You're jet-setting across the world, exploring remote, exotic islands and the world's most remarkable wonders.
This kind of luxury costs money, of course.
But what, if anything, are you getting in return for spending those hard-earned dollars?
Thanks to travel rewards cards, all play and no rewards is a thing of the past.
Today, you can travel with confidence and get rewarded every time you swipe your travel rewards credit card.
But with so many travel rewards clamoring for a space in your wallet, how do you know which one's right for you?
Researching travel rewards card options is a start—there are many out there to choose from!
American Express is adding a new competitor to the pack: the Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card.
We've put together everything we think you'll want to know now.
This way, you can decide if this card will be well-suited to join your travel arsenal when it becomes available.
The Starwood Preferred Designed Guest® American Express Luxury Card is designed for travelers.
This premium card offers a whole host of exciting features and benefits that reward you as you're soaking up the world around you.
People most likely to enjoy this card are members of the Starwood Preferred Guest® (SPG) and Marriott Rewards® programs.
When you use your card to pay for eligible SPG and Marriott hotels and resorts across the world, you'll earn the most rewards—6X points.
Courtney Kelso is the senior vice president of U.S. commercial cards at American Express.
Kelso has confirmed this card is for its "most premium and often-traveling, globetrotting" consumers.
If that sounds like you, read on.
SPG and Marriott International
How their partnership equals more benefits for you
For those not familiar, Starwood Hotels and Resorts merged with Marriott International back in September of 2016.
They have also linked their member rewards programs, the Starwood Preferred Guest® program and Marriott Rewards®.
This was done to reward consumers who are frequent and loyal patrons of their hotels and resorts.
Starwood Preferred Guest® program is a free membership program.
It rewards members for booking with SPG hotels and resorts.
You'll earn Starpoints that you can use to fly free, stay free at eligible accommodations, or donate to one of SPG's charity partners for a good cause.
The SPG program is now under the Marriott Rewards® umbrella, as is The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® program.
This means that Marriott Rewards members can now redeem points at close to 6,500 hotels at 29 various brands across the world.
If you already have Starpoints, they will automatically be converted starting August 1, 2018.
Starpoints will convert to points within Marriott International's loyalty program at a 1:3 ratio.
But the loyalty program will also be making adjustments to how many points you'll need to redeem for rewards.
How SPG is upping its current cards' features to benefit you
American Express currently offers two credit cards to SPG and Marriott members:
- Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card
- Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card
The Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card will be the third addition to the pack.
We'll talk about the differences between it and the other cards further down.
American Express has confirmed that both of the two current credit cards will remain.
However, they will go through a refresh and include more benefits than ever before.
Beginning August 2018, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Consumer Credit Card will offer these new features:
|Post-refresh features of the Starwood Preferred Guest® Consumer Credit Card|
|6x points when used at eligible Marriott Rewards and SPG hotels.|
|2x points on other qualifying purchases.|
|An Annual Night Award, which is a free stay at participating SPG or Marriott Rewards hotels. This benefit is once every year, following the anniversary of your credit card account. The value limit is up to 35,000 points.|
|No foreign transaction fees.|
|An upgrade to Silver Elite Status, with the opportunity to earn Gold Elite Status once you spend $30,000 in a calendar year. (After January 1, 2019, the spend threshold to receive Gold Elite Status will change to $35,000.)|
Amex's Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card, will include these new features, starting August 2018:
|Post-refresh features of the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card|
|6X points when used at eligible SPG and Marriott Rewards hotels.|
|4X points for every dollar you spend at gas stations and restaurants. Wireless services, and shipping purchased directly from U.S. providers are also eligible.|
|2X points for other qualifying purchases|
|An Annual Night Award, which is a free stay at participating SPG or Marriott Rewards hotels. This benefit is once every year, following the anniversary of your credit card account. The value limit is up to 35,000 points.|
|An upgrade to Silver Elite Status with the opportunity to earn Gold Elite Status once you spend $30,000 in a calendar year. (After January 1, 2019, the spend threshold to receive Gold Elite Status will change to $35,000.)|
If you apply for either of these cards before August 2018, you'll automatically receive the enhanced benefits once they go into effect.
Rates & Fees
I know you're probably wondering how this new credit card stacks up against other rewards programs and credit cards.
However, before we get into that, let's cover some of the basic info such as rates and fees.
This information will help you compare the card to others and determine whether it makes sense for you personally and fiscally.
