Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express – 35,000 Bonus Starpoints Review

The Starwood Preferred Guest program, or SPG for short, is one of the most rewarding travel programs available. From free stays at 5-star hotels to free air travel on almost any airline with no black out dates, Starwood Preferred has become synonymous with first class travel. And with the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, it’s easy to earn Starpoints quickly.

Starwood Preferred American Express

This card offers one of the fastest ways to build up Starpoints. From the 35,000 Starpoints bonus to earning Starpoints with each purchase, it’s an ideal card for those who frequently stay in Starwood properties. Starpoints are also considered by many to be the most valuable points, in part because they can be transferred to airline miles programs on a 1 to 1 basis.

Learn more about this and other travel reward credit cards and apply online at CardRatings.com.

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express Snapshot

  • Earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • Limited Time Offer- Earn an extra 10,000 bonus Starpoints® after you make an additional $2,000 in purchases within the first 6 months. Offer ends 4/5.
  • Earn 2 Starpoints® for each dollar of eligible purchases spent on the Card at participating SPG® & Marriott Rewards® hotels. Earn 1 Starpoint for all other purchases.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on International purchases.
  • Redeem Starpoints® at over 1,300 participating hotels and resorts in over 100 countries and for flights on more than 150 airlines with SPG flights, all with no blackout dates.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Terms and apply.

Rewards Program

There are three components of the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express rewards program: (1) the 35,000 bonus Starpoints; (2) 5 Starpoints on select purchases; and (3) 1 Starpoint on everyday purchases.

  1. 35,000 Bonus Starpoints: Get 25,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months and an additional 10,000 bonus Starpoints after you spend an additional $2,000 in the first six months.
  2. 5 Starpoints: Earn up to 5 Starpoints® for each dollar of eligible purchases at participating SPG hotels – that’s 2 Starpoints for which you may be eligible as a Card Member in addition to the 2 or 3 Starpoints for which you may be eligible as an SPG member
  3. 1 Starpoint: Earn 1 Starpoint® for all other purchases.

Other Perks

The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express offers several additional benefits:

  • Starwood Elite Status:As a Card Member, receive credit for 5 nights and 2 stays each year toward SPG Elite status. That’s just 20 nights away for SPG Gold status and 45 nights away for SPG Platinum status in a calendar year.
  • Free In-Room Premium Internet:Receive free in-room, premium Internet access while staying with SPG Participating Hotels.
  • Stay Connected: Enjoy complimentary, unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi on up to four devices at more than 1,000,000 Boingo hotspots worldwide.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees: Use your Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express globally without incurring foreign transaction fees.
  • Turn Starpoints into Airline Miles: Redeem Starpoints for free flights on over 150 airlines with SPG Flights with no blackout dates. Transfer Starpoints to nearly 30 airline frequent flyer programs, mostly on a one-to-one basis.Receive a 5,000 Starpoint bonus when you transfer 20,000 Starpoints to a participating frequent flyer program.

What we like about the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

  • 35,000 Bonus Starpoints
  • Up to 5 Starpoints on select purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Transfer of Starpoints to airline miles

What could be better

Learn more about this and other travel reward credit cards and apply online at CardRatings.com.


The Fastest Way to Rack Up Starpoints®

The Starwood Preferred Guest® program is without doubt one of the most valuable travel rewards programs available. Not only can Starpoints® be used for free hotel stays at Starwood hotels, they can be used for air travel, Amtrak tickets, airline miles, and even merchandise. While you can earn Starpoints® by staying at Starwood hotels, sometimes you want to supercharge your Starpoints balance. Here are a few tips to help you do just that.

How To Buy Starpoints®

Starwood let’s members purchase up to 20,000 additional Starpoints® per calendar year as long as you have been an SPG member for at least 14 days. Currently, only Starpoints may be used for flights through the SPG Flights redemption option and not cash. Starpoints® cost US $.035 per point, there is no tax on the purchase and the Starpoints are not refundable. The Starpoint Purchase Plan is for members who need a few extra points to redeem a vacation or want to customize an online gift certificate for a travel gift.

