For years, the Starwood Preferred Guest credit card from American Express has been held in the highest regard by those in the elite ranks of the road warrior community. It has won the Freddie Award for the Best Affinity Credit Card for three years in a row and it is recommended by all the top loyalty travel writers on the Internet. Once you understand how the Starwood credit card works, it is easy to see why this card is so special.

Overview of the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express

Unlike other American Express credit cards that let you earn points in the Membership Rewards program, with the Starwood Preferred Guest Card you earn at least one StarPoint for every dollar spent.  Purchases made at Starwood hotels earn double points in addition to the points you would normally earn for your stay.  All together, this can total 5 Starpoints for every dollar spent.

There are many unique features to Starwood’s rewards program that make it stand out from those offered by other hotel chains. First, Starwood points can be redeemed for any room available at any time. There are no blackout dates or capacity restrictions.

Award rooms start at 3,000-7,000 StarPoints at lower end hotels like Sheratons and 7,000-14,000 per night at their higher end properties such as the Westin. At Sheraton hotels, the rewards are even greater. If you book two nights at a participating hotel with your Starwood credit card, you can get the third night free.

StarPoints can also be redeemed for flights on over 350 different airlines with no blackout dates or transferred to more than 30 frequent flyer programs. Plus, if you transfer 20,000 StarPoints to a frequent flyer program, you receive an additional bonus of 5,000 StarPoints. Because of this perk, you can often earn more airline miles per dollar spent with the Starwood card than you can with run of the mill airline credit cards.

The Starwood credit card does have an annual fee of $65 which is waived your first year. However, this fee is nicely offset by the 25,000 StarPoints you receive as a sign up bonus.  You can review rate, fee, and bonus information in the table below.

Is the Starwood Credit Card Right for You

The American Express Starwood Preferred Guest credit card is a top notch offering for loyal Starwood hotel guests as well as for travelers who belong to many different frequent flier programs. Because it is easy to use StarPoints to top off your various airline accounts when you are very close to the mileage you need for an award, it is especially useful for people who have miles scattered around multiple frequent flyer programs.

Ultimately, however, the Starwood credit card is best for consumers who are loyal to the Starwood brand. While rewards are flexible, there really is no reason to carry this card if you only occasionally stay at their hotels. Thus, if you fall into the Starwood traveler category, a general travel card like the Capital One Venture Card may be a better fit for you.  Lastly, because this card does not offer 0% introductory rates, a card that provides 0% APR balance transfers is likely a better fit for anyone currently carrying credit card debt.

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