I got an email last night from Noob reader “Chase” asking me for the best non-Chase bank hotel card out there. He asked because, as we all know, Chase has most of the best offers…too many to sign up for all of them. [psst. Check out my post here on best practices for signing up for multiple Chase cards.] And since I spend a lot time chatting about airline cards, he wanted a good hotel card option. He already has the Chase Sapphire Preferred, United Explorer, and the Ink Bold (all must haves), so now he is trying to build up his hotel points. He’s also already applying for the Hyatt card, but wants another hotel card to throw into this app party.
If you are a NoobTraveler junkie, then you also know that I apply for multiple cards on a single day every 90 days (App Party) to maximize my earnings and protect my credit. Here’s proof that my credit is intact and excellent even after signing up for over 10 rewards cards last year and a few more this year.
Ok, back to the the non-Chase, non-airline card. This was an easy email for me to answer because without a doubt, it’s the legendary Starwood Preferred Guest Card from American Express. Yes, Amex has rewards credit cards.
Why the Starwood Preferred Card is a Must Have
First of all, SPG properties are excellent. They include: Sheraton, Four Points, Le Meridian, W, aLoft, St. Regis, and Westin. I love their top end choices and so does the wife.
Now let’s talk about how flexible their points are. You can transfer SPG points to many airlines, but in my mind there are only a couple worth even thinking about. You can transfer SPG points to American Airlines at a 1:1 ratio, and even get a 5k bonus when you transfer 20k points. A 1:1.25 ratio isn’t bad. Personally, I wouldn’t waste my SPG points on converting them to AA. There are just too many other EASY ways to earn AA miles. Another option is US Airways, but I prefer to earn US Airways Dividend miles with the US Airways credit card and with the Grand Slam.
If you are wanting to travel to South America, you can get great value transferring your SPG points to Lan Airlines. You can convert them at a 1:2 ratio! You also still get the 5k bonus for transferring 20k points. If you don’t need hotel points and are looking to transfer points to an airline, this is the best deal.
This is a hotel group, AND the point of the post, so let’s chat about how I prefer to use my SPG points. The best value in redeeming SPG points are at hotels using the CASH and POINTS method. For example, I plan on going to Seattle and staying at the Westin. I will be redeeming with the cash and points method at 4000 points, plus $60 a night. There are a few cheaper options out there and you can use all points if you would like, but I prefer to stretch out my points and I want to stay at the Westin. If you do use only points, the 5th night is free. Pretty Sweet.
And one more thing, SPG award stays now count towards status! That’s huge. Usually only paid stays will count toward a hotels status program. This is a great benefit for people like me who don’t travel much for business and primarily use points to pay for hotels. Major score.
You get 6 months to meet the $5,000 spend requirement. That’s really reasonable, since it’s 3 months for a lot of cards. At first glance, a 25,000 sign-up bonus doesn’t seem like it’s much, but with how valuable Starpoints are and how easily you can stretch them, it’s a nice little bounty.
Sum it Up
I’m a strong believer in applying for numerous cards at one time and this is a stellar option to throw into your app party. I already have the SPG card, but will be applying for the business card during my next party for more Starpoints. I gotta replenish my SPG balance. In my mind, this is the best hotel card, period! I said it and I stand by it. Yeah, I love Hyatt and the Hyatt Visa, but because of the cash and points method for booking award nights, this card just makes too much sense. I stayed at the W in Austin for pennies, and let me tell you, the W in Austin is “top notch”. Plus, I love that award nights count toward status. This is a perk that you usually won’t get with other cards. Just sayin.
Playing the miles/points game is all about diversifying between banks, and airlines and hotels cards – and the Starwood Preferred Guest card should be at the top of your list.[Disclaimer- I do receive a referral credit if you apply through my link. I'm uber grateful if you do]
Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by American Express. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of American Express, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express. This site may be compensated through American Express Affiliate Program.
— Geoff Whitmore