Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Credit Card From American Express Review
The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express may look like any other travel card, but peel back a layer, dig a little deeper, and it really is one of the more valuable travel cards in the Canadian market – for hotels and flights.
We did the math and made a discovery: the SPG card has one of the highest earn rates in Canada. Moreover, while it’s certainly a hotel credit card, it’s vast airline partnership program, makes it one of the premier travel cards in Canada – offering more value and flexibility than most.
With Marriott’s recent acquisition of Starwood, you can transfer your SPG points to Marriott and vice versa free of charge offering more redemption opportunities than any other hotel credit card in the world.
And for those looking for a big-time sign-up bonus, the Starwood Preferred Guest Card from American Express currently has a special promotion, offering a 20,000 point sign-up bonus. 20,000 points can get you up to 5 free nights, that’s a huge sign-up bonus.
But here’s the cool thing, your 20,000 SPG points are worth 70,000 Marriott points, which is twice the sign-up bonus of the Marriott card!
Starwood Credit Card Benefits
- Welcome Bonus: Earn 20,000 Welcome Bonus Starpoints after you charge $1,500 in purchases to your Card in your first three months of Cardmembership. That’s enough for up to 5 free nights.
- Earnings: Earn 2 Starpoints for every $1 spent using the card directly at hotels participating in SPG and Marriott Rewards globally. Earn 1 Starpoint for every $1 in purchases charged to the Card.
- Free Night Incentive: Receive a Free Weekend Night Award when you reach $40,000 in purchases each year.
- Upgrades: Enjoy an automatic upgrade to Starwood Gold Preferred Guest membership when you reach $30,000 in purchases each year.
- Referral Bonus: As a Cardmember, you could earn more Starpoints by referring a friend. For each approved referral you could earn a referral bonus of 5,000 Starpoints.
- No Black Out Dates: Redeem Starpoints for Free Nights with no blackout dates at over 1,200 hotels and resorts in nearly 100 countries
- Redeem For Flights: Redeem Starpoints for flights with no blackout dates on more than 150 airlines
- Transfer Points to Miles: Transfer Starpoints to frequent flyer miles with nearly 30 airlines, usually on a 1:1 basis, including Aerplan!
- Transfer Bonus: Receive a 5,000 Starpoint bonus from the Starwood Preferred Guest program when you transfer 20,000 Starpoints to a frequent flyer program, including Aeroplan!
Starwood Earn Rate in a Class of its Own
Starwood Credit Card Earn Rate For Hotel Redemptions
On first glance, there’s nothing spectacular about the Starwood Preferred Guest card. You earn 1 point per dollar spent at SPG hotels and 1 point everywhere else. Ho-hum. Now take out your abacus and calculate the value of each Starpoint and you’ll see the wheat separating from the chaff.
To calculate the value of a point, when redeeming for a hotel night, we surveyed the cost and points required for over 53 hotel night stays, during the week and on the weekend. We determined that the average SPG point is worth around 2.21 cents when redeeming for hotel nights. In some cases, you can get even more value depending on the property, timing or promotion. We’ve seen values as high as 5%. The breakdown by category of hotel and day of the week is as follows:
Compare Starwood’s cash value per dollar spent of 2.21% to Aeroplan and you see why the Starwood card is so rich.
We put the Aeroplan credit cards under a similar test, comparing 15 flights, both domestic and international, high and low season, and we saw average point redemption value at 1.4% (we excluded taxes, fees, and fuel surcharges which are not covered by the Aeroplan redemption grid). One thing to note is that the Aeroplan cards offered by Amex, TD and CIBC tend to have higher accumulation rates than the Starwood Amex card, because they offer 1.5 Aeroplan points per dollar spent on gas, groceries and pharmacy spend.
But even if we assume that 25% of Aeroplan credit card purchases will be eligible to receive 1.5 points per dollar spent, we get to an earn rate of 1.575% per dollar spent on an Aeroplan credit card, significantly lower than that 2.2% earn rate on the Starwood Preferred Guest credit card from American Express.
Starwood Credit Card Earn Rate For Flight Redemptions
Aside from redeeming for hotel stays, cardholders can also redeem points for flights with over 30 airlines. In fact, one of the lesser know features of the program to most Canadians is that a Starpoint can be exchanged 1:1 for over 30 airline loyalty programs.
In Canada, cardholders can transfer Starpoints to Aeroplan at a rate of 1:1, and for every 20,000 Starpoints transferred, you’ll earn an additional 5,000 bonus points. Said another way, when you transfer 20,000 SPG points to Aeroplan, you actually get a 25% bonus, essentially earning 1.25 Aeroplan points for every dollar spent on your SPG Amex card.
That compares favorably to the current TD Aeroplan Infinite offer which earns 1 Aeroplan point per dollar spent on all purchases and 1.5 points on gas, grocery & drug store spend. The SPG card will allow you to earn 1.25 Aeroplan points per dollar spent on ALL credit card spend. Use our credit card optimizing engine to see how much either of the two cards will earn you in point equivalent cash based on your individual spend inputs.
Beyond Aeroplan, you can also exchange points 1:1 to fly on American Airlines, Delta, US Airways, Virgin and a host of other airlines – making this both a hotel card and a frequent flyer card. But more importantly, it makes it one of Canada’s most flexible cards – get great value staying at one of SPG’s many hotels (Sheraton, Westin, Aloft, Four Points, The W, and more) or transfer your points 1:1 or 1:1.25 on 30 of the worlds largest airlines.
|Air China Companion||65:1|
|Air New Zealand Air Points||1:1|
|Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan||1:1|
|All Nippon Airways (ANA) Mileage Club||1:1|
|American Airlines AAdvantage||1:1|
|British Airways Executive Club||1:1|
|China Eastern Airlines||1:1|
|China Southern Airlines’ Sky Pearl Club||1:1|
|Delta Air Lines SkyMiles||1:1|
|Japan Airlines (JAL) Mileage Bank||1:1|
|Miles and More||1:1|
|Saudi Arabian Airlines Alfursan||1:1|
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer||1:1|
|US Airways Dividend Miles||1:1|
|United Mileage Plus||2:1|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||1:1|
What Makes the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card Standout
There are several reasons to love the SPG card from Amex. Here are just a few:
- It has an unbelievable earn rate
- You can transfer points to and from Marriott, allowing you to redeem your rewards with the largest network of hotels in the world
- You can transfer your points to a vast network of Airlines loyalty programs, including Aeroplan, at a 1:1 rate, making it an unbelievably flexible travel card
- Get a 5,000 point bonus when transferring 20,000 SPG points to airline frequent flyer programs, like Aeroplan
- There are no black out dates for any hotel nights – weekdays, weekends, New Year or Spring Break, you’re covered.
- Points do not expire for active members. Anyone who has earned a point in the last 12 months is considered an active member.