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Not Using AmEx Starwood? 10 Reasons You’re Losing Money

82 Responses to “Not Using AmEx Starwood? 10 Reasons You’re Losing Money”

  1. Shirley Antoine says:

    Thanks, appreciate the information.

  2. Josh says:

    I have a Starwoods card and love it! Thanks for the write up Brad!

  3. [...] is a reminder that if you have a Starwood American Express Card and have a decent amount of points, you may want to transfer them today.  The Starpoints Transfer [...]

  4. [...] that Brad’s Deals claims you can get 40,000 points per card but nowhere on the links he provides does it appear to me [...]

    • Mike says:

      I signed up back in January and have charged over $15K in less than six months and did not receive the 15,000 point bonus. SPG referred me to AMEX and AMEX didn’t know what I was talking about. They did get me an extra 3000 points for calling. Love Bradsdeals, but this one seems to be incorrect.
      -Mike

  5. Jade says:

    Brad indicated that “However, there are ways to churn through that by accruing charges that don’t really cost you anything. More on that in a future post.”. Brad, When will you be posting this topic?

  6. PK says:

    FYI, as this will matter to some: AmEx takes any and every opportunity to charge exhorbitant penalties, and they will layer them on. I’m not saying you shouldn’t do this deal, I’m saying you should know yourself and your own behaviors before considering the trade-offs in rewards vs. penalties. Example:

    I did not get a first statement (I don’t do electronic billing and definitely not auto-pay) on a new business card two years ago. I have an excellent credit score (800) and it was my first statement, but they wouldn’t accept accountability or waive the $60 late charge. In fact, by the time I got what should have been my second statement, there was a second charge for not paying the first charge within 15 days!

    By the way, American Express customer service is not in America, it’s in India. I consider that to be a deceptive practice.

  7. Gloria Brown says:

    It’s a shame, but true that every time you have a real problem with your AMEX, you get shuttled off to a black hole in India.
    Watch your credit and your credit cards. A lot of credit card companies use Indian personnel to answer questions on your interest rates or fraudulent charges. Understanding their English is almost always impossible, so I switched to a local credit union and talk to a body here in the US every time. Having had my identity stolen once was enough. No more extra information should be given to any third country national in any another country. Transferred all my cards, too. Feel Safer.

    • Brad says:

      Gloria, I almost exclusively use their website, which is pretty robust and can even handle things like disputing charges.

      I’m glad it is OK because their phone customer service IS atrocious. It’s one of the worst.

      • Sudha says:

        Hi brad,

        You mention that you are a credit card junkie. I do however have a concern. Does owning multiple credit cards damage your credit score or trustworthiness? I would like to apply for more cards but I refrain out of fear that it will affect my credit.

        Thank you

  8. John says:

    Point number 2 above claims, “You earn 1 Starpoint per dollar spent but can transfer Starpoints to over 30 airlines, most at a 1:1.25 ratio…” That doesn’t seem to reconcile with information available at http://www.starwoodhotels.com/preferredguest/account/starpoints/transfer/airline_partner_list.html. What is the basis of the claim?

    • Brad says:

      The second sentence:

      “Plus, for every 20,000 Starpoints transferred within the same transaction, Starwood will automatically add another 5,000 Starpoints!”

      Means that 20,000 points equals 25,000 points. So 1:1.25.

  9. Mary says:

    I have ALWAYS felt that one SHOULD NEVER have to pay a credit card company a yearly fee just for the “privileged” to use their card…..this to me in nonsense! With their high interest rates they certainly could let you use THEIR card without charging a fee! Hense, I have NEVER paid a yearly fee….if a credit card company changed their policy to a fee carrying card, I switch immediately! Save the $45.00+ yearly fee and go out for a nice dinner instead! ;-)

    • Brad says:

      Mary, I agree that credit card companies usually win in the battle with consumers. I do think that you can fight back with some of the points above. And I certainly don’t advocate carrying a balance and paying interest. :)

  10. Scott says:

    Would you talk more about the creative ways to redeem Starwood points for value of 4 to 20 cents each>?

    • Brad says:

      There is a lot here and I’ll try and cover it at length but an easy example is with the right hotel reservation or with a 1st or business class international plane ticket. Those can cost $5,000-$20,000 or they can be had for a relatively modest number of points.

      For example, 80,000 Starpoints = 100,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles = 1 First Class North America to Europe round trip on a 3-class plane.

      I recently did exactly that and booked a flight that would have cost $16,700 if I paid cash. Hard to believe…

      That’s a little over $0.20 / point, for example.