You can even purchase Starpoints® as a gift and send them to a friend or family member. If you have received Starpoints® as a gift and the giver provided your account number during the purchase, the Starpoints® will automatically be deposited into your account. If you received a redemption code, you must claim your Starpoints® online. If you do not have the redemption code, you may need to contact the company for assistance.

Here’s an overview of the important points which can be found on the Starwood site:

  • The recipient of a Starpoint purchase must be a member of Starwood Preferred Guest® for a minimum of fourteen days before being able to purchase Starpoints for himself/herself.
  • Your order can be charged to a valid Visa®, MasterCard, Discover, Diners Club, JCB or American Express credit card.
  • Members may purchase a minimum of 500 Starpoints® and then in any increment of 500.
  • A maximum of 20,000 Starpoints® may be purchased or received as a gift into your account per calendar year.

Once the purchase is made, the Starpoints® will be deposited automatically into a member’s account and will be immediately available for use. In addition, cardholders receive a 10% discount on all Starpoint purchases, and earn Starpoints on all purchases charged to the card (including purchases of Starpoints!).

How To Earn Starpoints®

Starwood Preferred American ExpressThe Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express always offers some sort of nice bonus offer for new cardmembers. Currently, the bonus offer is for 35,000 Starpoints®, but you’ve got to know how it works to take full advantage of it.

In addition to the bonus offer, you always earn points for your purchases. The card allows you to earn one Starpoint for every dollar of eligible spending and double Starpoints® at participating Starwood hotels and resorts. By being a cardholder you are automatically enrolled in the Preferred Guest Program and you will receive all the benefits of the program.

Get The Card

If you aren’t yet a member then take a look at our full review of the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express. Remember, new members are eligible for the sweet bonus offer so check it out.


Chase FreedomSM MasterCard vs. American Express Blue Cash Everyday

When it comes to rewards credit cards, many prefer a cash back rewards card over points or miles because of the simplicity. With cash, you can obviously use the rewards anyway you want to. With that in mind, we thought a comparison of two of the most popular cash back cards available was in order: the Chase FreedomSM MasterCard card and the American Express Blue Cash Everyday® Card. Depending on your card usage habits, you might want to consider one of these two cards as your primary rebate earnings card. If you can’t settle on just one card, you could use a combination of them both for full rebate earning potential. This article will highlight the offers of both cards and help you determine which card you should consider based on your spending habits.

Comparison Chart: Chase Freedom(SM) MasterCard vs. Amex Blue Cash Everyday

 Chase Freedom(SM) MasterCardAmex Everyday Blue Cash
Top Cash Back Reward3% on categories that change throughout the year.3% at supermarkets, 2% at gas stations & department stores
Other Cash Back Reward1% on everything else1% on everything else
Annual Fee$0$0
0% Intro Rate Offers 0% intro on purchases for 6 months, and 0% intro on balance transfers for 12 months0% for 12 months on purchases
Bonus Offer$100 cash backN/A

Chase Freedom® MasterCard

Update: The Chase Freedom® MasterCard is no longer available, and has been replaced with the Chase Freedom® Visa

The Chase Freedom® MasterCard offers a nice cash back bonus of $100 which makes this one of my favorite cards. Plus, with this card you can earn on every purchase. There are no spending tiers and no caps on the amount you can earn. The card offers 0% on purchases for 12 months on balance transfers. After that, your APR will be between 12.99%-22.99% (Variable) based on your creditworthiness. This card uses rotating categories and as a result you must register each quarter for the program in order to earn the 5%. Also, remember rotating categories change each quarter which means you aren’t always earning in the same categories.

