Why Retain Starwood Amex?

Discussion in 'Other Credit Card Programs' started by Explore, Feb 16, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. Explore
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    Explore Silver Member

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    My Starwood Amex is up for renewal, at an annual fee of $65. I don't think I can justify keeping it, unless someone can make a good case. Here's why:

    • I'm dropping from SPG Plat to SPG basic because Starwood didn't run any "Stays Count Double" promos last year, because they don't offer free breakfast PLUS an amenity, as Hilton and Hyatt do, and other factors. So I don't need the two nights credited towards elite status. Unlike the Hyatt Visa card, SPG Amex doesn't provide a free night.
    • I'm just short of 60K miles in my SPG account, which I can cash out for 75K airline miles and give the SPG program a rest.
    • The SPG Amex doesn't offer double miles for all travel expenses as the Chase Sapphire Preferred does, it doesn't waive forex fees, and it doesn't provide a shopping mall AFAIK. These bennies outweigh the 25% bonus when converting to airline miles.

    Can anyone make a case why I should retain this card?

    Thanks.......
     
  2. RestlessLocationSyndrome
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    RestlessLocationSyndrome Silver Member

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    I think it depends on how much you spend and where you spend it at. If you primarily spend on items that qualify for double miles on Chase Sapphire Preferred, I think you're better off with that card.

    However, if you spend a lot on other items which don't qualify for double miles, clothes, toys, etc., you might want to think about keeping SPG AMEX to transfer with the 25% bonus to a foreign airline which may offer excellent redemption values for international business class rewards. If you saw beaubo's presentation at the Chicago Seminars this past October, you'll know what I'm talking about.
     
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  3. Explore
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    Explore Silver Member

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    Thanks...that gets into the tradeoffs between Amex MR (which I don't yet have) vs. the SPG card. Ah decisions....
     
  4. misterbwong

    misterbwong Silver Member

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    Here are the reasons I keep mine. I don't travel for business so all my points are earned "the hard way." Your situation may differ.
    1. With the Sapphire, the only hotel partner worth transferring to is Hyatt. If you want Hilton benefits, you're going to have to get their card (annual fee).
    2. I like SPG hotels and have nothing but great experiences with them (knock on wood). They have hotels in every city on my upcoming trips list (so far...) so I'm happy with the coverage.
    3. Status doesn't matter much to me so not getting status from a card doesn't bother me. If you value status, you're right that both Hilton and Hyatt have better benefits for their mid-tier elites. Keep in mind, though, SPG Gold probably the easiest mid-tier program to qualify for.
    4. Earning SPG points is harder than with UR but I value their flexibility because it helps me hedge against devaluation.
    5. SPG Cash & Points is a great value.
    6. It's my only amex so I use it for Costco, etc.
    IMO SPG is a great complement to (not replacement for) the Sapphire.
     
  5. Explore
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    Explore Silver Member

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    Thanks, I already have the HHonors Amex and will retain it. I find SPG hotels vary a lot (some Sheratons are nasty, Four Points are unpredictable, and the Aloft bedroom is poorly designed), and the coverage, like the service, can be erratic. Cash and points can be a great value but it often isn't offered when and where you want it (more common at HHonors hotels and almost universal at IHG).
     
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  6. misterbwong

    misterbwong Silver Member

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    Ah ic. If you already have the HHonors Amex, I can see why you'd want to focus on them. You're right about the variation in quality. I've had good luck but other, more frequent travelers have voiced their concerns.
     
  7. thetenken
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    thetenken Silver Member

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    I think you should drop it. The only real benefit I can see really is the 2 stays benefit vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred (CSP) and the additional 25% transfer bonus (which requires you to spend up to $25,000, half if staying at Starwood). You actually come out ahead if you pay with your CSP at international Starwood hotels because of the forex fee, and the 2x points for travel equals the 2x Starwood points for the stay (assuming you value Starwood points and Ultimate Rewards points equally, which I know a lot of people don't).

    I've been trying to make this decision to pick up Starwood or not. CSP plus the Capital One Venture might be a good combo for the same price. Also CSP and AMEX Plat/Gold for diversity of transfer but a lot more in annual fee (periodic transfer bonuses), earnings (Gold 3x/2x/1x), and benefits (Plat lounge access, Global Entry, AMEX FHR).
     
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  8. Explore
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    I dropped the card, after first transferring the hefty credit limit over to my HHonors Surpass.
     
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  9. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    A reason that may not be apply to many here (but it was one of the original reasons for me to get it) is that having an SPG Amex card keeps the SPG account alive. Unlike with other programs, simple activity doesn't suffice with SPG, it needs to be stay (or dining?) activity. And I don't necessarily stay at an SPG property every year.
     
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  10. Another reason to keep it is that you get Preferred Guest Plus status, which gives you a guaranteed 4pm checkout as well as possibility of an upgrade. While Hilton AMEX is my major spend card, I pay the fee for the PLUS status.
     
  11. jwsky
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    I was told on the phone by a spg rep that just going to a hotel and buying a drink would keep the points alive. This was after I lost my points a few years ago. I have not had the need to try this, because I have and use the card now.
     
  12. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    Even for people like me who don't spend a whole lot of time at SPG properties it's a good card to have to build up, over time, a point balance that will give me sufficient flexibility when it comes to award stays. Right now I have sufficient balances with SPG and Hilton to spend a week or two in a nice location. Hyatt I burned down last year, and I am working towards building it up again (with UR points, and the option to transfer to Hyatt).
     
  13. traveltoomuch

    traveltoomuch Silver Member

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    This repeats some of what I said over in the primary credit card thread, but... there is some spending I strongly prefer to have on a "real" Amex with the Return Protection benefit and generally good dispute resolution. I haven't had the he FIA-issued Fidelity 2% cash back Amex long enough to know if it's as good in this department.

    With that said, I'm also wondering if I should keep the SPG Amex. I've also given up on SPG status, and that fee seems steep. The Costco Amex doesn't have return protection. The Hilton cards have it, but the earning ratios seem off. Maybe the right answer is the Blue Cash card: no annual fee AND Return Protection.
     
  14. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    I don't think the upgrade is a published benefit, although it might work sometimes if the hotel would rather upgrade you than a random member of the general public without a SPG account. Even Golds only get preferred rooms within the same category.
     

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