Note that the rates for the card will vary with the market based on the Prime rate, but currently they sit at what's shown in the below chart.
|Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card rates and fees|
|Annual fee: $450|
|APR for Purchases: Currently 17.24–26.24%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors as determined at the time you open your account.|
|APR on balance transfers requested within 60 days of account opening: Currently 17.24–26.24%, based on creditworthiness and other factors.|
|APR for Cash Advances is 26.74%.|
|Penalty APR is 29.99%. Variable rates are accurate as of 03/23/2018. The variable penalty APR will not exceed 29.99%.|
|Plan Fee (Fixed Finance Charge): Up to 1.18% of each purchase moved into a plan based on the plan duration, the APR that would otherwise apply to the purchase, and other factors. The APRs do not apply to plan balances.|
|Other Charges: Cash Advance Fee: Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater.|
|Balance Transfer Fee: Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.|
|Foreign Transaction Fee: None.|
There is currently no known maximum credit limit for the Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card.
Most credit card issuers will assign a custom credit limit based on their underwriting processes.
Typically, they'll review your current income, credit rating, and credit history to assign you a comfortable limit.
If you want to increase that limit once you're approved, you can contact the card issuer, in this case American Express, and request an increase.
There's no guarantee they'll grant your request, but it's worth a shot.
Most credit card issuers will also review your payment history and card relationship every six months.
If you've been responsible about making your card payments in full and on time, they'll usually up your limit at that time.
If the fees and interest rates sound acceptable to you, you might be wondering how you can get your hands on this card.
Because the card is not available until August 2018, you'll have to wait to submit an application.
However, you can quickly and easily apply for American Express cards directly on the company's website.
Or, if you complete an application on SPG's website, it will automatically reroute you to American Express's application link.
Uncomplicated eligibility requirements
There's no doubt about it: American Express cards carry a touch of prestige.
But that prestige is also hard earned.
The company favors cardholders who are fiscally responsible and can prove a stable, solid income.
To be eligible for this credit card, you should have a decent credit score (think mid 600s to mid 700s on average) and solid payment history.
If you're not already a member of the SPG program, you'll be enrolled automatically once your credit application is approved
The American Express site boasts a quick decision process for their cards.
In fact, they claim to provide a decision in as little as 30 seconds.
If you prefer phone applications, you can call American Express 24/7 directly at 1-800-223-2670.
The application process will require personal details, such as the following:
- Your date of birth
- Social security number
- Annual income
- Source of income
If you have questions that you want answered quickly you can visit the company's website and use their chat feature,to speak with an associate.
Knowing your card status is easy
Once you apply, you can check the status of your credit card application online.
You can also call American Express at 800-567-1083 or 866-314-0237, Monday–Friday from 6 a.m.–8 p.m. MST.
When prompted, say "application status."
A straightforward card delivery process
Typically once you apply and are approved, your American Express card should arrive in the mail within about seven to ten business days.
However, if you need your credit card sooner than that, it never hurts to call and ask.
If you still haven't received your card within the seven to ten business day timeframe, call American Express at 1-800-297-8500.
They can cancel the card and send out a replacement.
Once you receive your card in the mail, make sure you activate it.
Then you can begin using it to reap the rewards you've been waiting for—just don't forget to make your payments on time!
Managing Your Account
Convenient and painless payments
You can make payments in any of the following ways:
- Online on American Express's website
- Through internet banking
- By enrolling in American Express's Autopay service
- By calling 1-800-472-9297
- By remitting payment through the mail when your statement arrives
Accepted methods of payment include check and bank account withdrawals.
Minimum payments that are easy to understand
The way minimum payment is calculated can vary depending on the issuer.
American Express uses its own formula., which takes into account the following:
- A percentage of your new balance
- Interest rates charged for the statement period
- Any penalties and fees
- Any past due amounts
Your minimum payment will never exceed your new balance.
As soon as you receive your cycle statement, you'll want to pay at least the minimum payment by the due date.
Be forewarned that if you happen to miss that date, you'll be penalized with late fees and interest charges.
American Express typically won't report you delinquent to the credit bureaus as long as you pay on time each month.
But, if you don't pay the amount due for two consecutive billing periods, it will report your delinquency to credit reporting agencies.
This will have a negative impact on your credit report.
Account management made simple
Keeping track of your card account is easy.
You can use American Express's online account management tool to view balances and transactions, as well as manage your account.
You can also choose to receive card statements by mail.
American Express's customer service is available to help you with any questions about your card and account.
You can contact them at the phone number listed on the back of your card or shown on your card statement.
The current toll-free number listed on the SPG website for general questions for their existing suite of SPG cards is 1-800-528-4800.
Rewards & Benefits
Now that you know the interest, fees, application process and eligibility requirements, it's time to get to the good stuff.
