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!
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?
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.
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: SPG Pro
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!