4 Simple Ways to Get Your Money’s Worth From the Starwood Card Annual Fee

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UPDATE: The Starwood American Express credit card offers in this post are no longer available, but check Hot Deals for the latest offers!

Until September 14, 2015, there’s a limited-time sign-up bonus of 30,000 Starwood points on both the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express personal and small business cards after completing the minimum spending requirements.

The annual fee on both cards is $95, and it’s waived the 1st year.  But you can get much more in return with the perks of the cards!

4 Simple Ways To Get Your Moneys Worth From The Starwood Card Annual Fee

The Annual Fee on the AMEX Starwood Cards Is $95 After the 1st Year. But You Can Get All of It Back – and More!

I’ll explain 4 ways the AMEX Starwood cards pay for themselves!

About the AMEX Starwood Cards

Link:   Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

Link:   Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express

Link:   My Review of the AMEX Starwood Card


Apply before September 14, 2015, to earn the increased bonus.  You’ll get:

  • 30,000 Starwood points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the 1st 3 months of opening your account (personal card), or
  • 30,000 Starwood points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the 1st 3 months of opening your account (small business card)
  • 2X Starwood points per $1 you spend at Starwood hotels (includes Aloft, Element, Four Points, Le Meridien, Sheraton, St Regis, The Luxury Collection, Westin and W brand hotels)
  • 1X Starwood point per $1 you spend on everything else
  • Unlimited use of Boingo Wi-Fi hotspots (excluding in-flight)
  • For small business cardholders, access to Sheraton Club lounges (free breakfast and hors d’oeuvres) for cardholder and 1 guest staying in the same room (3rd party bookings are excluded).
  • 2 stay credits or 5 night credits toward Starwood Elite Status
  • $95 annual fee, waived for the 1st year
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Terms & limitations apply

Note:    American Express only allows folks to get the sign-up bonus ONCE per person, per lifetime on their personal cards.  But you CAN get the bonus again (at least 12 months after cancelling the card) on AMEX small business cards.

4 Top Ways the AMEX Starwood Cards Save (and Make) You Money

1.   Cash & Points

Link:   Starwood Cash & Points

I’ve written about how you can get big savings at Starwood hotels with Cash & Points.

4 Simple Ways To Get Your Moneys Worth From The Starwood Card Annual Fee

Stay at the Gorgeous Sheraton New Orleans With Cash & Points! Pay Just $75 and 5,000 Starwood Points Per Night

When you use your AMEX Starwood card for everyday spending, you’ll earn 1 Starwood point per $1 spent (when you’re not meeting minimum spending requirements on other cards, of course!)

So when you’ve spent $5,000, you’ll have 5,000 Starwood points.  With Cash & Points, you can add $75 and stay at beautiful Starwood Category 4 hotels, like the Sheraton New Orleans, and save $200+ per night!

2.   AMEX Offers & Discounts

Link:   How to Register for AMEX Offers

Both AMEX Starwood cards are eligible for AMEX Offers.  You’ll save on everything from airfare to hotels, restaurants, and department stores.

4 Simple Ways To Get Your Moneys Worth From The Starwood Card Annual Fee

I’ve Saved $80 From Amex Offers so Far This Year on This 1 Card. That’s Almost the AMEX Starwood Card’s Entire Annual Fee!

Each AMEX card increases your chances of being targeted for more AMEX Offers.  That includes authorized users!

It’s free to add an authorized user to your card.  Not only will you earn more Starwood points, but you’ll also get access to more AMEX Offers!

When you add authorized users to your account, you will be responsible for anything they charge to the card.  Even if they don’t pay you back.  So be sure you only add people that you trust, like your spouse, partner, or children.

You can add up to 99 authorized users to an AMEX card, but that limit is intended for large businesses with employee credit cards.  If AMEX sees you add more than a few authorized users to your account, they might investigate.  So with AMEX personal cards, don’t overdo it.

4 Simple Ways To Get Your Moneys Worth From The Starwood Card Annual Fee

On AMEX Small Business Saturday, You Can Save Money on Holiday Shopping With Each AMEX Card in Your Wallet! And This Year, It’s Back!

Each card is also eligible for Small Business Saturday when it returns this year.

Last year, Emily & I each got $30 back PER CARD.  So 1 Starwood card with 3 authorized users (say, a partner and 2 family members) would have gotten you $120 back.

The savings amount this year hasn’t been announced yet, but I’m looking forward to it!

3.   AMEX Benefits

Link:   Are You Making the Most of Your American Express Benefits?

AMEX cards come with lots of built-in benefits like:

4 Simple Ways To Get Your Moneys Worth From The Starwood Card Annual Fee

Uh Oh! If You Bought Your Item With an AMEX Card, You’ll Be Eligible for Extended Warranty, and Purchase & Return Protection.

