Update: This offer is no longer available, but check my Hot Deals page to see the best current offer.
The Starwood credit card 30,000 point offer is back!
Link: American Express Starwood 30,000 Points Personal Credit Card
Link: American Express Starwood 30,000 Points Business Credit Card
The 30,000 point offer has appeared for ~1 month every year for the last 3 years, though there is no guarantee that it will come back again next year.
30,000 points is the most that American Express has ever offered for the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) card. That said, the standard offer is for 25,000 points after spending $5,000 within 6 months, so you’re only getting an extra 5,000 points.
Starwood Credit Card 30,000 Points
You earn 30,000 Starwood hotel points – 10,000 after your first purchase, and 20,000 points after spending $5,000 within 6 months. The offer ENDS on September 3, 2013. American Express says that you have to be APPROVED before September 3, 2013 to be eligible for the offer.
This offer is valid on the Starwood personal card and the Starwood business card.
You don’t need to be incorporated (i.e have a corporation) to apply for a business credit card. You can also apply for a business credit card as a sole proprietor and even as a start-up business with little to no revenue.
But don’t lie on the application form if you don’t have a business!
You earn 1 Starwood point per $1 you spend everywhere and 2 Starwood points per $1 at Starwood hotels.
Spending $5,000 within 6 months is ~$833 each month, and I suspect that most of us spend more than $833 each month. You can charge almost everything to a credit card, so see the 40+ ways to complete your minimum spending requirements.
You can usually get 2 cents per Starwood point if you redeem for hotels using the cash & points option, so 30,000 points is worth at least $600 in hotels if not more!
You can also redeem Starwood points for gift cards, so 28,000 points will get you $300 in Amazon (or other) gift cards. 30,000 points will also get you $345 to $410 in airfare with NO blackout dates (which will also earn miles). That said, these aren’t as lucrative as the other redemption options, but you should use your points in the best way for YOU.
The $65 annual fee is waived for the first year on both the business and personal cards. But the card charges 2.7% in foreign transaction fees, so I wouldn’t use it outside the US. See this post for cards which do not charge foreign transaction fees.
I also wish the card offered some benefit for keeping it after the first year. I’d prefer a free night at a Starwood hotel just like the Chase hotel cards offer.
Instead, the Starwood card gets you 2 stays or 5 nights towards elite status if you have the Starwood card. You can get 4 stays or 5 nights credit towards elite status if you have BOTH the business and personal cards.
So you’ll need only 6 stays or 15 nights to get Starwood Gold status if you have both the personal and business card. Gold status gets you 4:00 pm late check-out, and free internet (you can choose between a drink, internet and extra points, but the free internet is the most valuable to me). You also get Starwood Gold status if you spend more than $30,000 within 1 calendar year on the card.
This means that you need only 21 stays or 40 nights to get to Platinum status if you have both the business and personal card. Platinum status gets you 4:00 pm late check-out, upgrades to rooms including standard suites, free internet
Be Careful When Applying
Some readers have reported NOT getting the full bonus with the AMEX Starwood card.
So make sure that you verify that the offer is for 30,000 points when you sign-up for the card.
And don’t forget to take screenshots of the offer before applying.
The terms say that you can’t get the Starwood card again unless it has been 12 months since you have cancelled the card.
Welcome bonus offer not available to applicants who have had this product within the last 12 months.
For example, you should not have had the Starwood personal card for 12 months before reapplying to get the personal card again. However, you could have the business card open in the past 12 months because the business and personal card are considered separate products.
The terms also say:
If you are identified as a current American Express® Cardmember, you may not be eligible for this welcome bonus offer.
I don’t like how vaguely this is worded and suggests that AMEX could deny the bonus – if they want to – to folks who currently have an American Express card.
I’ll write a detailed series on how to use Starwood hotel points, but here are few reasons why I like Starwood hotel points.
