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starwood preferred guest spg credit card review
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Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Credit Card Review

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By: Caroline Lupini

The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express has long been a favorite amongst travelers. But with the Starwood and Marriott merger, is it still worth your time?

The Marriott rewards program brought over much of the good of the classic SPG program, like its broad range of transfer partners and transfer bonus. And thankfully, the SPG credit card was also updated with new features and benefits after the merger as well. Though, it’s definitely not all rainbows and unicorns.

In this article, we’ll run through the new SPG credit card’s features, enhancements, and discuss whether or not the card deserves a place in your wallet.

Let’s get started!

Welcome Bonus

The Starwood Preferred Guest Amex credit card currently has a 75,000 Marriott point welcome bonus after spending at least $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of card membership.

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Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG)® Luxury Card Review

Disclosure: This post may contain references to products from our advertisers. We may receive compensation from products we link to. We appreciate your support. You can read our advertising disclosure here.

By:  Caroline Lupini

The Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG)® Luxury Card from American Express launched in August 2018, after the new Marriott Rewards program replaced the SPG, Marriott Rewards, and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards loyalty programs as part of the Marriott-Starwood merger.

While the card doesn’t have a particularly impressive earn rate for everyday spend, it comes with some unique benefits that could be valuable for frequent Marriott hotel guests.

Let’s take a look at what you need to know about the SPG Luxury Card.

Starwood Preferred Guest - spg - luxury credit card review - Benefit - Complimentary Marriott Gold Elite Status

Opening the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Luxury Card from American Express will give you automatic Gold Elite status in the Marriott Rewards program – normally you’d have to spend 25 nights at Marriott hotels to reach that level.

Welcome Bonus

The SPG Luxury Card offers 75,000 Marriott Rewards points when you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months of holding the card.

 

Bonus Categories

The SPG Luxury card has the following bonus categories:

  • 6X at Marriott hotels (including former Starwood brands and Ritz-Carlton)
  • 3X at U.S. restaurants
  • 3X on flights booked directly with airlines
  • 2X on all other purchases

There is no limit on the number of bonus points you can earn in these categories.

Benefits of the SPG Luxury Card

The SPG Luxury Card doesn’t have particularly compelling bonus categories – but what makes it interesting are the extra benefits it offers. Here are a few of the perks that you get in exchange for the $450 annual fee:

  • $300 Annual Marriott Statement Credit

Every card member year you’ll receive a statement credit for the first $300 you spend at Marriott properties worldwide, including room charges and anything billed to your room. That means if you were planning to stay at a Marriott hotel anyway, this is a cool $300 back in your pocket. This benefit follows your account year, so you have 12 months to use the credit from when you open the card, and the limit will reset every year on your account anniversary.

SPG Luxury Card | Benefit | $300 Annual Marriott Statement Credit

Every cardmember year you’ll receive a statement credit for the first $300 you spend at Marriott properties worldwide, including room charges and anything billed to your room.

  • Annual Free Night Award (Up to 50,000 Points)

Every year, after your account anniversary, you’ll receive a free night certificate valid at properties that cost up to 50,000 points per night. (This kicks in after you’ve held the card for a year – you won’t receive a free night certificate when you open the card.)

By the time you’ve had the card for a year, Marriott will probably have rolled out their new rewards chart, so your free night certificate will work at category 1-7 properties during off-peak dates, and category 1-5 properties during peak dates.

Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 monthsLearn More

 

  • Complimentary Marriott Gold Elite Status

Opening the card will give you automatic Gold Elite status in the Marriott Rewards program – normally you’d have to spend 25 nights at Marriott hotels to reach that level. Gold status gives you a 25% bonus on points earned from Marriott stays, 2:00 pm late checkout (based on availability), room upgrades, 250-500 bonus points per stay and free enhanced in-room internet access.

  • 15 Bonus Elite Nights

If you’re working on earning Marriott Elite Status, the SPG Luxury Card will give you a jump-start by crediting your account with 15 elite nights every calendar year starting in 2019.

You can receive a maximum of 15 bonus elite nights per Marriott Rewards account, regardless of how many Marriott or SPG credit cards you have.

