Review of the (SPG) Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card

If you haven’t considered adding the (SPG) Starwood Preferred Guest credit card to your wallet, you will want to pay attention.  The SPG Amex credit card is one of the best travel reward credit cards out there and has been for quite some time.  SPG points are arguably the most valuable mileage currency there is.  With the SPG Amex credit card, you can redeem points for hotels and flights through over 30 different frequent flyer programs. No other card can do that.

Plus, Marriott is acquiring Starwood, so the future of the card isn’t clear.

SLS Beverly Hills Hotel, part of Starwood’s Luxury Collection (Photo: SLS)

Current Starwood Guest Preferred Credit Card Offer

The Starwood Preferred Guest credit card offers:

  • 25,000 Bonus Points after spending $3,000 in 3 months
  • 2x points per dollar spent at participating Marriott/SPG hotels
  • 1x points per dollar spent on all other purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Ability to redeem points at over 1,300 hotels worldwide
  • Ability to redeem points on more than 150 airlines with SPG flights
  • Ability to redeem points through over 30 frequent flyer programs
  • Annual fee waived the first year, then $95 per year

While the sign-up bonus may seem low compared to other travel reward credit card offers of 50,000 points or more, 25,000 SPG points can be more valuable in terms of being able to redeem them for free nights and air travel. Some people also see higher targeted offers on the Starwood Preferred Guest credit card landing page.

Redeeming for SPG Hotels

SPG has seven hotel categories that require the following amount of points:

Category 13,000 points Weekdays / 2,000 points Weekends
Category 24,000 points Weekdays / 3,000 points Weekends
Category 37,000 points
Category 410,000 points
Category 512,000 – 16,000 points
Category 620,000 – 25,000 points
Category 730,000 – 35,000 points

The Sheraton Gran Canaria Salobre Golf Resort in Maspalomas, Las Palmas, Spain regularly goes for 207 Euros per night.  This category 3 hotel would cost 7,000 points per night. With a sign-up bonus of 25,000 points, you would have enough points for 5 nights with Starwood’s 5th night free. A five-night stay would cost you $1,223 (1,035 Euros) or 28,000 SPG points.  This example gives you a value of 4.4 cents per point. Compare this to American Express Membership Rewards that would give you .07 cents per point redeeming through their travel portal.

Stay 5 nights at the Sheraton Gran Canaria Salobe Golf Resort for 28,000 points.

Considering a trip to Disney? The Sheraton Lake Buena Vista Resort is a category 2 hotel and at only 4,000 points per weekday night and 3,000 points per weekend night, you would have enough points to book two rooms for five nights at 28,000 SPG points. That would otherwise cost $1,350. This would give you a value of 4.8 cents per point.

Stay 5 nights at the Sheraton Lake Buena Vista for 14,000 points.

Starwood’s Nights & Flights Packages

Another redemption option available is Starwood’s Nights & Flights. With SPG Nights & Flights you can book a five-night hotel stay at a category 3 or 4 property and get 50,000 airline miles transferred to one of over 30 SPG airline transfer partners. You can redeem 60,000 SPG points for a category 3 property, saving 18,000 SPG points or 70,000 SPG points for a category 4 property, saving 20,000 SPG points.

Nights and Flights can only be booked by calling SPG and there must be a standard room available for the dates you choose. After booking, SPG will initiate the transfer of airline miles to your frequent flyer account. Nights & Flights bookings require 14 days advance transfer to US airlines and 30 days advance transfers for international airlines.

Converting SPG Points to Airline Miles

The main reason for SPG’s value is the flexibility to transfer them to one of over 30 frequent flyer programs that SPG partners with. For every one SPG point you transfer, you will have one mile in your account.  For example, if you are short 3,000 miles for an American Airlines AAdvantage award, you can transfer just 3,000 points to your account and book your award flight.

And the deal gets better! For every 20,000 points you transfer at one time, Starwood will give you another 5,000 airline miles. This increases the exchange ratio to 1:1.25 for the majority of their transfer partners. SPG caps the number of points you can purchase in a 24 hour period to 79,999 points so to get the maximum bonus, it is best to transfer a maximum of 60,000 SPG points in a 24 hour period.

