One of my first rewards credit cards was the SPG American Express credit card. I stayed at Starwood hotels quite a bit, it offered tremendous value at the time and was very well recommended. Since then, a lot has changed in the world of travel rewards credit cards and the competition is tough. Read my recommendations, whether it makes sense for you to apply or not!
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American Express now offers a host of rewards credit cards, but the SPG AmEx is still very popular. Here is a summary of what it offers:
- Sign-up bonus of 25,000 points, worth about $500, after spending $3,000 in three months – that’s an ok, but regularly offered bonus.
- Earn Points for Spend
You earn 2 points per US$ spent at Starwood Hotels and 1p/$ on everything else – that’s a decent earn rate of 2-4ct/$, but there are cards with higher earn rates out there.
- Premium Internet at Starwood Hotels; free internet at Boingo Hot Spots
- SPG Rewards: 5 nights % 2 stays credit towards status
- Basic travel and shopping protection
- $95 annual fee (waived first year), no foreign exchange fee, EMV chip
While the sign-up bonus of 25,000 points doesn’t sound great, the high value of SPG points of 2 cents/point makes it worth $500. That’s better than the AmEx Hilton or Hilton Surpass cards, but still a lot less than the Citibank Prestige or Citi AAdvantage cards. The sign-up bonus will get you up to 12 free weekend nights at Category 1 hotels, that’s a lot!
The regular earn rate of 2-4ct/$ is actually still very good. While the Citibank cards exceed that for the bonus categories, for general spend this is still very good!
Thankfully, American Express has removed the foreign exchange fee from the card to better compete – any travel card should be without a foreign exchange fee or the fees will outweigh any points earned for foreign spend! There is also an EMV chip for added security!
While the SPG AmEx card doesn’t get you status in the SPG program (like the Hilton AmEx Surpass card does), it does give you 5 nights and 2 stays credit towards status every year. For me, that’s not a competitive benefit anymore when most cards give you the lower or medium status tier outright!
The annual fee of $95 is waived in the first year and comparable to the Chase Sapphire Preferred, the Citibank Permier or Citibank AAdvantage Platinum card. But there is no annual benefit, like on the IHG Rewards MasterCard to offset the fee, something that makes it easier to justify getting and holding an additional card!
Conclusion: The SPG American Express card used to be one of the most recommended card and the SPG Rewards program is still a favorite of many frequent travelers. I think that both the program (my review here) and the card have fallen behind the times and other cards eclipse it today. If you are a frequent guest at Starwood hotels and a fan of the program already, it makes sense to add the card – it’s a solid rewards card. If you are not staying at the hotels frequently, I’d recommend the Citibank Prestige card as a general travel card and the IHG Rewards MasterCard as a back-up hotel rewards card instead!