Or, consider other cards for 50,000 or more miles or points that transfer into United miles with additional flexibility for your everyday spending.
$750 for air / hotel / car bookings. Or transfer points to United, Southwest, Hyatt, and more.
No annual fee.
Each August for the last several years American Express and Starwood have offered a limited time 30,000 point bonus on the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express.
It’s 5,000 points better than the standard 25,000 point offer and you can earn the points with the personal card after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months.
The current offer is good until September 14, 2015.
There’s also a deal for the Business version of the card which requires you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months to qualify, and if you have a small business it’s OK to hold both the personal and business versions to keep your expenses separate.
Should you get it?
5,000 extra points doesn’t sound like a lot.
But these are Starwood points, which tend to be more useful than other points if you like hotel stays or transferring points to airline mileage programs.
You can often get 2 cents or more per point in value when redeeming for hotel nights, so a 30,000 point bonus could be worth $600 or more in free hotel nights, and that 5,000 extra points could be worth an extra $100 or more.
For example you can book the Westin in Maui for 12,000 points a night, compared to $299 a night in cash, giving you 2.5 cents per point in value.
Or you can book the Walt Disney World Dolphin for 10,000 points a night compared to $289 in cash, giving you nearly 3 cents per point in value.
And in New York the Westin Grand Central costs just 12,000 points a night, compared to $348 in cash, again nearly 3 cents a point in value.
So the 30,000 points you earn from this introductory offer plus the 3,000 you earn from the spending needed to earn the introductory points could get you 2 – 3 nights at any of the above hotels, saving you nearly $1,000.
How does that compare?
There are some other big hotel bonuses going on right now.
For example the Marriott Rewards Premier Visa is offering 80,000 points as an introductory offer through the end of August.
That could get you 2 nights at the Wailea Beach Marriott in Maui…
Or 2 nights at the Marriott World Center Orlando near Walt Disney World (though not in the park like the Walt Disney World Dolphin)
Or 2 nights at The Lexington New York City
So while the Marriott bonus gives you more points overall, hotels with Marriott Rewards cost more points, and you’ll get at most 2 nights at the hotels we looked at, while the Starwood bonus gets you up to 3 nights at comparable hotels. And the Marriott offer doesn’t waive the annual fee the first year, so you’ll have to pay $85 upfront to get the Marriott points, while the Starwood offer waives the annual fee the first year.
If you don’t yet have a Chase Sapphire Preferred card and are considering one, you might want to get that first.
That’s because Chase has sometimes limited approvals of customers who have applied for more than a few cards over the course of a year, and we tend to recommend the Sapphire Preferred as a first card most often because of its easy mileage transfer to United miles and Southwest points.
American Express hasn’t been so strict about approvals, but it is strict in another way.
You can only get the bonus on the personal version of the Starwood card once per lifetime.
Though for the Business version of the card you can get the bonus again if you closed your old account more than one year ago.
So if you already have a Chase Sapphire Preferred, and are interested in hotel rewards at Starwood properties, this is a decent deal.
The Starwood bonus can earn you more hotel value than most other hotel offers out there right now, so if you’re weighing this versus other limited time hotel credit card deals you might want to strike here first.
Starwood points can also be transferred to over 20 airline mile programs, including American AAdvantage and Alaska MileagePlan, and they’re the only points that let you transfer 1:1 to AAdvantage and MileagePlan.
The Starwood Amex now has a higher $95 annual fee after the first year.
Along with the fee there are some additional features, including
If you like upper middle class hotels and primarily earn your points via regular credit card spending, it’s hard to beat Starwood Preferred Guest for value.
The points are harder to earn, and that helps keep the point prices low, though Starwood regularly reviews hotels for category placement, so each year it’s possible the hotel you’re looking for will go up in price.
The good news is you can book well over a year in advance and change your dates or get a refund with no penalty, so it’s easy to get ahead of any price changes.
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Foreign Transaction Fee Waived
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