Starwood Preferred Guest® credit card Review | finder.com

The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express review – September 2018

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

30-second take

  • Get this card if you’re a loyal Starwood Preferred Guest® or Marriott Rewards® customer.
  • Pick something else if you love sampling properties from different brands and want more flexible travel perks.
  • Apply with a good to excellent credit score of 720 or higher.
Product NameThe Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
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 FeeUp to $38
Additional Cardholder Fee$0
Minimum Age18 years of age
Welcome BonusEarn 75,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
Reward Value per Dollar2 points
Rewards Points ExpiryNever

The basics

If you’re a regular with brands like Westin and Sheraton, you’ll find a lot to like in the The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express. The card’s 6x points at Starwood Preferred Guest® (SPG®) and Marriott Rewards® properties means you’ll quickly accumulate rewards, which you can redeem for free hotel stays. Beginning August 18, 2018, you can book standard SPG® and Marriott Rewards® rooms starting from 7,500 points.

The The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express won’t just bring you resort stays — it also lets you redeem points for airfare and car rentals through Marriott’s Air+Car program. Furthermore, you can transfer your points to over 40 airlines. These are valuable perks that elevate the The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express.

You’ll receive complimentary Silver Elite status in the upgraded SPG®/Marriott Rewards® loyalty program arriving August 18, 2018. It offers 10% additional bonus points for eligible stays, free in-room Internet access and complimentary late checkout. Additionally, you’re extended a $0 annual fee for the first year, after which you’ll pay $95 a year. And you’ll avoid foreign transaction fees on overseas spending.

Of course, you’ll get the most value out of the The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express if you’re a loyal customer of SPG® and Marriott Rewards® properties. If you love sampling properties from different brands, consider a general travel credit card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® credit card, Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard® or Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card.

Changes effective August 2018

Marriott International bought Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide in late 2016, and they’ve finally merged membership rewards programs.

As of August 2018, Starpoints have become general “points.” If you had Starpoints, they were converted at a 1:3 ratio. That means 10,000 Starpoints would have been converted to 30,000 points.

Now, every purchase you make with your card earns you 2x points. Every purchase at participating Starwood Prefered Guest® and Marriott Rewards® properties and establishments earns you an additional 4x points for a total of 6 points per dollar spent.

New airline partners

Not only will you earn more points, you now have access to additional airline partners, including Qantas, JetBlue and Turkish Airlines. You can still transfer points, which occurs at a 3:1 ratio. For every 60,000 points you convert to miles, you’ll get a 15,000-point bonus for a total of 25,000 miles in the airline program of your choice.

What if I have an SPG®, Marriott Rewards® or Ritz-Carlton Rewards® account?

You’ll likely want to combine these accounts to create a single account and profile, helping you earn more points to reach Elite status faster. Update your email so you’ll be notified when it’s time to take action.

The perks

  • Welcome offer.

    You earn 75,000 bonus points after you use your card to pay for $3,000 in purchases within the first three months your account is open. After August 18, 2018, this bonus is enough for a free standard night at any participating SPG® or Marriott Rewards® property. One booking costs between 7,500 and 60,000 points depending on the property’s category. This will be the case until early 2019, when Marriott adds Category 8 properties that cost 85,000 points a night.

  • Earn more points at Starwood Preferred Guest® and Marriott Rewards® hotels.

    Earn 6x points on eligible purchases at SPG® or Marriott Rewards® hotels. This is an excellent rate if you’re a regular at these properties. You could quickly earn enough for free nights, as reward bookings start at 7,500 points after August 18, 2018.

    On all other eligible purchases, earn 2x points.

  • Annual free night award.

    Receive one free night every year after your card account anniversary. It’s good for a free night at a participating property, up to a redemption level of 35,000 points.

  • Complimentary Silver Elite status.

    Starting August 18, 2018, get complimentary in-room Internet access, earn 10% more in bonus points, get priority late checkout and more with automatic Silver Elite status. Spend $30,000 in a calendar year and upgrade to Gold Elite Status for yet more benefits. Starting January 1, 2019, this threshold increases to $35,000.

    You can upgrade to Gold Elite status after 25 to 49 nights a year at participating SPG® and Marriott Rewards® hotels.

  • 0% foreign transaction fees.

    Use your The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express overseas without foreign transaction fees from American Express.

  • Redeem points for stays at SPG and Marriott Rewards properties.

    Starting August 18, 2018, redeem as few as 7,500 points for a free standard-room night — with no blackout dates.

