The AMEX SPG Credit Card is Overrated & Not Worth its Annual Fee to Me, But I’ll Still Get it! [Expired]

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Link:  American Express Starwood Refer a Friend 5,000 Point Business & Personal Referral

Link:  American Express Starwood 30,000 Point Personal Credit Card

Link:  American Express Starwood 30,000 Point Business Credit Card

The American Express Starwood (SPG)  personal and business credit card is offering 30,000 points up to September 4, 2012, though you should see if you can either refer or get referred for the card for an additional 5,000 SPG points.

I’ll certainly get both the personal and the business versions, because the regular offer is for only 25,000 points and the increased offer of 30,000 points has happened for only a month each summer over the last few years.  So this is as good as it gets.

But I certainly won’t be paying the annual fee and keeping these cards past the first year because the card doesn’t offer me any value after then.

It seems like every month there is a new “BEST CARD EVER!!” to have.  And while SPG points are valuable, this isn’t a card which I’ll keep when the $65 annual fee comes due.

Yes, cash and points are a great way to stretch out your points and get lots of value for hotel stays.  And, yes, Starpoints are transferable to a few airlines. But what happens when you run out of Starpoints?

Why the SPG Card Is Not Worth Keeping After the 1st Year

I’ve always been surprised when the Starwood card is touted as a great card to keep and how it is more valuable than your 1st born – because it isn’t to me!

Full disclosure – I represented the Starwood credit card at the Frequent Traveler University in April where it won the Best Credit Card in the Galaxy, but I still think that a combination of the fee-free Chase Freedom and any one of the transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards cards (Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Bold, Chase Ink Plus) is a better choice for the average American who is not a Big Spender.

That’s because you can earn 5X Ultimate Rewards points on the Chase Freedom (a no annual fee card) which can be transferred to airlines or hotels, get additional Ultimate Rewards points through the Ultimate Rewards shopping portal, and pay no foreign exchange transaction fee on any one of the transferable Ultimate Rewards cards.

The Starwood credit card has been around for over a decade, and it was the leader at one point. But old preferences linger for long which I suspect accounts for some of its popularity today.

1.  Foreign Transaction Fee.  You have to pay a 2.7% foreign transaction fee which makes the card virtually useless to use outside the US (unless you are meeting the minimum spending to get the sign-up bonus) – EVEN at foreign Starwood hotels.

For example, you earn 2 SPG points per $1 spent at Starwood hotels, but will pay 2.7 cents in foreign transaction fees.

Instead, you could put your foreign Starwood hotel spending on the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Ink Bold and earn 2 Ultimate Reward points (which you can transfer to, say, Hyatt) and not pay ANY foreign transaction fee.

2.  No Free Night Certificates.  The AMEX SPG card doesn’t offer a free night each year, unlike other hotel credit cards which makes it less useful to me.

3.   No Category Bonuses.   The card also doesn’t have any additional bonuses for spending on, say, gas, groceries etc, so it is hard to convert limited spending power into lots of points.

4.   Not a Big Spender.   Sure, I can get a 25% point bonus when I transfer my SPG points to airlines in increments of 20,000 points, which makes it a better card for some airlines than that airlines’ own co-branded card.

But let’s face it, I’m not a Big Spender and I’m NOT going to spend $20,000 on the card just so that I can get 5,000 extra miles if I decide to transfer 20,000 SPG points to airline miles.

As I tell folks during my introduction to miles and points at conferences: The average American household earns ~$50,000 a year, so if you spend everything on a credit or debit card, you’ll earn only 50,000 miles and points (assuming 1 mile per $1 spent), which is enough for only 2 domestic tickets.

The real pay-off is in using your limited spending power towards credit card sign-up bonuses.  It is not in spending $20,000 on 1 card just to get an additional 5,000 air miles!

To be clear – the ability to earn 1.25 miles per $1 spent is a VERY valuable benefit to Big Spenders, which I mention in my series on Big Spenders.  But this benefit is meaningless to the average person who is better off using his or her limited spending ability to get different credit-card sign up bonuses.

And sometimes, even real Big Spenders like Lucky, don’t spend much on this card!

5.  Miss out on Future Sign-up Bonuses.  The terms of the Starwood  card suggest that you won’t get the sign-up bonus again if you have had the card in the previous 12 months.  So you may be better off getting the card, completing the minimum spending requirement and then cancelling the card so that you can get the card again in 12 months.