  11. cindy says:

    For me, the Capital One Venture was the most beneficial since we plan on using our rewards for airline tickets. They were by far the better choice at 2 points per mile for use anywhere. I’m a geek and did my spreadsheet to determine which credit card was best among 10-15 including various AMEX and airline specific cards.

  12. Adam says:

    One more deal that I received when I signed up for this, I got a voucher for 1/2 off a stay from 1-5 nights at most hotels. Definitely a perk I wasn’t expecting.

    • Brad says:

      Yes, good point. The 50% off certificate has some value, though the discount is off the “rack rate” and can sometimes (but not always) be beaten without it.

  13. Beth says:

    brad, we are currently Delta/Amex platinum card holders. do you know if we can transfer the points we have from that card to the Starwood card? don’t want to have 2 Amex cards and fees.

    • Brad says:

      beth, those go right into delta skymiles and delta doesn’t let you transfer them out at all. that’s part of the value of starpoints (they are one-to-many). the best value of that delta card is that you accrue some delta medallion qualifying miles (MQM) with your spending, getting you closer to status on delta. beyond that, the $150 fee, the lack of flexibility with transferring miles out and delta’s mediocre-at-best frequent flyer program, i’d go with starwood.

  14. [...] you don’t believe me, check out Brad’s Deals- a popular deal blog that has been featured on the Today Show and in USA Today. They outline 10 [...]

  15. Michael says:

    Great post! I’ve been recommending this to my friends for years. We use the Starwood AMEX at Costco since they only take AMEX and then cash the points in on level 2 Sheraton hotels. I’ve stayed at level 3 and 4 Starwood hotels; they are nice, but not that much nicer. It costs 4000 points to stay during the week and 3000 points to stay on the weekend at a level 2 Sheraton hotel. Those rooms cost $130-150 during the week and less on weekends. At the one where we usually stay, we get upgraded to the Club level, so we get free hors d’oeuvres at night, free breakfast in the morning and fruit and soft drinks through the day. We have stayed at Sheraton hotels for free probably 40 times over the years from Atlanta, to Chicago, to DC. It’s the best rewards card, by far, if you have the right level Starwood hotel where you are going.

  16. Steve says:

    Membership Has Its Rewards!!!

    Don’t count on it. I’m a 25 year American Express card holder and that means absolutely nothing.
    One recent example was that I mistakenly underpaid a 240.00 bill by $17.00. They immediately shut down my card until I paid the 17.00. That’s 25 years of on-time payments of over 100K in transactions – and they shut me down for 17 bucks. My point here is BUYER BEWARE when dealing with American Express no matter what partner they are working with. I have had a very positive experience with Nordstrom Visa – would highly recommend them!!

  17. Andy says:

    The fine print of the 30k miles by spending $1000 in 3 months says “Offer expires 7/6/10.” I think I’ll call to check.

  18. Tanja says:

    Just got my card and am looking forward to the rewards. Thanks Brad!

  19. Andy says:

    Thanks for this well put together blog post on the Starwood AMEX. I’m looking forward to the post regarding the following:

    “Yes, $15,000 is quite a bit to put on a credit card in 6 months. However, there are ways to churn through that by accruing charges that don’t really cost you anything. More on that in a future post.”

    • Andy says:

      I’ve received my Starwood card and the AAdvantage card is on it’s way (this one I’ll cancel as soon as I use the 75,000 miles). I need to spend some money on these cards to get the promotions. Is your “accruing charges that don’t really cost you anything” a reference to purchasing gift cards to gas/grocery/Costco/Target/etc which are essentially cash? I would love a blog post if you get the time.

  20. Andy says:

    I hit my required $1,000 in a month. The 1080 points for charges posted today (about 1 week after closing), but the bonus 30,000 didn’t. The fine print says “8-12″ weeks. I hope it doesn’t take that long. We’ll see.

    • Brad says:

      Hey Andy, how’d this work out for you? I believe I’ve had delays as well but no actual issues beyond that.

      • Andy says:

        Hi Brad, it worked out great. I got them the next week. I’m currently building the miles up to get to 70k for the Nights and Flights offer (Cat 4).

        I used 20k (turns into 25k AA) of my wife’s 30k Starwood points to top off the 75k AA Citi miles and get 2 Business fights to Miami for 100k miles.

        What nice about Starwood is you can transfer miles to your spouse for free! I’m not sure if you mentioned that in the above benefits. Most airlines charge to transfer miles. So, I took her remaining 10k, immediately putting me up to 40k, which is perfect for the 5th night free (cat 4).

  21. [...] why I’ve been posting about the 100,000 Mile Citi American Airlines Bonus, the American Express Starwood Card or last spring’s Hyatt Big Welcome Back deal.  There’s a lot of this stuff out there [...]

