Many business travelers have given up the game of earning frequent flyer miles and other loyalty points. Too often, these programs are riddled with rules, restrictions, blackouts, and capacity controls. It may be easy to earn points and miles, but redeeming them for valuable rewards is so difficult that many prefer to earn cash back rewards instead.
But before you do that, you need to learn about the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express (a Money Crashers partner). It’s one of the few cards left that combine truly unlimited award availability, amazing points transfer options, and exceptional customer service.
- Sign-up Bonus. The current sign-up bonus is for up to 25,000 total points: 10,000 points after your first purchase, plus an additional 15,000 if you spend $5,000 in 6 months. This is enough for up to six free nights at a Category 1 or 2 hotel.
- Earn Points with Starwood Preferred Guest. For each dollar you spend, you will earn a single point in Starwood’s Preferred Guest program. Using this card at a Starwood hotel earns two points. Starwood hotels include Westin, Sheraton, and several other brands.
- Multiple Redemption Options. Points can be redeemed for stays at over 1,000 hotels and resorts without any blackout dates or capacity restrictions.Points can also be transferred to miles in the programs of 29 different airlines.
- Point Redemption Bonuses. When redeeming points for four nights at the same hotel, your fifth night is free. Also, transferring 20,000 points to airline miles results in a 5,000 point bonus.
- Other Starwood Benefits. Cardholders receive their third night free at Sheraton hotels and five additional stay credits towards elite status in their program.
- Annual Fee. This card has a $65 annual fee that is waived the first year.
- Foreign Transaction Fees. The Starwood business card has a 2.7% fee on all charges processed outside the United States – standard on most American Express cards.
- Incredible Flexibility. Whether you decide to use your points for free hotel stays or to transfer to airline miles, you don’t have to worry about this as you use your card. Earn your points with the knowledge that you can use them for the best redemption option available when the time comes.
- Great Hotel Stay Options. You can stay for free at any hotel room they have available. Other programs make claims like “no blackout dates,” while deviously employing capacity controls to achieve the same result. Another trick that other programs use to claim that all rooms are available is to vastly increase the points needed during peak periods. Starwood’s program, however, employs none of these tricks, making it almost too good to be true.
- Starwood Customer Service. Starwood stands apart from every other travel company I have ever encountered. They respond to questions and complaints immediately with a generous resolution.
- American Express Card Features. Like all American Express cards, this one comes with numerous purchase protection and travel insurance benefits.
- Bonus Points. If you achieve the maximum 25,000 sign-up bonus points available, they will be worth quite a bit more than 25,000 airline miles. With the 5,000 point bonus for transferring 20,000 points to miles, you can actually receive 30,000 miles. When redeemed for a hotel stay, you could stay two nights in a luxury resort that would be worth far more than most domestic airline tickets.
- American Express Less Accepted Than Visa or MasterCard. If you have this card, you will almost certainly need to carry another card as a backup for merchants that don’t take Amex.
- Fewer Hotel Options. Westin, Sheraton, and the other properties in the Starwood group are great places to stay, but you will not find as many of them as you do in other major hotel chains.
- Foreign Transaction Fees. For a great card aimed at international business travelers, it is amazing that American Express still charges a terrible 2.7% foreign transaction fee. Starpoints are a very valuable reward, but it is still rarely worth paying such a fee every time you leave the country.
- Non-Competitive Interest Rate. This is a fantastic card, but it is still a rewards card. All of these benefits come at the expense of a higher interest rate. Like any rewards card, you should never use it to carry a balance. Carrying a balance is always a bad idea, but if you have no alternative, be sure to look for low APR credit cards.
If I could only have one credit card, it would be this card or the American Express Starwood Card for consumers. This card is immensely popular among business travelers as well as those who collect points and miles just to travel for free. Once you consider all of the card’s benefits, the exceptional customer service of Starwood, and the standard features of any American Express card, it is easy to see why.
Do you use the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express for your business? What are some of your favorite benefits and rewards?