SPG’s airline transfer partners run at a 1:1 ratio:

Aegean AirlinesAeromexico Club PremierAeroplan/Air CanadaAir Berlin
Air China CompanionAlaska Airlines Mileage PlanAlitalia MileMigliaAll Nippon Airways (ANA) Mileage Club
American Airlines AAdvantageAsia MilesAsiana AirlinesBritish Airways Executive Club
China Eastern AirlinesChina Southern Airlines Sky Pearl ClubDelta Air Lines SkyMilesEmirates Skywards
Etihad AirwaysFlying BlueHainan AirlinesHawaiian Airlines
Japan Airlines (JAL) Mileage BankJet AirwaysKorean AirLifeMiles of Avianca
Miles and MoreQatar AirwaysSaudi Arabian AirlinesSingapore Airlines KrisFlyer
Thai Airways International Royal Orchid PlusVirgin Atlantic Flying ClubVirgin Australia

SPG Transfer partners with ratios different than 1:1:

Air New Zealand Airpoints

65:1

Gol Smiles

2:1

LATAM Airlines LATAM Pass

1:1.5

United Mileage Plus

2:1

If you’re planning to make a transfer to your airline frequent flyer program of choice, the minimum number of points you can transfer per transaction is 2,500 SPG points.  With SPG Gold Elite status, you can transfer a minimum of 1,500 SPG points per transaction and SPG Platinum Elite status members can transfer as few as 1 SPG point per transaction.

Unfortunately, the airline point transfers to airlines are not instant.  It can take anywhere from two to fourteen days for SPG points to transfer, so you will want to plan ahead. Once the points transfer is initiated you cannot ‘reverse’ the transfer. When your SPG points leave your account, there is no going back.

How the SPG Amex Compares to Other Hotel Credit Cards

The sign-up bonus of 25,000 points for the Starwood Preferred Guest credit card is lower compared to other hotel program credit card offers but that number is deceiving. Understanding the redemption value can make the 25,000 SPG points worth more than the 75,000 Hilton points or 80,000 IHG Rewards Club points. Let’s look at a comparison of the SPG Amex credit card, Hilton Honors Surpass from American Express and the IHG Rewards Club Select credit card (free night certificate, low annual fee, and low minimum spend helps separate this hotel card).

Starwood Preferred Guest from American ExpressHilton Honors Surpass from American ExpressChase IHG Rewards Club Select 
Sign-up Bonus25,000 points75,000 points80,000 points
Minimum Spend$3,000 in 3 months$3,000 in 3 months$1,000 in 3 months
Earning Potential2x points per dollar spent at participating Marriott/SPG hotels

1x points per dollar spent on all other purchases

12x points per dollar spent with properties in Hilton portfolio

6x points at US restaurants, grocery stores and gas stations

3x points per dollar spent on all other purchases

5x points per dollar at IHG hotels

2x points per dollar at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants

1x point per dollar on all other purchases

Redeeming PointsFree nights start at 2,000 points up to 35,000 pointsFree nights start at 5,000 up to 95,000 pointsFree nights start at 10,000 points up to 60,000 points
Loyalty StatusGold Status after spending $30,000 on the cardHilton Honors Gold Status

Hilton Honors Diamond Status after spending $40,000 on the card

Platinum Elite Status
Priority Pass MembershipNoYesNo
Free Night CertificateNoNoYes
5th Night FreeYesYesNo
1:1 Transfer PartnersYesNoNo
Foreign Transaction FeesNoYes, 2.7%No
Annual FeeWaived the first year, then $95$75 per yearWaived the first year, then $49

Here’s our post on the SPG Amex vs Chase Sapphire Preferred. 

Bottom Line: (SPG) Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card Review

The versatility of SPG points makes the Starwood Preferred Guest credit card one of the best credit cards you can carry in your wallet. You have the ability to redeem points for free nights, Nights & Flight packages and transfer your points to over 30 frequent flyer programs to meet your specific travel needs. No other card out there can do that.  As a cardholder myself, I hoard SPG points like gold. If you don’t, consider applying for the card.

Geoff Whitmore

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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Review of the (SPG) Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card
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2 Comments on "Review of the (SPG) Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card"

  1. How would you compare the value vs CSReserve? For daily activity, which would you prefer and why?

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