Some folks have had luck applying for the Starwood card sooner than 1 year by leaving their SPG number blank in the application, but I don’t have any personal experience with that and can’t vouch if it still works.

Hotel Credit Cards For Which I’ll Gladly Pay the Annual Fee

1.  Chase Priority Club card.  The Chase Priority Club card is my favorite card to actually keep and to pay the $49 annual fee on because it give me a free night which can be used at ANY Priority Club hotel – including the $700+ InterContinental at Bora Bora.  No foreign transaction fees, either!

2.   Citi Hilton Reserve card.   I’d gladly pay the $95 fee after the 1st year on the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card because I’ll get free Gold elite status which will get me free internet and breakfast and save me time as well as at least $10 to 30 a day.  Hilton points are easy to come by, so having free breakfast and internet when I use my Hilton points is a great perk.  No foreign transaction fees, either!

3.   Chase Hyatt Card.  I get a free night certificate for a category 1 to 4 Hyatt hotel each year, so I’d gladly pay the $75 annual fee on the Chase Hyatt card.  No foreign transaction fees, either!

Why you Should Keep the AMEX SPG Card

That’s not to say that no one should keep the SPG card.  You should keep the card if:

1.  You’re a Big Spender.  This is one of the best cards for everyday spending and will effectively earn 1.25 American Airlines, Delta, US Air and other airline miles when you convert SPG points to airline miles in increments of 20,000 points.

2.  You don’t apply for cards.  If you’re after American Airlines, Delta, or US Air miles and you don’t apply for new credit cards, but instead prefer to concentrate your spending on card, this card could be worth keeping.  That’s because you effectively earn 1.25 American Airlines, Delta, US Air and other airline miles when you convert SPG points to airline miles in increments of 20,000 points.

And, of course, the card is the best way to earn Starwood hotel points.

3.  You Chase Starwood Elite Status.  The card gets you 5 nights and 2 stay credit towards Gold or Platinum elite status, which could save you some money or give you more piece of mind if you sometimes book hotel stays just for the elite status credit.

4.  You stay at Starwood Hotels.  You get 1 extra point when you use your AMEX Starwood card, so this could be worth it if you have lots of Starwood hotel stays in the US.

Bottom Line:  I do recommend getting both the personal and business Starwood cards for the increased 30,000 point sign-up bonus (or 35,000 points if you can refer someone) up to September 4, because the regular offer for the other 11 months of the year is 25,000 points.

But do the math to see if paying the $65 annual fee on the card makes sense for you.  It doesn’t for me.

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58 responses to “The AMEX SPG Credit Card is Overrated & Not Worth its Annual Fee to Me, But I’ll Still Get it! [Expired]

  1. The cards you say are worth keeping you’re really saying “are worth it for the benefits” but even then you wouldn’t actually put (all but some very specific kinds of) spending on them.

    Your argument is that you use your spend to meet signup bonus requirements. And once you’ve gotten your SPG Amex signup bonus, it’s more lucrative to get other bonsues. Sure.

    But simple analysis, signup bonuses aside, what is most rewarding for spend not bonused by other categories? SPG Amex is at the top of the heap.

    So if you aren’t a big churner, or you aren’t dedicating all of your spend between churns to meeting signup bonuses (which isn’t necessarily the same as being a ‘big spender’), then SPG Amex is worth keeping.

    I’ve kept it in my wallet since 2001. And I’ve paid the annual fee.

    And I agree with you that meeting minimum spend for bonuses is more valuable than putting the spend on this card where there’s not a bonus involved. The question is whether that’s a strawman for anyone’s given situation…

  2. Darius,

    Up above, some people may misunderstand about the 20,000 Starpoints = 25,000 miles. This number is not an annual number to spend. You can accumulate your Starpoints over multiple years to reach 20,000, then make a transfer. For all the years I have the card (which I’m using less and less often), I’ve never made a transfer to an airline. My Starpoints are more valuable in Europe, where room rates are expensive. I also use the cash and points feature where I feel I’m ahead of the game.

    Starwood has been losing my business because:

    – I’m spending on other cards to reach the spend minimum.
    – I have plenty of Starpoints.

    I carry the card and will use it as my default card when it’s in my best interest.

