- High earning rate
- Flexible point redemption at a variety of frequent flyer programs and Marriott Rewards
- Annual fee waived the first year
- SPG points are some of the most valuable in the industry
- The card allows you to transfer your points to more than 30 airlines
- You'll get extra hotel-related perks
- The sign-up bonus is lackluster
- The card charges a high APR
- You'll pay an annual fee after the first year
Star rating (3.5 out of 5)
The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card has long been one of the best hotel credit cards on the market. But since Marriott acquired Starwood Hotels in 2016, big changes were bound to come to the hotel brand’s rewards program and its flagship credit card.
In August, Marriott will finalize the merging of the Starwood Preferred Guest program with its own. At that time, the credit card’s rewards structure will change. We’ll cover the features as they stand as well as what to expect in August.
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card review: Highlights
For the longest time, Starwood points have been among the most value rewards points you can get, offering loyal customers an average of 2.7 cents per point on average, according to The Points Guy.
In fact, soon after Marriott announced its merger with Starwood, it began allowing Starwood loyalists to transfer their points to their Marriott Rewards account at a 3 to 1 ratio.
This gives credit card holders an opportunity to get a lot of value out of the card. But when the change happens in August, the value of the card may drop a bit.
The card offers a sign-up bonus. But as of June 19, 2018, it’s not as impressive as it has been in the past. Also, the card charges an annual fee, which is waived the first year.
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card rewards and perks
The card starts you off with a sign-up bonus that currently doesn’t stack up against similar credit cards. You’ll earn a $100 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in the first three months.
Plus, you’ll get an additional $100 statement credit after your first purchase at participating SPG or Marriott hotels within your first six months with the card.
Previously, the card offered sign-up bonuses of 25,000 to 35,000 Starpoints, which was worth between $675 and $945, on average. As you can see, the sign-up bonus during the card’s transition is a bit disappointing.
As for ongoing rewards, here’s what to expect now and after the change:
- From now through July 31, 2018: Earn 2 Starpoints per dollar spent on eligible purchases at participating SPG and Marriott hotels; earn 1 Starpoint per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Effective August 1, 2018: Earn 6 points per dollar spent on eligible purchases at participating SPG and Marriott hotels; earn 2 points for all other eligible purchases.
Note that any points you earn between now and August 1, 2018, will be automatically converted to Marriott Rewards points at a 3 to 1 ratio. Since Marriott points are currently valued at 0.9 cents apiece according to The Points Guy, that’s a straight trade.
Here’s a breakdown of the change in rewards rate based on the current value of Starpoints and Marriott Rewards points.
Current Rewards Structure
New Rewards Structure
Eligible purchases at participating SPG and Marriott hotels
All other purchases
As you can see, the card’s rewards structure will become less valuable when the two loyalty programs merge. While the card may eventually offer other perks to make up for the discrepancy, it’s not clear yet what those might be.
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card benefits
Speaking of perks, here are some other benefits the card currently offers:
- Free premium in-room internet access
- A large selection of airline transfer partners
- Credit toward elite status
- No foreign transaction fees
You’ll also have access to Amex Offers, a program that provides cardholders with several cash-back and discount offers on everyday and luxury purchases. You’ll also get free two-day shipping on ShopRunner.
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card costs and fees
The card charges a $95 annual fee after the first year, but you’ll get that waived the first year. This should give you plenty of time to rack up rewards before having to choose if the card’s fee is worth it.
The card doesn’t offer a 0% introductory APR promotion, and its ongoing APR is above the average of 15.32%, according to the Federal Reserve’s data for the first quarter of 2018.
Also, the card does charge a higher APR for cash advance and a high penalty APR if you’re late on a payment.
Does the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card make sense for me?
As of June 2018, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card seems like it’s still in flux. The card’s sign-up bonus isn’t very enticing, especially considering you can get much better offers from other top hotel credit cards.
Also, given the fact that the card’s rewards program will become less valuable when it merges with the Marriott Rewards program, it may be worth holding off on applying to see if the change brings a better sign-up bonus.
If, however, you want to take advantage of the 3-to-1 ratio the program offers with transfers to Marriott Rewards, and you have some big purchases coming up, it may be worth it. But even then, you might still get more value somewhere else.
In addition to checking out other hotel credit cards, compare this one with other top general travel credit cards to make sure you get the best one for your needs.
Application Process: Apply online and get a decision in as little as 60 seconds.
Rewards: Earn 2 Starpoints® for every dollar of eligible purchases on the Card at participating SPG® and Marriott Rewards® hotels. Earn 1 Starpoint for all other eligible purchases.
Bonus offers: Earn a $100 statement credit after you make $1,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, earn an additional $100 statement credit after your first purchase on the Card at a participating SPG® or Marriott Rewards®hotel within your first 6 months of Card Membership.
APR: 16.74% to 20.74% variable APR.
Annual Fee: $95; waived the first year.
- Earn a $100 statement credit after you make $1,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, earn an additional $100 statement credit after your first purchase on the Card at a participating SPG® or Marriott Rewards®hotel within your first 6 months of Card Membership.
- Earn 2 Starpoints® for every dollar of eligible purchases on the Card at participating SPG® and Marriott Rewards® hotels. Earn 1 Starpoint for all other eligible purchases.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees on International purchases.
- $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
- Terms Apply.