Card Details

  • 1% Cash Back: The Chase Freedom® MasterCard offers you a 1% rebate for each $1 of net purchases. You will earn an additional 1% rebate for each $1 of eligible airfare net purchases made online through the program booking tool. You do not earn rebates on balance transfers, cash advances, cash-like charges such as travelers checks, foreign currency, and money orders, any checks that are used to access your account, overdraft advances, interest, unauthorized or fraudulent charges, or fees of any kind, including fees for products that protect or insure the balances of your account. There is no maximum number of rebates that you can accumulate in the program.
  • 5% Cash Back: The Chase Freedom® MasterCard also offers 5% cash back offers in popular categories like gas, home improvement and department stores. You will be eligible for quarterly bonus rewards offers as long as your account is not in default under, and/or you have not violated, the terms of your Cardmember Agreement and Rewards Program Rules.
  • Bonus Points: You can earn up to 20 bonus points when you shop the Ultimate Rewards Mall. To use the Ultimate Rewards Mall, you must log into your account at chase.com. The Complete Ultimate Rewards Mall details will be provided online prior to shopping.
  • Cash Back Offer: This card gives $100 cash back after you spend $500 within the first month.

If you like this card you might also be interested in the Chase Freedom® Visa which also gives a $150 cash back bonus.

Blue Cash Everyday® from American Express

I like the Blue Cash Everyday® from American Express because it does not utilize rotating categories like the Chase Freedom® card. Instead the categories in which you earn don’t change and that makes earning simple and straightforward. With each eligible purchase you make you will earn either 3, 2, or 1% of the purchase amount back. Here’s how it works:3% for purchases at supermarkets (excluding superstores and warehouse clubs), 2% for purchases at department stores and for gasoline purchased, and 1% for all other purchases. You can redeem reward dollars for statement credits, or, additional items like merchandise and gift cards, whenever your available reward dollar balance is 25 or more. The card offers an introductory rate of 0% for 12 on purchases. After that, your APR will be between 12.99% - 21.99% Variable based on your creditworthiness. This card does not offer an introductory rate for balance transfers.

Rewards Details

  • 1% Cash Back Offer: You will earn 1% back on all your eligible purchase made to your account.
  • 2% Cash Back Offer: 2% for eligible purchases at department stores and for automobile gasoline purchased at stand-alone gas stations
  • 3% Cash Back: You will receive 3% for eligible purchases at supermarkets (excluding superstores and warehouse clubs).

Which Card Is Best For You?

To answer this question we are going to highlight some of the key differences of each card. From there you will be able to determine which card will fit your spending habits the best.

  • Cash Back Offer: The one thing that catches my eye is the cash back bonus with the Chase Freedom® Card. This cash back bonus is like free money, you just have to spend $500 within the first 3 months and you get a free $100 bucks. That’s not a bad deal and it makes this card very appealing!.
  • Balance Transfer: If you could benefit from transferring a high balance on another card to a new card then you should consider the Chase Freedom® card and utilize the 0% for 12 months on balance transfers.
  • Introductory Rate: Both cards offers a 0% introductory rate on purchases. Chase offers 6 months and Amex offers either 6 or 12 months, based on your creditworthiness.
  • Regular APR: One major consideration is the Regular APR. As you can see the rate for the Chase Freedom® card is much lower. You can avoid interest charges all together by paying your balance off each month, but if you carry over a balance you should definitely consider the rate.
  • Rewards: Chase offers 5% in rotating categories and the categories change each quarter. One quarter you could be earning 5% on gas purchases and the next it could be 5% on home purchases. The Amex card always gives 3% on supermarket purchases and 2% on gas purchases. If you spend a great deal at the supermarket or on gasoline you might want a card that always gives back for those purchases.

Review of the American Express Membership Rewards® Program

American Express Membership Rewards® is a loyalty program that rewards you for using your American Express Card. If you are enrolled, you can earn one point for virtually every US dollar or euro spent. To earn rewards just use your Amex Card for purchases. You can redeem your points for flights, hotels, car hire, charity and merchandise rewards. You can also use your points to pay your annual Card and Membership Rewards® fee.