Any 1 of these benefits can more than cover the annual fee on your AMEX Starwood card.  But beyond that, AMEX has a reputation for simple and quick claims processing.

It’s easy to dispute unfair charges on your card, too.

These customer-friendly benefits can help you when you really need it!  And save you a lot of money!

4.   Internet

Link:   AMEX Boingo Internet Subscription

With your AMEX Starwood card, you’ll also get a subscription to unlimited internet at Boingo hotspots.  Unfortunately, in-flight Wi-fi is NOT included.

4 Simple Ways To Get Your Moneys Worth From The Starwood Card Annual Fee

Get a Subscription to Boingo Internet Hotspots, Thanks to Your AMEX Starwood Card!

This can come in handy if you need internet at the airport, or out and about during your travels.  This perk would cost you $59 a month if you paid out-of-pocket!  I wouldn’t pay that price for it, but it’s helpful to have.

You’ll also get premium in-room internet when you stay at Starwood hotels.  That means reliable, fast internet during your Starwood stays.  Most hotel internet is OK, but with the AMEX Starwood card, you’ll get faster internet service when it’s available.

Other Perks of Starwood Points

Link:   Which Hotels Give You Free Nights on Award and Paid Stays?

Link:   How Starwood Nights & Flights Can Save You Thousands of Dollars

Link:   SPG Moments

In addition to all the perks of the AMEX Starwood card, you can save a LOT of money when you redeem Starwood points.

You’ll get the 5th night free on award stays at Starwood Category 3 through 7 hotels.

4 Simple Ways To Get Your Moneys Worth From The Starwood Card Annual Fee

Get an Award Stay at a Starwood Hotel AND a Flight There With Nights & Flights! You Can Also Get the 5th Night Free on Some Award Stays, and Get Access to SPG Moments

And if you can’t decide between award stays with Starwood or flights, you can choose both with Nights & Flights!

You’ll also have access to SPG Moments, where you’ll find experiences like sports events, live theater, and concerts, and pay with your Starwood points, or bid via an online auction.  Some of them are unique and can’t be bought anywhere else!

What If You Really Want to Cancel?

Link:   Are AMEX Starwood Cards Worth Keeping After the 1st Year?

If you don’t want to pay the annual fee after the 1st year, you can easily cancel.  Simply call the number on the back of your card.  There won’t be any pressure to keep the card open, and at best you’ll get a retention offer to keep the card, or even a fee waiver for another year.

I suggest waiting for ~10 months before you cancel.  Because banks don’t like when you earn the sign-up bonus and then cancel.  Plus, it gives you more time to evaluate all the perks of the card.

4 Simple Ways To Get Your Moneys Worth From The Starwood Card Annual Fee

Don’t Worry, You Won’t Lose Your Starwood Points If You Cancel the AMEX Starwood Card…but Wait ~10 Months to Be Sure You Want to Close It!

You will NOT lose your Starwood points when you cancel.

I recommend keeping the AMEX Starwood cards because they’re the best way to earn Starwood points aside from stays at Starwood hotels.

And with personal AMEX cards, you can only earn the sign-up bonus once per lifetime!

Bottom Line

The AMEX Starwood cards (personal and small business) have 4 perks that more than cover the $95 annual fee, which is waived the 1st year:

  1.   Cash & Points
  2.   AMEX Offers
  3.   American Express benefits (return protection, extended warranty, and purchase protection)
  4.   Boingo internet subscription

You’ll also get other great perks with the Starwood program, like:

All of these benefits can add up to many times the cost of the annual fee.  And don’t forget Small Business Saturday is coming back this year, too!

I recommend you keep the AMEX Starwood cards!  But if you really want to cancel, wait ~10 months to completely assess the card’s benefits.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Neither the responses below nor the editorial content on this page are provided or commissioned by the bank advertisers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertisers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the bank advertisers. It is not the bank advertisers’ responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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4 responses to “4 Simple Ways to Get Your Money’s Worth From the Starwood Card Annual Fee

  1. Hi Daraius

    If you apply for both SPG personal and business and get approved will you be able to
    get 30k each for personal and business after you have reached the spending requirements?

  2. Kenneth – yes you can get the bonus for both. I signed up for both over a week ago and confirmed the bonus for each after they were approved.

  3. Hey Darius, I just got approved for the Starwood business card! The customer service rep I spoke to didn’t ask me a thing about my non-existent “business” except what name I wanted on the card. My question is this. I now have both starwood cards and, after your convincing argument, want to keep one of them even if it means paying the yearly fee. So my question is, which one do you think is the better one to keep? (Remember, I don’t have a business.)


  4. @Kenneth Cordero – Hope it all worked out for you!

    @josh mackles – I’d recommend keeping the personal card. That’s because you can only get the sign-up bonus on AMEX personal cards once per lifetime. So you might as well keep it once you get it, especially if you’re enjoying the perks and benefits of the card!