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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
Opening new credit cards to take advantage of sign-up bonuses and limited-time offers is a great way to build up your account balances and unlock valuable award redemptions. Every once in a while, issuers sweeten the pot even more, and today, two of the best cards on the market have announced increased sign-up bonuses the likes of which I’ve never seen. From now until March 30, you can earn a sign-up bonus of 35,000 Starpoints after $3,000 in purchases on the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express and 35,000 Starpoints after $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months on the Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express.
Many of these card benefits were just added last year, and both cards also offer 2 stays and 5 nights of credit toward SPG elite status. You’ll also enjoy automatic access to the Sheraton Club with the SPG Business Amex, but only when you book a rate that is eligible to earn Starpoints.
Is It Worth It?
Starpoints regularly top TPG’s monthly valuations, coming in at 2.5 cents apiece in the most recent version. That makes the sign-up bonus on these cards worth a whopping $875. While the cards are great for stays at Starwood properties, earning 2 points per dollar spent, they are also a compelling choice for non-bonus category spending, as a return of 2.5% on every purchase, every day is quite lucrative.
You can then redeem Starpoints at any Starwood property, including the newly added Design Hotels. I’d recommend taking advantage of some of the awesome award redemptions I wrote about last year, though you could also get some great value at the low end of the category spectrum. The program also offers a Cash and Points option, which can be quite valuable as well. Here are some examples of SPG award stays booked by the TPG team over the last couple of years:
In addition to hotel stays, you can also redeem your Starpoints for Nights & Flights packages or you can transfer your points directly to one of 35 airline partners (Aegean was the most recent addition). For every 20,000 Starpoints you transfer, you’ll get an extra 5,000 airline miles, so if you earn the sign-up bonus and spend just a bit more to hit the 40,000-point mark, you can convert those Starpoints to 50,000 airline miles.
The usual sign-up bonus on these cards is 25,000 Starpoints, though you’ll typically see 30,000-point offers come out every August. However, this is the first time that I’ve ever seen the bonus jump this high, so if you’ve been considering applying for one of these cards, this is a great time to pull the trigger! Just be aware that American Express has some of the tightest restrictions on personal card sign-up bonuses out there. These were added back in 2014 and generally allow you to earn a sign-up bonus once in your lifetime on each card.
Here’s the specific language from the application page for the SPG Amex:
“Welcome bonus offer not available to applicants who have or have had this product.”
However, business credit cards are treated as separate products, so if you’ve had (or currently have) the personal version and you’re a small business owner (including if you’re self-employed), you can apply for the SPG Business Amex and still earn the increased bonus. You can only earn the sign-up bonus on the business version if you haven’t had the card before, as per Amex’s recently updated terms and conditions.
This is an incredible opportunity to snag a very rewarding card with the most valuable sign-up bonus in recent memory. This offer may be in response to fear among SPG loyalists related to the upcoming Marriott-Starwood merger. While Marriott’s CEO and VP of Loyalty have indicated that there’s nothing to be nervous about, you could see this enhanced sign-up bonus as a carrot to engender additional loyalty. Either way, if you’ve been eying one (or both) of these cards, be sure to apply before March 30!
For more information on the card and the SPG program, check out the following posts:
- Starting 2016 Off Strong With Starwood Preferred Guest
- Using Starpoints to Book a Suite at W, St. Regis and Other SPG Hotels
- The Award Traveler’s Guide to Starwood Preferred Guest
- One Year of Earning and Burning with the SPG Amex
- 9 SPG Properties that Make for Awesome Award Redemptions
Will you be signing up for one of these cards to earn the increased sign-up bonus?