Starwood Preferred Guest American Express: More than just free hotels

We have given you abundant reasons invite the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express into your wallet.  First, we lured you with the Exploring Europe Itinerary, that would take you from the canals of Venice, to Juliet’s Balcony, into the Alps, then on to Pisa and the Duomo of Florence.  Then, for the homebodies who fear attempting to speak to people in a non-native tongue, we invited you to take a loop through New England – we even made a video to make it easy for you to understand.  If that weren’t enough, we tempted you with an American History Tour, and then poured it on with posts about hotels in Orlando and even Indonesia.

My favorite part about the card was of course the big up front bonus that allowed me to take my boys to San Francisco for four free nights and still have 4 more to spare.  But beyond that, I have to say that I’m most excited about the low hurdle for me to rack up more and more benefits.  Starwood’s Category 2 redemption level is just 3,000 points on weekends and 4,000 points on weekdays.  What that means is that for every $3000 I charge on the card (in normal, everyday expenses, which I pay off in full and on time), I have another free night.  I like it so much, actually, that when I tried(halfheartedly) to cancel the card before the $65 annual fee, and they offered me 2,000 points to hang on, I whistled all the way to the bank.

I’ve started to get more and more serious about getting the business version of this card to begin to accrue Starpoints more seriously.  Why? Because in addition to all of the great free hotels I can stay at, there’s an exhaustive list of Starwood partner programs that I can transfer to and get a 25% bonus when I move points in 20k blocks. Here are some of my favorite transfer options.  I listed the ratio assuming we always transfer in 20k blocks.

Frequent Flyer Program Exchange Ratio (Starpoints : Miles)
Aeroplan/Air Canada 1:1.25
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan 1:1.25
All Nippon Airways (ANA) Mileage Club 1:1.25
American Airlines AAdvantage 1:1.25 (Amazing value)
British Airways Executive Club 1:1.25
Delta Air Lines SkyMiles 1:1.25
Flying Blue 1:1.25
Hawaiian Airlines 1:1.25
LAN LANPASS 1:2.5(great for LatAm)
US Airways Dividend Miles 1:1.25
United Mileage Plus 2:1 (not usually worth it)
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club 1:1.25

To illustrate, I’ll just give you some ideas of what you could do with the 25k bonus plus the 5k (30k) you’ll get from meeting the minimum spending requirement ($5k in the first 6 months) by using your card to make only necessary purchases at a rate of $850-$1000 a month for the first 5-6 months you have the card.

Inca ruins

A great shot of Machu Picchu from our friends at

  1. To Machu Picchu from LAX – Move 27k of your Starpoints to LAN for a total of 64k LAN kilometros (points). 48k will get you roundtrip flights LAX/LIM and 16k will get you to and from Cuzco. (Thank you  Of course, it might be hard to get those flights all in one day, so use your remaining 3k Starpoints to book a free night in the Sheraton Lima Hotel. Did one credit card sign up bonus just get you to and from LAX to one of the premier tourist destinations on the planet? Yep, with a free hotel along the way. – See why we’re always smiling?
  2. Two RT flights in the US – American Airlines AAdvantage is likely my favorite Airline loyalty program. AA is especially generous to holders of their Citi AAdvantage cards, to whom they offer special reduced mileage bookings to specific destinations each quarter. You’ll need to be a Citi AAdvantage cardholder to pull this off (something we’d recommend anyway), but simply transfer the 30k Starpoints to your AAdvantage account and use the 35k points to book two 17.5k RT domestic tickets to any of the featured destinations.
  3. From Mainland US to Alaska – Alaska Airlines has partners that serve most major cities in the United States and they’d love to take you to Alaska for as little as 25k miles.  Lucky for you, your Starpoints will get them for you.  Just move 20k of your 30k Starpoints to Alaska Airlines and you’ll have the 25k to book a flight. What to do with the 10k remaining? I guess that’s up to you…

I’ve told you before that flexibility is the key to obtaining value with your points and miles. The Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints program is among the most flexible – an excellent way for you to accumulate free travel by making everyday purchases.

One last hint.  When you apply for this card, don’t do a joint application with your spouse.  Wait a few months until you’ve met your spending requirement, and make a separate application for them.  That way you double your bonus, double your free travel, and double your pleasure.

If there are any questions we can answer for you, please comment below.

As we’ve told you before, the beauty sharing these travel tips is that not only do you benefit from thousands of dollars in free travel, but we also get a small commission when you use our links.  You certainly don’t have to, but we love it when you do.

Thanks for always wanderlusting with us!


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1 Response to Starwood Preferred Guest American Express: More than just free hotels

  1. Pingback: Travel- Do it While you're young | Travel Tips For World WanderlustersTravel Tips For World Wanderlusters

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