  3. I have this card for the 2 nights toward elite status. However, it seems that now that I have the Chase Trifecta almost everything is category bonused.

  4. Man! You are a rebel. It is very rare, infact I do not remember at all if anyone has ever suggested to dump this card after the first year for any reason. It is like a taboo in the frequent flyer community.
    In the list of keepers, why are you missing Marriott card beside priority club? How do you manage to attain hotel status if any?

  5. I realized that in the back of my mind I thought my Starwood points would disappear if I did not maintain the card. You made some good points to consider! Thanks

  6. I’m a little confused about keeping the points after this, or any other card (s) have been cancelled, too.

  7. Put me in the pro camp as well.

    There have been other blog posts about the value of mile/point and the worth of cards lately, and these posts and the comments illuminate an obvious point: everyone’s travel needs are different, and with differing situations come different needs.

    In my case, I make an annual extended trip to New Orleans for Jazzfest, when hotel rates are uniformly high. With the SPG Amex, I can spend$28K or $40K for 5 nights at a downtown 4* hotel that would cost about $1400 or more if I paid cash for the stay. So for me, that’s great value, and I haven’t found another card that can come close.

    I don’t travel internationally often, and would never transfer such valuable SPG points to miles, so your points 1 and 4 don’t matter to me. Your 2 and 3 are valid negatives – sure I wish the card came with a free night or bonuses – but the straight-up value proposition for putting spend on this card is still worth paying the fee.

    For me.

    Everyone needs to assess their travel desires first, then do some research, and then determine what the best card is. For them.

  8. @Donna c & Jill P – you lose your Starpoints if there is no activity in the Starwood account for 1 year. This has nothing to do with a credit card (except that the CC is the most widely used method of accumulating Starpoints).

    The best way to maximize this card, in my opinion, is to cancel it as soon as you have met the minimum spend requirement, which is quite high. If you alternate getting the Business and Personal cards every 6+ months you will have a steady stream of points coming in. And if you have a friend or spouse doing the same you can also get the referrals for each other.

    This way you can get 25,000 (or 30,000 if you get it when they have the special, like now) and your spouse gets 5,000 referral. Then you spend $5,000 in 6 months which is another 5,000 points in itself. Then you cancel.

    Do the same on the other card (business or personal) and do the same until the year is up and you start the process all over again.

    This adds up to 70,000 (or 75,000) points each per year – well likely every 13 or 14 months as it is not always easy to do this like clockwork.

    This assumes you can make the spending requirements (harder on AMEX than VISA/MC); can qualify all the time; have a spouse/friend for the extra referral bonuses, etc.

    The best value of this card is to be able to transfer to most airlines (United is the big exception) at 1:1 ratio (with 25% bonus if you transfer 20,000 points). This is fantastic if you need to top up a mileage account to get an award.

    Though I would not rate this as the “best” card, I would always have the card at any one time. Because there are two you can get and you need some action in the account every 12 months I recommend staggering them as described above rather than just getting 2 at a time.

  9. As someone who lives in Atlanta and flies Delta all the time, this is a great card. I love to read all the posts about the Chase cards, but for someone with primarily Delta and Hilton points these cards don’t make sense for us.

  10. I like your contrarian views. I have felt the same about SPG becasuse I don’t travel nearly as much as those who swear by this card. The value is not there for me either. Keep up the good work!

  11. Do you need a SPG card to refer someone or do you just need an Amex online account? I have the Amex HHonors card, but I keep getting an error when I try to sign in to the site. If no SPG card is required, can I refer myself or only someone else?

  12. I agree with Daraius. I have the card, but because of points 2-4, I won’t be keeping it or paying the annual fee. I’ll never make elite status, even with the stay credits, so I don’t see the point.

  13. I have always felt that this card is grossly overrated and agree with everything you’ve said. I find much higher value in the Chase UR products.

  14. Yea but Gary says”But simple analysis, signup bonuses aside, what is most rewarding for spend not bonused by other categories? SPG Amex is at the top of the heap.”
    How convenient to dismiss bonused categories. I don’t think you can just count them out that easy, however with the use of gift cards one can make most of your spend bonused. I can go to the grocery store and get restaurant,home improvement, gas station and department stores GC’s. If I use my Amex HH CC I get six points/dollar. Gary thinks they are worth .05 so that’s 3 cents per dollar. Gary does not like to talk about category bonus with debating SPG. But when him debates the value of Amex gold he sure likes to tell you about 3x for airfare.

