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At the moment we’re seeing very nice increased sign-up bonuses on both the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express. They’re offering sign-up bonuses of up to 35,000 Starpoints, which are the highest sign-up bonuses we’ve ever seen on these cards.
In my opinion both of these cards are worth acquiring for the sign-up bonuses and the return they offer on everyday spend. They also offer other ongoing 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.
But there’s one benefit that 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, but even so, it’s a benefit I constantly get questions about.
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.
Club lounge at the Sheraton Grand London Park Lane
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.
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.
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.
Club lounge at the Sheraton Skyline London Heathrow
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 or Marriott brand.
What impact will the Marriott merger have on this benefit?
Marriott’s takeover of Starwood closed several months ago, though for the time being Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest are still being run independently. Marriott’s target is to integrate the programs in 2018, though if that happens, it’s unlikely to be at the beginning of the year.
We still don’t know what the future of Marriott’s credit card agreement will look like. American Express has the Starwood contract, while Chase has the Marriott contract. It’s entirely possible that American Express will take over the whole thing, that Chase will take over the whole thing, or perhaps even that they’ll have cards issued by both American Express and Chase long term.
The point is, for now it’s “business as usual,” so there are no changes in sight for the SPG Amex.
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 U.S. 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).
Club lounge at the Sheraton Miami Airport
However, outside the U.S. there are some really nice club lounges. 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.
Club lounge at the Sheraton Salzburg
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.
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 in 2015.
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?