  • Platinum Elite Status After Spending $75,000

While we don’t necessarily recommend putting this much spend on the SPG Luxury Card (other cards will earn you more points), if you spend $75,000 on this card in a single calendar year, you’ll receive Platinum Elite status with Marriott.

Platinum Elite gives you access to hotel lounges at participating Marriott brands, an exclusive welcome gift at check-in (points, breakfast vouchers or a welcome amenity), 50% bonus points on stays and enhanced room upgrades (including Select Suites).

  • Priority Pass Select Membership

Like pretty much every other high-end travel credit card out there, the SPG Luxury Card comes with a Priority Pass Select membership, which gives you and up to two guests access to more than 1,000 airport lounges (and restaurants) around the world.

Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) |Luxury Credit Card Review | Benefit | Priority Pass Select Membership

SPG Luxury Card comes with a Priority Pass Select membership, which gives you and up to two guests access to more than 1,000 airport lounges (and restaurants) around the world.

  • Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check Statement Credit

If you, or someone you know, don’t have Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check, you’ll get a statement credit for $100 or $85, respectively, when you pay the application fee for either program using the SPG Luxury Card. You can use this benefit once every four years.

  • Roadside Assistance

If you find yourself stranded in the U.S. or Canada – even in your own driveway – being an SPG Luxury Card holder means American Express will cover the cost for emergency services like replacing a flat tire, towing your car up to 10 miles, jump-starting the battery, retrieving your key from inside the car and delivering up to 2 gallons of fuel up to 4 times per year. However, note that the terms for this service exclude rental vehicles.

SPG Luxury Credit Card | Benefits | Roadside Assistance

Being an SPG Luxury Card holder means American Express will cover the cost for emergency services like replacing a flat tire, towing your car up to 10 miles, jump-starting the battery, retrieving your key from inside the car and delivering up to 2 gallons of fuel up to 4 times per year.

  • Extended Warranty, Purchase Protection and Return Protection

If you use the SPG Luxury Card to purchase something, American Express will add up to two years to the manufacturer’s warranty (if it’s five years or less), reimburse you for purchases you’re unable to return within 120 days (up to $300 per purchase and $1,000 per year) and reimburse you for lost, stolen, or damaged items (up to $10,000 per incident and $50,000 per year).

SPG Luxury Credit Card | Benefit | Extended Warranty, Purchase Protection and Return Protection

If you use the SPG Luxury Card to purchase something, American Express will add up to two years to the manufacturer’s warranty.

How to Use Marriott Rewards Points

Marriott Rewards points can be used to book nights at any of the 29 brands in the combined Marriott, Starwood and Ritz-Carlton portfolios – over 6,800 hotels in 150 countries!

Here’s what the Marriott award chart looks like. Note that prices will increase in 2019 for peak dates and top-tier properties, so if you know your travel plans for 2019, it’s best to book now – if prices later drop for your dates, you can usually change to the lower rate without penalty (but check the change/cancellation policy before booking just to be sure).

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The real sweet spot with Marriott Rewards points is the ability to transfer points to over 40 airline partners, including many airlines that don’t have other transfer partners like Alaska, American, Japan Airlines, and Lufthansa.

Almost all airlines receive points at a 3:1 ratio (3 Marriott Rewards points = 1 airline mile), and for every 60,000 points you’ll receive a 5,000-mile bonus – so, 60,000 points = 25,000 miles.

Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express Earn 75,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months. Terms apply.(Learn more)

 

Is the SPG Luxury Card Right for You?

One important factor in deciding whether to apply for this card is making sure you can get the welcome bonus. As with most American Express bonuses, you aren’t eligible to get a welcome bonus if you’ve held this card before. Given that this card didn’t exist before August 2018, that’s unlikely to be a problem.

However, because Marriott offers credit cards with both American Express and Chase, there are also restrictions based on credit cards you’ve opened with Chase. You will not be eligible for the welcome bonus if any of the following apply:

  • You currently have the Chase Ritz-Carlton Rewards card or have had it open within the past 30 days
  • You opened a Chase Marriott Rewards Premier, Premier Plus or Premier Plus Business card in the past 90 days
  • You received a welcome bonus or upgrade offer for a Chase Marriott Rewards Premier, Premier Plus or Premier Plus Business card in the past 24 months

Final Thoughts

The SPG Luxury Card may be a good fit for frequent Marriott guests who can make good use of the $300 annual statement credit, or for heavy spenders who want to shoot for the free Platinum Elite status with $75,000 in purchases.

