Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express Review
The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express has been rebranded to the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card. To learn more about the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program and the co-brandded cards, click here.
For more than a decade, the Starwood credit cards have enjoyed a cult-like status among award travel enthusiasts, as well as fans of Starwood hotels, which include Westin, Sheraton and other brands. But in 2016, the much larger Marriott chain acquired Starwood, and it was only a matter of time until this card faced changes as the Starwood Preferred Guest program merged with Marriott Rewards. Now that we have all of the details on the new Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express, a Credit Cards House advertiser, let’s take a look at how it works, and if it’s right for you.
How This Card Works
Despite keeping the same name, this card now offers points in the Marriott Rewards program that can be redeemed for free night stays at both Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) properties and Marriott Rewards properties. The Marriott Rewards points earned are each the equivalent of one third of a Starwood point, and previous Starwood balances have now been converted to Marriott Rewards points at a 1:3 basis.
New applicants can earn 75,000 bonus points after using their card to make $3,000 in new purchases within three months of account opening. You also earn 6x points for each dollar spent at SPG and Marriott Rewards hotels, and 4x points for purchases at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping. Two points are earned for each dollar spent elsewhere.
Points can be redeemed for award nights in any unsold standard room, and when you redeem points for four consecutive nights, the fifth night is always free. In addition, points can now be transferred to miles with over 45 different airlines including American, Delta, British Airways, and others. And when you transfer 60,000 points to miles at once, you’ll now receive a 15,000 mile bonus.
In addition, cardholders automatically receive Silver Elite status in the Marriott Rewards program and the opportunity to earn SPG Gold Elite status after spending $30,000 or more on their card during 2018, which increases to $35,000 next year. Gold Elite status offers benefits such as priority service, room upgrade, late checkouts and an increased number of points for your stay. Cardholders also receive free premium Internet service at Starwood hotels and a Boingo Wi-Fi hotspot subscription.
Other benefits now include a free award night each year that can be used at properties that have a redemption level of 35,000 points or less. And stating in 2019, cardholders will receive 15 nights of credit towards elite status, however, you can’t receive this credit from both the business and personal cards.
As a business card, account holders receive benefits such as the ReceiptMatch feature that allows you to keep track of expenses as well as account alerts that help you monitor employee spending. Other cardholder benefits include a purchase protection plan, extended warranty coverage and a baggage insurance plan that covers lost or delayed bags. There is a $95 annual fee for this card that is waived the first year, and no foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees).
Marriott Rewards points can be extremely valuable when redeemed for free night stays at their hotels, which now include both SPG properties and Marriott Rewards properties, for a combined total of 29 brands with over 6,700 properties and a staggering 1.2 million rooms. And when you use your points for an award stay for five consecutive nights, the cost per night is reduced by 25%.
In addition, points can be very useful when transferred to airline miles. For example, travelers might transfer miles to an airline that offers a particularly good deal for a certain award, even if they have never flown that airline. Or, cardholders might top off one of their frequent flyer accounts to have just enough miles needed to book an award flight. When points are transferred to airline miles that are redeemed for expensive last-minute reservations, or flights in business or first class, it's possible to realize several cents in value for each point earned, which is more value than what you can receive from a cash back card (outside of bonuses for purchases within certain categories).
This card also improves on the old version by offering 4x bonus points (the equivalent of 1.33x Starwood points) at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping. The previous card had no bonus point offers other than for purchases at Starwood hotels.
Finally, this card offers impressive benefits when staying at Starwood hotels including bonus points, an annual free night stay, and the ability to earn Gold status just through card use alone.
Since the new card only offers 2x Marriott points for most purchases, it’s only two-thirds of what you would have earned from the old card (which offered one Starwood point, the equivalent of three Marriott Rewards points). If you are earning points without a bonus and converting those points to miles, you’ll now only receive two-thirds of a mile per dollar spent, and just 0.825 miles per dollar with the 25% bonus for transferring 60,000 points to miles at once. This is a major devaluation from the old card that should be considered when choosing a small business card for your everyday spending.
And, since this card has a $95 annual fee, it might not be of interest to those who don't use their business credit card frequently. Finally, there are so many options for redeeming Starwood points that some cardholders might feel overwhelmed. Therefore, this card is best used by someone who has the time and the patience to learn about all the benefits of the new Marriott Rewards program, not a cardholder who wants simplicity.
Nothing lasts forever, especially a good deal. When you were able to use this card to earn as much as 1.25 miles per dollar spent on most purchases, that was a great deal. Now, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express still offers plenty of great benefits for fans of Starwood and Marriott brands, but it’s not the same card that it used to be.
For rates and fees of the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express, click here.
Editorial Note: This content is not provided by American Express. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express.
First published , last updated
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.