Starwood American Express US Open Cardmember Event

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Full disclosure: This experience was in conjunction with the SPG Amex Stars program I’m participating in, courtesy of the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express. They covered the cost of my flights to New York and two-night stay at the Westin Times Square New York. That being said, all opinions expressed are my own.

Why the Starwood American Express is awesome

When we think of major travel credit cards, we’re usually pretty focused on the concrete benefits of the card — how many points you earn per dollar spent, how you can redeem those points, etc. And using those metrics the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express is awesome. It’s the first “major” credit card I ever applied for, and I’ve held onto it since.

What makes the card so great is how flexible the points are. You can redeem them for any Starwood property worldwide with no blackout dates, with some great redemption opportunities. The card offers a fifth night free when redeeming points, and also offers Cash & Points, whereby you can redeem part cash and part points for a hotel stay, which is generally a very good deal.

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Redeem Starpoints at the St. Regis Bal Harbour

But the other great thing about the card is that you can convert Starpoints into airline miles at a 1:1 ratio to over two dozen airline transfer partners. Best of all, for every 20,000 points you transfer you get a 5,000 point bonus, meaning you’re earning 1.25 airline miles per Starpoint if you transfer points in the right increments.

While lots of other great cards have entered the market over the past few years, the Starwood American Express has continued to be an incredibly useful “super” card that has withstood the test of time.

Starwood US Open Cardmember Event

One of the other cool things is that credit cards can often get you access to some events which aren’t otherwise open to the general public. That’s because both credit cards and loyalty programs often sponsor major events, and as part of that are able to do some cool stuff for their members.

One of the cooler examples of that is the special Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express Cardmember event at the US Open.

This year cardmembers had the ability to purchase tickets to the event for $165. The event took place Thursday, September 4, 2014, and a ticket got you lower promenade seating at Arthur Ashe Stadium, a cocktail reception with dinner in the cardmember hospitality area, and a meet and greet with Billie Jean King.

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Since I’ve been part of the Starwood AmEx Stars program the past several years I’ve been invited to these events, and I’ve always taken my mother. My mom absolutely loves tennis, so it’s a great chance to hang out with her as well.

The cardmember event was at the hospitality pavilion, where several companies have events set up. It’s super snazzy, with a harpist at the door.

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US Open Hospitality Pavilion entrance

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US Open Hospitality Pavilion entrance

Once we arrived at the Starwood American Express room we were quickly checked in and given wristbands for the event.

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US Open Starwood American Express Cardmember event entrance

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US Open Starwood American Express Cardmember event signage

The room is large, and there’s an open bar and great dinner spread available until 9PM, which is pretty awesome.

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US Open Starwood American Express Cardmember event

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US Open Starwood American Express Cardmember event dinner buffet

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US Open Starwood American Express Cardmember event dinner buffet

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US Open Starwood American Express Cardmember event dinner buffet

They even had Starwood branded cupcakes.

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US Open Starwood American Express Cardmember event dessert

While they’ve had good guest players appearing as guests in the past, I think they one upped themselves this year with Billie Jean King. She talked for a bit about her experience getting into tennis and her career, and that was followed by a Q&A.

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US Open Starwood American Express Cardmember Billie Jean King speaking

Afterwards people had the opportunity to take pictures with her and have tennis balls signed, which was pretty awesome.

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US Open Starwood American Express Cardmember Billie Jean King speaking

In general this event is just a great way to interact with card members as well as some people from American Express, who always love getting feedback.

After spending a couple of hours in the pavilion we headed to Arthur Ashe Stadium for the Federer vs. Monfils game. We really lucked out with the game, since I thought this was unarguably the most exciting match of the entire tournament. It was five sets, and Monfils even had a match point, though Federer came back to win.

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Arthur Ashe Stadium Federer vs. Monfils

Cardmember Event Bottom Line

This was an awesome event, especially factoring in that upper promenade tickets to a quarterfinal game go for roughly the same amount as cardmembers pay to attend the event and get tickets. Between the dinner, open bar, ability to meet Billie Jean King and other cardmembers, it was a pretty awesome event, and a great perk of the Starwood American Express!

Stay tuned, tomorrow I’ll have a review of the Westin Times Square. And soon you’ll have the chance to enter to win 30,000 Starpoints!

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Comments

  1. What an awesome evening with your mom! I go to the US Open every year (never through hospitality stuff; just as a fan) and it is interesting to see the event through your lens. Food and beverage can easily cost $30 so factor that in with your $165 tickets! I went earlier in the day to watch the Bryan bros (big fan here) and the 5 set Cilic match after. Great matches!

    Can average Joes like us get invited by spg amex to their pavilion? Or is it something speciaI and exclusive
    honestly have never seen it in the grounds… the only thing I would have loved to have seen is the meet and greet with Billie! What a pioneer!

  2. If you ever get a further chance to give them feedback on their card would you point out that, if they made it free of foreign transaction fees, then it would get a lot more use from a lot more people.

    I’ve never understood why credit cards affiliated with global hotel brands have FT fees….it just doesn’t make sense (unless you assume the card user is foolish enough to use the card abroad….in which case it makes a lot of sense for the card issuer).

  3. I would say cash and points is only sometimes a good deal. Especially so since the devaluation. But often you can find a regular rate for less than the cash portion, which makes it a pretty poor deal in that case. I saw a few of these on starpicks this week. And not earning points on the cash portion makes it worse.

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