Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card review | finder.com

Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card review – August 2018

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With revamped points and features, this SPG® card is a vast improvement from the previous version.

30-second take

  • Get this card if you frequently stay at Starwood Preferred Guest® or Marriott Rewards® properties, or if you can take advantage of the card’s 4x-points categories.
  • Pick something else if you want general travel rewards.
  • Apply with a good to excellent credit score of 670 or higher.
Product NameStarwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card
Card TypeAmerican Express
Annual Fee$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
APR (Annual Percentage Rate) for Purchases17.49% to 26.49% variable
Cash Advance Rate26.99% variable
Cash Advance Fee$5 or 3% of the cash advance amount, whichever is greater
Foreign Transaction FeeNone
Interest Free PeriodUp to 25 days
Late Payment FeeUp to $38
Returned Payment Fee$38
Additional Cardholder Fee$0
Minimum Age18 years of age
Welcome BonusEarn 100,000 points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months
Reward Value per Dollar2 points

The basics

Prior to August 2018, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card was a strong choice mostly for SPG® regulars. Now, as Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card has combined with Marriott Rewards® and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card, the card is impressive for many more business owners.

Key is the card’s new rewards tier, which offers 4x points at US restaurants and US gas stations as well as on eligible US wireless service and US shipping. This means you can still earn significant rewards even if you don’t travel much. Of course, you’ll still earn a strong 6x points on eligible purchases at participating SPG® and Marriott Rewards® hotels.

Two new features arrive with the card’s revamp: You’ll receive complimentary Silver Elite status in the combined SPG®/Marriott Rewards® program, and you’ll get a free night each year after your card account anniversary. These perks didn’t come with the previous version of the card, but they’re stellar additions to the new one.

The perks

  • Annual fee: $0 intro fee for the first year.

    You can take the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card for a spin, then decide whether you want to pay for it. Starting the second year, you’ll pay an annual fee of $95.

  • Welcome offer: 100,000 bonus points.

    To earn this welcome offer, make $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. It expires October 31, 2018.

    This is a strong welcome offer. With 100,000 Points, you can book a free night at any eligible property, according to the revised Starwood Preferred Guest®/Marriott Rewards® Free Night Award Chart effective August 18, 2018. From that date, free nights will range in cost from 7,500 to 60,000 points. That will be the case until early 2019, when the upper range extends to 85,000 points.

  • Rewards: Up to 6x Starpoints.

    You’ll earn 6x points on eligible purchases at participating SPG® and Marriott Rewards® hotels. This was the rate that existed before August 2018, and it’s still a strong rate.

    The card’s new rewards tier is a pleasant surprise. You’ll earn 4x points at US restaurants and US gas stations as well as on eligible US wireless service and US shipping. This means you don’t have to travel often to squeeze significant rewards from the card.

    You’ll earn 2x points on all other eligible purchases.

    Redeem your points for rewards like free nights at SPG® and Marriott Rewards® properties, as well as flights and car rentals through SPG® Air+Car. You can also transfer points to more than 40 frequent-flyer programs at a 3:1 ratio.

  • Complimentary Silver Elite status.

    You’ll receive free Silver Elite status in the combined SPG®/Marriott Rewards® loyalty program. Starting August 18, 2018, that means you’ll receive complimentary in-room Internet access, a 10% points bonus on eligible spending, priority late checkout and a dedicated Elite reservation line.

    This is an improvement over what you’d receive with the previous version of the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card. You could earn SPG® Gold Status with that card, but only after spending $30,000 in eligible purchases in a calendar year.

  • Free Night Award.

    A great perk that helps you recoup the value of your annual fee. Every year after your card account anniversary, you’ll receive a Free Night Award. This is good for one night that costs 35,000 or fewer points.

New changes to the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card

Starwood Preferred Guest®, Marriott Rewards® and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® have combined into one loyalty program. For that reason, SPG® has converted each Starpoint you’ve earned before August 1 into 3 points.

There have also been changes to the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card‘s reward structure. Prior to these changes, you might earn points slowly if you don’t stay at SPG® properties often. With the new rewards structure, however, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card becomes more attractive for other types of business spending.

You’ll also like

  • Coming in 2019: Elite Night Credit.

    If you open your card before December 31, 2018, you’ll receive credits for 15 nights toward higher Elite status on or before March 1, 2019. You’ll receive these credits every calendar year. With the combined SPG®/Marriott Rewards® program, it takes 25 to 49 nights a year to reach Gold Elite and 50 to 74 nights to reach Platinum Elite.

