Published on April 19th, 2018 | by William Charles115
Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury Card Review
American Express will be issuing the new ‘Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury Card‘ on/around August 26th, 2018. We know all of the details of the card apart from the sign up bonus currently so I thought we’d do a review.
- $450 annual fee
- Sign up bonus 125,000 points after $5,000 in spend (rumored)
- $300 in statement credits each year of card membership for eligible purchases at SPG & Marriott properties
- Card earns at the following rates:
- 6x points per $1 spent at participating SPG & Marriott Rewards hotels
- 3x points per $1 spent at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines
- 2x points per $1 spent on all other purchases
- Free night award every year after your card account anniversary (can be used at any property that costs under 50,000 points per night)
- Complimentary gold elite status
- Platinum elite status after you spend $75,000 or more on the card in a calendar year
- Starting in 2019: 15 nights towards elite status (you’re restricted to getting this benefit once per Marriott Loyalty program number)
- Unlimited complimentary lounge access for you and up to two accompanying guests
- Statement credit for Global Entry ($100) or TSA PreCheck ($85) every four years
- No foreign transaction fees
- Free, unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi access
- Free in-room premium internet access at SPG & Marriott participating hotels
Given the $450 annual fee you’d expect and want significant benefits on this card. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits being offered.
$300 Statement Credits
This card gives you up to $300 in statement credits for eligible purchases at SPG & Marriott properties. You receive this benefit each card membership year, rather than on a calendar year basis. Your first year begins on your account opening date and each subsequent year begins on the anniversary of this date. They define eligible purchases as:
Eligible SPG or Marriott Rewards property purchases must be made directly with the participating SPG or Marriott Rewards property and charged to your Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury Card account for the benefit to apply. Incidental charges (including charges made at restaurants, spas and other establishments within the hotel property) must be charged to your room and paid for with your Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury Card at checkout in order to be recognized as SPG or Marriott Rewards purchases.
The big question is do room rates qualify? It’s not 100% clear in the above terms, but American Express has confirmed that room rates do qualify for these purchases. This matches how the resort credit works on the premium Hilton card. You’ll also need to allow 12 weeks for the statement credit to post after your transaction has posted.
Free Award Night
Each year after card renewal you’ll receive one free night award from SPG. This award certificate can be used for a one night stay inclusive of room rate and taxes at any SPG or Marriott property that costs 50,000 points or under. You still have to pay resort fees when using these certificates. The certificate is automatically deposited into your account within 8 to 12 weeks of account anniversary. The certificate is valid for one year after it’s issued.
This card comes with the following elite status benefits:
- You receive gold status for being a cardholder
- You receive platinum status if you spend $75,000 or more within a calendar year on the card
- Starting in 2019 you’ll receive 15 elite nights towards qualifying for elite status.
It’s important to note that the 15 elite night benefit is offered on multiple SPG & Marriott cards and can only be ‘used’ once. For example even if you have this SPG luxury card and Marriott Premier Plus (also coming with 15 elite nights towards status) you’ll receive a total of 15 nights.
Priority Pass Lounge Membership
This card gives you unlimited complimentary access to lounges in the Priority Pass network. The card also gives up to two guests complimentary access, additional guests can be brought into the lounge at a cost of $27 per guest.
This card comes with Boingo American Express Preferred Plan. Under this plan you’re able to connect up to four devices (if you’re using multiple devices at the same time they must be using the same hotspot though). This plan excludes inflight WiFi. This is basically the same as the Boingo global plan that normally costs $39 per month without any discounts.
The earning rates on this card aren’t that special, the regular personal/business SPG cards will earn 2x everywhere and 6x on SPG/Marriott properties, as does the Marriott Premier Plus. I can only assume the Ritz-Carlton card will have it’s earning rates increased as well. The $450 annual fee is offset by the $300 hotel credit, especially as it can be used on room rates. Normally I don’t like to give that equal cash value, but if you spend $300+ through Marriott/SPG annually I don’t have an issue with it.
Do the other benefits justify the $150 annual fee? That depends, if you have have another premium credit card then the priority pass lounge access would be worthless. The free night certificate that comes with this card is better than the one that comes with the Premier Plus/SPG personal/business cards (those are restricted to 35,000 points) and they come with a $95 annual fee. It’s hard to determine how much a free night certificate is really worth, as we still don’t know what properties will be in what category after the programs are combined. Gold status is OK, but nothing particularly special.
Personally I think this card will fall into the long list of cards that are great to sign up for the first year and then after that I’ll cancel. Some people will consider this card a long term keeper but I simply don’t care enough about elite status and I don’t like the pressure of having to spend $300 annually to get value out of the card even if I’ll normally do that anyway. It will also depend on how easy that free night certificate will be to use.
What do other readers think? Will this card be a long term keeper for you or will you be getting the sign up bonus and then cancelling?