It’s the weekend, which means you are about to get bombarded with emails, tweets, and all manner of status updates about the 30,000 point Starwood Preferred Guest American Express card sign-up bonus ending on September 14. So is the hype justified? Is this the greatest credit card offer in the world? Should we administer public lashings to anyone who doesn’t have one of these cards and strip them of their citizenship? In my unbiased opinion (i.e. I don’t have any affiliate links to insert into this post), it’s absolutely worth getting the 30,000 point Starwood Preferred Guest American Express card if you don’t already have it. Here are five reason you should jump on the 30,000 point offer before it’s gone:
1. This Is as High as the Sign-up Bonus Gets
While 30,000 points is pretty measly for any other credit card, this is as high as the sign-up bonus gets for SPG branded credit cards. American Express credit card sign-up bonuses can’t be earned more than once, so if you’re going to get a Starwood credit card at some point, you should get the highest card offer possible. There are limited ways of earning Starpoints other than hotel stays, rental cars bookings, and the two co-branded SPG credit cards, so those 30,000 points are nothing to scoff at.
2. 30,000 Starwood Points Can Go a Long Way
A lot of people (not earning a referral commission) scoff at 30,000 Starpoints, insisting it’s nothing to get excited about. However, when you consider it within the context of the Starwood Preferred Guest award chart and other redemption options, it actually goes a long way. Starwood’s award redemptions range from 2,000 – 35,000 points per night, though there are properties with limited participation in the program, like the W Retreat & Spa Maldives, which require nearly double that amount. Considering the current sign-up bonus for this card gets you upwards of 15 free nights at a Category 1 hotel, that’s still pretty generous. Even if you opt for a top-tier Category 7 award, you’ve got one free night, which you can extend with a Cash & Points stay. Regardless of how you utilize your points, you’ve got flexibility thanks to Starwood’s reasonable award chart and the fact that the credit card sign-up bonus comes in the form of points rather than a specific number of nights.
3. New Card Benefits
The foreign transaction fee has long been a huge negative of the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express credit cards. However, that fee has recently been eliminated, which means you are free to use your credit card abroad without incurring an extra 3% in foreign transaction fees. In addition to this change, both versions of the card get you free premium wireless internet at participating hotels as well as unlimited Boingo wifi access. SPG Business credit cardholders get the added benefit of club lounge access at Sheraton hotels. If SPG branded credit cards weren’t that attractive before, the new list of benefits definitely makes them more appealing.
Along with the new benefits comes a higher $95 annual fee for both cards, but that fee is waived the first year so you don’t lose anything by getting the card and then axing it after year one. That being said, I would choose the Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card over the personal version, since the same $95 annual fee gets you all of the same benefits plus Sheraton club lounge access. The business version of the card gets you access to OPEN Savings, which includes a 5% discount at Hyatt hotels. I don’t know about you, but along with Amex Offers, this benefit is why I’ll be holding onto the business card long term.
4. Lower Spending Requirements
The spending requirements on the Starwood Preferred Guest personal credit card has become much more manageable for the average person: $3,000 within the first three months of account opening. Previously, cardholders would earn 10,000 points after first spend and then another 15,000 after $5,000 was spent within 6 months. While the amount of spend you’ll have to complete on a monthly basis has actually increased since you’re being given less time to complete it, that’s still an extra $2,000 worth of spending that you can channel towards another credit card. Meanwhile, the spending requirement for the SPG business card is set at $5,000 within 3 months – a manageable amount if you factor in a bit of creative spending.
5. Extra Points Through Refer-a-Friend
Once you’ve banked the 30,000 point sign-up bonus, you can generate an extra 55,000 Starwood points every calendar year for referring friends who in turn sign up and are approved for the card. This isn’t a perk exclusive to the 30,000 point offer, but it’s worth considering in general if you’re looking for reasons to pick up the SPG branded credit card and especially if you’re worried about how to keep earning points past the credit card sign-up bonus. Speaking of which, if you need a referral, let me know. 😉
That’s my unbiased defense of the 30k Starwood Preferred Guest American Express sign-up bonus. It’s not the greatest credit card offer in the world, but with limited options for earning SPG points, we can’t expect mega sign-up bonuses or turn our noses down at the only two credit cards that allow us to earn this particular currency. If you want to take advantage of the increased 30,000 point offer on the SPG credit cards, be sure to apply and get your approval by September 14, 2015.
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