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The Best Time to Get a Starwood Credit Card May Be Now

Update: The sign-up bonus for this card, originally set o expire on July 6, has been extended to July 31.

There’s plenty of room for argument when it comes to the best airline mileage program, the best hotel program, the best frequent flyer promotion, and so on. But when it comes to travel rewards credit cards, the heated discussions typically resolve into a chorus of harmonized voices singing the praises of a single contender: the Starwood Preferred Guest credit card issued by American Express.

There are two keys to the card’s outsized popularity.

First, the Starwood Preferred Guest points earned by using the card can be converted into miles in more than 30 airline programs, including those of Aeroplan, Alaska, American, British Airways, Continental, Delta, Hawaiian, United, and US Airways.

Points generally transfer 1:1 for airline miles, although it’s a disappointing 1:2 conversion rate for Continental and United miles.

And second, there’s a 5,000-point bonus when transferring 20,000 points. So transferring 20,000 Starwood points to American, for example, nets 25,000 AAdvantage miles.

With the bonus, then, one dollar charged to the Starwood card is worth 1.25 miles in many airline programs. That’s more than the one-mile-per-dollar earning rate for charges on the airlines’ own co-branded cards. And miles earned with those cards can’t be readily converted into other programs.

The price for the card’s value and flexibility: a very reasonable $45 annual fee. And that’s waived for the first year.

(While Starwood Preferred Guest is a solid hotel program, the fact that points can be redeemed for free room nights is almost beside the point.)

Offer Details

Through July 6, consumers who sign up for a new Starwood card will earn 30,000 points after spending $1,000 or more within the first three months.

Deal or No Deal

The current standard sign-up offer for the Starwood card is 25,000 points. And the best past offer I can recall was 15,000 points after the first purchase plus another 15,000 points after spending $15,000 within six months. So this new limited-time offer is the most compelling I’ve ever seen for this card.

While the bonus isn’t quite the jaw-dropper of the recent British Airways credit card sign-up promotion (100,000 bonus miles after charging $2,000 within three months), it’s a very good offer for an excellent card.

If the card meets your needs, and you don’t already have one in your wallet, there may never be a better time to apply.

Reader Reality Check

Interested?

If not, why not?

  • Louise

    When did CO/UA stop giving 1:1 miles for points? That’s disappointing, indeed.

    However, you didn’t mention that it is possible to use points directly from Starwood to purchase tickets. I have gotten some INCREDIBLE and last minute free airfares using the points I’ve accumulated over the years using this card, seemingly much more value accrued than simply converting to miles (even with the bonus) and using the miles.

  • Louise

    Re above, see, e.g. http://www.spgflights.com/images_w/plg01/nav/starwoodLoyalty/FAQ.html

    or Google SPG flights if that doesn’t work.

  • Doug

    Tim,

    The fine print on the application page indicates that offer expires 7/6/2010:

    https://www143.americanexpress.com/apisites/microsite/ApplicationFormApp.do?partnerId=95&channel=1000&sourceCode=&authid=&cardType=STPC&seqNumber=245&returnUrl=https://americanexpress.com

    Item 1 below the interest rate disclosure

    Tim? thoughts?

  • Tim Winship

    Doug – Yes, the special sign-up bonus ended on July 6, as indicated in the blog post. The post published on July 1, so there was plenty of time to apply for the card at that point. At this point, the post is more about the card than about the expired offer.

  • Kevin Murphy

    With Aeroplan being a partner at 1:1, you can transfer Starwoods points into an Aeroplan account and then use Aeroplan points to get your UA flights (and maybe future CO flights!). A few extra steps but a way to beat the system.

  • Jiang

    Anybody read about this offer’s terms and conditions? The 30,000 starpoint bonus only applies to Business Card accounts opened by July 6th.

  • Daniel

    I previously had a Starwood American Express when the offer was only 10,000 bonus points. If I apply again and am approved, will I be eligible for the new 30,000 offer? Will they give me the difference between the new offer and what I got previously? Or is this offer not available to previous Starwood cardholders? When I got the 10,000 before it was after my first purchase with the credit card. This new offer is after you accumulate $1,000 in purchases within a three month period.

  • Tim Winship

    Daniel – If you haven’t been a cardholder for some time, I’d imagine you’d be treated as a new customer for purposes of this promo. But no one can promise that except Amex. Might be worth a call to Amex to confirm if you’re seriously considering re-applying.

  • LRL

    All Starwood et al have to do to “escape” the demands of this “generous” offer is to devalue the points. Happened before, will happen again – and probably sooner than later considering the reported popularity of the card which is undoubtedly generating more demand for free services than will be made available. Also – I’m very tired of being treated as a high level guest when traveling and a second class, back of the hotel/plane/ when redeeming points. The last hotel room I reserved on points overlooked the parking lot and trash cans (and I checked, lots of better rooms available according to a chatty late-night clerk.

  • Jacki

    Here’s what they told me when I tried to sign up…
    Response (Andrea DaSilva) 07/29/2010 12:13 PM
    Dear Jacklyn B Liddell,
    Starwood Preferred Guest members who received the email solicitation for this offer have through 7/31/10 to apply. This extended offer is only available to those who were targeted.
    I hope this information is helpful.
    Sincerely, Andrea DaSilva Email Servicing Team American Express Interactive Services

    When I asked if they could extend the offer to me, they said…

    I’m afraid that this offer cannot be extended for you. This extended offer is only available to those who were solicited.
    I hope you find the information useful.
    Sincerely, Faisal Khan Email Servicing Team American Express Interactive Services

    Really wish I had known about this deal when it was still valid! Jacki

  • Tim Winship

    Jacki – Interesting, that’s the first I’ve heard that the offer (or at least the offer’s extension to July 31) is only available to targeted individuals. Thanks for sharing.

  • Thomas

    i signed up on july 6th and they wont honor the promotion stating it was only for some individuals… it doesn’t say that anywhere on the website….. seems shady to me, im reporting them to the BBB and urge anyone else that is dealing with this to join me and email the BBB

  • credit card

    doug, nice informaton…but kindly go through fine print

  • Scoremore

    wow!sounds great!!!surely many are interested on this and really want to get their Starwood Credit Card.since it offer a guest points that they will earned bus using the card and points generally transfer 1:1 airline miles,a 5,000 bonus,etc.thanks for sharing this,this is very interesting!

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