Starwood Preferred Guest Amex 30,000 Point Sign-Up Bonus Is Back!

by on August 6, 2013 · 72 comments

in American Express, Starwood

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Update: The offer mentioned below for the Platinum Card from American Express has expired. View the current offer here.

Update: Offers for the Starwood Amex cards have changed. Visit these links to see the current offers for the Starwood business and personal cards.

It’s that time of year again – the 30,000-point sign-up bonus offers on both the personal and business versions of the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express cards are back for a limited time through September 3, 2013! The normal bonus on these cards is just 25,000 points for the same minimum spending requirement of $5,000 in 6 months, so this is a 20% bonus.

For the past couple of years, this historically high offer on these cards has come around just once a year and everything I’ve seen says they should be available until September 3, 2013. Today is also the last day for the 50,000-point Southwest credit cards, so if you were thinking of doing a round of applications, today might be the day to apply. Just remember, most cards have spending requirements, so don’t bite off more than you can chew.

And details on both offers:

  • 30,000 points - 10,000 after your first purchase, and an additional 20,000 when you spend $5,000 within 6 months.
  • Receive up to 5 Starpoints for every dollar of eligible spend charged directly with Starwood hotels & resorts – that’s 2 Starpoints per dollar spent on the Card in addition to the Starpoints you get as a Starwood Preferred Guest member.
  • Get 1 Starpoint for every dollar of eligible purchases.
  • $65 annual fee, waived for the first year.
  • Welcome bonus offer not available to applicants who have had this card within the last 12 months.
  • Full review here.

I know a lot of you have been waiting for this bonus to come back to get the card since it is widely considered (by myself included) to be one of the best travel credit cards on the market and has been for some time – that’s why I applied for and got both the business and personal cards the same day last year for a total haul of 60,000 points.

While a sign-up bonus of 30,000 points might seem small in terms of raw numbers, I think Starwood points are among the most valuable points currencies out there and value them at 2.5 cents apiece (a value I regularly exceed with my redemptions), so each sign-up bonus is worth at least $750 in my estimation.

In terms of qualification, Amex specifies that the welcome bonus is not available to applicants who have had this product in the last 12 months, so if you’ve had the personal card within the last 12 months (not just applied for it, but actually had it open), you can’t apply for the personal version now, and same with the business version, though if you have one or the other version, you can apply for the one you didn’t have now.

The Starwood Amex is a popular card because it has over 30 airline partners.

The Starwood Amex is a popular card because it has over 30 airline partners.

Why Starpoints are Valuable

Starpoints can be very valuable thanks to great redemption options including transferring to airline partners (with bonuses), high-value redemption options like Cash & Points awards, elite status credit and more.

Airline Partners

Part of the fact that you can transfer them to 31 different airline partners, including those without other transfer partners like Amex Membership Rewards or Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Key partners: American Airlines, US Airways, Alaska Airlines, Emirates
Others: Aeromexico, Aeroplan (Air Canada), Air Berlin, Air China, Air New Zealand, Alitalia, ANA, Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific), Asiana, British Airways, China Eastern, China Southern, Delta, Etihad, Flying Blue (Air France, KLM, Air Europa), GOL, Hawaiian Airlines, LAN, Lufthansa, JAL, Qatar Airways, Saudia, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways, United, Virgin Atlantic.

Not only that, but when you transfer 20,000 points at a time, you get a 5,000-point bonus – equivalent to a 25% bonus – so if you transferred 20,000 miles to American, for instance, you’d end up with 25,000 miles.

Cash & Points Awards

Starwood’s Cash & Points redemptions have historically been some of the best hotel point redemption values around, often yielding at least 3 cents per point in value, but often much more than that.

The new rates for SPG Cash & Points redemptions.

The new rates for SPG Cash & Points redemptions.

Although SPG raised both the points and cash co-pays on these awards earlier this year, it also included some new enhancements to them such as being able to make cash & points redemptions at all Category 1 and 2 hotels worldwide, not just in the US, Canada and Asia-Pacific, as is the case now; and including new upgrade and suite redemption options. Although these awards are about 20% more expensive now, I still regularly get north of 3 cents per point in value on them, which is still one of the best deals out there.

Elite Credit and Earning

Just having either of these cards gets you automatic credit for 2 stays/5 nights towards elite status, so if you got both cards, you’d be almost halfway to Gold status without even doing anything. (Remember, though, that if you have the personal Platinum Card, the Business Platinum or Mercedes-Benz Platinum cards from Amex, you get automatic SPG Gold status as well.)

