Frequent travelers can reward themselves with free hotel stays and an array of other benefits, by selecting the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest credit card. Although the card levies an annual fee of $65, waived in the first year, the benefits could outweigh the costs for those who make full use of the card.
American Express is America’s favorite credit card provider. In addition to the rewards program offered with the Starwood Preferred card there is a host of other benefits on offer. These include family travel accident insurance up to $100,000, access to American Expresses global hot line that provides medical, legal, financial and emergency assistance to card holders more than 100 miles from home, and automatic collision damage cover on auto rentals. Extended warranties on purchases are also part of the package.
The credit card has a low introductory APR of 2.9% for both purchases and balance transfers, valid for six months. The standard variable APR is a current 15.24%. The cash advance APR is 25.24% and the penalty APR 27.24%. Balance transfer and cash advance fees are both charged at 3% or $5, whichever is greater, and foreign transactions cost 2.7%. The card offers a grace period of up to 25 days.
Cardholders are automatically enrolled in the Starwood Preferred Guest program. This gives exclusive benefits when hotel stays are paid for on the card. When available card holders can avail themselves of 4p.m, late checkouts and receive upgrades to enhanced rooms as they check in. If the card is used to book two nights at participating Sheraton Hotels and resorts then a third night is provided free of charge. Full details of the guest program are available here.
In addition to typical benefits provided by American Express, the Starwood Preferred Guest credit card also has a generous rewards program. Each dollar spent on the card equates to one point, but this can be go as high as 5 points per dollar spent when the card is used at Starwood Preferred Guest Hotels or resorts, in over 100 countries.
As soon as the cardholder makes their first purchase 10,000 points are credited to the account. Additionally card holders who spend $15,000 in the first six months receive an extra 15,000 points. Points can be redeemed for free nights at Starwood Preferred Guest Hotels or resorts. Card holders can also redeem points for free flight with over 350 airlines, with no black out dates.
If card holders spend enough to reap the benefits from using the card to cover the $65 annual fee, then the card is well worth considering as the travel rewards card of choice. It certainly carries enough cachet to earn preferred guest status.