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The Starwood American Express is one of the first credit cards I ever applied for, and is one I’ve held onto every since. While it doesn’t have huge category bonuses, it offers one of the most lucrative returns on everyday spend, given how valuable Starpoints are.
Well, the SPG AmEx will be undergoing some major changes as of August 11, 2015, as follows:
No foreign transaction fees
This is long overdue, in my opinion, but American Express is finally eliminating the foreign transaction fees on this credit card. The foreign transaction fees on the card are currently 2.7%, so as it stands I’ve never used the Starwood American Express to pay for hotel stays abroad, even at Starwood properties. Instead I’ve used the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Citi ThankYou® Premier Card.
It’s great that they’ll finally be eliminating these foreign transaction fees, making this card a great option for credit card spend abroad (where I spend over half of my time).
Complimentary unlimited Boingo wi-fi
Starwood American Express cardmembers will enjoy complimentary unlimited wifi-access when enrolling in the Boingo American Express Preferred Plan. This is valid for up to four devices at more than a million hotspots worldwide. This is similar to the benefit which was added to The Platinum Card® from American Express last year.
When I first registered for Boingo I didn’t think I’d get much use out of it, though I’ve been really surprised, as I’ve used it at a ton of airports which otherwise charge for wifi. I guess I never knew just how useful it is because Boingo is often a “partner” of whoever the wifi provider at an airport is, so you sometimes have to go to the bottom of the log-in page to enter your Boingo credentials.
Complimentary in-room premium internet access
Late last year Starwood announced that they would add complimentary wifi for all SPG members when booking directly through Starwood.
Gold and Platinum members now receive complimentary premium internet.
SPG AmEx members will also receive complimentary premium in-room internet access at Starwood hotels, which is awesome news.
Sheraton club lounge access for SPG AmEx Business card members
This is probably the single biggest new perk of all. Those with the SPG Business AmEx (not the SPG Personal AmEx), will receive access to Sheraton Club Lounges when staying at those hotels. That’s a huge perk, given that otherwise you have to pay for club access or be a Platinum member to get access.
Sheraton hotels are about to rebrand, so I suspect club lounges will get even better. And do keep in mind that in many cases (especially outside the US) Sheraton Club Lounges are already really nice, like at the Sheraton Salzburg.
Annual fee increasing
Not surprising, the annual fee on the SPG AmEx is being raised from $65 per year to $95 per year, which is more in line with what other co-branded airline and hotel credit cards charge. That being said, the first year’s annual fee continues to be $0.
Why I’ve kept this card year after year
One thing that makes this card so valuable is that it offers two elite stay credits and five elite night credits towards status annually. Best of all if you have both the SPG Business AmEx and SPG Personal AmEx, the benefit stacks. In other words, just for having both cards I receive four elite stay credits and 10 elite night credits towards Platinum status annually. That’s a great perk, especially for someone otherwise struggling to achieve Platinum status.
Also keep in mind that if you spend $30,000 on the SPG AmEx in a calendar year you get SPG Gold status.
The Starwood AmEx has long been one of the most rewarding credit cards out there. It offers what I’d consider to be the single most lucrative points currency, given that I value Starpoints at 2.2 cents each. So for everyday, non-bonused spend it’s a card which is extremely tough to beat.
While I don’t think anyone is happy about the annual fee going up by $30 per year, I do think the new benefits warrant it. The Sheraton Club Lounge access benefit on the SPG Business AmEx is in my opinion the coolest new benefit of all, and makes that card extremely attractive.
What do you make of the SPG AmEx refresh?