Let's talk about the rewards and features of this card—but also the card's downsides.
There's no doubt about it, the Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card has a lot to offer.
The chart below sums up some of its greatest features.
|Features of the upcoming Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card|
|Get up to $300 in statement credits each year for purchases you make at participating SPG and Marriott Rewards hotels around the world.|
|Every year after your card anniversary, get an Annual Night Award, meaning one night free (up to 50,000 points or fewer) at participating hotels*.|
|Automatic Gold Elite Status with the potential to earn Platinum Elite Status after you spend $75,000 on the card in a calendar year.|
|6X points when you use your card at participating SPG and Marriott Rewards hotels.|
|3X points when you use your card at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines.|
|2X points when you charge your card for other eligible purchases.|
How it's different, and better, than the other SPG cards
Aside from its higher annual fee of $450, this card differs from the other two because it lets you use more points for your Annual Night Award.
Plus, it offers you a $300 statement credit, which the other two don't.
Even when you stack this cards pros against its cons, as shown in the following chart, the pros come out winning.
- Automatic Gold Elite Status
- $100 Global Entry or $85 TSA Precheck fee credit.
- Priority Pass Select membership allows you access to more than 1,000 airport lounges across the world.
- Free Boingo Wi-Fi access.
- No foreign transaction fees.
- New card members may be eligible for a generous welcome bonus**
- Limited on where you can transfer points to
- You can use points on over 150 airlines but only with SPG Flights
- High APR of 17.24% to 26.24%
Frequently Asked Questions
- Will this card merge with any other existing AE cards?
As of now, the Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card will not merge with any cards.
It will join the current suite of SPG cards as the third in the pack.
- How can I cancel my card?
To cancel your American Express credit card at any time, simply call the number listed on the back of your card.
They will be able to assist you in the cancellation process.
- What can I use my credit card for?
Your card can be used for any purchases you make to pay retailers and merchants who accept American Express.
- Where and what stores can I use my credit card?
You can use your Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card at any merchant across the world that accepts American Express.
- How long does it take American Express to refund my credit card?
Refunds can take up to seven to ten business days to process and show up on your statement.
- Can I use my Starpoints towards airline booking instead of hotels?
Yes, with SPG Flights, you can use Starpoints® to fly on more than 150 airlines, with no blackout dates.
- Is there a complimentary travel insurance that comes with this card?
The current AE Starwood cards offer baggage insurance, car rental loss and damage insurance, and travel accident insurance.
These also provides coverage for accidental death and dismemberment while traveling when you pay for your entire fare through the card.
It's not yet specifically stated but it's reasonable to expect that the new Starwood card will offer the same or similar travel insurance terms.
- How can I transfer my Starpoints to Marriott?
You can transfer your Starpoints to Marriott easily by linking your rewards accounts.
Simply visit the Marriott link to connect your SPG and Marriott Rewards accounts and enjoy redeeming your points with either or both rewards programs.
- What hotels falls under the Starwood parent company?
Starwood has many reputed hotels under its brand, including Westin and the St. Regis.
For a complete listing of hotels, you can view the Starwood Preferred Guest hotel directory.
- How can I get the transfer bonus points?
Because the card is yet to launch, many details are still unavailable.
The current SPG credit card offers a 5,000 Starpoint bonus when you choose to transfer 20,000 Starpoints to a qualifying frequent flyer program.
Of course, restrictions and terms do apply, so you'll have to review the terms carefully.
- What are the Starwood airline partners?
You can use your Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints toward any of SPG's airline partners.
The SPG site lists a directory of its affiliated airline partners on its site.
- What does the insurance package for this card include?
If the new card is similar to the other cards in this suite, then it should offer Car Rental Loss and Damage insurance as well as Travel Accident insurance.
- How do I withdraw money from my credit card?
To get money from your credit card, you can do a cash advance.
Remember, cash advance fees would apply for every cash advance transaction, as outlined in the card's terms and conditions.
- Can I get cash advance and are there any related fees?
Yes, you can do a cash advance on the Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card.
Fees would apply based on the card's latest terms and conditions.
- Can I pay for the credit card with a gift card, a different credit card, or PayPal?
The only present payment options mentioned on the American Express site are payment by check or bank account.
Most issuers discourage and don't allow the payment of one credit card with another.
- Can I use my American Express credit card without the card?
As long as your card is open and active, the answer to that question depends on the merchant and whether you're using your card in-person or online.
For in-person transactions, most merchants will require you to have your card on hand.
Online purchases will require additional information to process your card, such as card expiration date and CVV.
It's best to have your card on you to ensure a seamless transaction.
- How to add an authorized user to an American Express credit card?
