Years before I became a full-time traveler and learned to use travel hacking to pay my way around the world, I had only a couple of credit cards. One of those cards was the Starwood Preferred Guest by American Express, and I used it religiously. Years later, I have many other cards, but I continue to use this one every day.
The card just made a big update to make it easier for people to earn the initial signup bonus of 25,000 points. You used to earn some of the points upon signup and the rest after completing a minimum spend. Now, you’ll earn the entire bonus upon spending $3,000 in the first three months of having the card.
What, Only 25,000 Points?
This card doesn’t have the greatest signup bonus, so sometimes people ask why I still think it’s a great deal for lots of folks. The best thing about this card isn’t the signup bonus, but rather the long-term earning potential. Simply put, you can earn more miles and points for the program of your choice just by putting spend on this card instead of others.
Great Ways to Use This Card
- For stays at Starwood hotels, especially using the “cash and points” option when it’s available, where you can make a co-payment of—wait for it—cash and points to pay for your room. This often ends up being much, much cheaper than paying for rooms outright, and you’ll save points as well
- By transferring to the airline program of your choice, because as mentioned above, you’ll earn a 20% bonus when doing so. Most points transfers are 1:1, so if you transfer 20,000 points, you’ll receive 20,000 base miles, and then 5,000 mile bonus. Note that United is an exception, with a much poorer 2:1 ratio. I don’t recommend transferring SPG points to United
- As a long-term savings fund for future trips. It’s almost never good to “hoard” your miles and points, since their value ultimately goes down over time. However, Starwood points are one of the best options to keep large balances, because they can be transferred to so many different partners. If one program devalues, you can always transfer them elsewhere.
- For help with earning Starwood elite status each year. Just having the card gives you two stays and four nights per year toward status. If you get the Business version as well, you can earn another signup bonus and another two stays and four nights each year. This makes it much easier to qualify or requalify for status, which in turn helps you with nice benefits including free breakfast, free internet, upgraded rooms, and late check-out.
As I said, this is a great card that I use every day along with my Chase Sapphire Preferred. If you haven’t got it yet because of the relatively low signup bonus, it’s definitely worth a look.
Disclosure: Some of the links on our partner site Cards for Travel pay a referral bonus to us. We always promote the best available offers, regardless of benefit. Always be responsible with credit and don’t apply for cards you can’t use well.