The SPG Business Amex’s Killer Perk

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Both the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express cards come with awesome perks, like free Boingo wifi, complimentary premium internet at Starwood properties, and two elite stay credits and five elite night credits towards status annually, which helps me requalify for Platinum status.

The cards are also great for everyday spend, as I consider Starpoints to be the single most valuable points currency on a per point basis (I value them at ~2.2 cents each, and you’re earning one Starpoint per dollar spent on the card).

But there’s one benefit which really sets apart the business version of the card for anyone looking at applying. I know a lot of people are already familiar with this benefit, so this post is intended mostly at those not as familiar with the card.

Primary cardmembers on the SPG Business Amex receive executive lounge access whenever staying at Sheraton properties. This is a huge perk, possibly one of the biggest perks offered by any hotel credit card.

Lounge access is otherwise reserved for Platinum members and those paying for access, so this is a great way to get one of the biggest benefits of top tier status without actually having to put in the nights.

Sheraton-Skyline-London-Heathrow-Hotel-28
Club lounge at the Sheraton Skyline London Heathrow

I figured I’d share some FAQs about this benefit, for those not familiar with the rules:

Do additional cardmembers also qualify for Sheraton club lounge access?

No, only the primary cardmember is eligible for this benefit. In other words, you can add employee cards to the SPG Business Amex, but those cardmembers wouldn’t be eligible for Sheraton club lounge access. Only the person paying the $95 annual fee (which is waived the first year) would be eligible.

Sheraton-Salzburg-1
Club lounge at the Sheraton Salzburg

How many guests can I bring in a Sheraton club lounge?

This benefit is available to the primary cardmember as well as up to one guest registered to stay in the same room. So at most two people can use the lounge. In the case of hotels which have different rates depending on single or double occupancy (this isn’t uncommon in Europe), you’d have to pay for double occupancy for two people to be able to use the lounge.

Do Free Night/Points & Cash stays qualify for Sheraton club lounge access?

Absolutely! If you book directly with Starwood you’ll be eligible for this benefit, regardless of whether it’s a paid, corporate, free night, or Points & Cash stay.

What if I booked through Priceline/Hotwire?

Third party bookings technically aren’t eligible for this benefit. So you have to book directly through SPG or an approved travel agent if you want this benefit. In practice some hotels may still honor the benefit, but that would be out of generosity, and not because they have to.

Can I use a Sheraton lounge when not staying at a hotel?

No. You actually have to be staying at the property with a reservation in your name in order to use the perk.

Does the Sheraton club lounge benefit apply internationally?

Yep! It applies at Sheraton hotels around the world.

Sheraton-Maldives-Club-Lounge-13
Club lounge at the Sheraton Maldives

Do I have to pay for my stay with the SPG Business Amex to use this perk?

Nope, you can pay with any credit card you’d like and still take advantage of this perk.

How will the hotel know I have the SPG Business Amex?

Your SPG account should automatically be notated for this benefit. As the primary cardmember with your SPG number linked to the credit card, your account will reflect that you’re eligible for this benefit, and you should automatically be offered club lounge access at check-in. There’s no need to show your card, etc. Instead your actual room key will be programmed to get you lounge access.

Does this benefit apply at other SPG brands as well?

No, this benefit only applies at Sheratons. It doesn’t apply at Westins, Le Meridiens, or any other SPG brand.

What impact will the Marriott merger have on this benefit?

We don’t know. The merger between Marriott and Starwood is expected to close around the middle of the year, though we still don’t know what that will look like in practice for guests.

We don’t know the benefits of the combined loyalty program, and also don’t know whether American Express or Chase will be issuing the co-branded credit card in the future.

I do feel pretty confident in speculating that Starwood Preferred Guest will continue to exist at least through the end of 2016, and possibly well beyond that. So if you apply for the card now you still have plenty of time to take advantage of this benefit, and who knows, maybe it will stick around long term.

Marriott-Starwood

What should I expect of a Sheraton club lounge?

