Starwood Preferred Guest® credit card Review | finder.com

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card review – June 2018

We know that everyone's situation is unique and we aim to help you find the right product for you. We may receive compensation when you visit our partners' sites or are approved for their products. You can read more about how we maintain editorial independence and how we make money here.

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

30-second take

  • Get this card if you’re a loyal Starwood 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 NameStarwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card
Balance Transfer Rate (not intro)16.99% to 20.99% variable
APR for Purchases ( Purchase Rate )16.99% to 20.99% variable
Annual fee$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Cash Advance Rate26.99% 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
Rewards Points per $ spent (AMEX)2
Points ExpiryNever

The basics

If you’re a regular with brands like Westin and Sheraton, you’ll find a lot to like in the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card. The card’s 1x points per dollar spent on Starwood means you’ll quickly accumulate Starpoints, which you can redeem for free hotel stays. 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 1x points per dollar spent at Marriott, and you have a solid hotel card already. But the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card won’t just bring you resort stays — it also lets you redeem Starpoints for free airfare through SPG Flights on more than 150 airlines. 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 Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from general travel cards.

However, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card brings value beyond points. You’ll receive complimentary credits toward Starwood Preferred Guest Elite status, as well as free in-room Internet and access to Boingo Wi-Fi hot spots around the world. Adding to the perks, you’re extended a $0 annual fee for the first year, paying $95 every year after. You’ll also avoid foreign transaction fees on overseas spending.

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

Changes coming in August 2018

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

Starting August 1, 2018, your Starpoints will become general “points,” converted at a 1:3 ratio. So if you have 10,000 Starpoints in your account by August, you’ll have 30,000 points after the changes are in effect.

After that, every purchase you make with your card earns you 2x points. Every purchase at Starwood or Marriott properties and online stores earns you an addition 4x points for a total of 2 points per dollar spent.

New airline partners

Not only will you earn more points, but you’ll also have access to additional airline partners, including Qantas, JetBlue and Turkish Airlines. You can still transfer points, and you’ll get 3 points for every mile. And 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 to earn more points to reach Elite status faster. Update your email so that you’re sure to be notified when it’s time to take action.

The perks

  • Welcome offer.

    You earn $100 in statement credit after you user your card to pay for $1,000 in purchases within the first three months your account is open. You can then earn an additional $100 credit after your first purchase on the card at a participating SPG or Marriott Rewards hotel within your first six months of opening your account.

  • Earn double Starpoints at SPG and Marriot Rewards hotels.

    Until July 31, 2018, get up to 2x Starpoints at participating Marriott Rewards and SPG hotels and resorts. On all other purchases, you’ll earn 1x points.

    After July 31st, you’ll get 2x points per dollar spent at Marriott and SPG hotels and 2x points on all other purchases.

  • Annual free night award.

    Starting August 1, 2018, receive one free night every year on your card account anniversary.

  • Complimentary Silver Elite status.

    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 year and upgrade to Gold Elite Status for yet more benefits. Starting January 1, 2019, this threshold increases to $35,000.

    After August 1, 2018, you can upgrade to Gold Elite status after 25 to 49 nights a year at participating Starwood and Marriott hotels.

  • 0% foreign transaction fees.

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

  • Redeem Starpoints for stays at Starwood properties.

    Redeem as few as 3,000 Starpoints for a free standard room — with no blackout dates.

Where can I redeem Starpoints?

Starpoints get you free standard rooms 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 …

  • Redeem Starpoints for airfare.

    Use your Starpoints toward airfare booked through SPG Flights, which includes more than 150 airlines. Or transfer your Starpoints — often at 1 point per mile — to more than 30 frequent flyer programs. And receive 5,000 bonus points when 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 loyalty program. You’ll also get free in-room Wi-Fi each time you stay at a Starwood resort.

  • 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.

  • Complimentary Boingo Wi-Fi.

    As a cardholder, you’ll have free access to Boingo Wi-Fi that provides more than a million hot spots around the world.

  • Purchase benefits.

    Protect your purchases with extended warranties, insurance against damage and theft and more on eligible items purchased 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.

  • 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 Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card 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 Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit 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 a variable APR as high as 29.99%.

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.

Compare other American Express credit cards

Rates last updated June 25th, 2018
Name Product APR for Purchases ( Purchase Rate ) Intro APR for Balance Transfer Annual fee Product Description
Amex EveryDay® Credit Card
14.74% to 25.74% variable
0% Intro APR for 15 months
$0
Earn 15000 Membership Rewards® Points after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
14.74% to 25.74% variable
0% Intro APR for 15 months (with whichever is greater, $5 or 3% balance transfer fee)
$0
Earn $150 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. You will receive the $150 back in the form of a statement credit.
Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card
14.74% to 24.74% variable
0% Intro APR for 12 months (with whichever is greater, $5 or 3% balance transfer fee)
$95
Earn 15000 Membership Rewards Points after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
Blue Cash Preferred® Card
14.74% to 25.74% variable
0% Intro APR for 12 months (with whichever is greater, $5 or 3% balance transfer fee)
$95
Earn $250 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. You will receive the $250 back in the form of a statement credit.
The Platinum Card® from American Express
No interest charges because you pay your balance in full each month
$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.
Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express
0
$0 annual fee for the first year ($195 thereafter)
Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
Blue Sky® Credit Card
19.99% variable
$0
Flexible travel rewards and no annual fee.
Hilton Honors™ Card from American Express
17.49% to 26.49% variable
$0
Earn 75000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending $1,000 or more in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card
17.49% to 26.49% variable
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Earn 35000 bonus miles after you make $1,000 in purchases on your new card within your first 3 months and a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months.
Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express
17.49% to 26.49% variable
$450
Earn 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) and 40000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card
17.49% to 26.49% variable
$195
Earn 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) and 35,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new card in your first 3 months.
American Express® Green Card
No interest charges because you pay your balance in full each month
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Shop with more confidence
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card
16.99% to 20.99% variable
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Earn bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.

Compare up to 4 providers

New Elite tiers in August 2018

Starting August 1, 2018, SPG introduce new status tiers to its Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty program.

Until the end of the year, SPG cardmembers can work toward status updates based on stays at SPG-branded properties only. But from January 1, 2019, you’ll earn status tiers based on nights per year:

  • 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.

With the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card, 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 Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card, 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.

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

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

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 Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card

  1. Go to the American Express website.
  2. Select the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card 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 Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card?

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 Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card offers impressive benefits that include valuable point multiples for frequent Starwood guests, point redemption for hotels and flights and perks like free in-room Internet.

You’ll get maximum value from this card if you frequent Starwood 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

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.

Was this content helpful to you? No  Yes

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder only provides general advice and factual information, so consider your own circumstances, or seek advice before you decide to act on our content. By submitting a question, you're accepting our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.
Go to site