Amex Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Cards: Comparing the Benefits and Perks

SPG-Westin-Singapore

The Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty program has long been a favorite of many travelers thanks to the ability to redeem SPG Starpoints for hotel award stays and transfer them to over 30 airline partners.

With the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express, you can earn tons of SPG Starpoints and utilize some great perks that come with each card.

Amex Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Cards

The Starwood Preferred Guest credit cards are among the fastest ways to earn SPG Starpoints, especially if you aren’t staying at Starwood properties on a regular basis.

CREDIT CARDCARD INFO
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

Need Inspiration?
> 45 Best Ways To Use SPG Points
  • Earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints®
  • Up to 5x Starpoints® on eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Our Review
Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express
  • Earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints®
  • Up to 5x Starpoints® on eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Our Review

Now, one thing to be aware of if you are going to get one of these cards is that Marriott bought Starwood in 2016. They are currently in the process of integrating Starwood more fully into the Marriott brand.

At this point, you can transfer SPG Starpoints to your Marriott Rewards account (once they are linked) and vice versa. However, Marriot is expected to integrate their loyalty programs in the future.

This only adds to the uncertainty of the Starwood Preferred Guest credit cards, since Chase has a longstanding relationship with Marriott and provides their 2 co-branded credit cards: the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card and the Chase Marriott Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card.

Earn SPG Starpoints With Your Purchases

St. Regis Mumbai
Use a Starwood Preferred Guest credit card, and before you know you’ll be staying at the St. Regis Mumbai!

Both Starwood Preferred Guest cards have the same earning structure. The one major downside with these cards is that they don’t have bonus categories that most people will find useful. However, each point you earn is very valuable.

With each purchase on your card at Starwood and Marriott hotel properties, you will earn 2X points per dollar spent.

You will also earn bonus Starpoints at Starwood properties if you have SPG Gold or Platinum elite status, but these points don’t stem from the credit card. Marriott Silver, Gold, or Platinum elite status members will also earn bonus points at Marriott properties.

If you have Gold or Platinum status with either program, you can link your SPG and Marriott accounts to match your status. This means you should always be earning bonus points on paid stays at Marriott and Starwood properties if you have Gold or Platinum Status.

Earn SPG Elite Status Faster

Without even going into the details of the perks of SPG elite status, the bonus points your paid stays will earn plus the status match you’ll receive from Marriott are more than enough to give you an idea of the benefits.

With the Starwood Preferred Guest credit cards, there are a couple of ways to earn elite status even faster.

Night and Stay Credits Toward Elite Status

Another benefit offered by each card is credit for 5 nights and 2 stays annually. This means that every year you have the card, you will receive this boost toward earning Gold and Platinum elite status.

If you have both cards, you will receive the night and stay credits from each card, which means you will have 10 nights and 4 stays toward elite status just for having the cards.

To qualify for Gold status with SPG, you will need to reach 10 stays or 25 nights in a calendar year. For Platinum status with SPG, you will need 25 stays or 50 nights. As you can see, the night and stay credits from either or both of these cards can give you a significant boost.

Spend Your Way to Gold Status

If Gold status is your goal, but you won’t hit the required night or stay requirements, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express might be the card for you.

When you spend $30,000 on this card within a calendar year, you will get bumped up to Gold status. In fact, your new status level will take effect within 12-16 weeks. In reality, it often takes much less time for you to receive your status bump to Gold and start enjoying the perks.

Sheraton Club Lounge Access

Sheraton Club Lounge Inner Harbor Baltimore
Stop by the Sheraton Club Lounge for a drink and a snack after a day touring the city. Image courtesy of Sheraton Inner Harbor.

Typically, club lounge access at Sheraton properties is reserved for Platinum members only. However, with the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express, you will be able to enjoy a bite to eat and a drink at all Sheraton Club Lounges.

To receive access to this awesome perk, you must pay for your hotel stay with your Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express.

When you use this benefit, be prepared to explain it to the person checking you into your room, since many people do not know about this perk of the card. In some cases, cardholders have had to reach out to SPG via Twitter to get the issue resolved. These are very rare cases, but be prepared to calmly explain the situation.

Complimentary Boingo Wi-Fi Access

The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express also comes with complimentary Boingo Wi-Fi access thanks to more than 1 million hotspots around the world. You can even connect up to 4 devices.

