Is the Increased Bonus on the AMEX Starwood Card Worth Waiting For?

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Million Mile Secrets reader Keith commented with a question about booking rooms for his company.  But the answer could apply to most anybody thinking about applying for the Starwood AMEX card!

Daraius, I’ve been waiting to pull the trigger on an application for the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express until the bonus goes up to 30,000 Starwood points again.

I occasionally book blocks of rooms for my company and have an event coming up in a couple of months that will require 25 rooms at ~$100 each at a Sheraton in Dallas.  The meeting rewards, if I understand it correctly, only offer 1 point per $3 spent.

My question is whether I should continue to wait for the bonus to increase by 5,000 points or go ahead and jump on the 25,000 Starwood point bonus offer?

Booking events and meetings at Starwood hotels can be a great way to earn lots of extra Starwood points!  And you’ll earn even more if you pay with the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express card.

But even folks who book personal paid stays or events at Starwood hotels should consider the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express card, because you’ll earn an extra 2 points per $1 you spend at Starwood hotels.

Is The Increased Bonus On The AMEX Starwood Card Worth Waiting For

Should Keith Sign-Up for the Starwood Preferred Guest AMEX Now, If He Has an Event to Book?

Let’s see if you’ll do better getting the card now with a lower sign-up bonus, or waiting for the 30,000 point offer to come back!

What’s the Deal?

Link:   Starwood Preferred Guest American Express (Personal)

Link:   Starwood Preferred Guest American Express (Business)

Link:   How to Earn and Use Starwood Points

Link:   SPG Pro 

Starwood Preferred Guest hotels include AloftElementFour PointsLe MeridienSheratonSt RegisThe Luxury CollectionWestin and W brand hotels.

Earning Starwood Points for Meetings, Events, and Rooms Booked for Others

Did you know you can earn Starwood points if you’re a professional meeting planner, travel agent, or executive assistant who books events and rooms for others?  You have to register for the SPG Pro program and have professional credentials to earn points.

Regular Starwood Preferred Guest members earn 1 Starwood point per $3 spent.  And Gold and Platinum elite members earn 1 Starwood point per $2 they spend.

Note:  Any Starwood Preferred Guest member can also earn Starwood points for meetings and events (like weddings or graduations) at the same rates.  But not for rooms booked under other people’s names.

Is The Increased Bonus On The AMEX Starwood Card Worth Waiting For

Planning a Meeting or Event for Yourself or Others at a Starwood Hotel? You Could Earn Starwood Points

If Keith is a registered SPG Pro member, he’ll earn points booking rooms for others in his company, regardless of how he pays.

Using his example, if he booked 25 rooms for his company at $100 a night, he’d spend $2,500 and earn:

  • ~833 Starwood points if he has no elite status (1 points per $3 spent)
  • ~1,250 Starwood points if he has Gold or Platinum elite status (1 point per $2 spent)

Note:  SPG Pro members can earn additional bonus Starwood points for bookings through May 31, 2015.

What If You Use the Starwood Preferred Guest AMEX?

Keith will earn points through SPG Pro no matter how he pays.  And regular folks will earn points for stays and events, too, regardless of the method of payment.

However, if you use the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express card, you’ll earn an additional 2 Starwood points per $1 you spend.

Is The Increased Bonus On The AMEX Starwood Card Worth Waiting For

Keith Will Earn More Starwood Points If He Uses the Starwood Preferred Guest AMEX Card

So by booking $2,500 in rooms, Keith will earn an extra 5,000 Starwood points ($2,500 x 2 points per $1).

Currently, the sign-up bonus on the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express card is up to 25,000 points after you spend $3,000 in purchases in the 1st 3 months of opening your account.

If he applies for the card now, Keith will earn a total of 30,000 Starwood points (25,000 Starwood points after completing minimum spending, and 5,000 Starwood points for booking rooms for his company).  This is in addition to points he’ll earn booking through SPG Pro.

A Better Idea

Keith is better off waiting for the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express 30,000 point sign-up bonus offer to come back.  It’s usually available for a few weeks each summer.

After meeting minimum spending requirements, he’ll earn 30,000 Starwood points – the same amount he’d earn if he applied for the 25,000 point offer and spent $2,500 on the card for his event!

Is The Increased Bonus On The AMEX Starwood Card Worth Waiting For

The Better Offer on the Starwood Preferred Guest AMEX Will Earn Keith the Same Number of Starwood Points

Instead, when he books the rooms for his company, Keith should use a card that earns bonus points for travel or spending directly with hotels, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred (2X points for travel) or Chase Ink Plus (2X points for spending directly with hotels).

By doing this, he’ll earn 5,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points ($2,500 x 2 points per $1).  And still get 30,000 Starwood points later if he applies for the increased bonus on the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express!

Note:   If Keith were spending a lot more than $2,500, or is only interested in earning Starwood points, the lower sign-up bonus might be a better deal.

With that said, there’s no guarantee the higher bonus will return this year.  But it’s come back for the past 5 summers, so it’s likely.

Is The Increased Bonus On The AMEX Starwood Card Worth Waiting For

The Increased Sign-Up Offer of 30,000 Starwood Points for the AMEX Starwood Card Is Worth Waiting for Because These Points Are Relatively Difficult to Earn. And Starwood Points Can Be Transferred to Partner Airlines or Used to Book Hotels Such as the Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas.

For most folks, it’s better to wait for the 30,000 point sign-up bonus to return.  Unless they have a large amount of spending at Starwood hotels coming up.

Keep in mind, you can only get the sign-up bonus on American Express personal cards once per person, per lifetime.  That’s another good reason to wait!

However, you can get the sign-up bonus on American Express business cards, more than once!

Bottom Line

Keith will earn Starwood points by booking meetings, events, or rooms for others (if he’s a registered SPG Pro member).  It doesn’t matter which card he pays with.

By signing-up for the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express card now, he’ll earn up to 25,000 Starwood points after meeting minimum spending.  And an additional 2 points per $1 he spends at Starwood hotels.

In Keith’s situation (spending $2,500), and for most folks, it’s better to wait for the increased 30,000 Starwood points bonus to return on this card.  Especially since you can only get the sign-up bonus on personal American Express cards once per person!

Instead, he could consider paying for his event with a different card that earns bonus points for travel or hotel purchases.

How do you make the most of booking events and meetings at hotels?

Thanks for the question, Keith!

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4 responses to “Is the Increased Bonus on the AMEX Starwood Card Worth Waiting For?

  1. I didn’t realize there was an occasional 30k sign-up bonus for the card, so I signed up last week for it. My main motivation was that I am starting a new job soon, and we stay at a lot of SPG hotels. Since we book the hotels ourselves, I figured it was best to get the card and earn the 2x points when booking with the card.

    In the end, I bet the extra points earning and the faster elite status from the card will be worth getting the card now versus in the summer, but I wish I had still known about it. I also have a couple friends that I can refer right now; even if one signs up from my referral, I’ll get to the 30k–same as if I had waited for the 30k bonus offer.

  2. I wonder how strict American Express is/will be with the “once per lifetime” restriction. Many card issues don’t keep your records if more than 2-4 years have passed.

  3. Didn’t know the once per lifetime does not apply to business accounts. Thanks, will look forward to this in the summer.

  4. Did the 30k offer come with a waived 1st year annual fee?