Yes, that is a public statement that I have succumbed and just signed up for the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Credit Card.

Many of you are familiar with the eulogy I wrote when my beloved MBNA Starwood Preferred Guest credit card came to an end at the end of February.  I am so far quite happy with the replacement MBNA Travel Elite Rewards card (though haven’t redeemed it for anything yet), but when I got an email from American Express luring me with the AMEX SPG card, I was interested.

BUT I wasn’t the least bit interested in the $120 a year annual fee, as detailed in my handy-dandy detailed analysis of the no fee travel rewards cards available in Canada.

So… when I got another “HURRY LIMITED TIME OFFER, ACT BEFORE MAY 31!” email from American Express saying that the first year of annual fee will be waived, I decided to give in and sign up, because I don’t have an American Express credit card yet (it would be good for Costco, should I decide one day to resume my membership there- maybe when another promo code comes out for $25 off the membership fee, or if I start my brood of children in a few years, who knows).  I plan to switch over to a no-fee American Express a few days or weeks before my anniversary date next year in order to not get dinged $120.  I even penciled it in to my calender (I’m a geek like that, I know!) =)

As a refresher, here are some of the benefits of the AMEX Starwood Preferred Guest credit card, should you decide to act before May 31, too.

  • No annual fee for the first year (but if you want a supplementary card, you’ll have to fork out $50 per year)
  • 11,000 extra Starwood Preferred Guest points upon sign up (enough for 3 free nights)  (USE RSVP promo code 11000 before May 31, 2010)
  • 1 SPG point for every $1 spent (basically works out to the same for the old MBNA SPG card up to $30,000 in spending)
  • You get a free weekend night award for every $40,000 you spend per year (hmm don’t anticipate spending that much, but I suppose it’s good for families or couples, or big spenders who normally spend more than $40,000 a year on their credit card)
  • Get Gold Preferred Guest Status (oooh STATUS, I like!  Just like George Clooney in Up in the Air) if you spend $30,000 in a year (normally you’d have to stay 25 nights at a Starwood Hotel to get this.  Learn about getting Starwood rewards from American Express OPEN)

What kind of perks do you get with Gold Status, you ask?

  • You get 3 SPG points instead of 2 if you spend money (e.g. dinner or room service) at any of their hotels
  • Automatic upgrades upon check-in (if one is available, of course)
  • 4pm late checkout, if available
  • free weekday newspaper
  • special customer service telephone (maybe they are even more friendlier than the usual SPG ‘regular’ service telephone customer service representatives?)

With my current SPG point accumulation of 21,000 points, and the bonus 11,000 points, I’ll have about 32,000 points.  If I transfer a minimum of 20,000 points to an airline carrier who does is 1:1 conversion, for example, American Airlines, you get 5000 bonus points.  So I’ll have about 37,000 points.  If I spend about $3000 on my credit card before transferring it over to the airline points system, I’ll be at 40,000 points… enough for a free flight from Vancouver to Honolulu.

OR If I spend $8000 more, I should have 40,000 points, and if I transfer 20,000 points twice for the 5000 bonus points each time, I’ll have 45,000 points, enough for a free flight from Vancouver to London with British Airways (provided they decide not to strike anymore at that time, haha… AND that there are flights available!).

As you can tell, I haven’t been obsessing AT ALL about free travel, lol!

But the most important thing to go away with is that I pay off my credit card in full each month to reap the benefits of reward cards… It would definitely NOT be a free flight if you were paying the minimum balance of $10 a month and getting charged with 21% interest!  So, as with all credit cards, don’t try this at home, kids, if you don’t plan on paying off the credit card =)

Do you guys have the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Card?  Do you plan to take advantage of the limited time offer like I did? =)