Which Credit Card To Use For Non-US SPG Stays?

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It can be tough to decide which credit card to use for which type of purchases. There are credit cards which are best for everyday, and then there are credit cards which are best for individual category bonuses.

American Express recently refreshed (and is offering an increased sign-up bonus on) the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express, whereby we saw them make the following changes:

These changes were long overdue, as I always found it a bit odd that it didn’t make sense to use a Starwood credit card at a non-US Starwood property due to the foreign transaction fees. That’s no longer an issue.

So does it now make the most sense to use the SPG AmEx Personal Card and SPG AmEx Business Card to pay for stays at non-US Starwood properties?

These cards offer two Starpoints per dollar spent at Starwood properties. I value Starpoints at 2.2 cents each, so to me that’s like a return of ~4.4%. That’s pretty darn good.


Are there other cards which can compete when it comes to return on Starwood stays? Both the Citi Prestige® Card and Citi ThankYou® Premier Card offer 3x ThankYou points per dollar spent at hotels. Personally I value them at 1.6 cents each, so to me that’s like a return of ~4.8%. On the surface that sounds better, though valuing points is highly subjective.

Travis recently outlined his method for valuing points, as it’s a very subjective process. It’s certainly reasonable for some to value Starpoints at more than 2.2 cents each, while others likely value ThankYou points at less than 1.6 cents each.

For my recent stay at the Sheraton Stockholm I did indeed pay with the SPG AmEx Business Card, since it was sort of exciting to use it internationally for the first time without paying foreign transaction fees. Whether I value two Starpoints or three ThankYou points more really depends on the relative balances of my accounts at the time, so I can’t say I far prefer one to the other.

If nothing else it’s nice to have the option of paying for a non-US SPG stay with their co-branded credit card without incurring foreign transaction fees.

I’d argue that the single best aspect of the card refresh remains the Sheraton club lounge access you receive in conjunction with the business credit card.


Which credit card are you using for your non-US Starwood stays — the SPG Personal AmEx / SPG Business AmEx, the Citi Prestige® Card, the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card, or another card altogether?

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  1. hi ben
    how does it work with free premium internet access? i will be staying at Le Meridien in Amman in October and was just about to ask this question: whether to pay with SPG AmEx card or with Chase Sapphire. i consider SPG points more versatile (One World plus Etihad)

  2. I am SPG Plat, which means I am quite fond of SPG hotels in general… but that Sheraton lounge in the pic looks so dull… urghhh….

  3. I stayed at that Stockholm hotel two summers ago, and remember that club lounge well. I wasn’t as into the points hobby as much as I am now, but with points plus cash, rooms there were affordable. Nice hotel with views across to the old city. Be nice to be there again some day.

  4. Hey Ben. Are you aware that your site is full of malware? Twice already I opened emails sent by your site and it tried to install malware into my computer.

  5. Boingo seems to be worthless so far. I’m now in a hospital (daughter having a baby) that has WiFi but Boingo can’t pick it up even though the service is free (I still got a connect but very iffy).

  6. Is there a list of worthwhile Sheraton Clubs? Especially relative to cities that have properties from other loyalty chains…whenever I try to choose between hotels, Hyatts or Conrads tend to win out.

    Aren’t Sheratons normally mid-tier hotels? Please let me know. Thanks!

  7. I remember the lounge at the Sheraton Stockholm. Definitely not the best Sheraton lounge out there but it was adequate and more private than the restaurant for breakfast.

    I was at this hotel in October 2014 when a Russian sub was photographed in the Stockholm archipelago. It was also the time of the Stockholm Open tennis tournament. The hotel was one of the sponsors. I was surprised when the desk called and asked if I wanted tickets to the Sheraton box for the finals. They didn’t have to ask twice. Good tennis, food, wine and company. Btw, Berdych d. Dimitrov in three sets and the sub escaped.

  8. I got SPG card with lower bonus last November; when renewal comes – do you think it’s worth it to ask them to make the difference between that and current offering? (especially since the annual fee goes up). Would it make sense to close the personal SPG card and open business one instead?

  9. I’ve been using my SPG Amex quite often on international charges as soon as the new benefits kicked. Could not be happier for this new changes to now be active. I strongly agree with you Ben and the value of starpoints it’s simply fantastic. Headed back to Abu Dhabi, followed by Dubai, Doha and Barcelona very soon and this will be a card I’ll certainly be using often.

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