  22. Ed says:

    Hi Brad,

    Do you know if one can refer themselves for the Business SPG Amex (collecting 5,000 *points) if one has the personal card?

    Ed

  23. [...] not offer the best rewards, you should never actually charge anything to it! (For spending, the Amex Starwood is my current [...]

  24. Katiej says:

    I am wondering how applying and canceling such cards would affect my credit score? I have a good score of around 730, and would like to gain a higher score, rather than lower it.

    • Brad says:

      I have tracked my credit score fanatically for years and my take is that as long as you have:

      1) some cards with age
      2) enough other unused credit

      …it isn’t much of a score hit, if at all, if you periodically open and close other cards.

  25. M says:

    Brad-the info is great but has now turned me into a credit card benefit fanatic! I signed up for the Amex Plat (per your post) but definitely only plan on a year with that card. Would this really be the ideal replacement? Do you have a suggestion for a comparable card that is a Visa or MC for places that don’t accept Amex?
    Thank you!

    • Brad says:

      M, I feel your pain!

      Yes, this is still my preferred replacement. The value of Starpoints and flexibility if you’re transferring out are hard-to-beat. There are several other contenders that I hope to discuss at length shortly.

      As for Visa/MC, I personally have several I like. One is an old 2% cash back Charles Schwab card but those are no longer offered. It’s a little heretical to take the 2% because I know I can beat that value with points/miles most of the time but it is still solid. There are some hotel and airlines cards in the mix that are better than others. These tend to be heavily dependent on personal preference and routine.

      I’ll try and break these down at length shortly, too.

  26. [...] use of the card earns you 1.25 miles per $1 spent, a very attractive ratio equivalent to the Amex Starwood and better than 1:1 airline cards like the Citi American AAdvantage Visa. It’s fair to say [...]

  27. [...] goes without saying that you can make the deal even sweeter by paying with your Starwood card for the stays, as you can earn points with each purchase. A [...]

  28. Amol Dewhare says:

    Hi Brad

    I have a COSTCO american express card since 2006. After I read your article I signed up for the SPG card and was approved immediately. I received the 10,000 bonus points on first purchase but inspite of spending $15000 in the first 6 months, American express is not crediting me with the 15000 bonus points.

    I have talked to the customer service reps thrice and all I get back is that this offer is valid for new users only. I am a new user and have never had any SPG card in my life before. It feels like I am being ripped here by Amex. I love their card and service but am unhappy about this one instance.

    BTW I already have my 50,000 bonus points with my first purchase with CHASE/BA card and on my way to earn the other 50000 miles when I spend 2500 in the first 3 months.

    I hope amex credits my account with the 15000 bonus points else I will be disappointed and will not use their cards again.

    • Brad says:

      Hi Amol, i’m sorry to hear about this. Shame that Amex is being tough about it. My wife recently signed up for one and got the 15k bonus without a hitch, for what that is worth.

      Good news about the Chase BA miles, though. Enjoy!

  29. [...] point bonus on the American Express Platinum Card, 100,000 Mile Citi American Airlines Bonus, the American Express Starwood Card or last spring’s Hyatt Big Welcome Back deal.  There’s a lot of this stuff out there [...]

  30. David Kwok says:

    Hi Brad,
    I called AMEX, looks like the ‘earn 1000 Starpoints when add an additional cardmember offer’ no longer exist.

  31. John says:

    Brad:
    I too am confused by your point #3, A 40,000 Point Signup Bonus.
    I cannot find this offer?

    • Brad says:

      That’s not the offer but is the result, sort of. Note the question mark:

      3. A 40,000 Point Signup Bonus?

      Get 10,000 points with your first purchase and an additional 30,000 after spending $15,000 within 6 months (it’s a 15,000 bonus plus the 15,000 you’d get from your spending).

  32. [...] card? Check and see if you can get a deal for your upcoming trip. A big favorite of ours is the Starwood Preferred Guest Card from American Express. Through 7/31, they are offering a free night at any of their hotels and [...]

  33. Sid says:

    What’s the difference between the SPG personal and business cards?

    • Brad says:

      I believe they’re identical. It’s worth noting that the SPG doesn’t mean you have to have a big, fancy business, or even an incorporated one. Sole proprietorships are fine. In practice, Amex doesn’t dig in very much b/c the card is ultimately backed by your personal credit.

  34. [...] Not Using AmEx Starwood? 10 Reasons You’re Losing Money (Brad’s Deals) [...]

  35. hc says:

    Hi. this is probably a dumb question, but since it’s an amex card do you also earn membership rewards points, or only the star points? Thanks

    • Brad says:

      That’s actually a really good question.

