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The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card® from American Express (personal or ) is actually a better option for many purchases!
I’ll explain why!
Earn Starwood Points With AMEX Starwood Cards
Link: Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
Link: Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express
Until September 14, 2015, there’s an increased sign-up bonus on the AMEX Starwood cards. 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
Get Bonus Miles When You Transfer Starwood Points to Airlines
For every 20,000 Starwood points you transfer to airline partners (with a 1:1 transfer ratio), you’ll earn 5,000 bonus miles.
That means every $1 spent on the AMEX Starwood cards are worth up to 1.25 airline miles!
For example, the Citi American Airlines Platinum Select and Chase British Airways cards both earn 1 mile or point per $1 spent on regular purchases that are NOT in a bonus category. And both of them have the same $95 annual fee as the AMEX Starwood cards.
Plus with Starwood points, you’ll have the flexibility of redeeming your Starwood points for award stays at Starwood hotels, or transferring them to ~30 airline partners.
Great Ways to Use Starwood Points for Flights
American Airlines also has off-peak awards to:
- Mexico and the Caribbean for 12,500 American Airlines miles each way
- Central America and northern South America for 15,000 American Airlines miles each way
- Hawaii for 17,500 American Airlines miles each way
- Southern South America for 20,000 American Airlines miles each way
- Parts of Asia for 25,000 American Airlines miles each way
Be sure to check out my series about how to book award flights with American Airlines miles!
British Airways Avios is a distance-based program, and any coach flight under 650 miles is only 4,500 points 1-way.
When you transfer 20,000 Starwood points to British Airways, you’ll get 25,000 British Airways Avios points, which is more than enough for 5 one-way award flights under 650 miles.
This is a great way to get to Europe or visit the Caribbean. And folks on the West Coast can visit Hawaii for 12,500 British Airways Avios points each way!
Read my series about how to book award flights with British Airways Avios points for more ideas!
What’s Regular Spending?
Link: Chase Sapphire Preferred
Link: Chase Ink Plus
Link: Chase Ink Cash
Some credit cards offer bonus points on purchases that fall within a certain category, like travel, restaurants, or office supplies.
For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred earns 2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent on travel and dining. The Chase Ink Plus earns 5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent at office supply stores, and on cable and internet service (and the Chase Ink Cash offers 5% cash back on the same categories.)
Remember you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards directly to British Airways Avios points. So if you can earn bonus points, you should!
But there are lots of ordinary purchases that do NOT earn bonus points. Because they are not in a specific category, the most you’ll earn is 1 point per $1 spent.
Some everyday expenses that usually earn 1 mile or point per $1 spent are:
- Art supplies
- Child care
- Dentist bills
- Eye exams
- Gym memberships
- Hunting or fishing gear
- Lawn care
- License renewals
- Magazine subscriptions
- Netflix subscriptions
- Oil changes
- Pet food and supplies
- Yoga classes
- And lots of other services and items!
So there are many opportunities to earn points. Of course the best way to earn miles and points with everyday spending is to earn sign-up bonuses on new cards!
But if you’re between cards, or taking a break, the AMEX Starwood personal or small business cards are a great option. Because you’ll earn 1.25 miles per $1 spent when you take the 5,000 bonus miles into account!
Or use your points to book Starwood hotel stays in great locations in the US, at top US beaches, the Caribbean and Mexico, Europe, Central and South America, or Asia and Australia. 5,000 points will get you a $200+ discount at the Starwood hotels with the Cash & Points program.
You’ll earn 5,000 bonus airline miles every time you transfer 20,000 Starwood points to airline partners with a 1:1 transfer ratio.
That means with the AMEX Starwood personal or small business cards, you can earn American Airlines miles or British Airways Avios points at a rate of 1.25 miles or points per $1 spent – even more than with the airlines’ own credit cards!
When you’re not spending in a bonus category, or working toward meeting minimum spending requirements on new cards, the AMEX Starwood cards are a terrific way to earn more miles and points!