Review: The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card - April 2018 |

Review: The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card – April 2018

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A competitive hotel credit card with robust airfare and hotel perks.

The Starwood Preferred Card makes it lot more fun to stay at Starwood properties — a portfolio that includes Westin, Sheraton, The Luxury Collection and W Hotels. With the ability to earn lots of points, you’ll quickly score Starpoints that are redeemable for free resort stays. Those same Starpoints can put you on free flights and boost your miles in frequent flyer programs.

Product NameStarwood Preferred Guest American Express Credit Card
Intro APR for Balance Transfer16.4920.49 % Intro APR for 60 days (with whichever is greater, $5 or 3% balance transfer fee)
Balance Transfer Rate (not intro)16.49% to 20.49% variable
APR for Purchases ( Purchase Rate )16.49% to 20.49% variable
Annual fee$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Cash Advance Rate26.49% variable
Card TypeAmerican Express
Interest Free Period
The interest-free period on purchases is the period or number of days you do not have to pay interest on your card purchases. You will be charged interest either from the day you make a purchase or from the statement date, unless you pay the closing balance in full by the due date (or within the interest-free period) on your statement.
Up to 25 days
Returned Payment Fee$38
Foreign Currency Conversion Fee (AMEX)
Foreign currency conversion fees are charged when you make a transaction that is converted by a credit card network, such as MasterCard, Visa or American Express, from Australian dollars to a foreign currency. You’ll also incur a currency conversion fee if you make a purchase or obtain a cash advance in Australian dollars while overseas or shopping online with a foreign merchant or financial institution.
0% of transaction value
Minimum Credit ScoreGood (700-739)
Minimum Age18 years of age
Annual fee$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Returned Payment Fee$38
Over The Credit Line Fee$0
Late Payment Fee$38
Cash Advance Fee$5 or 3% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater
Rewards ProgramAmerican Express Rewards
Bonus Points on Sign-up25,000
Rewards Points per $ spent (VISA/MC)5
Points ExpiryNever

The Basics

If you’re a regular at properties like Westin and Sheraton, you’ll find a lot to like in the Starwood Preferred Guest Card. The card’s 5x points per dollar spent on Starwood means you’ll quickly accumulate Starpoints, which you can redeem for free hotel styas. Just a few thousand Starpoints can buy you a stay at Sheraton, Le Méridien, Four Points by Sheraton properties, Element Hotels and more.

Throw in 2x points per dollar spent on Marriott and you have quite a good hotel card already. But the Starwood Preferred Guest Card won’t just bring you resort stays — it also lets you redeem Starpoints for free airfare through SPG Flights. And if you’re part of a frequent flyer program, chances are you can transfer your Starpoints at a 1:1 ratio. These are valuable perks that elevate the Starwood Preferred Guest Card from the general travel cards.

Of course, you’ll get the most value out of the Starwood Preferred Guest Card if you’re a loyal Starwood customer. If you love sampling properties from different brands, consider a general travel credit card. You’ll have many great choices, including the Chase Sapphire Preferred, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard and the BankAmericard Travel Rewards Credit Card.

The Perks

  • Signup sweeteners. The Starwood Preferred Guest Card comes with a 25,000-point signup bonus, and has no annual fee for the first year.
  • Point multiples. Get up to 5x points on Starwood spending and 2x points at participating Marriott Rewards resorts.
  • Spend Starpoints for stays at Starwood properties. A free night costs as little as 3,000 Starpoints.

Where can I redeem Starpoints?

Starpoints get you free nights at Starwood’s 11 properties:

  • St. Regis
  • The Luxury Collection
  • W Hotels
  • Le Méridien
  • Westin
  • Sheraton
  • Aloft
  • Element Hotels
  • Four Points by Sheraton
  • Tribute Portfolio
  • Design Hotels

You’ll also like…

  • Starpoints take you to the skies. Book airfare through more than 150 airlines by spending Starpoints through SPG Flights. You can also transfer your Starpoints — often at a 1:1 ratio — to select frequent flyer programs. And receive 5,000 bonus Starpoints if you transfer 20,000 Starpoints to a qualifying frequent flyer program.
  • Starwood Hotels perks. Get an automatic boost toward higher status in the Starwood Preferred Guest program. Also, get free in-room Wi-Fi each time you stay in a Starwood resort.
  • Travel protection. Use Amex’s Roadside Assistance Hotline and Global Assist Hotline when you’re in bind on vacation. Also, leverage your card for free car rental insurance and travel accident insurance.
  • Purchase benefits. Get extended warranties, purchase protection and return protection on your purchases.
  • Cardmember-only entertainment. As a cardholder, you’ll have access to exclusive events and ticket presales.

What to watch out for

  • Not as widely accepted overseas. The Starwood Preferred Guest Card comes with no foreign transaction fees. But because it’s an American Express, you might not have as many opportunities to use it overseas as you would with a Visa or Mastercard.
  • No intro APR. The Starwood Preferred Guest Card doesn’t come with a 0% intro APR for purchases or balance transfers.
  • Penalty APR. Making late or returned payments could saddle you with an APR as high as 29.99%.

Applying for the card

Always consider your options and your financial situation before you apply for a credit card.


You can get a decision on your application within 60 seconds (conditional credit card approval is often automated). You’ll have a better chance of being approved if you apply with a good to excellent credit score of 720 or higher.

I got the card — now what?

  • Making payments. Register your account on the American Express website to pay your balance online. You can also enroll in autopay.
  • Avoiding interest payments. After the close of each billing cycle, you have a grace period of 25 days to pay your balance. If you do, you won’t pay interest on your purchases.
  • Avoiding fees. Late and returned payments come with hefty fees of up to $38.00. Balance transfers and cash advances also come with fees.
  • Customer service. Help documents aren’t easily accessible on the American Express website, but you can call 1-800-528-4800 for customer service. According to market research company J.D. Power, cardholders give American Express high marks in customer interaction.

Bottom line

You’ll get maximum value from the Starwood Preferred Guest Card if you frequent Starwood properties. Otherwise, a general travel card might be a better choice.

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