1. Free Hotel Nights
Starwood Preferred Guest hotels include Aloft, Element, Four Points, Le Meredien, Sheraton, St Regis, The Luxury Collection, Westin and W brand hotels. You could stay at any of the over 1,100 hotels and resorts in 100 countries.
One of our most memorable Starwood stays was at the Hotel Imperial in Vienna, the former palace of Prince Philip of Wurrttemberg, and part of the Starwood Luxury Collection hotel.
Starwood points are good value at mid or low-tier hotels, but are NOT good value for their top tier hotels. Mid-tier Starwood hotels are still very nice hotels, and better than any other chain’s mid-tier hotels.
In contrast, Hyatt points are great to use for top tier Hyatt hotels, because you need 22,000 points for any top tier Hyatt hotel compared to 35,000+ points for top-tier Starwood hotels.
30,000 points would get you:
- 7 free nights (not including the 5th night free) at a Category 2 hotel like Four Points by Sheraton Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic or
- 3 free nights at a Category 4 hotel like the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa or
- 2 free nights at a Category 5 hotel like the Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa.
2. Cash & Points
I have both the personal and business Starwood credit cards, and like using Starwood points for cheap hotel stays using the Cash & Points option. That said, cash and points stays have blackout dates, so the hotels don’t have to make standard rooms available for cash and points redemptions.
The Cash & Points option lets you pay for your hotel with fewer points and a cash co-pay which saves you both points and cash.
For example, using the Cash & Points option, the Sheraton Iguazu Resort & Spa (the only hotel in the Iguazu National Park) costs 6,000 points and $110 a night instead of 16,000 points if I used only points.
The Sheraton at the Iguazu Falls was just outside the National Park boundary, so we could be first into the park when it opened.
Cash & Points stays also count towards Starwood hotel elite status.
3. Bonus Points When Transferring To Airlines
Starwood points are useful because you can transfer them to 30 airline partners such as American Airlines, British Airways, and Alaska. Most of the transfers are in a 1:1 ratio.
You get a 5,000 mile bonus when you transfer 20,000 Starwood points. So 20,000 Starwood points becomes 25,000 airline miles. The Starwood card is the best way to replenish your American Airlines miles.
You will get 85,000 air miles if you apply for both the business and personal card, complete the minimum spending and transfer the points to airlines.
This means that you earn 1.25 miles per $1 for regular spending (assuming you’re not taking advantage of category bonuses on other cards) if you spend enough to transfer 20,000 Starwood points to airlines.
4. Nights & Flights
Nights & Flights is a great redemption for long category 3 and 4 hotel stays.
5 free hotel nights AND 50,000 airline miles cost:
You can get 70,000 Starwood points (60,000 from the sign-up bonus and 10,000 points from the minimum spending) if you apply for one 30,000 points Starwood personal card and one 30,000 points Starwood business cards.
Two cards can get you 5 free hotel nights and 50,000 of the 60,000 miles needed for a coach ticket to Europe! 60,000 air miles is also enough for at least 2 coach tickets within the US.
5. Flight Awards & Gift Cards
You can redeem Starwood points for flights on many airlines with no blackout dates. The catch is that you’re not getting the most value of your points, but some folks prefer the flexibility of taking any flight and also earning miles for those flights.
30,000 points gets you $345 to $410 in airfare with NO blackout dates.
Similarly, you can also redeem Starwood points for gift cards, so 28,000 points will get you $300 in Amazon (or other) gift cards. Again, not the best value, but could be interesting for the folks who aren’t interested in fancy hotels.
The 30,000 point American Express Starwood Preferred Guest personal and business card offer is the highest bonus for this card and it has only come around a handful of times.
I like having points – especially points which you can transfer to other airlines – in different programs so that I have more flexibility when I’m redeeming my miles and points.
If you were planning on getting this card, the additional 5,000 bonus points is a nice incentive, but it isn’t a very big difference from the regular offer.