Starwood is in the process of rebranding Sheraton, as they sort of realize the brand is tired and lacks an identity.

The Sheraton brand can be pretty inconsistent, and the same is true of the quality of their club lounges.

Generally speaking US Sheraton club lounges are pretty basic. You can expect a continental breakfast with maybe one hot option, then maybe soft drinks and packaged snacks during the day, and then appetizers and an honor bar in the evening (meaning you have to pay for alcohol).

Sheraton-Miami-Airport-303
Club lounge at the Sheraton Miami Airport

Outside the US there are some really nice club lounges, on the other hand. For example, you could literally have all your meals in the club lounge at the Sheraton Salzburg, if you were so inclined. They have a hot breakfast, lunch, and dinner buffet, with complimentary drinks (including alcohol) available for most of the day.

Sheraton-Salzburg-2

But beyond that, I find club lounges to be a great place from which to work, so whether you’re between sightseeing or trying to get some work done, they’re a great place to come and relax, grab a drink, and use your laptop.

So yeah, the quality does vary significantly, though there are some nice Sheraton clubs out there.

Bottom line

The SPG Personal Amex and SPG Business Amex have great benefits, so that in and of itself is a reason to pick up the cards.

But if you’re trying to decide between cards or are focused on perks beyond that, I think the Sheraton lounge access on the business version of the card is worth specifically pointing out, as I know many people have gotten a lot of value out of the benefit since it was introduced last year.

If you have the SPG Business Amex and aren’t a Platinum member, have you gotten a lot of value out of the club lounge perk?

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Comments

  1. It was pretty much a downer that the only lounge access benefit for me that might have justified the increased annual fee was a benefit available only on the business and not the personal card which seemed completely arbitrary. Wi-fi and Boingo were not motivating and foreign exchange fees should have been removed long ago for an international hotel loyalty card. Thus, I am struggling to stay in this game with ever increasing devaluations, more complicated rules, and buyouts that sock it to the customer.

  2. Recently stayed at sheraton kul. First, the agent didnt know the benefit. Second, they asked if i carried the card with me. Is showing th card physically a requirement for this benefit? Can you calrify this with starwood?

  3. Killer benefit to whom?
    The homeless? Domestically the quality of Sheraton club lounges generally is poor
    Sheraton Gateway LAX closes promptly at 9 AM and the offerings are tired and sad
    Did I say limited?
    Overseas might be a different story
    There is a long list of other sad lounges in this tired chain
    Sheraton has a decent enough bed and the link as its best features
    Otherwise SPG will soon be deceased RIP
    All those elites accustomed to this once great program can get ready for basic rooms and a 12 noon check out enter Marriott

  4. You have obviously never tried to use this benefit. What an ill informed TPGesque post. In my experience 100% of the time the agents have no clue what this is or how to give it. They treat you like a criminal trying to steal an upgrade. It’s most definitely not on their computer screens.

  5. I know that Starwood doesn’t give you the bonus points if you have received them before but I read the terms and did not see that mentioned. Do you know if there are restrictions on receiving the bonus points for former cardholders?

  6. Amex adds Once-per-Lifetime limit to Business Cards Signup Bonus – end of story for me.
    Even before that this card was highly overrated by all the CC bloggers and at least for me only good for the initial signup bonus. Collecting SPG points through regular spending is not very attractive.

  7. I’ve used my card to get lounge access a few times – NYC, McKinney, TX and Schipol airport. I take my card to be able to show at check-in. The NYC and Texas properties knew about the perk. The Dutch did not. It took a supervisor to make it happen – who was so apologetic, she sent a bottle of Cava and cookies to our room.

    The McKinney lounge has hot breakfast and a “one-pot” dinner. It isn’t over-the-top gourmet, but it was convenient, tasty and free. I appreciated coming back from the office and just relaxing.

    I had to leave before breakfast was served in NYC. I went up to ask for something to take with me. The guy putting out bagels and croissants kept trying to get me to take a bag full. It took some effort to get just one croissant instead of a dozen. He was very nice.

