Thursday, May 5, 2016

Why you should still consider getting the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express

From the latter part of 2015 we've brought you all the details and drama surrounding the sale of Starwood Hotels. Marriott and China's Anbang were going head to head for Starwood with Marriott eventually coming out on top. This worried a lot of Starwood Preferred Guest members (SPG) as SPG tends to be more rewarding than Marriott especially in how they treat their elite members. To appease SPG members early on and let Marriott elite members start getting used to some SPG benefits Marriott Rewards updated some benefits recently (read about those here). Ultimately it seems though that SPG and Marriott Rewards will be merged into a new program but that won't happen until sometime in 2018. Which means that gives nearly two years for someone to make use and take advantage of SPG since it is one of the most awarding hotel programs out there and provides tremendous value with their currency, Starpoints. In fact if you look at our Top 5 Travel Rewards Currencies for Canadians you'll see that SPG ranks 4th overall!

That brings us to the topic of this post. I was recently asked whether applying for the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express is still worthwhile. And the simple answer is yes! Seeing that you have nearly two years to use the points before an integration or amalgamation there is more than enough time to make use of the very valuable currency.

Here are the details of the card:

Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card
Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express

Card Type: Credit
Annual Fee: $120 Annual Fee ($50 annual fee for Supp Cards)
Product Details:
• New Starwood Preferred Guest®* Credit Card from American Express Cardmembers, earn 20,000 bonus Starpoints® after you charge $500 in purchases to your Card in your first three months of Cardmembership.
• Earn 1 Starpoint for every $1 in purchases charged to the Card
• Enjoy a Free Weekend Night Award when you reach $40,000 in purchases each year
• Experience Starwood Gold Preferred Guest status when you reach $30,000 in purchases each year
• Redeem Starpoints for Free Nights with no blackout dates at over 1,200 of the world's most desired hotels in nearly 100 countries
• Use Starpoints for flights on over 150 airlines with no blackout dates with SPG Flights
• Experience once-in-a-lifetime events with SPG Moments
• American Express Invites™ opens the door to great music, theatre, dining, film, fashion and shopping experiences. Be among the first to know, and among the first to go!
· You can use Apple Pay on your eligible device to pay for goods and services at participating American Express contactless merchants
• Annual interest rate 19.99% on purchases and 21.99% on funds advances
• American Express is not responsible for maintaining or monitoring the accuracy of information on this website. For full details and current product information click the Apply now link.
• Conditions apply

Apply Online
And here are just some examples of why this card still represents a great value and why you should still consider grabbing it for the next few years:

Use the points for Starwood stays of course! We value Starpoints at over 2 cents each so the sign up bonus is worth $400 at a minimum. If you apply for the card and put your $500 spending on it as soon as you can you'll get the 20,000 Starpoints on your first statement date and those will post to SPG within a day or two after that. Now the questions is what can those 20,000 Starpoints get you? Here are some ideas:

How about a night at The St. Regis Mauritius Resort in June:

Only 20,000 Starpoints for a Junior Suite with ocean view. If you pay cash, the non-refundable, prepaid rate is EUR395 or about $579CDN!! That's almost a 2.9% return on your points. Go for two night with points + cash for 20,000 Starpoints and $360 USD (C$463) versus C$1,158 in outright costs. That's a savings of C$695 or a value of 3.475% per point!!

How about a little closer to home? The Westin Prince Toronto in July:

Only 10,000 Starpoints per night for a traditional room. If you pay cash, the non-refundable rate is C$256 so you are getting 2.56% per point in value. Of course you have 20,000 points so you can get two nights here saving you over $500.

Another amazing benefit from SPG is the ability to transfer the Starpoints to well over 30 airlines from around the globe including Aeroplan. What is even better is that SPG will bonus you 5,000 miles each time you transfer 20,000 Starpoints to any of their airline partners. This means the sign up bonus with the card is actually the equivalent of 25,000 miles with all but a couple of partners. Aeroplan is one those that you would get 25,000 miles. For most of us Aeroplan is the obvious choice but some other front runners are British Airways, Alaska Airlines, American AAdvantage, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles or Air France KLM Flying Blue.

Finally you could just hold onto the points and keep collecting as you spend on the card and redeem for higher end hotels before 2018 or keep going for multiples of 20,000 Starpoints to transfer to an airline partner. Ultimately if you don't do any of that the points that you are holding onto will transfer into the newly merged Marriott program sometime in 2018. While we don't know the exact value everyone including us at Rewards Canada are speculating there will be some loss of value seeing that Starpoints are worth over 2 cents each and Marriott Rewards Points are around a penny (in C$)

Clich here to find out more or to apply for the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card!

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