    • @Gary Leff – I’m not suggesting putting everyday spending on the Chase Priority Club and Chase Hyatt card, but they are certainly worth keeping for the free night certificate. My argument is: The SPG card offers limited benefits if you don’t want the 2 nights or 5 stays towards elite status, and you can use other cards to get a better return for your bonus spending.

      But, sure, this is a great card for spending money on when you’re not completing the minimum spending requirements on another card or when you can’t get a bonus on a particular type of spending. But that’s a very, very, small portion of most folks’ spending pie.

      @(d)hammer53– Perhaps I wasn’t clear above, but my point is that while the ability to transfer SPG points to Airline miles and get a 25% bonus is great, it isn’t as great a boost as using another card for category bonuses or to get the sign-up bonus. I wasn’t suggesting that you have to spend $20K in 1 year to get the 5K bonus when you transfer – as you point out, you can do that over multiple years. We used Starpoints in Europe when we traveled for 3 months and got a great value from them!

      @smitty06 – The Chase Freedom, Choice of a transferable Ultimate Rewards card, and a Chase checking account is a powerful combination!

      – I haven’t got the Marriott card as yet, but it does offer a free night as well. But I’d rather not pay the annual fee on that, because then I’m bumping against my 4 to 5 card limit with Chase.

      @Donna c @Jill P
      – As Frank wrote, your points expire after 1 year of no activity in you Starwood account.

      @swag @Eugene – A very good reminder that everyone’s situation is different and what works for me may not work for them.

      @Frank – Ha! You’re right that it is not as easy as clockwork to stay on that schedule.

      @Mary – The AMEX SPG is good for earning Delta miles, but you can also earn Delta MQMs in addition to the redeemable miles with the AMEX Delta cards.

      @Ken – You actually need the card to refer someone.

      @G @Sal
      – The card isn’t for me and many others, but it is valuable to some.

      @Jim – Gary is correct that the AMEX is a great card for spending for which you can’t get a bonus. But there really isn’t much spending left where you can’t get a bonus. However, not everyone may have the time to chase the bonus in which case the SPG card is the best option.

  15. Bravo! You have shed light on some gaping holes in the card. Every card has weaknesses, and this one is no exception.

    Whenever the annual fee comes up and I review a card, I can justify keeping it based on 1) how much I’ve spent on it, or 2) the benefits/perks. I haven’t been able to do that with the Starwood card yet. I think it’s not so much that the card is bad, but there are just too many good signup bonuses now. And for daily spending, the Chase trifecta beats the 1.25 miles per $1 spent.

    In the end I agree with your conclusion. For my needs and I suspect most others. Maybe this will prompt SPG to improve their program!

  16. The reason I didn’t like and cancelled the card was that it took forever to transfer the SPg points to partners. With chase and amex mr points, i can find a reward and transfer the points needed instantly to book.

  17. 2 yrs ago, I signed up my wife for both the Biz & Personal Starwood cards. Just before the annual fee became due a year ago, I cancelled her Personal Starwood card and kept her Biz card. 2 yrs ago, the min spend was alot less. (something like 1K per card). We saw the value of her keeping one card open and we chose keeping the Biz card open.

    Fast forward to today. The language AMEX now has is not to have the like product in the last 12 months. Now she qualifies for a personal card. She applied and got an instant approval. Now waiting to get the card in the mail and we will see what things look like in a year.

    Bottom line: We see value in keeping one Starwood card open and if necessary, paying the annual fee in year 2. (last year, AMEX would only allow to get the bonus every 2 yrs but it recently changed to 12 months). When we are not meeting min spends, we default to Starwood AMEX & Sapphire Preferred for our everyday spend.

  18. Darius,

    I have a large purchase of $30K coming up. I just did apps with Chase and Citi and would like to get a AMEX or 2 for this purchase. I can break the purchase up with multiple cards and was thinking of splitting it up with both the SPG business and personal cards. I’m more interested in transferring the points to an airline than a hotel so would this still be a good choice with the 25% transfer bonus? Are there other AMEX card(s) that you would recommend?