    If you open your card on or after January 1, 2019, you’ll receive the credits within 60 days. You’ll receive these credits every calendar year.

  • Points boost for eligible point transfers.

    For every 60,000 points you transfer, Marriott International, Inc. will add a 15,000-point bonus. That means you’ll receive 25,000 miles instead of 20,000.

  • No foreign transaction fees.

    You won’t incur fees when you use your card abroad or at foreign websites. Typically, providers charge a 3% fee each time you use your card for an international transaction. It doesn’t sound like much, but it can add up over a trip spanning several days.

    Since the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card comes with no foreign transaction fees, it can be a good choice for vacations or business trips.

  • Wi-Fi access.

    Receive complimentary in-room, premium Internet access at participating SPG® and Marriott Rewards® hotels. Also, receive free unlimited Wi-Fi at more than 1 million hotspots worldwide through the Boingo American Express Preferred Plan.

  • Expense management tools.

    Add employee cards at no cost. If you’d like, you can designate an Account Manager that has administrative access to your account. Get access to Spend Manager, which lets you add notes and receipts to your transactions online, as well as Year-End Summaries of charges on your card.

    To make recordkeeping easier, you can label your transactions and transfer them to QuickBooks.

  • Travel benefits.

    When you purchase the entire fare of your eligible transportation ticket with your Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card, you’re covered by the American Express Baggage Insurance Plan. This insures your bags against theft, damage or accidental loss according to American Express’s terms. You’re also covered by Travel Accident Insurance, which provides accidental death and dismemberment coverage on eligible transportation.

    Access the Global Assist Hotline when you’re more than 100 miles from home, which provides medical, financial, legal and other emergency services.

    Lastly, you’ll enjoy travel benefits while traveling by car. Call the Roadside Assistance Hotline if you have car problems on the road to receive help with towing, car battery charges and more. And when you pay for a car rental with your Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card and decline the collision damage waiver, the vehicle is covered against damage or theft.

  • Purchase benefits.

    On eligible items you buy with your card, you’ll receive extended warranties. You may also receive Purchase Protection, which covers your items against damage or theft.

    Additionally, you can access Amex Offers, from which you’ll receive extra rewards and discounts at select retail and dining partners.

What to watch out for

  • Intro annual fee expires after the first year.

    The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card has a $0 annual fee for the first year. Starting the second year, however, you’ll pay a $95 annual fee.

  • No balance transfers.

    American Express doesn’t allow balance transfers to this card. However, there are many business credit cards that allow balance transfers, such as the Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card and the Ink Business Cash℠ credit card.

  • Penalty APR.

    American Express may raise your APR for all balances to 29.99% variable if you make two or more late payments in a 12-month period, fail to make the minimum payment by the due date or make a returned payment. This is known as a penalty APR, and it’ll apply to your account for at least 12 consecutive billing periods.

Consider other cards if …

  • You don’t stay at SPG® properties often.

    You might like another hotel credit card, which will offer rewards that take you to your preferred properties.

  • You don’t stay at SPG® properties often and don’t spend much in the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card‘s 6x-points categories.

    Look for cards that offer elevated rewards for your preferred business categories. Strong choices include the Ink Business Preferred℠ credit card and The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express. If your business spending is distributed evenly throughout many categories, consider a flat-rewards product like the Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business or Ink Business Unlimited℠ credit card.

  • You want general travel rewards.

    There are excellent travel cards to choose from, such as the Ink Business Preferred℠ credit card, Spark® Miles for Business and Business Platinum Card® from American Express. You’ll earn travel rewards that you can redeem for flights, hotels, car rentals and more.

  • You want an intro APR.

    Look into the Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card, which offers a market-leading intro APR on purchases and balance transfers. Other good choices include the Ink Business Unlimited℠ credit card and Ink Business Cash℠ credit card.