You also earn at least 2 points per dollar on spend at Starwood just with the card in addition to your earning as an SPG member. Regular Starwood Preferred Guest members get 2 points per dollar spent at Starwood hotels. If you have the Starwood card, that increases to 4 points per dollar. If you have Gold elite status it’s 5 points per dollar spent, and if you’re a Platinum member who hits 75+ nights, you’d be earning a 6 points per dollar. Plus, Starwood Platinums get space-available suite upgrades (international properties are generally great with this benefit – US is hit-or-miss), free internet, a 500 bonus point amenity per stay, guaranteed room availability at the rack rate, a 50% bonus on Starpoints earned and special customer service/gifts throughout the year.

Also keep in mind that even if you don’t rack up enough stays, with either of these cards, you can earn Gold status simply by spending $30,000 on the card in a calendar year. 

Consider the Business Card

Although a lot of people might automatically consider the personal card first, don’t shortchange the business version, which is a nice way to tag team with the personal card, especially if you already have the personal Amex but are looking to boost your SPG balance. You can even apply for both at the same time- read about my experience getting both cards here.

I immediately got approved for the personal card, though my business application (which I had submitted second) was automatically flagged as a duplicate application and put into a 4-day holding queue. I was told there was nothing they could do to expedite and to call after about a week if I hadn’t heard anything further. Well the good news is that 6 days later I got an approval email from American Express letting me know that the card was on its way. This is great because I don’t really like calling credit card companies, which is what I have to do more and more these days since I have an impressive lineup of current cards and sometimes they need a little nudging to approve me for new cards (some of which I’ll be canceling soon, so stay tuned!).

The only downside is that Amex will pull your credit twice when you make two applications, so just keep that in mind – that’s not a huge deal considering each only dings your credit score 2-5 points (out of a total of 850), but is something to consider.

Foreign Fees
Unfortunately, this card comes with a 2.7% foreign transaction fee, so I do not recommend using it for purchases abroad- even if you’re staying at a Starwood hotel. It would be more lucrative to pay for an international hotel stay with the Chase Sapphire Preferred to avoid the 2.7% fee and also earn double points on the travel expense.

I’ll be posting more about this deal in they days to come, as well as strategies for maximizing the value of your Starpoints, but for more information, check out my posts on the 30,000 offer from last summer and…

Maximizing Starwood Cash & Points Awards
Starwood “Enhances” Cash & Points Awards
Major Starwood Preferred Guest Elite Enhancements
Maximizing Starwood Preferred Guest Airline Transfers

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Matt

    How many open Amex cards can you have at one time?

  • thepointsguy

    4 credit cards and no limit on charge cards. This is a credit card, but Premier Rewards Gold/ Platinum/ Green/ Gold, etc are all charge cards so they don’t count towards your 4 cards

  • Laryssa

    Great info, thanks!

    Starwood Points… are they easily transferable to Star Alliance miles? Wondering if I can team this up with US Airways’ current offer, although I do not see them on your list.

  • thepointsguy

    They transfer to US Airways at 20,000 SPG = 25,000 US Airways.. so you can definitely buy US miles at the 100% bonus and then transfer SPG points to boost the account.

  • AKCredit

    How do transfers work to get the 5k bonus? Say I have 40K points and lets say i want to transfer them to Alaska. Do I have to transfer 20K at a time or can i transfer 40k to get 50k straight up?

  • Chris

    Applied 9 days ago under the 25K offer, so far no dice on getting the offer updated to 30K

    Hopefully round two of secure messages provides better results

  • Sharon

    closed my spg card 2 years ago. can I reapply and still get the bonus?

  • Little Tea Blog

    Thinking about jumping on this card. I already have the personal version which I got earlier this year at just 25k. I’m already platinum, but I’m thinking it would be nice to get an extra push towards those 75 nights.

    My only concern is, I was told a better churning strategy was to have the personal one year and the business the next, alternate canceling them each year. What are your thoughts?

  • Diamond Vargas

    Yes, as long as it’s been closed 12 months you’ll get the bonus again.

  • Little Tea Blog

    Aww man, sorry to hear that. I was gonna try and call them and hope I get someone nice.

  • Brent

    How many cards can you associate with a single SPG account? I already have the card, but I am thinking about getting one for my wife. Can the points go to my account or will she need to set up her own SPG account?

  • Points Fan

    Do 20K one at a time or you’ll only get the 5K bonus once.

  • Sherm

    I currently have the SPG biz card, and I was trying to apply for the personal version. However, on the website I was told

    “You have been identified as a current American Express Cardmember. The
    welcome offer above may not be the same as the offer you saw advertised
    previously because the other offer you saw is not available to current
    American Express Cardmembers. You will not be eligible for the above
    offer if you have had this product within the last 12 months.”

    and the offer becomes 10,000 welcome bonus after first purchase.

