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Through March 28, 2018, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express is offering an increased sign-up bonus of 35,000 Starpoints. Specifically, you can earn 35,000 Starpoints after spending $7,000 within three months. This is the best sign-up bonus we’ve ever seen on the card, and the minimum spend requirement is even lower than it was last time they offered this bonus.
If you’re a Marriott loyalist, Starpoints convert into Marriott points at a 1:3 ratio, meaning that the bonus can earn you up to 105,000 Marriott Rewards points.
The SPG Business Amex has a $95 annual fee, which is waived for the first year. In addition to offering a great return on everyday spend, the card offers 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.
There’s one additional benefit that really sets this card apart, which is only available on the business version, and not the personal version. Specifically, primary cardmembers on the SPG Business Amex receive club 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
For those of you not familiar with this benefit, here’s what you need to know:
Do additional cardmembers also qualify for Sheraton club lounge access?
No, only the primary cardmember is eligible for this benefit. 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 staying 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. You have to book directly through SPG or an approved travel agent if you want this benefit. 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. 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?
For the time being Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest are being run as independent programs, and they won’t be merged until 2019 at the earliest (though it could be later than that). Later this year both American Express and Chase will issue new co-branded credit cards.
We don’t know if this benefit will stick around forever, but for now it’s “business as usual,” and I don’t see this benefit being changed anytime soon.
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 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 Tel Aviv, 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 Tel Aviv
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.
Getting approved for the SPG Business Amex
The SPG Business Amex is a credit card (rather than a charge card). Amex typically limits most consumers to having five credit cards, so that’s the major limitation with being approved.
For those with excellent credit, I find Amex business cards to be easy to be approved for. Anecdotally most people I’ve heard from have reported instant approvals on this card, so it really shouldn’t be very tough to be approved for, even if you haven’t gotten many business cards in the past.
Furthermore, since this is an Amex card:
- Typically applying for Amex business cards won’t count towards Chase’s “5/24 limit,” so you can apply for those cards without it counting as an additional open account; along similar lines, many report not having a credit inquiry show when applying for this card
- In the unlikely event that you’re denied for the card, Amex typically conditionally approves people based on their existing customer profile with them, meaning you likely wouldn’t get a credit pull if you already have Amex cards
The SPG Business Amex has a big sign-up bonus, waived annual fee for the first year, and a generous rewards structure. Beyond that, I think it’s worth specifically highlighting the lounge access offered at Sheraton properties on the business version of the card. I know many people have gotten value out of this perk since it was introduced in 2015, as it’s especially awesome at international properties, where many Sheraton lounges are great.