Starwood American Express now comes with two stay credits and five nights annually

Back in July, American Express announced some changes to the Starwood American Express card. Specifically, the annual fee was going up by $20, and they added a few (mostly useless) benefits. Well, it seems like they’re adding another benefit — starting October 14, Starwood American Express cardholders will earn two stay credits and five qualifying nights annually just for having the card. And if you have both the personal and business credit card, that’s four stays and 10 qualifying nights.

This is definitely a nice benefit for those that are often just short of status with Starwood, though certainly the argument can also be made that this ever so slightly devalues the elite ranks.

Take it for what it’s worth. I’m not a Starwood guy, other than their awesome credit card (which I use to earn airline miles).

(Tip of the hat to Loyalty Traveler)

Comments

  1. Does the 5 night credit also count towards getting the 10 night requirement for triple points during the Every night Counts promotion?

    Wishful thinking on my part, I’ll only have 6 nights during the promo but wanted to get to triple points…

  2. If I’m trying to rack up OnePass miles, does it still make sense to sign up for SPG Amex (with their 10,000 point sign-up bonus, convertible 2:1 SPG Points : OnePass Points), or am I better off signing up for the Continental Visa card which gives 25,000 bonus Onepass points for only a slightly higher annual fee (also waived for the first year)? Are the long-term benefits of SPG that worthwhile?

  3. @ Mike — Just curious, is there a reason that you’re trying to earn Continental miles? In your shoes I would diversify. Assuming you want to travel with the Star Alliance, you can transfer to programs that have much more favorable exchange rates from Starwood. There’s nothing wrong with accruing miles with Continental, but there’s lots of value in transferring to programs like Aeroplan, ANA, etc., from SPG. If you give me some more details about your travel patterns, I can give you some more suggestions.

  4. I’m earning Continental miles at the moment mostly just because, although an avid traveler, I just recently (the last 12 months basically) started actually collecting FFM and Continental happened to be the one I used most this year. So far have only made it up to Silver Elite status and, as a result of change in profession, travel significantly less than before so figured it best to acquire as many miles as possible in the same program (I actually work with your brother so you know how infrequently we get out of the office). Other than that though, no allegiance. Our work card is a standard Amex but for personal card I had been using Amex Blue which turns out was a complete waste of time. Only looking to sign up for one more credit card, for credit score reasons, so have been debating between SPG, the Continental Visa or the AA Chase that comes with 75,000 bonus.

    In terms of travel destinations, I’m a random traveler who never is out of places to visit so any alliance can get me there.

  5. @ Mike — Got it, thanks for clarifying. There’s definitely some benefit to consolidating miles as much as possible in a single program, especially if you’re looking at short term reward opportunities. In the long run, though, you’re much better off earning miles in the program that offers the most value.

    Continental has a decent frequent flyer program with access to all Star Alliance members, which is great, though their redemption levels to many destinations are a good 20-30% higher than what you could get through Aeroplan, and that’s not even factoring in the 25% bonus you get on transfers.

    Through the SPG credit card you get a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 points you transfer to a frequent flyer program. So you’re basically earning 1.25 miles per dollar, assuming you transfer in chunks of 20,000. But that’s only the beginning. Once a year, US Airways (which has a very similar award chart to Continental and is also part of the Star Alliance, giving you access to the same availability) offers an additional 50% transfer bonus, on top of the 25% bonus you already get, earning you almost two miles per dollar. Recently, American offered an additional 35% transfer bonus.

    But the real beauty in the SPG credit card is that your miles are more or less “devaluation proof.” If one program substantially devalues their award chart, you can always transfer to a different one from SPG. Not to mention it gives you a lot more flexibility, since you can transfer points to any of the three alliances.

    If you’re passionate about travel (though knowing what you do, you probably don’t have all that much time to do so!), there are plenty of ways to earn at least 500,000 miles without stepping foot on a plane, and frankly, with minimal effort. Want to earn 50,000 Continental miles in an hour for $130? Sign up for a personal and business checking account. For the business account you don’t actually have to have a business. Either tell them you have a sole proprietorship or you want a separate account for business expenses. You get 25,000 miles per account, it’s an absolute bargain.

    Through Suntrust, you can currently earn 125,000 Delta miles for $275, by signing up for a debit card and adding four authorized users. Neither of those would hit your credit score.

    So I think you may very well be best off continuing to credit the miles you fly to Continental whenever possible, but in your shoes I’d go with the SPG American Express credit card for its long term benefits. Again, in your shoes, i would also sign up for an American Airlines Visa and American Express under their current 75,000 mile sign-up bonus. Take it from me, I applied for a dozen credit cards last year, all for the sign-up bonuses, and my credit score is still substantially above average. And at the very latest, the inquiries fall off your report two years after they’re made.

    So I really would consider applying for the SPG American Express, Citi American Airlines American Express, and Citi American Airlines Visa, all within five minutes of each other. You’ll be close to 200,000 miles richer and planning that Cathay Pacific first class trip to Hong Kong.

    Let me know if you have any questions or need links to anything.

  6. Hi, do you know if the stay credit is credited: every calendar year? or every year you have the card? Thanks!

  7. @ Sonya — It’s usually credited in February of every year at the latest, though if you apply for it later in the year you still get it.

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