You can manage many of your card permissions and settings online.
Additionally, you can call the number on the back of your card to have a representative add the user for you.
- Are there any upgrades on the new SPG Luxury American Express credit card?
If you spend $75,000 on the card in a calendar year, you can be upgraded to Platinum status.
This will earn you a 50% points bonus and offer the following benefits in addition to the standard card features:
- A guaranteed late check-out of 4 p.m. at all hotels (late check-out at resorts is subject to availability)
- A welcome gift of points, breakfast (not an option at EDITION, Ritz-Carlton and Gaylord), or an amenity
- Executive lounge access
- A room Upgrade (depending on availability)
- How soon can I use my credit card once I receive it?
As soon as you receive and activate your card you can start using it.
- How can I report a stolen American Express credit card?
You can easily report a card stolen on the American Express website by logging in to your account.
Alternatively, you can call Customer Service at 1-800-528-4800 24/7 to have them cancel your lost or stolen card.
They can also send you a replacement.
- What credit score do I have to maintain so my account is not closed?
There's no publicized threshold as every situation is different.
Overall, you should aim to make your payments on time and attempt to pay your balance in full each month.
Ultimately it's up to American Express to determine whether it wants to close your card account.
- Will my credit score drop if my account gets closed?
A closed card account—whether closed by you or a creditor—can negatively Impact your credit score under many circumstances.
Some examples are:
- If your card account was closed while you had an outstanding balance
- If it was closed by a creditor because you were delinquent or late on your payments
- If the closed card was the one you held the longest credit history with
- Which credit bureaus does this credit card report to?
American Express reports to all three credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax.
- Can I build my credit with this credit card?
Yes, because American Express reports to the credit bureaus, making regular, timely payments on your card can help build your credit over time.
- Is there an expiry date on the card?
Yes, your credit card will have an expiry date, which will be listed on the card itself.
Typically, cards expire every 2–4 years.
- Is there a credit insurance program and how will it cover me if I lose my job?
No, there is no existing credit insurance program for the SPG suite of cards.
American Express does offer hardship programs to help work out card payment solutions for customers who are going through financially trying times.
If you find yourself in a challenging situation, contact Customer Service to help you avoid damaging your credit.
- Can I have two credit cards from American Express at the same time?
Yes, there's no official limit to the number of American Express cards you can have at any given time.
American Express, however, reserves the right to approve or reject you based on its terms.
- Can I transfer money from this card to another?
If you're looking to transfer available funds to another credit card, one of the easiest ways to do that is by doing a cash advance.
But remember, these come with fees.
If you want to transfer money from one American Express card to another, contact Customer Service to find out if that's possible.
The company has added and removed this feature a few times, so it's best to check with them directly.
- Is it hard to get an American Express credit card?
American Express is a reputed name in the card industry.
Its standards are pretty rigorous when it comes to approving customers for credit cards.
If you have a decent credit score and make your payments on time, you should have a fair shot at approval.
- How do I get more reward points?
You can earn the most reward points (6X points) anytime you use your card at qualifying SPG and Marriott Rewards Hotels.
- What can you use American Express points for?
You can use the Starpoints for most travel-related expenses, such as accommodations and flights.
You can also choose to donate them to an SPG partner charity.
- Does this American Express card cover rental car insurance?
If the existing SPG cards are anything to go by, then yes.
When you use your card to reserve and pay for a vehicle rental, you should receive secondary coverage if the car is stolen or damaged.
The insurance will not offer liability coverage.
Please note that there are restrictions, so you should carefully review your card's terms and conditions.
Now that you have a good idea about the card and what all it features, it's time to get to the real question:
Is it Right for Me?
Many times what tilts a product in a company's favor are online reviews from consumers.
Since the Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card isn't due to launch until August 2018, there aren't any consumer reviews or complaints on the card just yet.
However, that the card holds the American Express name is encouraging enough.
And if the other two SPG cards in this suite are anything to go by, the new card looks to be a promising addition to an already well-reputed group.
Both cards are known to be among the top-rated cards.
The reviews on the company itself, however, on the Consumer Affairs site are poor.
It averages a 1 out of 5 stars, and many customers cite poor customer service and problems redeeming accrued rewards points.
Positive reviews for the company are a rare find on this site.
The few that do exist boast their appreciation of the airport lounge access, the complimentary snacks and beverages, and with American Express products in general.
There will be more to uncover and learn about this anticipated card as August 2018 draws near.
To make sure you don't miss any additional details about the card as it prepares for launch, sign up for updates at the SPG website.
Have any questions or comments?
We'd love to hear from you!