It’s here! The New SPG Credit Card from American Express

| March 31, 2010 | 1 Comment
beachpiggybankmarch Its here! The New SPG Credit Card from American Express

The new SPG American Express credit card is here!

It’s no secret—we’re big fans of travel reward cards. They fit our spending profile perfectly. We travel frequently enough to rack up points and are always certain to pay our balance off in full each month. Fortunately, when it comes to credit cards, travel programs tend to offer the richest returns, but again, only if you choose the card that fits your spending habits and use it to your advantage. If you’re an infrequent traveller, than another type of program might be a better fit.

Starwood’s back in Canada!

amex card2 Its here! The New SPG Credit Card from American ExpressLast year, we evaluated a number of different travel reward programs and finally settled on the The Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) program—see our article entitled “Choosing a travel rewards program”. So, we were disappointed to learn that Starwood was ending its relationship with MBNA in Canada. Shortly thereafter, the SPG program and American Express announced a partnership and a new credit card for Canadian residents. It was promised in the first few months of 2010—and it’s finally here! Moreover, for a short time, you can earn 10,000 bonus ‘Starpoints’—plus no annual fee for the first year when you apply for the new SPG Credit Card from American Express.

The Details

As a reader of Two Go Round-The-World, you are among the first to know about this new offer. You can read more about the card—and apply for it—over at American Express. Their marketing department writes:

It’s here and more rewarding than ever! The new SPG Credit Card from American Express is now in Canada. The SPG Credit Card from American Express offers exceptional benefits. As always, SPG members will receive all the benefits of the program, including free nights with no blackout dates at more than 940 hotels and resorts in over 93 countries around the world. And with SPG Flights, you can redeem Starpoints for airline tickets on more than 350 airlines—also with no blackout dates.

Apply before May 31, 2010 and you can take advantage of their limited-time offer of 10,000 bonus Starpoints—enough for up to three free nights at a Starwood property. Along with a number of travel benefits, the SPG Credit Card from American Express provides you with the only way to earn Starpoints on a credit card in Canada. Here are some further details:

  • Earn more Starpoints faster—receive 1 Starpoint for every C$1 in purchases charged to the card—that’s in addition to the Starpoints you earn at Starwood hotels as an SPG member.
  • Receive a Free Weekend Night Award when you reach C$40,000 in purchases on the card each year.
  • Earn Gold Preferred Guest status when you reach C$30,000 in purchases on the card each year.
  • No annual fee on the basic card for the first year—a savings of C$120. And for an annual fee of only C$50 each, you can share the benefits of card membership with someone close to you with a supplementary card. The annual interest rate is 19.99%.
  • Receive travel and retail insurance protection such as Travel Emergency Assistance, Travel Accident Insurance and Car Rental Theft and Damage protection—and much more.
  • Experience nine distinct brands including St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, W Hotels, Le Méridien, Westin, Sheraton, Aloft, Element, and Four Points by Sheraton

So with this new card, you earn one ‘Starpoint’ for each C$1.00 spent (and you get 10,000 points upon approval). Moreover, you earn a bonus weekend night upon reaching a C$40,000 spending milestone. These are better earn rates than most other cards. If you choose to redeem your ‘Starpoints’ for Starwood hotel rooms—of which there are literally thousandsa cross the globe—the redemption rate typically translates into C$0.03–0.05 cents per point—an excellent exchange rate unmatched by any rewards program.

Another Perspective

So how does the SPG credit card from American Express stack up against the now-defunct SPG MasterCard from MBNA? One of our favourite personal finance blogs, Million Dollar Journey, sums it up thusly:

I like how the card gives 1 ‘Starpoint’ for every dollar spent from the get go. The old card gave 1 point for every C$2 spent, but gave bonuses when reaching spending thresholds. Another attractive feature is the automatic Gold Status upgrade when reaching C$30,000 in spending. Gold Status potentially gives you upgrades and late checkout during SPG hotel stays. As a fan of credit card–included insurances, it doesn’t get much better than the offering on this credit card (except perhaps the Visa Infinite Cards). Flight/baggage delay is a nice addition to the common credit card insurances offered…

… Unfortunately, there are significant setbacks to this new card as well. As someone who doesn’t believe in paying an annual fee for a credit card, the $120 annual fee on this credit card is as bad as it gets. Even with their attractive incremental features, they don’t justify the added fee (in my opinion). As well, even if we try to put every expense through the card, AMEX just isn’t accepted everywhere.

Read the rest of Million Dollar Journey‘s impressions here.

Conclusion

One of the nicest things about redeeming  ‘Starpoints’ for accommodation is that the program encourages you to redeem free nights using a combination of cash and points. Hence, cash and points awards are always a better deal than the comparable points-only redemptions.

So, is this card right for you? Perhaps. As long as you evaluate your needs and how you actually use the credit cards already at your disposal. Chasing ‘Starpoints’ essentially requires that you pay your balance in full each month; otherwise, you’re going to run up against some pretty high interest rates. Hence, carrying a balance will incurs interest charges that offsets any point value!


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About the Author ()

For nearly ten years now, Daniel of Two Go Round-The-World has explored how travel captures our imagination and engages our deepest emotions. One half of the duo that maintains the widely read Two Go Round-The-World blog, Daniel treats his subjects not only as works of art but also as symbols of the cultural and political forces that inspire them. Check him out on Google+.

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  1. Cool — this is the first news I’ve heard of the Amex SPG. It does look like a decent offer. I’m going read further into it — thanks for the heads up!

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