Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Credit Card From American Express Review
Since it was announced that Starwood Preferred Guest and Marriott Rewards would be merging, there’s been a lot of uncertainty about the future value and features of both loyalty programs, as well as the Starwood Preferred Guest®* Credit Card from American Express.
Well, now that the merger is complete and the details of the SPG Amex card have been revealed, we can safely say that this card is a major winner among Canadian travel cards. The very generous signup bonus, a free annual night, and plenty of options to redeem your points are just some of the reasons why you’ll want to have this card in your wallet.
SPG Credit Card Canada Rewards Structure
The Starwood card was designed for those who like to travel and stay at quality hotels. Now that SPG and Marriott have merged, cardholders have the opportunity to earn additional points at 6,500+ properties around the world. Here’s how points are earned with the card:
- 50,000 signup bonus points after you charge $1,500 in purchases to your card in the first three months of card membership
- 5 points for every dollar in card purchases made at SPG and Marriott Rewards properties
- 2 points for every dollar in card purchases everywhere else
The signup bonus of 50,000 points is incredibly generous since that’s worth a free night at a category 6 hotel during standard times. This could easily have a real-world value of $500. Alternatively, those points are enough for five free nights at a category 2 property when you factor in Marriott’s ‘book 4 nights and get the 5th-night free’ promotion. Those five nights could have a value of $1,000+.
When it comes to earning points, you get the most bang for your buck at SPG and Marriott Rewards properties where you’ll get 5 points for every dollar spent. This spend applies to the cost of your stay, food and drinks, as well as some hotel incidentals such as spa treatments at select properties.
Although Starpoints and Marriott Rewards have merged, the new program doesn’t have a formal name yet. All you really need to know is that all your points are now in one account and can be used to redeem free nights at 6,500+ hotels in more than 120 countries.
Unlike other rewards programs, it’s difficult to assign a number value to one points since there are so many variables in play. A booking’s category, location, and time of year are just a few of the factors that determine how much points are worth once they’re redeemed.
Generally speaking, you should look for redemption opportunities that give your points a value of at least $0.01. So if you’re looking to book a free night at a hotel that costs 25,000 points, and the real-world cost of that booking would be $250, that’s a decent redemption value at 1 cent per point. Alternatively, if a hotel requires 35,000 points for a free night but has a real-world cost of $180, you’re likely better off paying cash for the night since your redemption value would only be about half a cent per point. Here’s a full list of how many points you’ll need to claim a free night during standard, off-peak, and peak timing.
(Effective August 18)
Points can be transferred to 45 different airline partners. Most of these partners have a 3:1 transfer ratio (including Aeroplan/Air Canada), but there’s also an ongoing promotion where if you transfer 60,000 points to an airline partner, you get an additional 5,000 miles.
So for 60,000 Starwood points, you can get 25,000 miles at select airlines. Those miles could be worth anywhere from $400 – $600 which makes your points worth 2.4 cents each. That’s a very good value! You can learn more about Starpoints via our Loyalty Program Bible.
SPG Amex Annual Free Night Award
The card’s best benefit is easily the free annual night award which has a redemption value of up to 35,000 points (category 1-5 hotel). There is no spend requirement for this award, so it’s an incredible value when you consider that 35,000 points are equal to a free night at a category 5 hotel, which could have a cost of $400+.
Amex SPG Elite Status Upgrades
With Silver Elite Status, cardholders earn 10% more points at SPG and Marriott Rewards properties. That means for every dollar you spend there, you’re earning 5.5 points instead of the regular 5.
Getting Gold Elite Status when you charge $30,000 to your card each year is nice, but I wouldn’t suggest focusing all your spend on this American Express card just for that benefit. If you’re going to charge everything to this card, do it for the value of the points, not the status upgrade.
Elite nights for status were also announced as a benefit, but American Express has yet to reveal the number of nights you’ll get or when they’ll become active.
SPG Credit Card Travel Insurance
If you charge the full fare of your flights, accommodations, and car rental to your Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express, the card provides travel accident insurance, car rental theft and damage insurance, flight delay insurance, baggage delay insurance, lost and stolen baggage insurance, and hotel/motel burglary insurance. There is no travel emergency medical insurance included, which led us to leave it off our list of the best credit cards with travel insurance.
Is It Worth the Annual Fee?
It doesn’t matter if you’re a frequent traveller who stays at SPG and Marriott Rewards properties or someone who travels only once a year—you get a ton of benefits with the SPG Amex card. The huge signup bonus of 50,000 points and the free annual award night easily make the yearly fee of $120 worth paying for.