Earn Points
Once enrolled in the program, you will accrue one point in your program account for every dollar charged. Any points accrued in your program account for any given year will be carried forward on the enrollment date anniversary as long as all conditions have been met. One such condition is that you don’t earn your points until a charge is billed to your account and paid. Points are not awarded for the following transactions: dash advances services fees and Interest, express cash charges for dishonored checks, finance charges, travelers cheques, late payment and referral charges, cash advances, foreign exchange.

Once you have earned your points, you have several options (listed below) to redeem your points. There are travel rewards, shopping rewards, and entertainment rewards you can cash your points in for. Points never expire and there is no limit to the number of points you earn.

Use Points

  • Travel Rewards: The Membership Rewards Program can work great for people who frequently travel. There are a wide variety of options for redeeming your rewards points whether it be for airline tickets or hotel stays. You also have the option of transferring your Amex reward points into a frequent flier program of your choice or redeem your reward points for an airline ticket certificate. In addition, you can also choose to redeem your points for rental cars.
  • Shopping Rewards: The program has a significant number of retail partners. This allows members to get discounts by shopping at the retailers who are affiliated with Amex. These retailers includes categories like apparel, electronics, beauty, sports and more. You can choose to redeem your reward points for gifts or gift certificates from many of the retailers. The program offers incentives for shopping with the featured retailers. From time to time, American Express will offer enrollees the opportunity to accrue extra Points for charges made at particular merchants which accept American Express Cards or during a specific period of time or in connection with offers and marketing initiatives performed with participating merchants and/or companies of the American Express Group.
  • Entertainment Rewards: The entertainment rewards the program offers are one of a kind. There are seven different categories under entertainment for American Express Membership Rewards Program. One such category is the ‘Experience Category’ which allows you the option to redeem your reward points for some of the coolest experiences. You can choose between various options including a day trip to Wonderland in Canada, or a hot air balloon trip. Even experiences as incredible as a sub-orbital space flight and a zero gravity flight are also available with your points.

How To Enroll
The Membership Rewards program is a built-in feature of most American Express® Cards — you may already be enrolled. If your Card is not enrolled, log in to your account, select the “Points Summary” link, and then the enroll button.


How to Use Starwood Starpoints for Free Hotel Stays

The Starwood Preferred Guest Program offers multiple ways for you to redeem your Starpoints for free hotel stays. This article will review the different options for cashing in your Starpoints and it will review some of the rules and regulations of the program. As you are reviewing the information, keep in mind there are ways for you to get extra Starpoints if you need, and the American Express Starwood Preferred card is the best way to get bonus Starpoints and Starpoints for on everyday purchases.

The table below shows you the different options and the corresponding amount of Starpoints it take to participate. The numbers across the top represent the Starwood hotel categories, with category 7 representing the most exclusive Starwood hotels available.

Starpoints Requirements

 1234567
Free Nights-Weekdays3,0004,,0007,00010,00012,000-16,00020,000-25,00030,000-35,000
Free Nights - Weekends2,0003,0007,00010,00012,000-16,00020,000-25,00030,000-35,000
Cash and Points1,200 +$251,600 + $302,800 + $454,000 + $604,800 + $908,000 + $150N/A
5th Night FreeN/AN/A28,00040,00048,000 - 64,00080,000 - 100,000120,000 - 140,000
Room Upgrades1,000 - 1,5001,000 - 1,5001,000 - 1,5001,000 - 1,5001,500 - 2,7501,500 - 2,7501,500 - 2,750
Suite Upgrades3,0004,0007,00010,00012,000 - 16,00020,000 - 25,00030,000 - 35,000
50% off Regular Rack Rates1,0001,0001,0001,0001,0001,0001,000
Nights and FlightsN/AN/A60,00070,000N/AN/AN/A

Free Night – Weekdays
The Starwood Preferred Guest® program allows you to redeem Starpoints® for Free Night Awards without blackout dates or extra point charges on standard rooms–regardless of your membership level. You will need 3,000 Starpoints for a free night during the week at a Category 1 hotel.

