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The Starwood card is still my favorite and go-to card for general spending, with an edge over the Chase Sapphire Preferred for general spending benefits if you are spending in the US.
Starwood’s usual signup offer has always been 10,000 bonus points for spending $1 and 15,000 bonus points after spending $15,000 within 6 months.
Now you only need to spend $5,000 within 6 months (just $833 per month) to get the bonus 15,000 points.
So spend $5,000 and you’ll have 10,000 points from the first purchase, 15,000 bonus points for spending $5,000, and 5,000 points for the base spending for a total of 30,000 Starpoints!
If you’re looking for other cards to apply for simultaneously just look at this forum thread for other great options.
There’s no fee on the Starwood card for the first year and $65 thereafter though you can often get bonus points or account credits for keeping it open for additional years. You can always cancel any American Express card within 60 days of being charged the fee on your statement and you will receive a full refund of the fee. If you cancel after 60 days you get a pro-rated refund based on how many months you had the card.
As points are deposited into your Starwood account you do not lose your points if you cancel your card like with American Express Membership Rewards points. You do need to maintain some activity in your Starwood account every 12 months though to keep it active.
Starwood’s cash and points chart make expensive hotel stays dirt cheap. I’ve stayed in $190/night hotels for just $30 and 1,600 Starpoints and gotten upgraded to amazing suites. Even without the suite that makes each Starpoint worth 10 cents each.
When you redeem points for a hotel stay when using just points you also get the 5th night for free! Plus there are no blackout dates or capacity controls on standard rooms starting at 2,000 points per night.
Of you can transfer your Starpoints into miles with dozens of airlines at great ratios. 20,000 Starpoints becomes 25,000 miles on most of those airlines. 20,000 Starpoints becomes a whopping 50,000 kilometers on LAN, a South American OneWorld carrier. LAN is partners with AA and will book you a ticket say from New York to Montreal or Toronto for just 16,000 kilometers. Or they can book you on BA from London to Paris for just 12,000 Starpoints. Fly on LAN from the US to Brazil for just 48,000 kilomoters. Plus LAN never charges any fuel surcharges!
The Starwood card is much better than other cards (Like HAS advantage) for going to Israel. With HAS you are stuck with just the availability on El Al. Plus El Al charges hundreds of dollars in fuel surcharges on award tickets.
With Starwood you have thousands of routing possibilities for free flights to Israel for less points than with HAS. And even if you want to only go to Israel on El Al you can just transfer Starwood points to AA and they will book you on El Al without any fuel surcharges!!!
There are also often bonus miles promotions for even more miles when you transfer points to airlines. In the past bonuses for transferring have ranged from 25% to a whopping 312% for transfers to Air Canada, AA, Delta, and USAirways.
Starwood Nights and flights option makes 5 night stays even cheaper when you transfer Starpoints to miles at the same time as when you book the stay.
When you have the Starwood card you also get other benefits like 3rd night free at Sheraton and 2/5 elite qualifying stays and nights for each card you have.
Plus the card comes with amazing return, purchase and warranty protections that are worth their weight in gold. And of course, American Express’ top-notch dispute/chargeback resolution.
Curious about the other 29 Starwood transfer options and ratios? Here they are! With so may different airlines to transfer to it’s just a matter of figuring out which one has the lowest rates to where you want to go. I’ve separated them by alliance so you can know which airlines are partners and will therefore let you book award travel on partner airlines. Of course airlines also have lots non-alliance partners, but by definition they are partners with all airlines in the same alliance.
AA: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
British Airways: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
JAL/Japan Airways: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
LAN: 20,000 Starpoints=50,000 kms
Mexicana: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Air France/KLM Flying Blue: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Alitalia: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Delta: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Air Canada: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Air China: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Air New Zealand: 20,000 Starpoints=385 points
ANA/All Nippon: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Asiana: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Continental: 20,000 Starpoints=12,500 miles
Lufthansa Miles & More: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Singapore: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Thai: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
United: 20,000 Starpoints=12,500 miles
USAirways: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Air Berlin (Expected to join Oneworld in 2012): 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Alaska (Partners with many various airlines): 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Emirates: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Hawaiian: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Kingfisher (Expected to join Oneworld later this year): 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Qatar: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Saudi Arabian: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles
Varig: 20,000 Starpoints=12,500 miles
Virgin Atlantic: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles