Let's be honest, the 25,000 point sign-up bonus for the Starwood Preferred Guest card from American Express (SPG) isn't anything to write home about. You can earn a quick 10,000 points by making your first purchase, and then an additional 15,000 points after spending $5,000 on the card within six months. It's OK, but nothing spectacular. So, if you've got your mind set on landing the biggest sign-up bonus on the market for a new travel rewards credit card, check out the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card instead. It's a much better deal. Having said that, there are a lot of travel junkies out there who still love keeping the SPG card handy in their wallets. Here's why:
- It's just one more way to pool points within the SPG program for those who frequently stay at Starwood properties like the Sheraton, Westin, or W hotels. If you stay at Starwood hotels all the time for work or pleasure, you should have this card too.
- You can receive up to 5 Starpoints for every dollar spent at Starwood hotels and resorts. 2 points per dollar spent on the card and 3 points from the Starwood Preferred Guest program if you have elite status.
- Reward redemption is extremely flexible. You can transfer points to many airlines at a 1:1 ratio (5,000 point bonuses are also offered when transferring 20,000 points), you can redeem points for free nights at over 1,000 Starwood hotels around the world, and you can even combine cash and point redemption to stretch your Starpoints as far as possible.
- The annual fee is just $65, which is fairly low for a travel rewards credit card these days.
As with any rewards credit card, there are downsides, and in this case the Starwood Preferred Guest card has two really big ones.
- Who wants a travel rewards credit card that still has foreign transaction fees? Come on Amex! That's a deal breaker for a lot of travelers.
- The SPG card doesn't offer any bonus categories on spending, which means you will only earn one point per dollar spent on everything outside of a Starwood hotel.
The bottom line is this card should be in your wallet if you're loyal to the SPG network of hotels and stay in them often. This card is meant for you, and you'll be able to pool points faster within your SPG account and redeem them for some fabulous vacations. However, if you aren't loyal to SPG hotels, I think there are better travel rewards credit card options out there. If you don't know where to begin your search, start by taking a closer look at the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, which is currently offering a 40,000 point sign-up bonus after spending $3,000 during the first 3 months.
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