Whether it’s for business, for leisure trips or just for fun, most Canadians occasionally spend the night in a hotel. How does the occasional free night in one sound to you? Our AmEx Starwood Preferred Guest credit card review is here to show you how you can get these expenses covered through the reward system built into this credit card.
Earn free hotel stays easily by getting 2 reward points for every dollar you spend.
|You Are Interested If||You spend at least some time in hotel accommodations every year and would like a credit card with a reward system that complements these habits.|
|Brief Description||The AmEx Starwood Preferred Guest credit card allows you to earn points you can put towards stays in any Starwood Preferred Guest or Marriott rewards hotels, or airline fare if prefer.|
|Main Requirements||There are no stated requirements for this card, but stable income and good credit are as important as ever to being approved.|
|Provider||American Express as well.|
|Card Type||This is a travel card focused primarily on hotel rewards.|
Fees and Interest
|Purchase Interest Rate||19.99% interest applies to all purchases made with this card.|
|Cash Advance||22.99% interest applies to every cash advance you choose to take.|
|Balance Transfer||You cannot initiate a balance transfer with this card.|
|Income Requirements||There are no strict income requirements for this card – if your credit is good, you have a chance to be accepted.|
|Household Income Requirements||There are no firm requirements for this card in terms of household income either.|
|Annual Fee||You must pay $120 a year for this card, but you can one extra one for a second cardholder for free.|
|Welcome Bonus||New cardholders will currently receive 50,000 reward points for spending just $1,500 or more in their first 3 months.|
|How To Earn Points||Cardholders receive 5 reward points for every dollar they spend at Starwood Preferred Guest or Marriott Rewards properties and 2 points for every dollar they spend anywhere else, regardless of what they are buying.|
|Benefits||With this card, you’ll be a part of both the American Express Invites and the Starwood Preferred Guests Moments programs, receive automatic free Wi-Fi at applicable hotels and get access to a huge variety of travel insurance plans. Best of all, you’ll get one free night in any hotel with a point cost of 35,000 or less a few weeks past your card-holding anniversary, every single year.|
About AmEx Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card
As always, we’ll begin our AmEx Starwood Preferred Guest credit card review by looking at the interest rates on the card. There are no surprises here: this card uses the same 19.99% purchase interest rate and 22.99% cash advance interest rate that most American Express cards do, and also like most of them, it does not allow you to do a balance transfer on it. It almost goes without saying that you should not attempt to carry a balance on it if you can help it. AmEx also has a consistent policy of raising interest rates in cases of successive non-payment, so you can’t afford to let things slip if you want to take advantage of all the great benefits and rewards this card has to offer.
Speaking of which, another important segment in our AmEx Starwood Preferred Guest credit card review is the rewards available with this card. As you’d expect, there are bonus points available for spending done at hotels: you can receive 5 points per dollar spent at Starwood Preferred Guest or Marriott Rewards hotel locations. Unless you’re a very heavy traveler (perhaps for business reasons?), you likely won’t be able to spend too much in this category even over the course of a full year, but the bonus rate is high enough to make sure that the occasions on which you do get this boosted rate will really pack a punch in terms of points accumulation. Even if you don’t spend a cent at a single eligible hotel all year long, though, you’ll still get a reasonable 2 points for every dollar charged to your card with no restrictions, which should allow you to scrape together a decent number of points all on its own.
To better illustrate how many points you can earn with this card, we’ve also included a basic breakdown of point totals for a hypothetical budget as part of our AmEx Starwood Preferred Guest credit card review. As we’ve mentioned above, this card’s bonus categories are not as easy to take advantage of as some other cards that include extra points for things like gas and groceries – that’s okay, though, because its base rate is higher than you’ll usually find on those cards anyway. With that in mind, suppose you typically spend $1,500 on various items in your budget. If you were to charge all of those expenses to this card, you would receive 3,000 points every month with those purchases alone. If you were to also spend just 3 nights a year in a hotel at a very modest cost of $150 a night, you would get an additional 2,250 points from those purchases too. With both of those amounts added together, you have already gathered 38,250 points in total in just one year. If we also add in the points you can get from the bonus offer, you’ll see that you could easily end up with 88,250 points in your first year, or enough points for many nights of completely free hotel stays.
For having a rewards system that is explicitly tied to a particular brand, this card allows a surprising amount of flexibility when it comes to points redemption. You can use your points to cover stays at over 6,500 hotels of varying cost and quality, including those from big names like W Hotels, Weston, Sheraton, Aloft, and even the Ritz-Carlton. You can also use them pay for flights on over 40 major airlines. No blackout dates apply to either use, so you can use them during busy times like the holiday season if you book early enough to secure a room. While there is no generic merchandise catalogue or similar option, most people will have no problem finding a way to use these points, even if it’s just for a small weekend getaway to decompress.
One of our favourite things about this AmEx Starwood Preferred Guest credit card review is the range of benefits you can get with this card. Like most higher-end American Express offerings, they are exceptionally varied and useful. One of the best in this case is specifically targeted to the interests of people who have this card. Every year just a few weeks after the anniversary of he day you got your card, you’ll receive one free night in a Category 1 or 2 hotel (you can find the category breakdowns in your credit card paperwork). This annual bonus comes free to all cardholders with no spending requirements whatsoever, and the value of this one automatic perk could easily meet or exceed the cost of the annual fee all on its own. As an added bonus, you’ll also receive greater access to entertainment and celebrities with both the Starwood Preferred Guests Moments program and the American Express Invites program. Top that off with $500,000 in travel accident insurance, protection against rental car theft or damage, coverage for all kinds of delays, and coverage for lost or stolen personal baggage at both the airport and hotel, and you’re looking at a full suite of varied and useful benefits that significantly add to this card’s appeal.
Just as we’ve said in our AmEx Starwood Preferred Guest credit card review so far, this is a strong, highly dependable credit card option that virtually anyone can get some use out of. It does cost a fairly significant $120 a year, but it’s also quite unique in that you don’t even necessarily have to use it at all to get your money’s worth every year – the free hotel room is often more than enough to make that cost worthwhile. You’ll need to be interested in a hotel or travel card in order to enjoy this one, but if you are, it’s one of the better ones out there.
About American Express
American Express is a banking giant in both the U.S. and Canada, posting an annual revenue of 35.583 billion in 2017. This massive company provides over a dozen different credit cards, each with its own unique focus. They also operate a travel division, a financial advisor division, and even a publishing company, and they are the largest provider of traveler’s checks in the entire world.
What We Think
We’ve really enjoyed going over the merits of this card in this AmEx Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card Review, and we think we can confidently say that it’s well worth having even with its somewhat steep cost. The benefits alone are nearly enough of a reason to get it, but the reward rates are also fairly good and can be used with a fair amount of flexibility. The fact that there are no blackout dates applied to either hotel or airline redemptions is an extremely strong point in its favour that should not be overlooked. If you stay in hotels at all during a typical year (or want to start doing this more affordably), you stand to benefit from this card. Provided you stick to the hotels that are part of this agreement, every dollar you spend on bookings will be rewarded handsomely.