      The only Amex cards that earn membership rewards points are their charge cards (green, gold, platinum). Most other Amex cards are credit cards and most of those have an affinity (Starwood, Delta, Hilton, etc.) so the rewards are via the partner. The remainder are cash back cards with no points/rewards beyond the cash.

  36. [...] 30,000 Starpoints w/ AmEx Starwood Card: Sign up for the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Card and you’ll get 10,000 points with your first purchase, and when you spend $5,000 in 6 months, you’ll get 15,000 bonus points. Those points can be transferred to frequent flier miles for over 30 different airlines! Read more about the AMEX Starwood here. [...]

  37. Sabrina D says:

    To answer the question whats a good credit card thats not AmEx. I just signed up for the Bank of America 1, 2, 3 rewards card. They give you 3 points for gas, 2 for food and 1 for everything else. If you deposit your bonus in a free bank of america savings acct they give you a 10% bonus. You get an extra 100$ if you charge $500 in the first 3 months. There is no annual fee, average low rate of around 12%. Travelers insurance, 1 year product warranty, concierge service, roadside dispatch ect. all included.

  38. [...] others. I just moved $20,000 away from the high limit card onto the one I like the most — my Amex Starwood. Now I can rack up points and reap the benefits of my much preferred card. Many credit card [...]

  39. I would like to get a credit card so I can pay rent or a deposit on a place to live I’m in need or a place to live because I’m staying with friends and me and my boy friend and my two kids need are own place to live my the first of August and so I can get stuff I need for me and my family I need a credit card so I have money for stuff for me and my family my boy friend gets ssi but we it’s not enought for every thing we need so pz let me have a credit card so I can have money

  40. Mark says:

    Opened new account through american express own website. Spent 5000 dollars in the first 6 months of having the account they would not credit the 15,000 sign on bonus. Claimed here was no such offer and offered me 5000 point instead. After 18 years with amex I will cancel all my amex cards. Spg is a good reward program but amex is crap. Dont don’t count on getting your sign up bonus evidently they don’t always give it even if it is deserved.

    • Brad says:

      Hi Mark, I’d give it another shot. Even if you didn’t have any offer at all on signup, they are usually good about matching what else you find out there.

      As always, hang up and call back if the person you get isn’t helpful. You could also message them via their site.

  41. [...] Starwood American Express card, earn 35,000 Starpoints after a signup bonus through [...]

  42. biztraveler says:

    Brad ,

    Looks like the link in #10 doesn’t work for adding additional Starwood Amex cardholders – do you have a current link that works? Or is the promotion over? Thanks!

  43. Liz says:

    Hi brad, i was wondering how the starwood would match up against the capital one venture card. the venture card give you 2 miles for every dollar you spend but it seems that even though you do earn less points with the starwood, the points seem to be more valuable. Whats your opinion?

    • Brad says:

      Hi Liz,

      Great question!

      The Capital One Venture card is really just a cash back card. It is confusing that they call them “miles” because they aren’t. Each Cap One “mile” is simply $0.02 you can use towards travel. You will never get more than $500 of value from 25,000 points.

      The best part of real miles or points is that when they are used well they are worth much more than $0.02 per point or mile. I can get A LOT more than $500 of value from 25,000 Starpoints because I can redeem them for hotel rooms or flights that cost much more.

      That is the big difference here: real miles/points aren’t worth a fixed dollar amount so can be redeemed for things that have a really high cash cost. The Cap One “miles” are worth exactly $0.02 towards travel. That isn’t a bad deal but it isn’t particularly good, either.

      Even if you just want cash, this 2% cash back credit card beats the Cap One card because it is simply cash, whereas Cap One can only be used for travel.

      https://www.fidelity.com/cash-management/american-express-cards

  44. [...] The ability to redeem 22,000 points for a $1,000 Park Hyatt room is hard to beat. That said, the Starwood Card is part of my repertoire, as well. Keep in mind that you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards [...]

  45. augusta says:

    would you comment on the PenFed American Express card, which seems to have no annual fee.

  46. Ramon says:

    So if I can buy Starpoints for slightly less than 2 cents each, should I?

  47. [...] this card has a low interest rate and a healthy rewards program that put it on par with our fav Amex Starwood card. We’ve had to wait almost a year to see this offer return. It’s scheduled to run [...]

  48. David Halberstam says:

    I WOLD LIKE TO APPLY BUT WER DO I DO IT

  49. David Halberstam says:

    I WOLD LIKE TO APPLY For the am ex. Card BUT WER DO I DO IT

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