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Earlier in the week I wrote about American Express offering 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.
- For the SPG Personal AmEx, receive 25,000 bonus Starpoints upon spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of card membership
- For the SPG Business AmEx, receive 25,000 bonus Starpoints upon spending $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of card membership
What’s especially exciting this year is that the cards also underwent a major refresh as of August 11, 2015.
Both the personal and business version of the cards are undergoing the following changes:
- The elimination of foreign transaction fees
- Complimentary unlimited Boingo wifi
- Complimentary in-room premium internet access
- The annual fee being raised by $30 per year, from $65 to $95 (the first year’s annual fee is $0, though)
In my opinion those changes are pretty compelling for most, and will more than justify the $30 increased in the annual fee.
If you’re thinking of applying for either the personal or business version of the card, there are a couple of things worth noting about the SPG Business AmEx in particular, which make the card especially compelling:
Sheraton club lounge access with SPG Business AmEx
Starwood has over 1,200 hotels around the world spread across quite a few brands. The single largest brand is Sheraton, as they have ~440 hotels around the world. Sheratons do vary significantly in terms of quality — there are some great ones and some mediocre ones.
That being said, there’s no denying that this new benefit on the SPG Business AmEx is especially compelling. Just for having the business version of the card you’ll get access to Sheraton club lounges. And there are some really nice Sheraton club lounges out there, like the one at the Sheraton Salzburg.
Club lounge at Sheraton Salzburg
Club lounge at Sheraton Skyline Hotel London Heathrow
This benefit applies on both paid and award stays, so has fairly few asterisks. There’s nothing special you have to do to qualify for the access. If you have the SPG Business AmEx and it’s linked to your SPG account, then you’ll automatically be eligible for Sheraton lounge access with each stay. There’s no need to show the card or do anything to “opt-in.”
I was really surprised when they introduced this benefit, as it’s extremely generous. Like, outrageously so. As an SPG Platinum I sure hope it doesn’t lead to lounges being overcrowded.
AmEx OPEN Savings With SPG Business AmEx
This is a benefit which applies for all American Express small business cards, probably the most compelling of which is the Starwood Business American Express.
Specifically, you receive a 5% discount on your American Express statement for each eligible dollar spent at participating Hyatt Hotels & Resorts in the US, up to $10,000 per card per calendar year.
As someone who lives in hotels full time (and largely in Hyatts), this has saved me tons of money. Given the 5% cash back and $10,000 limit, that’s the equivalent of $500 in cash for me each year thanks to the card. That’s huge… it covers the annual fee more than 5x, in my case.
For what it’s worth, the OPEN Savings program extends well beyond Hyatt. For example, there’s a similar 5% discount offered with FedEx and Hertz.
That being said, if I could get just one version of the card it would be the SPG Business AmEx. It has virtually all the same benefits as the personal card, plus Sheraton club lounge access and access to the American Express OPEN Savings program.
The card’s benefits more than cover the annual fee year after year, in my opinion.