You may also want to consider the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from Amex Personal and Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from Amex, which both have a $95 annual fee (waived for the first year) and include a free night (up to 35,000 points).


Editor’s Note: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

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Reader Success Story: A $17,000 Adventure to the South Africa Using Points and Miles

Disclosure: This post may contain references to products from our advertisers. We may receive compensation from products we link to. We appreciate your support. You can read our advertising disclosure here.

By: 10xT Reader Alycia Moore

A $17,000 Adventure to the South Africa (with a stop in the Netherlands) using points and miles.

Every May, my boyfriend and I take a trip abroad to celebrate our anniversary. We’ve traveled to Vancouver, taken a road trip across Europe and explored Denmark. This year, we took it to a new level and visited South Africa.

The one thing that differed this year from past years is we did it for insanely cheap. We paid only $1,700 for a trip that could have cost over $17,000!

How? Points and miles, of course!

I’ve spent the last year learning about points and how to best utilize credit cards to travel. We had gotten spoiled when my boyfriend worked for an airline and had flown First Class many times together. Once he quit his job – we were back to paying for flights in an economy (boo!!) and then I found travel hacking.

Here’s a recap of our amazing trip

South Africa using points and miles | Itinerary, Expenses and Miles and Points Used

“The one thing that differed this year from past years is we did it for insanely cheap. We paid only $1,700 for a trip that could have cost over $17,000! How? Points and miles, of course!” – Alycia Moore

We had very specific dates we could travel as I’m a wedding photographer and I needed to return to the states to shoot a wedding.

For the first leg, we booked economy tickets on United from San Francisco (SFO) to Amsterdam (AMS) for about $400 each.

From there, we used 220,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to fly round-trip from Amsterdam to Cape Town (CPT) — about a 12-hour flight. We transferred our Ultimate Rewards points to Korean Air SkyPass to book KLM business class.

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Trip to Maldives using points and miles
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Reader Success Story: A First-Class Trip to the Maldives Using Points/Miles

Disclosure: This post may contain references to products from our advertisers. We may receive compensation from products we link to. We appreciate your support. You can read our advertising disclosure here.

This is a guest post by 10xT Reader Jeff Koss. For more examples of readers using points/miles to take amazing trips to check out our 10xT Insiders Facebook Group.

I just finished my first class trip to the Maldives including a long flight in Etihad’s Apartments from Abu Dhabi (AUH) to New York (JFK) — only 4 of the 9 Apartments were occupied.

I selected seat 1H directly across from the Residence. Someone with a ton of cash to burn had booked it but canceled so the butler gave me a tour — you’re not allowed to take pictures so all I have are the memories.

trip to Maldives using points and miles

10xT Reader Jeff used miles to fly the Apartments en route to the Maldives

Trip to Maldives using points and miles

Seat 1H on the Etihad Apartments

It took me roughly 3 years to finally find a seat on dates I could travel and book this trip of a lifetime. Needless to say, I had high expectations and Etihad delivered! The Bordeaux wine and the food were ridiculously good.

Trip to Maldives using points and miles

Needless to say, I had high expectations and Etihad delivered! The Bordeaux wine and the food were ridiculously good.

Etihad Apartments | Trip to Maldives using points and miles

The total cost of these flights would have been $22,831. I paid $117.41 and 221,500 AA miles.

Here’s how I did it!

Trip to Maldives using points and miles

All in, I spent a little over $2,200 on flights and hotels for a round-trip first-class trip across the world. Compared to the $25,000+ that it would have cost without points, I couldn’t be happier.

Earning American AAdvantage Miles

I earned 180,000 American miles thanks to welcome bonuses from 3 cards: Barclays Red Aviator, Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select, and CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select. After putting some spend on each of them I ended up with 190K American miles.

Searching tips: Forget trying to search an outbound flight on Etihad from the U.S. I spent WAAAAY too much time. Thanks to Spencer & Travis, I was told to search from AUH or MLE – JFK.

(Check out some of the other best ways to fly to the Maldives using points and miles here)

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