Okay, I succumbed to the SPG American Express Credit Card

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? =)


  1. chantl01 on June 1, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    I did the same thing…was going to shun this card because of the annual fee but when they hit me with that ‘last chance’ offer to sign up and have the fee waived for a year, I bit. The rewards are worth it. And I, too, have penciled in the date next year to switch or cancel this card. Being a personal finance geek like that, also.

  2. young on June 1, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    @chantl01- LOL good to know I’m not alone! Personal finance geeks unite! What do you use your starwood points for, primarily?

  3. FinancialBondage.org on June 6, 2010 at 3:20 am

    cash back, points, airline miles, free hats, tshirts, blah blah blah. All gimmicks to trick you into playing their game and getting into debt.

    Looks like you’re doing just what they want. Unless you pay the balance off in full each month. If that is the case, then no problem. 🙂

  4. young on June 6, 2010 at 9:53 pm

    @FinancialBondage- Definitely don’t sign up for all the gimmicky cards if you can’t pay the balance off each month. I am actually super obsessive about paying my balance. Almost to the point that when I charge something (e.g. like a big purchase like my annual car insurance for example) to my card, I pay it off even before I get my statements!

  5. EdM on July 8, 2010 at 10:38 am

    I don

  6. young on July 8, 2010 at 10:41 am

    @EdM- yeah, that DOES suck! Oh well, 10,000 SPG points is better than no points! I think it has always been that the US market has better credit card rewards (especially if affiliated with AMEX) than the counterparts up north. Good find (only if you can apply for an american card) =)

  7. SavingMentor on September 2, 2010 at 10:34 am

    I just came across this old post about the SPG Amex. I too used to have the MBNA SPG MasterCard as my primary credit card. I also signed up for the SPG Amex for the free year and 11,000 points. After those 11,000 my balance is now slightly over 100,000 which I will be using some of for a free trip to Europe hopefully in the next year.

    Anyway, I’ve recently done and in depth study using a scoring system that I developed to objectively determine the best credit cards in Canada. You can find it here:


    Surprisingly, even to myself, the SPG Amex actually came out as the best credit card in Canada, even with the annual fee. I also have a full page analysis of just this card individually here:


  8. young on September 2, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    @SavingMentor- Wow, have you cashed out on your points at all? You must have been saving for a while. You’ll definitely get a free trip to Europe with that (maybe even on business class). Thanks for the link- I’ll go and check it out. Interesting that even with the annual fee of $120, the SPG Amex came out on top?? wow…! I do love that they give you an extra 5000 points if you transfer 20,000 points to an airlines. I love SPG!!

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