Before you can use these hotspots, you will need to enroll on Boingo’s website with your card information, so make sure you do that before your trip.

Complimentary ShopRunner Membership

For those who enjoy shopping online, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express comes with a complimentary ShopRunner membership.

With ShopRunner, you will receive free 2-day shipping at over 140 stores when you shop online. You’ll even be able to ship your returns for free!

What Can You Do With SPG Starpoints?

Now that you’ve seen the perks of both Starwood Preferred Guest credit cards, you’re probably wondering how to get the most out of SPG Starpoints. Well, you have plenty of options!

The simplest way to redeem Starpoints is simply to book an award stay at a Starwood property. The SPG award chart is divided into 7 categories, with each category of hotel requiring a different number of points.

St. Regis Florence
When you visit Florence, Italy, you can stay at the luxurious St. Regis. Image courtesy of St. Regis.

You can book award stays at simple Aloft properties when you just need a clean room, at a Sheraton if you’re on a business trip and want a lounge to relax, or at a St. Regis if you want to enjoy a luxury stay.

If there isn’t a Starwood property at your destination that fits your needs, you can also use your SPG Starpoints to book an award stay at a Marriott. Remember, once you link accounts, you can transfer SPG points to your Marriott Rewards account. The transfer rate is 1 SPG point to 3 Marriott Rewards points.

With Marriott hotels, you’ll have a much larger international footprint from which to choose. Like with Starwood, you’ll have access to simple hotels as well as luxury properties.

Last but certainly not least, you have the option to transfer SPG Starpoints to over 30 airline partners. You can transfer at a 1:1 ratio to most airline partners, but make sure you check before transferring (since SPG transfers to some partners at a much poorer rate).

Emirates First Class Champagne
Have a glass of Dom Perignon while you enjoy Emirates first class.

In fact, Starwood Preferred Guest partners with some airlines (like Japan Airlines) that don’t have any other transfer partners. By transferring SPG Starpoints to Japan Airlines, you could book the famous Emirates first class, where you can enjoy an inflight shower and Dom Perignon champagne!

To make these transfers even better, you will receive a bonus of 5,000 airline miles when you transfer blocks of 20,000 SPG Starpoints. The maximum number of points you can transfer to an airline within 24 hours while taking advantage of this bonus is 60,000 SPG Starpoints.

Hot Tip: Check out some of the amazing ways you can redeem SPG Starpoints for award flights and award stays.

Which Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card Should You Get?

The annual fee for each card is $95, but it is waived the first year. While this isn’t an expensive annual fee, you’ll still want to consider which one is right for you.

If you travel regularly for work, the night and stay credits from each card could put you on a faster path to Platinum elite status. If Gold elite status is all you want, spending $30,000 on either card can get you there.

If you want access to Sheraton Club Lounges and Boingo Wi-Fi hotspots, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express is definitely the way to go.

If neither of those means much to you and you don’t have complimentary access to ShopRunner from another American Express card, then you might prefer the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express so you can get free 2-day shipping and free returns.

Final Thoughts

In the end, whichever card you choose, the Starwood Preferred Guest credit cards are your ticket to earning SPG Starpoints quickly. While they don’t come with the big bonus categories of some other cards on the market, the points they provide are very valuable.

Whether you’re just looking for some fun perks during your stays at Sheraton properties or a way to use points to book luxury travel, SPG Starpoints have you covered. All you have to do is decide how you’re going to earn them and get to it!

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

FAQ

Do points earned with the Starwood Preferred Guest credit cards count toward elite status?
No. Points earned with the Starwood Preferred Guest credit cards are redeemable points rather than status-earning points.

However, you can earn Gold status by spending $30,000 on the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express within a calendar year. Additionally, this card and the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express each provide 5 nights and 2 stays toward elite status.

Can you transfer SPG Starpoints to airlines or other hotels?
You can transfer Starpoints to over 30 airline partners. Many transfers are at a 1:1 ratio, but some airline partners involve a subpar rate of 1:0.5 or worse. Make sure the transfer ratio is at least 1:1 before proceeding.

SPG Starpoints can also be transferred to your Marriott Rewards account at a ratio of 1:3.

What points can be transferred to SPG points?
You can transfer Marriott Rewards points to your SPG account at a rate of 3:1.