    In fact, I have never had the SPG personal. Do you think I qualify for the 30k bonus for SPG personal? Thanks.

  • theturtleguy

    I was approved for the Personal card; however, I receive and error message when applying for the business card.

    We’re sorry, but our systems are currently down.
    Please consider applying by phone by calling 1-800-519-OPEN, or try again later after exploring our current offers.

  • Chad

    If I already have a personal and business card – could I sign up for a business card for a different business company and still get the sign up bonus???

  • AKCredit

    thank you now i understand how transfers work.

  • thepointsguy

    I don’t believe so… but you can call and ask.. never hurts!

  • Jake

    Hi! Question– I applied for the Southwest card when I thought I had read that the last day to apply was last tuesday.. But, I’ve been waiting for this bonus to be back, so I really want to get in on it. How long should I wait between applications, or does it matter? Obviously in hindsight, I wish I would have known and waited until today so I could do both.

  • thepointsguy

    Different issuers so it doesn’t really matter.

  • Jake

    Right on. Thanks!

  • Pete

    I just chatted with them online about adding the extra 5k. The rep said they may not be able to offer it but wouldn’t budge. Will try again with another rep. My SPG account is 16 days old.

  • Kevin

    I took the following message from the SPG application fee. I have an AE Delta Skymiles card. Do I still qualify for the offer?

    “If you are identified as a current American Express® Cardmember, you may not be eligible for this welcome bonus offer.”

  • jms0479

    I just got the same message. I have an AE platinum and gold business card. Before I apply, do I still qualify? Thank you!

  • pranay

    Secure message and chat didn’t work for me either. I decided to call the # on the back of my card. The rep wasn’t able to give me the extra 5k, however, she was able to give me 3k. I’ll take what I can get. Applied in April, already met my spend requirement, and have been a Amex member since ’08.

  • joe

    It appears AMEX may be using bloggers to pull off a bait & swich- If you have any Amex login- you’re redirected to a 10k bonus in fine print

  • thepointsguy

    I’d call to confirm eligibility just to be sure

  • thepointsguy

    Not 100% sure.. I’d call and ask. Let us know what they say

  • thepointsguy

    A personal and business can be associated to the same SPG. Your wife will need to get her own SPG account, but SPG allows you to transfer points for free between accounts at the same address so you can still combine them.

  • thepointsguy

    I like having both because I start the year with 10 elite nights/4 stays, which more than pays for the $65 annual fee. You can also get the bonus on both cards in one day (or at least I was able to last year) so considering the 30k may not return, I’d probably get both now.

  • thepointsguy

    Not true- you can transfer 40k and get 50k miles. Per the T&C ”

    Starwood Preferred Guests can transfer up to 79,999 of their
    Starpoints® per transaction per program within a 24-hour period to the
    frequent flyer programs listed below.”

    So if you want to maximize transfers you should do up to 60k per day to get 80k total miles

  • Little Tea Blog

    This EXACT same scenario happened to me (even down to the “applying in April” part). Next thing you’ll tell me is that you travel a lot for business and stayed in a bunch of Starwoods for the Platinum Challenge. Then I’ll REALLY think you’re me ;)

    I agree that 3k is better than 0!

  • Little Tea Blog

    What makes you think the 30k may not return? Hasn’t it been consistently every year (albeit different times?)

  • thepointsguy

    It probably will, but there is no guarantee. Amex used to constantly run transfer bonuses to Delta until stopping completely. People used to always assume they’d be back and thus waited for better offers.. and now they’re stuck with no bonus.

    So when you assume an offer will return, you often get burned.

    But if I were a betting man I’d say it would be back next year.

  • Cynthia

    Is there a simple way to find out which hotels take cash+points? All the ones I’ve tried seem to come up without that option. Would be nice to see a list so I’m not guessing at my options.

  • shrexster

    what is the advantage of getting the business card over the personal. I’m only planning on keeping this card open the 1st year, Any difference in credit score hit? is that a bad idea?

  • Pete

    I called the number on the back of the card and explained the situation (16 days old and the new offer). They understood and notated the account. I haven’t reached the $5,000 spending in 6 months yet so I don’t know until I reach that point. Fingers crossed.

  • Heather L. Cannady

    Is it possible to refer yourself if you have Biz and want personal. I was thinking about getting the Biz first and using it to refer myself for a personal for 5K more points. I know I know, I am selfish. But is it doable?