Free Night – Weekends
You can save 1,000 Starpoints per night when you redeem weekend nights at Category 1 and 2 hotels. The minimum of 2,000 Starpoints is needed to redeem for a free weekend night in a standard room at a Category 1 hotel. The number of Starpoints needed for a free night in a standard room varies by hotel category. During the peak seasons, some properties will charge higher Starpoints rates. To find the optimal time to redeem, take a look at peak season date ranges for Category 5, Category 6 and Category 7. You will need 2,000 Starpoints® for a free weekend night.

Fifth Night Free
The free night offered with any Fifth Night Free Award applies only to the fifth consecutive night within the same stay for which that award was ordered. There will be no Starpoints refund or free night credit for any unused portion of a Fifth Night Free Award. The Fifth Night Free Award is available for category 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 hotels.

Cash And Points
Starwood Preferred Guest® allows you to redeem free nights using a combination of cash and Starpoints®. The cash components of this award that are confirmed in non-USD will be adjusted, as needed, to reflect the USD equivalent of the award before being posted in local currency to the customer’s bill during the hotel stay.

Room Upgrade
With 1,000 Starpoints® you can get a room upgrade at any of the participating Starwood hotels or resorts. You can arrange for an upgrade within five days of arrival to a Specialty, Specialty Select Room, or Suite on reservations booked at RACK, COR, SET, or BAR. You may upgrade from any category of room on an eligible rate paid reservation. The upgrade Starpoint amounts noted are per room/per night. Upgrade types may include larger rooms, a Club Room, Westin Guest Office, Corporate Club Room, Smart Room, a room on a floor that may include Club Lounge Services or Concierge Services, suites, or a room based on type of view or floor within the hotel. Each type of upgrade room is not available at all properties.

50% Off Regular Rates
You can redeem 1,000 Starpoints® for a certificate offering 50% off regular rack rates for a stay of up to five nights. Unlike the Free Nights Awards, 50% Off Regular Rack Rates awards are subject to availability.

Nights and Flights
You can use your Starpoints to pay for your entire vacation which would include your hotel stay and airfare. The Nights & Flights offer allows you to redeem 60,000 Starpoints for 50,000 airline miles and five free nights at a Category 3 hotel or resort. With Nights & Flights II, you can redeem 70,000 Starpoints and receive 50,000 airline miles and five free nights at a Category 4 hotel or resort. This Award is only offered with airlines with a 1 Starpoint to 1 Airline mile transfer ratio. The maximum transfer to the airline offered in this award is 50,000 miles, so it is each member’s responsibility to verify with their desired airline the value of these miles for air travel awards. Any additional miles required are the responsibility of the member.


How to Use Starwood Starpoints for Free Air Travel

Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) was the first hotel loyalty program to allow members to use points for booking an airline ticket on virtually any available flight with their SPG Flights redemption option. And SPG actually offers two different ways to use StarPoints for air travel. First, you can transfer your Starpoints to miles on just about any airline. And second, you can use Starpoints directly to purchase your flight through SPG Flights. Both of these options have pros and cons depending on your specific situation. Let’s take a look at each option.

Note: The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express is a great way to earn Starpoints, including up to 35,000 bonus StarPoints for new card members.

Transfer Starpoints to Airline Miles Programs

You can convert Starpoints to airline miles. Starwood Preferred Guests can transfer up to 79,999 Starpoints per transaction per program to the frequent flyer programs. Plus, for every 20,000 Starpoints transferred within the same transaction, Starwood will automatically add another 5,000 Starpoints. This means that up to 94,999 Starpoints can be transferred into your frequent flyer account, with most airlines, making a free flight that much closer. In fact, for those airlines that require 25,000 miles for a ticket, the 5,000 bonus Starpoints make a ticket attainable with just 20,000 Starpoints.

Transfer maximums are based on a combination of member Starpoints and the Starwood Preferred Guest airline transfer transaction bonus. Only one airline transfer transaction per member per program per 24 hour period is allowed; multiple transfer transactions within the same 24 hour period will be rejected. Both the Starwood Preferred Guest and airline frequent flyer program accounts must have identical member names in order to complete this request.

