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It can be tough to decide which credit card to use for which type of purchases. There are credit cards which are best for everyday, and then there are credit cards which are best for individual category bonuses.
American Express recently refreshed (and is offering an increased sign-up bonus on) the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express, whereby we saw them make the following changes:
- The elimination of foreign transaction fees
- Complimentary unlimited Boingo wifi
- Complimentary in-room premium internet access
- SPG Business AmEx members receiving lounge access at Sheraton properties worldwide
- The annual fee being raised by $30 per year, from $65 to $95 (the first year’s annual fee is $0, though)
These changes were long overdue, as I always found it a bit odd that it didn’t make sense to use a Starwood credit card at a non-US Starwood property due to the foreign transaction fees. That’s no longer an issue.
These cards offer two Starpoints per dollar spent at Starwood properties. I value Starpoints at 2.2 cents each, so to me that’s like a return of ~4.4%. That’s pretty darn good.
Are there other cards which can compete when it comes to return on Starwood stays? Both the Citi Prestige® Card and Citi ThankYou® Premier Card offer 3x ThankYou points per dollar spent at hotels. Personally I value them at 1.6 cents each, so to me that’s like a return of ~4.8%. On the surface that sounds better, though valuing points is highly subjective.
Travis recently outlined his method for valuing points, as it’s a very subjective process. It’s certainly reasonable for some to value Starpoints at more than 2.2 cents each, while others likely value ThankYou points at less than 1.6 cents each.
For my recent stay at the Sheraton Stockholm I did indeed pay with the SPG AmEx Business Card, since it was sort of exciting to use it internationally for the first time without paying foreign transaction fees. Whether I value two Starpoints or three ThankYou points more really depends on the relative balances of my accounts at the time, so I can’t say I far prefer one to the other.
If nothing else it’s nice to have the option of paying for a non-US SPG stay with their co-branded credit card without incurring foreign transaction fees.
I’d argue that the single best aspect of the card refresh remains the Sheraton club lounge access you receive in conjunction with the business credit card.