Update: Offer expired!
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Originally posted on 3/2:
Through 3/28 only, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express is offering 35K points for spending $7K within 3 months.
This limited time offer has a welcome offer that is 40% richer than the standard offer! After completing the $7K in spend you’ll have at least 42K Starpoints. That’s equal to 126K Marriott points!
The $95 annual fee is waived for the first year with this offer.
The terms state that if you have had the Starwood business card before you will not get the bonus for the business card again.
The Starwood and Marriott programs are merging next year and with the new program will come new credit cards. This may be the last chance to get an increased signup bonus for the Starwood business card.
Spending on the Starwood card:
The Starwood card remains an excellent card for general spending.
While there are other cards with better bonus categories, the Starwood card is strong for general spending as Starpoints continue to be the most valuable mileage currency thanks to excellent uses at hotels and the 25% bonus for transfers into dozens of airlines.
It’s even stronger than it used to be thanks to the Marriott merger and the ability to transfer 1 Starpoint into 3 Marriott points. I’ll write more about those options in a future post.
There are no foreign transaction fees on the Starwood card.
Starwood also allows members at the same address to transfer points between their accounts for free. Best of all making a transfer like that extends the life of your points by another 18 months.
There are thousands of uses for Starpoints, some of which have been over 50 cents each for me at hotels, but I aim for a minimum value of about 2.2 cents per point and am happy when I’m able to exceed that level. It’s not hard to reach a value of that level at hotels and you can transfer 20K miles into 25K valuable miles from airlines like Aegean, Alaska, American, and dozens of other programs. If you are able to obtain a value of 1.75 cents from those airlines then that imputes a 2.2 cent value for Starpoints as well. The miles won’t sell on the grey market for that price, but miles are always more valuable when you use them yourself for travel.
The Starwood card earns 2 Starpoints per dollar at Starwood hotels, or a 4.4% rebate at a value of 2.2 cents per Starpoint. It also earns double points on SPG hotel bedding and when you buy Starpoints. It earns 1 Starpoint per dollar everywhere else, or a 2.2% rebate at a value of 2.2 cents per Starpoint.
American Express benefits and the annual fee:
There’s $95 annual fee is waived for the first year. Aside from the valuable points you’ll earn from signing up and spending you’ll also have access to awesome AMEX benefits:
The card also carries American Express’ awesome top-notch protections that are light-years better than any other banks. Most other banks always look for a way to get out, but that’s not the case with American Express.
-If you need to return an item up to $300 and a store won’t take it back due to a time limited or final sale policy, AMEX will gladly refund you thanks to return protection. The vast majority of the time you’ll even be able to keep the item, but if you do need to send it back the return shipping will be free. That’s a far more generous policy than any other bank offers. This benefit is valid for $1,000 of returns per card per calendar year.
–If a store charged a restocking fee to return an item then AMEX will cover it, up to $300/item, as part of their return protection coverage.
-You get an additional year of warranty coverage and if you have any issue in the extended warranty year they’ll pay to have it fixed or refund your entire purchase price without a hassle. This benefit is far more valuable than warranty benefits offered by other banks.
-If you need to dispute a charge there’s nobody who makes it easier or as pain-free as American Express does. It’s the easiest dispute resolution process in the industry by leaps and bounds and you can do it all online.
-If your item is stolen or broken within 90 days you’ll be covered.
You can pay your federal taxes for a 1.87% fee. The Starpoints are worth more than 1.87 cents each, so putting your taxes on your card is a no-brainer if you’re trying to meet a spend threshold to earn the signup bonus points.
If you overpay your taxes you can request a refund or apply it to your next year’s taxes.
My local gas company allows me to prepay up to $1,000 on a credit card for a $1.65 flat fee. That’s a great way to earn miles and help meet a spend threshold. My electricity supplier allows me to pay with a credit card for free as long as I am enrolled in autopay. I used to prepay 5 months of rent on a my credit card (it’s easier in Cleveland where that’s just $800/month) for a $19 flat fee. You’d be surprised to see what you can charge to your credit card!
Sheraton Club Lounge Access:
The Starwood business card gives free club lounge access when staying at Sheraton hotels.
There have been rave reviews of the Sheraton Club lounge in Tel Aviv for example. If you have a Starwood business card you’ll get free access to it and its free food, beverages, and sweeping view of the Mediterranean Sea.
Premium Internet Access:
With either Starwood card you now get free premium in-room internet at Starwood hotels. All SPG guests get free internet, but cardholders will now get the faster version for free.
Unlimited worldwide Boingo WiFi:
With either Starwood card you now get free unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi worldwide, perfect for avoiding confiscatory rates at airports when traveling. Search from over 1 million hot-spots here.
Business vs Consumer card:
In addition to the Starwood business card offering Sheraton Lounge access, the business card also offers Starpoints plus Open Savings rebates on purchases from Fedex, HP, Hertz, and more.
AMEX business cards don’t appear on your credit report. That’s good for several reasons.
First of all they won’t count against your 5/24 count for opening new Chase cards. Only cards on your report that have been opened within the past 24 months count for that.
Second, when you spend money on personal cards your credit score will be hurt even if you pay your bill on time. A whopping 30% of your credit score is based on credit utilization. You can pay off your card bill before your statement is generated to avoid that, but that takes effort and laying out money well before you have to. Additionally it’s good to have the statement close with a couple dollars to show the card is active and being paid every month. On an AMEX business card it’s just not reported, so you can wait until the money is due without it having a negative effect on your score.
Third, if you close a business card it won’t ever have an effect on your score.
You may already have a business that needs a card to keep track of expenses. For example if your name is Joe Smith and you sell items online, or if you have any other side business and want a credit card to better keep track of business expenditures you can open a business credit card for “Joe Smith Sole Proprietorship” as the business. You don’t need to file any messy government paperwork to be allowed to do that.
Just be sure to select “Sole Proprietorship” as the business type and just use your social security number in the Tax Identification Number field
Elite Status and Crossover benefits with Delta and Uber:
Just by having a Starwood card you earn Preferred Plus status. This status earns you the right to checkout at 4pm at Starwood hotels and get upgraded to preferred rooms.
If you spend $30,000 in a year on either Starwood card you earn Gold status. Gold status gets you more points per dollar spent at SPG hotels and a 250 point amenity on stays, even when redeeming points.
When you have the Starwood card you also get 5 elite qualifying nights and 2 stays for each Starwood card that you have that count towards earning Gold or Platinum status!
Starwood Gold and Platinum elites can also register here to earn Starpoints on Delta flights on top of the regular Delta miles in addition to other benefits while Delta elites can get benefits at SPG hotels.
Where do you like using your Starpoints? Hit the comments!