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This past weekend Amex announced a limited-time, increased bonus offer for the Starwood American Express personal and business OPEN credit cards. The signup bonus for this card is typically 25,000 points, but through June 30, 2014, new cardmembers can earn 30,000 Starwood points after spending $5,000 in the first 6 months.
Here are the details:
- 30,000 points – 10,000 after your first purchase, and an additional 20,000 when you spend $5,000 within 6 months.
- Get up to 5 Starpoints for every $1 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.
For the last several years, SPG has been my top hotel program because the points are extremely valuable and Starwood has a lot of aspirational properties that I love- like the St. Regis Princeville and the W Paris Opera, where I just stayed a few weeks ago.
While an extra 5,000 points may not seem like a monumental increase, I value Starpoints at 2.1 cents a piece, so those 5,000 points is a nice little bump in value- especially since the annual fee is waived the first year.
That added value comes not only from pure hotel redemptions, but also from the flexibility to book with points and cash. Starwood points also transfer to 32 airline partners, including many that give a 25% bonus for transfers of 20,000 points.
Key partners: American Airlines, US Airways, Alaska Airlines
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, Emirates, Etihad, Flying Blue (Air France, KLM, Air Europa), GOL, Hainan, Hawaiian Airlines, LAN, Lufthansa, JAL, Qatar Airways, Saudia, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways, United, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia.
Double Bonus + Referrals
I have both the Personal SPG Amex and Business SPG Amex cards, and current cardholders can refer friends for a 5,000 Starpoint bonus. I applied for both in 2012 and was able to get both bonuses after a relatively painless process.
– 2 stays and 5 nights towards elite status per card- so if you have both personal and business cards, you start the year with 4 stays/10 nights.
– Gold status with $30,000 in spend per calendar year
– Chip and Signature technology for better acceptance abroad
– Starwood allows families living at the same address to pool points in one central account for free
Sadly, this card still charges foreign transaction fees, which bewilders me- especially since Amex lifted these bogus fees from the Delta cards in May of this year. I suspect the same will happen to these cards, but until then I do not recommend using them for any foreign transactions. I leave mine safely locked up when I travel abroad and I use my Sapphire Preferred, even at Starwood properties, because I still get 2x points, plus a 7% yearly dividend, making it a 2.14 point per dollar spent haul on all travel and dining.
The other key downside to this card is that airline transfers can take weeks to process. So in this day and age of award availability coming and going in the blink of an eye and many airlines restricting their award hold policies, it is really annoying that you need to transfer your SPG to airline miles in advance of booking an award in many circumstances. I really hope they change this, but until then, the utility of these transferable points takes a hit, especially compared to the instantaneous transferability of most American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners.
Who Is Eligible?
In terms of qualification, Amex specifies that the welcome bonus is not available to applicants who have or have had this product in the past. This is a pretty blanket policy and is in line with what we heard about American Express not allowing for multiple bonuses on the same card products as of May 1, 2014. However, you are still eligible if you’ve never had the personal, but have had the business or vice versa.
The Ultimate Guide To Starwood Preferred Guest Airline Transfer Partners
Starwood “Enhances” Cash & Points Awards
Major Starwood Preferred Guest Elite Enhancements
Spotlight on Starwood Preferred Guest Elite Status and Why I Continue To Qualify For Platinum
Maximizing Starwood Preferred Guest Airline Transfers