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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

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)

The business card gets you Sheraton Club Lounge access on eligible stays. Image courtesy of the Sheraton New Orleans.

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

Spend your way to Gold status on either card to enjoy perks like late checkout. Image of the Sheraton on the Park in Sydney by Zach Honig.

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.

Bottom Line

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.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
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Regular APR
N/A
Annual Fee
$550
Balance Transfer Fee
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Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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.