Where can I redeem points?

Points get you free standard rooms at almost 30 properties:

  • The Ritz-Carlton
  • St. Regis
  • JW Marriott
  • The Luxury Collection
  • W Hotels
  • Edition
  • Marriott
  • Sheraton
  • Marriott Vacation Club
  • Delta Hotels by Marriott
  • Le Méridien
  • Westin
  • Autograph Collection Hotels
  • Design Hotels
  • Renaissance Hotels
  • Tribute Portfolio
  • Gaylord Hotels
  • Courtyard by Marriott
  • Four Points
  • Springhill Suites by Marriott
  • Protea Hotels by Marriott
  • Fairfield by Marriott
  • AC Hotels by Marriott
  • Aloft Hotels
  • Moxy Hotels
  • Marriott Executive Apartments
  • Residence Inn by Marriott
  • Towneplace Suites
  • Element Hotels

You’ll also like …

  • Redeem points for flights and car rentals.

    Use your points for flights and car rentals through Air+Car. Participating airlines include JetBlue, United Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Delta Airlines and American Airlines. For car rentals, Hertz is a prominent partner agency.

    You can transfer your points at a 3:1 ratio to around 40 frequent-flyer programs. For every 60,000 points you convert to miles, you’ll get a 15,000-point bonus for a total of 25,000 miles in the airline program of your choice.

  • Travel protection.

    Use Amex’s Roadside Assistance Hotline and Global Assist Hotline when you’re in a bind on vacation for 24/7 help with towings, locksmith services and more. You’ll also get free car rental insurance and travel accident insurance on reservations paid for with your card. Lastly, receive baggage insurance that covers eligible lost, damaged or stolen baggage.

  • Purchase benefits.

    Rest easy with extended warranties, purchase protection and return protection on eligible items you buy with your card.

  • Cardmember-only entertainment.

    As a cardholder, you’ll have access to exclusive events and ticket presales for concerts, shows and sporting events.

  • Shoprunner.

    Receive free two-day shipping on eligible items in the ShopRunner network. Just enroll with your complimentary membership.

  • Fraud protection.

    If you don’t recognize a charge, simply call the number on the back of your card for fast resolution.

What to watch out for

  • Annual fee after the first year.

    Amex waives your annual fee for the first year. After that, you’ll pay a $95 annual fee to use your card.

  • Not as widely accepted overseas.

    The The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express is an American Express card, which means you might not have as many opportunities to use it overseas as you would with a Visa or Mastercard.

  • No intro APR.

    The The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express doesn’t come with a 0% intro APR for purchases or balance transfers.

  • Penalty APR.

    Making late or returned payments could saddle you with a variable APR as high as 29.99% on all balances.

Consider other cards if …

  • You’re loyal to Hilton hotels.

    If you prefer staying at Hilton hotels and resorts, look into the Hilton Honors™ Ascend Card by American Express. It offers a generous welcome bonus, earns Hilton Honors points with spending, upgrades you to Hilton Honors Gold status and more.

  • You want a travel card.

    For a general travel card, consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred® credit card, Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard® or Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card.

  • You want cash back.

    The Blue Cash Preferred® Card offers 6% cash back at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 a year and 1% after that. You’ll also earn 3% at US gas stations and select US department stores and 1% on all other purchases.

    You’ll save more with an 0% intro APR period on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months, reverting to 14.74% to 25.74% variable APR after. If you spend a lot on groceries and gas, it could be a good card for you.

Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card review

Compare travel credit cards

Name Product Welcome Bonus Reward Value per Dollar APR (Annual Percentage Rate) for Purchases Annual Fee
1 points
16.74% variable
$195
Enjoy unique excursions, privileged access to exclusive events and insider opportunities.
1 points
16.74% variable
$495
Mastercard Black Card members receive an annual $100 air travel credit toward flight-related purchases including airline tickets, baggage fees, upgrades and more.
2 points
16.74% variable
$995
Earn points every time you spend. Luxury Card enhances your purchasing power by providing you with one (1) point for every one dollar ($1) you spend. Every purchase gets you closer to the rewards you want.
Earn 60,000 points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months
1 points
None (Charge Card)
$550
Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and 5X points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com.
Earn 25,000 points after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months
1 points
None (Charge Card)
$0 annual fee for the first year ($195 thereafter)
25,000 bonus Membership Rewards® Points (up to $250 value) when you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months
Earn 25,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days
1.5 points
16.74% to 24.74% variable
$0
An intro offer rewards cardholders with a $250 value (25,000 online bonus points) after spending $1,000 within the first 90 days of account opening
Earn 50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
1 points
17.74% to 24.74% variable
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
Earn 50,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days
1.5 points
17.74% to 24.74% variable
$95
Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
Earn 50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
1 points
17.74% to 24.74% variable
$450
Earn 50,000 BONUS POINTS after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening* — that's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Earn 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
2 miles
14.74%, 21.24% or 24.74% variable
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Earn 40,000 miles after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months
1 miles
17.74% to 24.74% variable
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.* Plus a $100 statement credit after your first purchase.
Earn 40,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
1 points
17.74% to 24.74% variable
$99
40,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open

