Starwood Preferred Guest AMEX card now offering 35,000 point sign-up bonus! Why you may want to get this card NOW!
Through March 31, Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) is offering an increased sign-up bonus on their both their business and personal co-branded American Express Cards. Normally the sign up bonus is 25,000 points, and sometimes increases to 30,000 points. 35,000 points is a great deal and is worthy of serious consideration. Let me explain why.
What is SPG?
SPG is the loyalty program for the Starwood Hotels group which includes 11 different brands: St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, W Hotels, Design Hotels, Sheraton, Westin, Le Meridien, Tribute, Four Points by Sheraton, Aloft, and Element by Westin. While you may not necessarily be familiar with all of these brands, they included some of the nicest and most luxurious hotels in the world. SPG hotels are currently in 100 countries and they advertise that they own over 1,200 properties.
Check out their hotel redemption charts:
To the left is the weekday redemption chart. The lowest tier properties only cost 3,000 Starpoints, while even the most luxurious hotels in the portfolio cost a reasonable 35,000 points.
Some of these Tier 7 hotels normally charge over $500-$800 per night!
Check out the St. Regis Aspen Resort, for example, currently selling at $630 per night next week–available for only 30,000 Starpoints.
Or even more exotic, the St. Regis Mardavall Mallorca Resort where I can purchase a night in beautiful room for $800, or redeem 35,000 Starpoints.
To the right is the weekend award chart, which can provide even more value at lower tier hotels. Only 2,000 or 3,000 points per night at Tier 1 or 2 properties like the Sheraton outside of Dulles International.
Many of these lower tier hotels (but not all) tend to be close to airports and are ideal to use for a long layover or a night pre/post departure.
I recently used 3,000 Starpoints for a redemption at Le Meridien Siem Reap, a Category 2 property. The hotel and the room were both extremely nice and I got a lot of value from the 3,000 point redemption. Check out my review of the Le Meridien, here.
SPG Points are not just good for SPG hotel stays
SPG points are one of the most flexible award points, as the are transferrable to 30 different airline partners and also redeemable for SPG moments, which allow members to gain VIP access to exclusive events.
First, lets look at some of the airline transfer options. In almost all cases (there are 4 exceptions) SPG points convert to airline points at a 1:1 ratio. That means that one Starpoint can be equal to one Alaska Airline Point. However, if you redeem in 20,000 point intervals, you will get 5,000 bonus miles for each transfer. Thus, if you transfer 20,000 Starpoints to Alaska, you actually end up with 25,000 Alaska Miles. I wrote about how I maximized this transfer opportunity in this article: Booking Emirates First Class with 90,000 miles and $0 out of pocket.
Here is a list of all the transfer partners and ratios:
Not all of these transfers are easily usable or good deals, But many are and can really help you maximize the value of your travel.
SPG Points are not your standard hotel reward point…
Virtually all hotel loyalty programs (Hilton, Marriott, IHG, etc) require many more points to redeem for rooms, especially at top tier properties and they are not transferrable to other partners. Thus, a fair valuation places SPG points at around 2.3 cents per point–which means you are easily getting about $800 in value just from the sign up alone–and it could even be more!
What’s the deal?
If you apply for the personal card between now and March 30 you will receive 35,000 bonus Starpoints after spending $3,000 on the card in the first 3 months. The card has a $95 annual fee, but this is waived for the first year. You earn 1 point for each dollar you spend on the card for all purchases and 2 points per dollar on Starwood purchases.
The card has no foreign transaction fees, so it is good for international travelers, and it also gets you a head start to SPG elite status with credit for 5 nights/2 stays each calendar year. Furthermore, if you spend $30,000 on the card in a year you automatically get SPG Gold Status.
The business card’s offer is similar, but you need to spend $5,000 on the card in the first 3 months.
Link to the Personal Card: https://www.americanexpress.com/us/credit-cards/starwood-preferred-guest/
Link to the Business Card: https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/credit-cards/starwood-business-credit-card
Should you apply now?
This is the highest bonus ever on this card, so if you have already been thinking about applying for the card, it makes sense to do so now. Keep in mind that AMEX now offers you only one bonus on a particular product for your lifetime, so if you have had this card in the past, you will likely not be eligible for the bonus. However, the personal and business cards are considered different products, so you can apply for one even if you currently have or have had the other.
If you are an SPG brand loyalist, again this card is a no-brainer. You will be earning up to 5x SPG points for each of your stays, depending on your SPG Loyalty Tier Status.
I classify the SPG AMEX card as an intermediate level card–it is not the best first choice for beginners to the points/miles hobby. To really maximize the value of Starpoints you may have to look to transferring the points to airline partners, including foreign carriers to obtain maximum flexibility and value. That being said, it does not take too much work/research to go from a points/miles newbie to an intermediate level. If you sign up for the card now, by the time the bonus points post you could be an expert with some work!
Finally, I always recommend have a plan before you go out and apply for random credit cards. If you don’t see yourself using the bonus points for SPG hotel stays in the next year or if you don’t think that you will be transferring them to your airline of choice to book a high value redemption, there are probably better options out there for you.
As always, if you have any questions, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you enjoyed this post, please follow me on Facebook and Twitter, and sign up for my e-mail list to get notified anytime I post a new article.