:1 ratio once you account for the lower point value) with a 15,000-point bonus when transfer points in increments of 60,000. This is a great deal, because it gives you many travel options for your points and allows you to get an even better redemption value than 0.8 cent per point by searching for deals within each airline program.

Free Silver Status

As a Starwood Preferred Guest Business cardholder, you automatically qualify for Silver Elite status in the Marriott rewards program which grants you a 20-percent increase on the base points that you earn for eligible hotel stays. Also, the card gives you a boost to higher status: If you spend $30,000 in a year, you’ll get an automatic upgrade to Gold status, which entitles you to some great hotel perks, including free in-room internet, complimentary room upgrades, lounge access and more.

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 or Marriott hotel and free Boingo Wi-Fi access, which gives you good internet coverage in airports throughout the U.S. and Europe.

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 Marriott rewards 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 Marriott and Starwood 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 introductory bonus.
  • Stay at Starwood and Marriott hotels when you travel – you can earn up to six bonus points through your card.
  • 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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