First Impressions: American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Business

My first business card!

And shipped overnight, no less.  Long story.

At any rate, I’ve very much enjoyed the opportunity to get started on some business credit history, and have access to some of the benefits of a business card.  I do plenty of little “side-gigs,” and with a dedicated business card, I’ll actually be able to keep them on the side.  When mixing business and personal expenses, things can get a bit tricky, so this is a great addition to my wallet.  Not only for the valuable SPG points, but to help differentiate between business and personal expenses.

The Card & Offer

First things first:  the card.  I know I’m probably the only one that cares about this, but the card is a lovely shade of purple.  Really, not quite sure what to keep putting in these card descriptions.  It’s made of plastic, has some numbers and letters on it.  Here’s the obligatory pictures:

I took advantage of the increased Starwood Preferred Guest points on this card about a month ago.  I was in the market for a business card, and I simply couldn’t resist the 35,000 SPG points after $5,000 spend in 90 days.  The personal AmEx also had a 35,000 bonus, but at a lower spend of only $3,000 in 90 days.  35,000 SPG points are useful to all sorts of travelers:  hotel stays, air travel, rental cars.  Keep reading and you’ll see why every kind of traveler loves Starpoints.

The Specs

  • 2 SPG points/$ spent at Starwood portfolio stays
  • 1 SPG point/$ spent on everything else
  • Free in-room WiFi at Starwood properties
  • Sheraton Club lounge access
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Access to AmEx Offers
  • Access to AmEx OPEN benefits
  • Credit for 5 nights and 2 stays towards SPG Elite Status
  • $0 annual fee for employee cards
  • $95 annual fee (waived the first year)

So what’s all the commotion over Starwood Points anyway?

If you’ve been reading through the travel hacking world, you know how much people love the Starwood rewards program.  Although there are some fears for the future, with a Mariott acquisition of Starwood on the distant horizon, Starpoints continue to be some of the most valuable in the game.  These points consistently record a value of 2.5 cents or more per point, earning them MVP on most ratings.

The value of Starpoints is high, in part, due to flexibility.  Starwood allows participants to transfer points directly to 34 frequent flyer programs (most of which are 1:1), Amtrak at a 1:1 ratio, for rental car certificates, “Nights & Flights” combos, and you can use the points to pay directly for flights by calling a concierge.  Although some of those options aren’t particularly valuable upon redemption, the true value is in the flexibility of your SPG points.  You can transfer your Starpoints to British Airways for a hop across the pond, to Singapore Airlines for a new adventure, or to American Airlines to check something off your bucket list.

Flexibility provides a massive benefit for the average traveler, and Starpoints allow a great deal of flexibility in booking travel, hotel stays, and in other forms of redemption.

When to Swipe

I’ll obviously be using the card for all business expenses, and am planning on keeping this one open long term.  I want to start building some business credit, and this is just the card to do that.  I’ll most likely be using the card for any personal stays at Starwood properties as well, for the increased earnings rate of 2 points/$, and the added benefits like in-room wifi.  AmEx Offers will also come into play.  These temporary bonus or statement credit offers are usually a good deal, providing up to 20% back in statement credits.  Check out my recent AmEx PRG post for more info on these.

Other than the increased earning rate on Starwood stays and AmEx Offers, the SPG Business doesn’t have any other bonuses or specific categories I’d recommend using it for.  Due to the high value of Starpoints, you can effectively think of it as a 2.5% back card.  Although not as elastic as a true cashback card, the Starpoints are worth 2.5 cents apiece, and do provide some flexibility to the frequent flyer.  Of course, when it comes to flexibility, cash is king.

I have these points earmarked for a specific vacation in mind.  It’s a great way for me to use the costs of doing business to my advantage.  That’s what this stuff is all about.  You’re spending money anyway, why not get a portion of it back?  Points, miles, cash, whatever works for you!  As long as you can handle credit cards responsibly, there’s absolutely no reason you shouldn’t find the card that works best for you, and maximize your returns.

Anyway, this marks my final card for a while.  I’ve got some more pressing matters to turn to in every day life at the moment, and plenty of points and miles to use up.  Besides, I’ve got a hefty $5,000 minimum spend to hit on this card by June, and I’ll have plenty of time to do it.

In the meantime, I’ll be ramping up my business plans, and taking full advantage of my new business card.

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