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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express, The Platinum Card® from American Express
Now’s as good a time as any to apply for the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and/or the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express. Not only do these cards earn you 2 points per dollar at all Starwood — and Marriott — hotels, but each also gets you 5 night and 2 stay credits toward SPG elite status. While we’ve covered the cards’ standout benefits in depth, you may not be familiar with some of their lesser-known perks, which we’ve outlined below.
Before jumping into the list, as a reminder, both the consumer and business cards are currently a $100 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in the first three months. Plus, an additional $100 statement credit after your first purchase at participating SPG or Marriott Rewards hotels in the first six months. Both cards have a $95 annual fee that’s waived the first year, and neither charges foreign transaction fees.
1. Complimentary Boingo Wi-Fi Access
Since August 2015, the Starwood Amex and the Starwood Business Amex have offered cardholders free, unlimited Wi-Fi when they enroll in the Boingo American Express Preferred Plan. Signing up for this plan requires creating a Boingo account and submitting your eligible card number, and after you successfully complete this step you’ll be able to access Boingo hotspots on up to four devices. This benefit doesn’t include access to Boingo in-flight Wi-Fi, but it could definitely come in handy when you’re in an airport or otherwise out and about. You can also get complimentary Boingo access with the Platinum Card from American Express, but that card has a much higher annual fee ($550 vs. $95).
2. Sheraton Club Access (on the Business Card)
If you hold the Starwood business Amex, you’ll be able to access the Club Lounge at Sheraton properties when you book an eligible stay, including paid bookings as well as qualifying award and Cash & Points stays. If you have a guest staying in the same room during an eligible stay, he or she will also get this lounge access. While this benefit isn’t likely to be a deal-breaker, it can definitely improve your stay at a Sheraton property; Club Lounges offer complimentary breakfast, free Wi-Fi and all-day snacks and beverages. Again, you’ll only get this through the business version of the card.
3. Premium On-Property Internet Access
With both versions of the Starwood Amex, you’ll also enjoy “premium” internet during eligible stays. In theory, this should get you faster speeds than the complimentary service you’re entitled to for booking directly through Starwood, but depending on the property it might not make a noticeable difference. In his valuation of SPG elite status, Nick Ewen pegged this benefit at $25 for Gold members and $75 for Platinum members (due to more frequent utilization).
4. Starwood Preferred Guest Gold Status for Hitting a Spending Threshold
You’ll only be able to enjoy this perk if you spend a significant amount with your card, but both versions do offer complimentary SPG Gold status to those who charge at least $30,000 in purchases in a calendar year. As a Gold member, you’ll enjoy perks such as late checkout, space-available room upgrades at check-in and a welcome gift, and you’ll also be able to match to Marriott Gold. Note that you can also earn this status by completing 10 eligible stays or 25 eligible nights in a calendar year, or by being an Amex Platinum cardholder.
5. Travel Protections
These are the benefits we all hope to never need, but it’s nice to know that both versions of the card offer some coverage in case something should go awry while you’re on a trip. With the Starwood business Amex, you’ll get baggage insurance including up to $1,250 for carry-on baggage for each covered person per trip and up to $500 for checked baggage per covered person per trip. Both cards also offer up to $50,000 in car rental loss and damage insurance and $100,000 in travel accident insurance. Note that you need to charge your travel purchases to one of these cards to get the corresponding coverage.
The Starwood Amex and the Starwood business Amex are best known for the valuable Starpoints they earn you and for being solid options for non-bonus category spending. However, both cards also offer a handful of benefits that can enhance your travels both at Starwood properties and beyond. While they might not be reason enough to apply for the cards on their own, these lesser-known perks could provide that extra incentive if you were already contemplating applying.
What’s your favorite lesser-known Starwood Amex benefit?
Featured image courtesy of the St. Regis Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi.
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