  8. Hi Lucky,

    Thanks for the daily help. You’ve helped us save a bundle.

    Can one get the sign up bonus on the Business card if they already have the personal card? We already received one bonus in the last year & still have the card. Would love to do it again, as the points transfer program to LAN airlines has enabled us to fly in Peru very inexpensively…

    Best wishes.

    Ben (the other one…)

  9. If I am staying in a Sheraton room with my wife and 7 year old daughter, does that mean I can take only one of them with me to the lounge?

  10. Is the 35,000 point bonus available if you have had the card before? I read the terms and conditions and I do not see anything about this. Thanks!!

  11. I’ll never understand why people get so excited about lounge access. Yay you get to hang out in a stale room with snacks purchased at the local Costco.

    Myself? I’d rather leave the hotel and experience local fare.

  12. it’s so frustrating that in the UK they don’t offer the same type of signup bonuses. this seems to be across the board for SPG / BA / Amex. Just checked and the sign up bonus here is only 10,000 points. Don’t they want UK customers ? Any ideas why that is? Best Wishes 🙂

  13. Agree with several posters above. It seems to be not widely understood as a benefit. I had to really fight for it at a Sheraton recently, and was made to feel very uncomfortable. I was very polite in my request for access, but kept getting denied on the basis that I was only a “gold” SPG member. It didn’t matter that I explained until I was blue in the face that it was not an SPG benefit, but an AMEX SPG Business Card benefit. In the end I had to get the SPG twitter assist team to intervene with the hotel and I was finally granted access. Only, the key they gave me didn’t work!!! Each time they re-keyed it, it didn’t work. In the end, I just gave up asking. The only reason I wanted access was to be able to get a cup of hot tea late at night, and the one time I got in (because someone held the door for me), the hot water machine was out of order! (I don’t like making tea in the room with the coffee machines…always has a weird taste).

    I am really hoping the Sheraton in Sydney honors the benefit as I have a 5 night stay there in August and booked the Sheraton on the Park specifically for this benefit.

  14. Thanks Lucky, I got this card using your link a couple days ago.
    I am still worried about what Jana mentioned:”Will the lounge benefit work with citi prestige 4th night free?”

    For two reasons:
    1: I have to book through citi travel portal.
    2: I have to use citi prestige credit card.

    Those two things seem to violate the T&C of this lounge benefit.

    By the way, if I book with citi prestige card, I believe I will receive 3 citi thank you points and two SPG points.

    I respectfully disagree with some of above comments. The lounge benefits is very big for a card of only $95 AF. And many hotel lounges are far worse than Sheraton lounges, too bad only 300 of them exist.

  15. @Johnny

    In regards to the T&C, usually the chains don’t give full status benefits and points earning for stays booked through an OTA or regular travel agency because they have to pay out commission, so they’d rather you book directly. In the case of the Citi Prestige concierge, the agency they use acts like a corporate travel agent and you get full benefits. I would expect that extends to the Sheraton Club access.

  16. I have a couple of questions on this topic. I booked an upcoming stay using Citi TY points. I want to apply for one of these cards while the bonus is increased, but don’t want to stress over the extra $2000 in spending if I can’t use the lounge benefit on my stay. Are the Thank You or Ultimate Rewards travel portals considered online travel agencies like Orbitz or Hotwire? Also, I’m traveling with my two young children. Could they really insist I leave one of them outside?

  17. From SPG today:
    “When you book a reservation using your Starpoints that is not considered an eligible paid rate since you will not earn Starpoints on the rate. In order for you to get Club lounge access benefit with your Amex card the reservation would have to be booked at a eligible cash paid rate.”

  18. I did not pay with my spg business amex and lady at check in said I could not get the perk.so I paid $35 extra.
    I took her name down, paid with other card, working with customer service at the hotel now and they are insistant I should have paid with spg business amex and will give me 1000 starwood points as a courtesy for the misunderstanding but not the $35 refund. besides your site where can I show proof I can use another card for payment

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