  19. From day one I have felt just as Darius writes in this post, what is the big deal with SPG? However, I am changing my mind a bit recently. That is because I and my wife own or have recently owned EVERY Chase card available and can no longer get the bonus for any of them, more importantly even if you have enough UR points for a nice Hyatt there are many places where there isn’t any Hyatt; Venice for example where the very best hotels are SPG and 16K/night and few other options. And converting to Priority Club points at 40K to 50K/night as opposed to Hyatt at 20K and 22K and SPG at 16K/night is insane. SPG has good award availability at 16K night in many locations where others have nothing. So yes everyone is different and that is why these forums are so valuable to learn all the viewpoints. Once you are airline or UR points rich and you start wanting to get hotel rooms using points the SPG card is very much worth the $65 and should be used to maintain a balance high enough to get a few nights in a Starwood hotel when the other options are not working. In some categories there is no bonus points available (Costco among many other options) and when I can only get 1 point/$ I always use the SPG because of the simple math: If the points are 1/$ it takes 22K/night using a Chase card vs 16K/night using an SPG card.

  20. I agree that the AMEX SPG is overrated. I recently cancelled mine. I view UR points to have the same value as SPG points (~$0.02), and on everyday spend, the SPG earns 1.25 – 1.07 = 0.18 pts/dollar more than the Chase Sapphire. If I value the points at $0.02, then the break even points level for the annual fee ($65) would be $65/.18/.02 = $18,055.56 in spend. Between signup bonuses and bonus categories, my everyday spend is more in the $5,000/year range, so it just doesn’t make sense for me. And even if you were choosing between the SPG card and a regular airline card (United, AA, etc), the break even point would be $65/.25/.02 = $13,000 in spend — and it’s pretty easy to avoid annual fees on the regular airline cards, especially the Citi AA cards (at least in my experience).

  21. Small edit to the above — I meant to say that I value airline miles at $0.02, and SPG points at $0.025 since the amount increases by 25% when converted into airline miles. That’s where the 1.25 comes from (the 1.07 for the Chase Sapphire is of course the 7% annual bonus).

  22. @Daraius, There is no limit per se on Chase cards that I know of: I have 7 and my wife has 9 right now.

  23. @ Frank, your wife has 9 cards from chase? Can give the detials which ones and since when? That might be the highest record known to mankind (maybe). You always learn something new.

  24. So are you saying this card can be churned yearly AND you’ll get the SPG points?
    We canceled my wife’s back in July of 2011…
    I can refer her, get 5,000 points and when she’s approved and meets the spend she’ll get another 30,000?

    I’m salivating right now! I hope this is how I’m reading this…

  25. I have found that between the $25 for shopping at small merchants just before Christmas that’s rebated and various linkings for twitter and facebook that provide further discounts, this past year at least I got back the full $65 so it was a no brainer for me to keep the card.

  26. Here’s a tricky question: husband has the SPG. I am an authorized user. Can I grab the personal card (and the biz!) in my name?

  27. @caveman:

    Ink Bold
    SWA Business
    SWA Personal

    all in 2012

  28. @ Emma, yes – we just did that.

  29. Darius, I have a quick question that is a little off topic. Which card would you recommend? The Hyatt (including $75 statement credit) or Priority Club? I am interested in one of them and torn between them…

  30. @Shane, yes we just did exactly that.

  31. We LOVE the SPG card!!! It’s our oldest card (my husband’s account & me as additional card) and I just got a new card (me alone) with the 30K bonus, which I’m excited about. However, we almost exclusively use SPG points to splurge on hotels using their cash & points program in locations where even crappy hotels are expensive, such as in San Francisco, downtown Seattle, Sydney, Amman, NYC, etc. You can stretch your points a long way with cash & points.

    Shane–On this 30K offer from SPG, I read the terms & conditions which allow you to get the bonus once every 12 months. So, it sounds like you can get it every 12 months. As we are trying to get another mortgage I’m worried about cancelling our oldest card but otherwise, I would do it in a hard beat to get the bonus again next year.

  32. John,
    Priority Club vs Hyatt, sooner or later you will probably have them both. In both cases they offset the yearly fee with some sort of free night. Once you have them I think the Hyatt is better because of the 22K per night instead of the 50K per night for equal value rooms. One thing to watch out for is timing, we screwed up and got Hyatt cards when we already had paid for an apartment in Paris for an upcoming trip. The Hyatt bonus we then had access to, the combined 4 free nights anywhere, could not be used in Paris and we didn’t have an appropriate destination to burn the 4 nights at. We ended up having to develop a trip just to use up the 4 nights and not lose them. So have a trip in mind to someplace you can use up the bonus nights before you get the card.