  • Francis

    Is it possible to receive the increase in award points if I signed up for the card a couple of months ago?

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  • Jay

    Is the cap of 4 on a combination of personal and biz cards or just personal?

  • thepointsguy

    The distinction is not between business and personal but charge versus credit cards. So the Amex Platinum and Premier Rewards cards are charge cards – as is the SPG Business Card – but the personal SPG Amex is a credit card.

  • lauraF

    I have platinum and gold amex cards and just got instantly approved for the 30,000 bonus.

  • Heather L. Cannady

    I suppose not?

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  • Dexter

    I got instant approval for the SPG Amex Card with 30k bonus. However, I am an existing AmEx card holder for many years. If after approval I’ve linked my SPG Amex Card to my existing Amex online profile, would you know if they would consequently downgrade the bonus?

  • thepointsguy

    Nope you’ll be fine

  • Fanfoot

    I don’t believe the 5K referral bonus is available anymore.

  • Fanfoot

    Okay, so I closed my Business version of this card back in January after the stays/nights posted to my SPG account, planning on applying again next year. So I most likely have to skip the bonus 30k offer. However, if you can apply with an EIN and get the bonus again even if you’ve already done it recently with your SSN… Can you?

  • Fanfoot
  • fm2002

    FYI – some airline transfers are NOT 1:1. In particular and important to me, United Airlines which is 2:1. Here’s a link provided to me by AMEX which gives the breakdown:

    I applied by phone and wasn’t approved right away. She said they have alot of applicants so may take some time. I’m not worried as I’ve been a AMEX Platinum since 92 with very good credit score 780+, but I guess you never know?

  • Fanfoot

    Anyone with recent experience churning this card with blank or new SPG numbers? e.g. you can find threads at Dan’s Deals and on FT discussing people getting multiple bonuses for Amex SPG cards in a < 12 months timeframe by applying with a blank SPG number. But the threads are old and it isn't obvious why this would work honestly.

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  • fm2002

    Same thing happened to me. However when I called they said I would receive the full 30,000.

  • Kishore

    Applied personal account using your links. Thanks

  • Shelby

    I recently applied for the personal and business version of the SPG card on the same day 30,000 points each. I have several cards from AMEX. I did not get instantly approved as they wanted me to call the Fraud Department. I was approved on the same day for BOTH cards. I just wanted to let everyone know that there is no rule that it takes 5 days to get approved for the second card.

  • TJC

    how did TPG get the full 30K bonus if he was already an AMEX holder – preferential treatment for the bloggers? I am still only being offered 10K – despite not have the SPG personal card for more than a year

  • Fanfoot


    Sounds like you’re a bit of a newbie.

    With ANY offer like this you may find yourself given a different offer if you logged in, if you were previously logged in, etc. Try different browsers. Quit the browser and try again without logging in first. Clear your cookies. Try incognito mode. One of these will generally work. If you don’t know how to do this or don’t want to learn how, you’re not going to get very far. Numerous people have gotten the offer. You’re the only one whipping out conspiracy theories.

  • Fanfoot

    Don’t login first. Don’t login to auto-fill in your information. Clear your cookies. Try incognito mode. If that doesn’t work try a different browser (IE, Chrome, Firefox). One of them will work.

    I’ve had NO trouble getting the SPG offer despite being an existing Amex cardholder. YMMV.

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  • Cynthia

    How do you know that you definitely got the 30,000 point offer? Other than, of course, having the points deposited to your account once you’ve spent $5000. I was just approved for the card and the info on the welcome page still says in the footnotes “If you are identified as a current American Express®
    Cardmember, you may not be eligible for this welcome bonus offer. This
    offer is also not available to applicants who have had this product
    within the last 12 months.”

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  • Ryan Pham

    do you know what number i can call? They seem to have pulled the application early…

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  • NYCBK123

    Does anyone have examples of how long it took after hitting the $5,000 minimum spend to get the bonus points? Is it right after hitting the mark (like the first 10,000 points) or after the statement close (like regular points)? I only ask because I really need to make a Starwood reservation and don’t have enough points. Starwood graciously offered to hold the reservation but can only do so for seven days.

  • Fanfoot

    You’re not going to see the points until after your statement closes.

  • NYCBK123

    Gotcha. I’m hoping it’s not the weeks-long wait they claim, though!

  • Sigma

    HUGE bait and switch. i opened this, verified the form stated the 30k bonus (10k first purchase , 20k more after $5k spent in 6 months). Just finished spending $5k they said nowhere in the system for the 2nd part of the bonus. Customer service said SOL.

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