Here is a table showing the airline miles programs you can transfer Starpoints to, along with the transfer ratio:

Frequent Flyer Program Exchange Ratio (Starpoints : Miles)
Aeroplan/Air Canada 1:1
Air Berlin 1:1
Air China Companion 1:1
Air New Zealand & Air Points 65:1
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan 1:1
Alitalia MilleMiglia 1:1
All Nippon Airways (ANA) Mileage Club 1:1
American Airlines AAdvantage 1:1
Asia Miles 1:1
Asiana Airlines 1:1
British Airways Executive Club 1:1
Continental Airlines(R) OnePass 2:1
Delta Air Lines SkyMiles 1:1
El Al Israel Airlines No Transfer Option
Emirates Skywards 1:1
Flying Blue 1:1
Hawaiian Airlines 1:1
Iberia Plus No Transfer Option
Japan Airlines (JAL) Mileage Bank 1:1
LAN LANPASS 1:2
Mexicana Frecuenta 1:1
Miles and More 1:1
Qatar Airways 1:1
Saudi Arabian Airlines Alfursan 1:1
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer 2:1
Thai Airways International Royal Orchid Plus 1:1
US Airways Dividend Miles 1:1
United Mileage Plus 2:1
VARIG Smiles 2:1
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club 1:1

Transferring Starpoints to airline miles can be really handy when you have some airline miles, but not quite enough for a free ticket. You can use Starpoints to top off your airline miles account for a free flight or upgrade.

Redeem Starpoints for Flights
With this option you redeem Starpoints directly for your airline ticket. Tickets are available for more airlines than those currently listed as Starwood Preferred Guest airline transfer partners. You still have the option to transfer Starpoints to an airline and receive miles with Starwood Preferred Guest transfer partners; however, SPG Flights allows you to skip the transfer step, expands your flight options to include more airlines, and eliminates blackout dates and other restrictions found with many airline mile redemption programs. You can redeem Starpoints in three simple steps.

  1. Go to www.spg.com/flights to search for flights
  2. Select your flight
  3. Redeem Starpoints for an airline ticket

Your Starpoints will be deducted from your account and you will receive email itinerary confirmation. The premise of SPG flights is that you can search for any flight directly from spgflights.com and book it with your Starpoints. Starwood then pays the airline for the flight and you still earn miles for the flight. See the table below to get an idea of the purchase price of the flights. If you need more information check out the SPG Flights Terms and Conditions page.

Ticket Price Starpoints
up to $150 10,000
$150-$215 15,000
$215-$280 20,000
$280-$345 25,000
$345-$410 30,000
$410-$475 35,000
$475-$540 40,000
$540-$605 45,000
$605-$670 50,000
$670-$735 55,000
$735-$800 60,000
$800-$865 65,000
$865-$930 70,000
$930-$995 75,000
$995-$1060 80,000

Buying More Points
One nice feature is that Starwood let’s members purchase up to 20,000 additional Starpoints per calendar year as long as you have been an SPG member for at least one month. You can buy 500 Starpoints for $17.50. The Starpoint Purchase Plan is for members who need a few extra points to top off your balance so you can get your free ticket. There is no minimum Starpoint transfer requirement for Platinum members. Gold members have a minimum transfer requirement of 1,500 Starpoints, and Preferred members have a minimum transfer requirement of 2,500 Starpoints.

Which Is The Best Option
There really isn’t a right or wrong way to go about purchasing your flight. Each situation is unique, and members must consider all factors, such as: flight times and availability, booking fees, number of Starpoints or airline miles available to them, convenience, etc. to best determine whether or not it is more advantageous to redeem Starpoints than airline miles for a flight. Please note that SPG Flights is a new redemption option created to offer Starwood Preferred Guest members greater versatility for using their Starpoints. It was not created to compete with airline frequency programs, although in some situations, there may be better value redeeming Starpoints for a flight.