January 15, 2014

Starwood Preferred Guest Card Overview

I recently wrote about why the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is one of my favorite cards for everyday spend.  Another one of my favorite cards is the Starwood Preferred Guest(R) Credit Card from American Express.  Starwood owns many brands that you are likely familiar with including Sheraton, Westin, W, and St. Regis.  Many people believe that SPG points are the most lucrative given their organic value and transferability to a number of airline programs.

I've had this card for 10 years and over the last decade, SPG has become my favorite hotel loyalty program.  I have held top tier Platinum (requiring 25 stays or 50 nights in a calendar year) for 4 of the last 7 years which has provided some outstanding benefits.  While this card offers limited bonuses for category spend, it is an outstanding addition to your wallet.  If I am not putting category spend (like dining or travel) or trying to hit a sign-up bonus, I am putting spend on this card.

Here's why:
  1. Current sign-up bonus offers 25,000 total SPG points after spending $5,000 in the first 6 months
  2. When redeeming four nights, Starwood offers the fifth night free thus reducing the amount of points required by 25%
  3. 2 stays and 5 nights toward elite status which gets you 20% to SPG Gold and 10% to SPG Platinum
  4. When transferring 20,000 points to partner airlines, (here is the list) SPG offers a 5,000 point bonus so each transfer of 20,000 nets 25,000 miles
  5. $65 annual fee waived for the first year
  6. If you spend $30,000 in any calendar year, you will be awarded SPG Gold which is the mid tier status offering free internet, additional bonus points for hotel stays, and free upgrades
  7. Earn 1 point per dollar for all spend and 2 points per dollar at Starwood hotel properties including hotel restaurants

Here's a quick example if you get the card today:

  • Spend $2,000 per month for 3 months
  • You would earn 2,000 points per month in spend (24,000 total for the year)
  • 25,000 bonus points in month three for hitting the new cardmember bonus
  • Total of 49,000 SPG points for a year of spend

With 50,000 SPG points (rounded up slightly) here are a few ideas based on a few of our favorite SPG properties:
  • 5 night stay (fifth night free) at The Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona.  Room rates often go for $400 and up.  Beautiful relaxing resort with many pools, great hiking, spa, and golf.  We have been a few times each for a few nights. 
  • 2 nights at The Westin Paris during the summer season.  We stayed here in 2006 and loved it.
  • 5 night stay (fifth night free) at The Fairfax in Washington, DC.  I often stayed here for business when it used to be a Westin.  Emily and I stayed here last year and you can't beat the location on Embassy Row just a few blocks from Dupont Circle.
  • 8 night stay (fifth night free) at the Le Meridien Bangkok.  We stayed here during our honeymoon and it is one of our favorite hotels in the world.  

Le Meridien Bangkok requires just 7,000 SPG points per night

It is pretty cool that you can a) apply for a credit card b) spend money on it as you would normally and c) redeem for 8 nights at a luxury property in Bangkok!!  It is really simple to redeem SPG points.  Here is a great step-by-step guide from Million Mile Secrets.  Let me know if you have any questions about the benefits of the SPG card. 

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