Compare up to 4 providers

New Elite tiers in August 2018

Starting August 18, 2018, there will be new Elite status levels with new benefits:

  • Member — up to 9 nights a year.
  • Silver Elite — for 10 to 24 nights a year.
  • Gold Elite — for 25 to 49 nights a year.
  • Platinum Elite — for 50 to 74 nights a year.
  • Platinum Premier Elite — for 75 to 99 nights a year.
  • Platinum Premier Elite after 100 nights + $20,000 qualifying spending — for 100 or more nights a year.

Starting January 1, 2019, you’ll achieve Elite status on nights only — stays won’t help you qualify. Until that time, SPG® cardmembers can work toward status updates based on stays at SPG®-branded properties as well as nights in the SPG® and Marriott Rewards® portfolios.

With the The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, you start off with Silver Elite status without having to meet any requirements.

What should I know before I apply?

Eligibility requirements
To apply for the The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, you need to be:
  • At least 18 years old.
  • A resident of the US.

Required documents and information

  • Your name, residential status and contact information.
  • Your Social Security number and date of birth.
  • Your email address and phone number.
  • Financial information like your annual salary and wages.

What credit score do I need to apply?

You’ll likely want to apply with a good credit score of 720 or higher.

What’s my likelihood of being approved?

To increase your chances of approval, apply with a good to excellent credit score of 720 or higher. Note that American Express typically pulls your Experian credit score when deciding on approval.

What do customers say about the The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express?

Some customers have left complaints online about how long it takes for American Express to transfer your points to miles. Others say they received a lower line of credit than they expected. Keep in mind that the credit line you’re extended depends on your credit score and other factors determined by American Express.

On the positive side, many customers praise the Amex’s support and say they love the rewards they earn with this card. They also like the value they get when transferring points to miles.

American Express is accredited by the Better Business Bureau, earning an A+ from BBB based on internal criteria that includes years in business and support.

How to apply for the The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

  1. Go to the American Express website.
  2. Select the The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and click Apply now.
  3. Complete the application with details that include your name, email address, Social Security number and birth date.
  4. Review and submit your application.

How long will it take to be approved?

American Express automates conditional approval online, which means you could see a decision in minutes. If your application requires a manual review, you might need to wait a few weeks.

How long will it take to get my The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express?

After approval, you’ll receive your card by mail in three to five business days.

I got the card. Now what?

  • Make on-time payments. Register your account on the American Express website or download the Amex mobile app to pay your statement each month. You can also enroll in autopay.
  • Avoid 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.
  • Avoid fees. Late and returned payments come with hefty fees of up to $38. Balance transfers and cash advances also come with fees.
  • Contact customer service. Call 1-800-528-4800 or visit the American Express website to chat live with a representative. American Express earns high marks in customer interaction from market research company J.D. Power.

Bottom line

The The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express offers impressive benefits that include valuable point multiples for frequent SPG® and Marriott Rewards® guests, point redemption for hotels and flights and perks like a free status upgrade.

You’ll get maximum value from this card if you frequent SPG® or Marriott Rewards® properties. Otherwise, a general travel card might be a better choice. To find a card that best matches your spending, learn more in our comprehensive guide to credit cards.

Frequently asked questions about The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

Image: americanexpress.com

Megan Horner

As the assistant publisher of credit cards at finder.com, Megan is passionate about helping you compare and find the best credit cards for your situation, whether that is earning great rewards or improving your credit score. In her previous position, Megan worked as an assigning editor at Credit Karma, where she focused on editing and publishing educational articles on credit cards. Megan started her career as a writer at a comparison website, so she has a longstanding background in surfacing the best deals and helping people make decisions. In her spare time, Megan likes to hike, camp, surf, and read.

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