Compare business credit cards

Updated August 21st, 2018
Name Product APR (Annual Percentage Rate) for Purchases Introductory Purchase APR Annual Fee
None (Charge Card)
$450
Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $20,000 on purchases within your first 3 months of card membership.
$0 annual fee for the first year ($250 thereafter)
This Charge Card gives you the option to pay in full each month or to carry a balance for up to 60 days with no interest.
$0 annual fee for the first year ($175 thereafter)
13.99%, 18.99% or 20.99% variable
0% for the first 9 months (then 13.99%, 18.99% or 20.99% variable)
$0
Earn cash back with buying power to help pay for business needs.
14.99% to 20.99% variable
0% for the first 12 months (then 14.99% to 20.99% variable)
$0
$500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months
17.74% to 22.74% variable
$95
80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel rewards when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
17.74% to 24.74% variable
$99
75,000 Bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from your account opening with your Marriott Rewards Premier Business credit card.
24.74% variable
$0
Get the credit you want for your business, and unlimited 1% cash back on every purchase, every day
14.74%, 18.74% or 22.74% variable
0% for the first first 9 months (then 14.74%, 18.74% or 22.74% variable)
$0
Unlimited 1.5X miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
18.74% variable
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
14.74%, 18.74% or 22.74% variable
0% for the first 9 months (then 14.74%, 18.74% or 22.74% variable)
$0
Unlimited 1.5 cash back on every purchase, every day.
18.74% variable
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Unlimited 2% cash back from Spark Cash could mean thousands of dollars each year going back into your business. No minimum to redeem.
17.74% to 24.74% variable
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
17.74% to 24.74% variable
$99
Earn 2x points on Southwest® purchases and 1x point on all other purchases. Plus 6,000 anniversary bonus points.
17.74% to 25.74% variable
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Earn 70,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

Compare up to 4 providers

What size business is the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card good for?

This product is especially effective for businesses that often send employees on business trips. But with the new rewards structure, it can be a good pick even if you don’t spend much on travel. That’s because it offers accelerated points in more business categories: US restaurants, US gas stations and wireless telephone services purchased directly from US service providers.

What should I know before I apply?

To apply for the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card, you must be:

  • 18 years or older.
  • A US resident.

Information you’ll need

    To complete the application, you’ll need to provide information about yourself and your business, including:

  • Your name and residential address.
  • Your Social Security number.
  • Your email address, phone number and date of birth.
  • Financial information like your annual income and your monthly rent or mortgage.
  • The name of your business, its mailing address and its phone number.
  • Your employee count, business type and business structure.
  • Your years in business, annual business revenue and monthly business spending.
  • Your business’s federal tax ID.

What credit score do I need?

You’ll have a better chance of being approved for the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card if you apply with a good to excellent credit score of 670 or higher. If you have a healthy business and excellent credit, your likelihood of approval is strong.

Here are a few other factors that might affect your odds of approval:

  • Hard pulls on your credit report. If you have several hard inquiries — or hard pulls — on your report, it could imply you’re having trouble managing your debt. American Express might think you’re desperate for credit and may be less likely to take you on as a customer.
  • Factors that tie into your credit score. Your credit utilization is a major factor American Express considers. The bank prefers a customer with low balances relative to their credit limit. Having many new card accounts may be a red flag too, as it could indicate you’re desperate for credit. It may also give the impression that you’re a flighty customer who’s just hunting for welcome offers.

What do customers say about the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card?

The American Express Company has been accredited with the Better Business Bureau since 1948 and earns an overall A+ rating. However, as of June 2018, 90% of its reviews are negative and it has nearly 3,000 customer complaints. Amex cardholders in general complain of rude customer service reps, missing statement credit and issues disputing charges.

The company earns a Trustpilot score of 3 out of 10. Many negative reviews cite unhelpful customer service and inflexible company policies. Positive reviews say the company employs pleasant customer service representatives. Overall, your mileage may vary with American Express customer support.

How to apply for the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card

  1. On the American Express website, click Apply now.
  2. Complete the application with details like your name, address, annual income, Social Security number and business information.
  3. Review and submit your application.

How long will it take to get my Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card?

Because conditional credit card approval is automated on the website, you may get a decision on your application within just a minute. If there are issues with your application, it may take a few business days to a few weeks to hear back.

After you’re approved, you’ll typically receive your card within 7 to 10 business days.

I got the card. Now what?

  • Register an account on the American Express website to pay your balance online. You can also enroll in autopay.
  • Avoid interest. After the close of each billing cycle, you have a grace period of at least 25 days to pay your balance. If you do, you won’t pay interest on your purchases.
  • Avoid fees. Late and returned payments come with hefty fees up to $38.
  • Contact customer service. Help documents aren’t easily accessible on the American Express website, but you can call 1-800-528-4800 to speak with a customer service rep. According to market research company JD Power, cardholders give American Express high marks in customer interaction.

Bottom line

With its new rewards structure, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card has become a great choice for more businesses. Whether you frequently stay at SPG® and Marriott Rewards® hotels or simply want to save up for an occasional stay, this card can help you maximize your rewards.

Frequently asked questions

Images: americanexpress.com

Kevin Joey Chen

Kevin Chen is a world-travelin', copy-writin', Game of Thrones-watchin' credit cards writer for finder.com. When he's not crunching the numbers on bonus points and comparing APRs, you can find him flying around the world in search of the perfect beer.

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