AmEx Starwood Preferred - The Best Travel Rewards Credit Card
Published 9/5/07 (Modified 4/24/13)
I'm a big believer in using the right combination of cash rebate and credit card offers to maximize one's purchasing potential. In the search for the best travel rewards credit card, I've noticed that some people opt for airline specific cards. However, these types of cards tend to offer unimpressive deals. Not only do they offer higher interest rates and annual fees, but their redemption options are also much more limited.
Review - Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express
I'm a big fan of credit card reward plans that offer versatility such as Citibank's ThankYou Network, which I use to earn points redeemable for gift cards and air travel. However, my favorite stand alone travel rewards card is the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express. It has been referred to as the Swiss army knife of travel rewards cards and deservedly so. Not only can you redeem your rewards for the frequent flyer miles of over 30 airlines (view points to miles conversion list), you can also earn reward points for stays at any of the 1,100+ participating Starwood hotel properties in nearly 100 countries worldwide. For every $1 you spend using the card, you earn 1 Starwood point, and ultimately 1 mile on any participating airline. The conversion rate from points into miles is generally 1:1, with a few limited exceptions such as United Airlines, which converts at a ratio of 2:1 (making it a bit less desirable for those who want to ride on United).
Card Users Can Earn An Extra Free 25% Frequent Flyer Mile Bonus
The Starwood Amex card is great because it offers you an impressive 25% points to miles bonus on top of the normal conversion rate. When you convert 20,000 points into miles, Starwood adds an extra 5,000 bonus miles to your transfer, which is often enough for a domestic flight. If you maintain this conversion rate, for every dollar spent on the card, you can earn the equivalent of 1.25 miles. This is 25% better than what you'll get with other airline credit cards.
The Card Offers Great Frequent Flyer Flexibility And The Ability To Top Off Your Miles
One of my biggest gripes with airline frequent flyer programs is that it is difficult if not impossible to transfer one airline's points to another airline's program for use in redeeming rewards toward an airline ticket. So what you end up with is a bunch of frequent flyer programs, each with its own set of miles, but none of them individually eligible to redeem toward a flight. This is where the Starwood Amex card really shines and shows why it is such a versatile card when it comes to converting points into frequent flyer miles. Not only do you have a variety of airline frequent flyer programs to choose from, you can essentially use your miles to fill and top off each program so that each can qualify for free flights. Also, some airline frequent flyer points expire after a period of inactivity. You can prevent this by transferring Starwood points into those programs, thereby generating the necessary account activity to prevent points expiration.
Low Annual Fee
The Starwood Amex card does have a low nominal annual fee. The good news is that it is relatively low and currently American Express is offering $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then the annual fee is $65. I find that the card easily pays for itself in the long run due to all of the frequently flyer miles you ultimately rack up.
You Can Earn Double Points for Hotel Stays
While not as popular as redeeming for frequent flyer miles, you also earn double points from American Express for every dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with hotels and resorts participating in the SPG program, which includes the Westin, Sheraton, Four Points by Sheraton, St. Regis, and W Hotels. In addition as a Starwood Preferred guest member you can earn two Starpoints (or three Starpoints if you have Starwood Preferred Guest elite status) from the Starwood Preferred Guest Program for every dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with hotels and resorts participating in the SPG program.
Current Starwood Card Promotions and Offers
- The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express earn up to 25,000 Starpoints bonus points — 10,000 Starpoints with your first purchase and another 15,000 when you spend $5,000 within the first 6 months of Cardmembership. Also remember that there is a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then the annual fee is $65.
- There is also the Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express, which is offering 10,000 Starpoints after your first purchase, and another 15,000 bonus Starpoints when you spend $5,000 in 6 months. If you applied for both, you could be on your way to rack up some serious points for free flights and hotel stays in no time.
Terms and restrictions apply.