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Note: This card is no longer available. Check out our Best Hotel Credit Cards page for other options.
American Express offers a wide variety of credit cards geared towards benefits revolving around travel, cash back, and general consumption. One of the major recurring themes of American Express is providing its patrons with travel assistance or travel rewards; this theme is highlighted by the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card which offers more opportunities to enhance the travel experience for American Express cardholders.
Benefits and Rewards
The cornerstone of the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card is the Starpoints® system which rewards cardholders for traveling and staying at Starwood Preferred Guest® (SPG) hotels. The initial special offer for the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card promises 35,000 Starpoints® to the cardholders for purchasing $3000 in transactions with the Starwood card within the first three months.
The most additional points are awarded for spending at SPG® hotels; five Starpoints® are awarded per dollar spent at a hotel that is part of the Starwood brand. Cardholders receive one Starpoint® per dollar on all other general purchases. These Starpoints® are redeemable at any of the Starwood brand hotels which includes St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, W Hotels, Le Meridien, Westin, Sheraton, Aloft, Element Hotels, Four Points by Sheraton, and Tribute Portfolio. The main reward for accruing Starpoints® is to receive free nights at one of the mentioned hotels through redemption of a certain sum of points; however, Starpoints® can be redeemed for SPG® flights with over 150 airlines.
There is a tier system associated with the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card. There is essentially SPG® Elite status, SPG® Gold status, and SPG® Platinum status. One must spend nights at hotels to move up the ranks of this tier system; for instance, 25 nights at a participating hotel awards the status of SPG® Elite while 50 nights awards the SPG® Platinum status. Starting cardholders receive a credit of 5 free nights each year (over 2 stays for each 5 credit block) at a participating hotel.
There are the usual travel perks that come with American Express cards. The Roadside Assistance Hotline provides assistance to patrons in need of towing service or help with automotive failure on the side of the ride, and the Global Assist Hotline aids cardholders in the pursuit of legal, medical, or other services in foreign areas. Coverage is provided for the loss or damage of a car rental, and coverage is provided in the event of a common carrier travel accident involving boats, planes, etc.
Card membership provides extended warranties and loss or damage coverage on certain eligible products. A failed return for any reason may be covered by American Express as well. Finally, a dispute over the validity of a transaction in the case of fraud or theft will be resolved to the best of the ability of American Express.
Rates and Fees
- Min APR: 15.49%
- Max APR: 19.49%
- Balance Transfer: 15.49% – 19.49%
- Cash Advance: 25.49%
- Annual: $95
- Late Payment: $37
- Balance Transfer: $5 or 3%
- Foreign Transaction: None
Cardholders of the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card enjoy an introductory fee of $0 for the first year of membership, but the general following annual fee rests at $95. As usual with American Express, there is no overlimit fee for this card, but there are some transaction fees. The balance transfer and cash advance fees are both the same at either $5 or 3% depending on which value is greater, but there is no foreign transaction fee. There are a couple penalty fees: up to $37 for late payments and up to $37 for returned payments.
The regular annual percentage rate (APR) and the balance transfer APR are both the same range of values set at 15.49% – 19.49%. As typically seen for American Express cards, the cash advance APR is 25.49%, and the penalty APR is 29.49%. These interest rates are applied when: the entire bill is not paid within the month and immediately when a cash advance or balance transfer is made.
The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card provides rewards for spending an ample amount on hotels and nights out of town which may not be the exact type of card meant for an average consumer. One who travels habitually could easily make use of this card, but the limit to SPG® hotels only limits the potential of the card all in the name of business.
Not satisfied? Check out some of the best American Express credit cards that we have reviewed.
Author: Jeff Gitlen
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