The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express Review
2018.4.19 Update: The sign-up bonus is only $200 now…
2018.4.16 Update: Today Marriott has announced its new program, and the info about the new credit cards are also released. After Aug 1st, the earning ability will be changed from 1x SPG (=3x Marriott) to 2x Marriott. Today DoC also got a message from a trusted source saying that, the sign-up bonus of this card will be changed from 30k SPG to $200 statement credit soon. Obviously, the 30k SPG bonus is much better than $200. Just a few minutes ago, we also found that the referral links are all expired, and I believe this is a strong sign that the bonus will be changed very soon. So act fast if you want the 30k SPG bonus!
- $200 offer: earn a $100 statement credit after you make $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Plus, earn an additional $100 statement credit after your first purchase at a participating SPG or Marriott Rewards hotel within the first 6 months.
- Starpoints (SPG points) are the most flexible and valuable points. We estimate that SPG points are worth about 2.4 cents/point, see below for a brief introduction. So the 35k highest sign-up bonus is worth about 840!
- Earn 2 Starpoints per $1 spent directly with Starwood Preferred Guest program; 1 Starpoint per $1 spent on other purchases. Because the points are really valuable, this credit card is equivalent or better than an everything 2% card.
- Receive credit for 5 nights and 2 stays each year toward SPG elite status. (They are not free night certificates!)
- Upgrade to Gold Preferred level after spending $30,000 in each account year.
- With this credit card, you can get access to Amex Offers, which often offers very good discounts at some stores. In the past we have seen offers like: Spend $15 or more and get $5 back at Walmart; Spend $75 or more and get $25 back on Amazon.com.
- No foreign transaction fee.
- Complimentary Boingo Wi-Fi on up to four devices worldwide.
- Refer a friend: You can earn 5,000 bonus SPG points for every approved account you refer, up to a maximum of 11 approved referrals (55,000 SPG Points) per calendar year.
- $95 annual fee, but waived for the first year. (The annual fee was raised on 2015.8.11, and the change applies to previous customers too.）
Introduction to SPG Points
- SPG points and Marriott points can be transferred in both directions instantly at a 1:3 ratio.
- You can earn SPG/Marriott points with AmEx SPG, Chase Marriott, Chase Ritz-Carlton, AmEx SPG Business, Chase Marriott Business.
- SPG/Marriott points are stored in your SPG/Marriott account, not in your credit cards, so you won't lose your points by canceling the credit cards.
- Your SPG points will expire if you don't earn or spend any SPG points in 12 months; your Marriott points will expire if you don't earn or spend any Marriott points in 24 months. As long as you earn make a purchase with the corresponding credit cards or stay in a hotel, or you redeem some points during the time frame, the point expiration date will be postponed accordingly.
- The best way to use your SPG/Marriott points is to redeem for the Marriott Travel Packages: by spending [270k Marriott points (i.e. 90k SPG points)], you can get [a certificate for 7 consecutive nights at category 1~5 Marriott hotels] plus [132k UA miles or 120k AS/AC/AA etc. miles]. See A Complete Guide to the Marriott Travel Packages for more details. If you use SPG points in this way, the value can easily be 2.8+ cents/point. The only disadvantage is that you need to accumulate a huge amount of points first.
- SPG points can be transferred to a lot of airlines miles (you don't have to have the AmEx SPG card to make the transfer), and the ratio is 1:1.25 (you get 5k bonus miles for every 20k SPG points you transfer at a time). The good options are: Alaska Airlines (AS)(Non-alliance), Japan Airlines (JL) (Oneworld), American Airlines (AA) (Oneworld), All Nippon Airways (ANA, NH) (Star Alliance), Korean Air (KE) (SkyTeam), etc. If you use SPG points in this way, the value is about 2.0 cents/point.
- SPG/Marriott points can also be redeemed for hotel stays obviously. Here's the redemption chart for each category: SPG redemption chart; Marriott redemption chart. Generally speaking, you can get a better redemption value from lowest categories. If you use SPG points in this way, the value is about 2.4 cents/point.
- In summary, we estimate that SPG points are worth about 2.4 cents/point.
- For more information about SPG points, see Maximize the Credit Card Points Values (overview), and Introduction to SPG: How to Earn and Introduction to SPG: How to Use (very detailed).
Recommended Application Time
- You can only get the sign-up bonus once in a lifetime, so be sure to apply when the historical highest offer appears.
- AmEx doesn’t typically care about the number of hard pulls.
- You can try to apply for it when you have a credit history of 6 months.
- Only one AmEx credit card can be approved per day. This rule does not apply to charge cards, you can be approved for one credit card and multiple charge cards in the day. Multiple cards approved in the same day will only have one Hard Pull.
- Only 2 AmEx credit cards can be approved within 90 days, but again, this rule does not apply to charge cards.
- You can keep at most 5 AmEx credit cards, not including charge cards.
This card is frequently discussed and is one of the best credit cards in the US because of the bonus and also the earning potential. SPG points are the most flexible and valuable points, and this card is the best card to earn SPG points. The 35k SPG highest sign-up bonus is worth about $840, which makes it a must-apply credit card! Compared with other good hotel credit cards, this card doesn’t offer annual free nights, so the $95 annual fee is somewhat expensive. However, this can definitely be worth keeping if you like to study points/miles or frequently use Amex Offers.
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Recommended Downgrade Options
- You can not downgrade this card to any card with no annual fee, so I suggest you close it when you don’t want to keep it any longer.
- Click here to check AmEx application status.
- AmEx reconsideration backdoor number: 877-399-3083. The “real” backdoor number of Amex is well protected. Different from Chase, the representatives from this AmEx reconsideration backdoor number only have the right to help you submit requests.