  33. Thank you again for an excellent post. In just a few days I have learned a lot from you and my hubby is very proud of me 🙂

    I had a couple of questions: If Chase Freedom has no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee and allows transfer to valuable partners, are the only 2 reasons to get chase sapphire preferred at a $95 annual fee (i know it’s waived the 1st yr) to get double pts on travel and dining?

    I did get a couple of cards through your links -trying to understand whether for long term goals – freedom would work for us if we don’t have much spending and don’t care for the 5x or 2X pts but just value the other benefits@ transfer and no foreign transaction fees.

    I can see the value of the chase ink bold with it’s 5X pts @ office supply stores.

    Also one final question:
    They hyatt sign-up 2 free nights (do they expire?) What about the anniversary free night? Can one collect those or does one have a time frame to use it?

  34. You have forgotten some of the best benefits of SPG membership.
    1. Anyone at the same residence can merge points online into one account.
    2. Book 4 nights and fifth night is free
    3. Flights and miles option.

    While you don’t need the SPG Amex to take advantage of these it sure makes sence earning points with the card. I put about $600k a year on pesonal and business and am very happy with the card.

    • @chemist661 – Please let us know if your wife gets the bonus again!

      @Gary – You could put the spending on the personal and business SPG cards, and could use the remaining $20K towards the spending on other cards with high minimum spending requirements like the Ink Bold or Ink Plus, or refer a partner for the SPG cards for additional points.

      @Brian(J) – Nice going with every Chase card! I agree with you that if you have a ton of airline miles, the SPG card looks better and better. But don’t forget the Hilton cards which you can get again and again, and Hilton requires 50K for 1 night or 36K for 1 night if you redeem an AXON for 4 nights at a top category 7. Since you earn 3 points per $1 on the Hilton card, you can get 1 night in a top Hilton for either $16.6K in spending or $12K in spending, which could sometimes be better than the mid tier SPG hotels.

      – I seem to be stuck at 5 and Emily at 6 cards with Chase. Many readers email me that they can’t get past 4 to 5 Chase cards despite offering to split the credit lines. I suspect this varies by individual, though.

      – That’s a great point!

      – Being an authorized user doesn’t prevent you from earning the bonus again. Have him refer you for an extra 5K points!

      @John – I agree with Brian (J) – why not both? If you want only 1, I’d research the locations where you’d use the card and see how many nights you can get with the card sign up bonus, and then pick 1 card. I like the Hyatt’s 2 night sign up bonus better than the PC 80K point sign up bonus, but I prefer the PC free night valid at any hotel over the Hyatt card’s free night which is valid at only a category 1 to 4 Hyatt hotel.

      – I’d be careful about cancelling your oldest card even after you mortgage, unless you have other cards which are almost as old.

      – The Chase Freedom has no fee, but it does have a foreign transaction fee and you can’t transfer the points to airlines or hotels. That’s why it is a good idea to supplement it with any of the transferable Ultimate Rewards cards which don’t have a foreign transaction fee (the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Bold, Chase Ink Plus, or JP Morgan). I believe both the 2 free nights and the anniversary night expire after 12 months.

      @Joshua Pickles – I’d be very happy with the card as well if I could put $600k on it! 🙂

  35. @Pam, the Freedom card does NOT allow transfers without the Ink Bold or Sapphire card as well.

  36. Darius,

    I think you forgot one key SPG yearly benefit which is 50% bonus for transferring to US Air (*A) which is very valuable due to US Air relaxed routing rules albeit having to deal with geographically challenged US Air agents!

  37. Pingback: Churning SPG Credit Card | Million Mile Secrets

  38. Pingback: Chase Sapphire Preferred Minimum Spend | Million Mile Secrets

  39. Count me as having it #1 in my wallet, and I have/had them all (or almost all).

    It mostly comes down to what hotel chain I want to stay at and Starwood has the most aspirational properties. I have 200k+ Hilton points and 100k+ Hyatt points which I haven’t touched in years but I never have enough Starwood points.

    On the one hand, I’m saving up for 5 nights at the Gritti Palace for 120k points. (Steep yes, but worth it for me).

