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Update: The offer mentioned below for the Platinum Card from American Express has expired. View the current offer here.
TPG reader Leo wants to know if he should pick up another American Express card:
“Do you think it’s worth getting the Starwood Preferred Guest Card from American Express when I already have the Platinum Card? Is the only advantage earning two extra Starwood points per dollar?”
Comparing the Starwood American Express and the Platinum Card from American Express is kind of like comparing apple to oranges. Starpoints, in my opinion, are more valuable than Membership Rewards points that are accrued from the Platinum Card. Not only are you getting an extra 2 Starpoints per dollar when you spend at Starwood properties (on top of the Starpoints you earn as an SPG member), but you’re earning more valuable points on everyday purchases.
The key reasons why I like Starpoints are that they transfer to a lot of great airline partners like American Airlines and US Airways, and there is a built-in 25% transfer bonus – any time you transfer 20,000 Starpoints to an airline partner you will get 5,000-mile bonus with most of the frequent flyer programs.
In general The Platinum Card from American Express is not the best card for earning points. If you want Membership Rewards points, the Premier Rewards Gold card is a much better option because of its earning structure. With this card you will earn 3x on airfare, 2x on gas and groceries and 1x for everything else. You will also earn a 15,000 point bonus when you hit $30,000 in spend in a calendar year.
Update: Beginning March 22, 2014, American Express Card Members will no longer have access to American Airlines Admiral Club and US Airways Club airport lounges through Airport Club Access / Airport Lounge Program. This means that Card Members will no longer be able to gain complimentary access to the American Airlines airport lounges (known as Admirals Club lounges) or the US Airways Club airport lounges as a benefit of their Platinum Card Membership.
However, the Platinum Card is great because of the numerous perks that come along with it. Card benefits include an annual $200 airline fee rebate, airport lounge access, Global Entry reimbursement, Starwood Gold status and access to the Fine Hotels and Resorts program. Read this post for more details on the various benefits and why they bring more value than the cost of the card’s steep $450 annual fee.
As for the Starwood Amex, the $65 annual fee is waived for the first year and there is a current 30,000-point bonus after $5,000 spent in 6 months that is available until September 3, 2013. I value those 30,000 Starpoints at $600 right off the bat. The Platinum Card has a 25,000-point sign up bonus which you will earn after spending $2,000 on the card within the first 3 months. If you’re able to spend $7,000 in 6 months to earn both bonuses I might recommend getting both cards instead of just choosing one since you can rack up those valuable Starpoints, but also enjoy the perks and benefits of the Platinum Card.
As we noticed this week with the American Airlines surcharge scare, it’s always good to have a robust portfolio of different points accounts with flexible transfer options. I would recommend having both cards in your wallet and deciding at the end of the year whether it makes sense to keep both or get rid of one. That plan is feasible because American Express will let you have 4 open credit cards and unlimited charge cards. The Platinum Card is actually a charge card so it won’t count towards that limit of 4 credit cards that you can get approved for.
I myself have multiple American Express cards, both the Starwood personal and business card, the Mercedes-Benz Platinum Card as well as the Premier Rewards Gold card so its definitely possible to mix and match and maximize those points. Please tweet me @thepointsguy if you have any follow up questions and good luck!