Boomer Traveller has owned The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express (SPG) for years. It is simply one of the most flexible and easy to use reward programs in Canada. SPG Starpoints can be converted to a vast number of airline loyalty programs. SPG even gives you an extra 25% bonus for converting your hotel points to frequent flyer programs – which make the SPG card one of the most valuable cards on the market.
Because of this conversion bonus, for every 20,000 SPG Starpoints you convert you get an equivalent of 25,000 frequent flyer points (on most airlines).
- Annual Fee: $120
- Annual Interest Rate: 19.99% on purchases, 22.99% on funds advances
- Earn: 1 SPG Starpoint for every $1 in purchases; and 2 SPG Starpoints per $1 of eligible purchases at SPG and Marriott Rewards hotels until July 31, 2018
- Welcome Bonus: 20,000 SPG Starpoints
- Minimum spend: $1500 in the first three months
While it depends on what you spend your points on, the point mavens on the blogsphere value SPG Starpoints at 2.2 – 2.7 cents each. So that 20,000 point welcome bonus is easily worth more than the annual fee.
- The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express has one of the best welcome bonuses in the business… 20,000 SPG Starpoints after you charge $1500 in purchases in the first three months (20,000 points is enough for up to 5 free nights at a category 2 hotel)
- Receive a free weekend night award when you reach $40,000 in purchases each year
- Automatic upgrade to Starwood Gold Preferred Guest membership when you reach 30,000 in purchases each year
- Receive a 5000 SPG Starpoint bonus for the Starwood Preferred Guest program when you transfer 20,000 SPG Starpoints to a frequent flyer program (25% bonus for converting from hotel to airline points)
- Redeem SPG Starpoints with no blackout dates at >1,300 hotels and resorts on over 100 countries
- SPG has the largest network of hotels in the world including: St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, W Hotels, Le Méridien, Westin, Sheraton, Aloft, Element, and Four Points by Sheraton. With the recent SPG-Marriott merger SPG points can be converted to Marriott points at a 1:3 rate. Marriott hotels include: The Ritz-Carlton, AC Hotels by Marriott, Autograph Collection Hotels, Courtyard, Edition, Fairfield Inn, Gaylord Hotels, JW Marriott, Marriott Executive Apartments, Marriott Hotels & Resorts, Marriott Vacation Club, Renaissance Hotels, Residence Inn, SpringHill Suites and TownePlace Suites.
- SPG has seven hotel categories: Category 1: 2000-3000 points per night; Category 2: 3000-4000 points per night; Category 3: 7000 points per night and the 5th night free with 28,000 points (a 20% discount); Category 4: 10,000 points per night; Category 5: 12,000-16,000 points per night; Category 6: 20,000-25,000 points per night; Category 7: 30,000-35,000 points per night
- No blackout dates on more than 150 airlines
- Transfer SPG Starpoints to frequent flyer miles with ~30 airlines, usually on a 1:1 basis or better
- Transfer SPG Starpoints to Amtrack Guest rewards at 1:1 ratio
- Insurance: Travel Emergency Assistance; $500,000 Travel Accident Insurance; Car Rental Theft and Damage Insurance; Flight Delay Insurance; Lost or Stolen Bag Insurance; Hotel / Motel Burglary Insurance
- Entertainment Access: Front of the Line Advance Access; Front of the Line Reserved Tickets; Front of the Line E-Updates; Special offers and access for Cardmembers
- Shopping Coverage: Buyer’s Assurance Protection Plan; Purchase Protection Plan
- For each referral you earn a bonus of 5000 points
- If you need to boost your point balance you can buy SPG Starpoints starting at $17.50 USD for 500 up to 30,000 points.
- Until March 16, 2018 when you buy 5000 or more SPG Starpoints you can get 35% off the regular price.
- You can donate your SPG Starpoints to some worthwhile causes such as UNICEF (although the donation is not tax deductible).
- Redeem your SPG Starpoints for gift cards at Amazon, iTunes, Nordstrom, Starbucks…..
- You can transfer your points to someone you live with who also has an SPG account to a maximum of 79,999 points a day; however, don’t forget the 5,000 bonus miles you for every 20,000 SPG Starpoints transferred – so you would need to limit that to 60,000 if transferring for airline use.
- 2.5% foreign currency transaction fee
- Not all places take American Express (e.g., COSTCO, which used to be our go-to place to achieve minimum spends, stopped accepting Amex a few year ago)
- SPG StarPoints expire after 12 months if you don’t keep your account active
- Transferring hotel to frequent flier points can take a few days
While Boomer Traveller will cover some of the perks associated with this awesome card in future posts (this post is already tooooo long) a few words on SPG Status. There are four categories of SPG members: preferred, gold (completing 10 eligible stays or 25 eligible nights in a calendar year), platinum (completing 25 eligible stays or 50 eligible nights in a calendar year) and pro (for business to business customers).
While the Amex card gets you SPG preferred level, there is a catch: you have to apply separately here once you have received your SPG card. Preferred status gets you a number of perks such as earning 2 SPG Starpoints per $1 USD spent on eligible stays (which in theory would cancel out the foreign currency charge), complimentary in-room Internet access, and save up to 30% while earning SPG points at over 1,000 restaurants and bars located within Starwood hotels and resorts worldwide — even when you’re not staying there.
If you have the American Express Platinum Card (sign up through this affiliate link and get an extra 10,000 points!) you automatically get SPG Gold Status which normally takes completing 10 eligible stays / 25 nights in a calendar year. Some of the benefits above preferred status are: earn three SPG Starpoints for every $1 USD spent on eligible stays; late checkout; room upgrade at check-in; welcome gift (in-room internet or beverage).
Boomer Traveller’s reaction to this card:
Always read the fine print before make before you make a financial decision …