    On the other hand, I’m staying in the Bankok Royal Orchid Sheraton for $30 and 1600 points per night under cash and points. As I am a platinum, I’m pretty sure I’ll get a suite there.

    Of course, if I still was a Hyatt person, Hyatt points would matter more because of the way it leverages with status.

  40. Hello,

    Long-time reader. Just wanted to let you know that I’ve used your link for the biz application, and I’m instantly approved. Hopefully, you’ll get the referral without a hitch. Thanks!

  41. Jeremy Finkelstein

    If you spend more than $30,000 a year on the card you automatically earn Starwood Gold status which entitles you to automatic upgrades and bonus points when you stay at starwood hotels. Both huge bonuses so I will gladly pay the $65 annual fee. Plus, fee awards using starwood points (stay 4 get a 5th night free) are much, much more cost savings effective than other card (hilton’s for sure). This one is not leaving my wallet anytime soon.

  42. Hi. Just wanted to say that as a person with an MBA & as someone who personally has both the Personal & Business SPG Cards in my wallet, I find that I have gotten plenty of value from keeping these cards & paying the $65.00 annual fee for each card. I exclusively tend to prefer to stay at SPG properties & with cash & points options, I have been able to fully stretch my points balance & get great deals in the process. In addition, having recently become a Platinum SPG, I couldn’t be more excited to make these cards my daily spend cards. (Disclaimer: I also have the Chase Freedom & a Citi Cash Back Card) but with the additional bonus point I’m earning as a Plat, I couldn’t me more excited to make these my go to cards.

    These are the only 2 cards that I pay an annual fee on in my wallet. Even with the additional $130 spent/year, the overall savings, flexibility of the points (cash & points or transfer to airlines @ 1.25) overall just seem to make keeping these cards in my wallet totally worth it for me.

    Now, everyone’s needs are different & I must admit that even as a licensed travel agent, I cannot seem to get a lower priced Starwood deal than utilizing cash & points!
    Doing this also allows me to stay at a much nicer hotel than what I normally would stay in at a very comfortable price. Now, after becoming a recent Plat member, it only gets better with the additional point earned for my every day spending.

    The only negative I can truly think of that I hope that SPG resolves is the damn Foreign Transaction Fee on this card! Starwood if your reading this blog, please remove the FTF fees on this card! Having them update this benefit would make this card not only my go to card for my daily spending here in the states but also overseas! Come on SPG!!! This would increase the competitiveness on this card! Other than this 1 feature & since I mostly stay in the states, this card will continue to be my go to card (s).

    Everyone needs/desires will very but I’m quite content with this card overall other than the ETF 🙂

  43. In looking at the application, I see in the terms and conditions that I represent that the card will be used only for business and professional purposes. Like many people, I do things from time to time that would constitute a business, but it’s just a small sideline, and I would never meet the spend for the bonus points on business purposes alone without using the card for other things too. Of course I wonder how anyone would actually know if most kinds of transactions are for business or personal reasons. Should I pass on this offer?

  44. Pingback: Starwood 30,000 Points Ending September 4, 2012 | Million Mile Secrets

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  47. Reading this post and the comments has helped me to make decision: It is not worth keeping *both* the personal and business cards active for Starwood AmEx. I will cancel the personal so as to save the $65, and keep the business version. Thanks!

  48. Jamie Futscher

    I have been having issues figuring out if my points were transferred to my SPG account and if I will lose them if I cancel the cards. I signed up for both personal and business cards for the bonus points but would like to get rid of both as I don’t use them very often and have other cards with better rewards. Any light you can shed on how to cancel cards and keep my points or if I need to keep one would be great. Thanks Daraius!

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  50. Do I need to have SPG card in order to keep the SPG points like membership rewards or ultimate rewards programs?

  51. This card charges foreign transaction fees which add up significantly if you travel outside of the USA. Even worse, if you stay at a Starwood hotel overseas they often charge in local currency and won’t let you charge in dollars which means you pay the transaction fees 1-3% and that offsets any points benefits of this card.

  52. This post help me a lot in regards to making a decision now that my annual fee has come up. Thanks Darius 😀

  53. Darius, thank you for all your posts, reviews, pictures and advice. I was wondering the same thing as Chanel now that my portfolio of credit cards is growing and with all the annual fees they do add up. Some are no brainers as far as keeping the cards, but wondering how you or other folks make that decision.