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- Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
- Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express
On Wednesday I first wrote about the changes announced to the Starwood American Express, which kick in as of August 11, 2015.
The changes to the cards include the following:
- The annual fee being raised by $30 per year, from $65 to $95
- The elimination of foreign transaction fees
- Complimentary unlimited Boingo wifi
- Complimentary in-room premium internet access
- Sheraton club lounge access (for those with the business version of the card only)
There won’t ever be benefit and/or fee changes on a credit card which will please everyone. We’re all different consumers who are looking for different things. I mean, heck, I know some people who are excited when airlines announce award chart devaluations, because they say “maybe now it will finally be easier for me to redeem my miles.”
With that in mind, are these upcoming changes a net positive or negative?
Changes to the SPG Personal AmEx
For the $30 per year annual fee increase you’re getting no foreign transaction fees, complimentary unlimited Boingo wifi, and premium in-room internet access.
If you accrue Starpoints exclusively as a vehicle for converting points into airline miles, never travel internationally, and have no use for wifi hotspots, then yes, you’re paying $30 more and not getting any extra benefits.
But chances are that a vast majority of us will get value out of at least one of the above three perks, and potentially a lot more than $30 of value out of them too. And in that case it’s a big win.
All things considered the annual fee on the SPG Personal AmEx is now in line with the competition, and I think that’s fair, since it is a very well rounded, lucrative card.
Changes to the SPG Business AmEx
While I think the new benefits on the personal card are a win on the whole, I’m shocked by how generous the business card is now. In addition to the above perks, you get club lounge access at Sheratons, which is an amazing perk for non-elites.
Let’s keep in mind the other awesome perk of this card. Since it’s an American Express small business card it’s eligible for the AmEx Open Savings program, which offers cash back with many retailers.
For example, the AmEx Savings Program gets you 5% cash back at many Hyatts, so if you use the SPG Business AmEx at Hyatts you earn one Starpoint per dollar spent, plus 5% cash back on up to $10,000 per year. As someone who lives in hotels full time, that benefit gets me $500 cash per year.
So the business version of the card already had an advantage over the personal version, and now the gap widened even further.
The Starwood Business AmEx has become a really powerful card now, and I think will become interesting even to people who hadn’t previously considered it.
Personally I view the changes on both the personal and business versions of the card as a net positive, as I do think the benefits more than outweigh the $30 increase in the annual fee (which will continue to be waived the first year). Will that be the case for everyone? Nope.
Actually, if I’m being honest, the changes aren’t necessarily directly good for me. I’m a Starwood Platinum member, so I already get lounge access and premium internet. And I have The Platinum Card® from American Express, which also gets me unlimited Boingo wifi. The only thing I gain is waived foreign transaction fees, which is an awesome change.
Club lounge at Sheraton Skyline Heathrow, which those with business card will soon have access to
So do the changes benefit me overall? Probably not, but cards also aren’t custom made for individuals, and I do think these changes improve the overall value proposition. I have both the personal and business versions of the card, and I don’t see that changing.
At the very least I think most will agree that the value of the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express went up a ton.
How do you feel about the changes to the Starwood American Express — do you view them as a net positive or negative?