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August 2018 is an exciting time for Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest members. The brand new Starwood Preferred Guest Luxury Card launches on August 23, 2018. This card is issued by American Express and offers a mixture of hotel and airline rewards. Don’t forget the other Starwood credit cards that currently have bonuses up to 100,000 points.
The Starwood Preferred Guest Luxury Card carries a $450 annual fee, similar to other premium travel credit cards. As always, you won’t pay a foreign transaction fee either.
Details of the welcome bonus will be released later, so we’ll focus on the known facts for now. There are plenty of benefits that you will enjoy.
Earn Up to 6x Points on Purchases
Because of the ongoing Marriott Rewards merger, you’re no longer going to earn Starpoints. Instead, the new currency for the merged programs will be called points. Your existing Starpoints balance will be converted to points on a 1:3 ratio to be on par with the current Marriott Rewards value.
With the Starwood Preferred Guest Luxury Card, you will enjoy tiered purchase rewards:
- 6x points on SPG and Marriott purchases
- 3x points at U.S. restaurants and flights purchased directly from the airline
- 2x points for all remaining purchases
As a comparison, the existing Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express ($95 annual fee) doesn’t offer the 3x purchase rewards. If you want to earn bonus points on dining and flights, upgrading to the Luxury Card can be worth the application.
Additional Marriott and Starwood Benefits
In addition to the 6-3-2 tiered purchase rewards, you can also enjoy the following hotel benefits.
One Free Anniversary Night Award
Starting with your first card anniversary, you will receive a free hotel night certificate every card anniversary. This award night can be redeemed at any property that costs 50,000 points or less. You may still have to pay resort fees at select properties.
$300 in Hotel Statement Credits
You also have the opportunity to earn up to $300 in travel statement credits that can be redeemed at Marriott or Starwood Preferred Guest properties. When you pay with your card for your hotel stays, you can effectively get the first $300 reimbursed with this benefit. More importantly, this credit reduces the $450 annual fee to $150!
This perk is awarded at the beginning of each card membership year. You will receive this benefit when your Luxury Card application is approved.
Plus, when you couple the statement credits with the free anniversary night, you can easily offset the $450 annual fee. Any additional benefits or points earned are profit for your next trip.
Complimentary Gold Elite Status
You automatically receive Gold Elite Membership status, the middle tier on the brand new that rolls out August 18, 2018.
Some of the Gold Elite benefits include:
- 25% points bonus
- Priority Late Checkout
- In-Hotel Welcome Gift
- Enhanced Room Upgrade (Space Available Basis)
Without the Luxury Card, you must stay at least 25 nights per year to reach Gold Elite Status.
You can automatically upgrade to Platinum Elite status when you spend at least $75,000 annually on card purchases.
Some of the Platinum Elite member benefits include lounge access and guaranteed room types.
15 Elite Night Credits
Starting in 2019, you will automatically receive 15 Elite night credits. Since it takes 50 nights to achieve Platinum Elite status, you only need to book 35 additional nights at any Marriott or SPG property in a calendar year. It can be easier to achieve Platinum Elite status by booking hotel stays instead of spending $75,000 annually.
For 2018, you can combine your Marriott and Starwood stays to count toward upgrading to Platinum Elite status.
Air Travel Benefits
The hotel benefits alone are worth the annual fee, but you can also enjoy a few air travel benefits.
Priority Pass Select Lounge Membership
You and two guests can enter the 1,000+ Priority Pass airport lounge locations for free. Each additional guest costs $27 per visit.
Global Entry and TSA Precheck Application Fee Reimbursement
Your Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fee is reimbursed by American Express. You only have to charge the application fee to the SPG Luxury Card and you will receive a statement credit reimbursement.
Free Unlimited Boingo WiFi
This is another benefit that comes standard with most premium American Express cards. With free Boingo wifi membership, you have access to more than 1,000,000 hotspots across the globe.
Free wifi comes in handy when you have a layover at an airport that charges for wifi access and there isn’t a Priority Pass lounge. It’s also beneficial when you travel overseas and are away from wifi.
Speaking of the internet, don’t forget that you also have free in-room internet access at Marriott and SPG properties.
Redeeming Your Rewards Points
The new Marriott Rewards award chart goes into effect on August 18, 2018, with seven different categories. In 2019, the award chart features peak and off-peak redemption rates, adding an 8th category.
For the rest of 2018, a single award night starts at 7,500 points for a Category 1 hotel. Under the previous Starpoints system, you would spend 2,500 points for the same night using the 3:1 ratio. If you choose to stay at a high-end Category 7 property, you will pay 60,000 points per night.
For the rest of 2018, the Category 8 hotels will remain combined in the Category 7 portfolio. In 2019, the Category 8 hotels will cost 80,000 points per night. Make sure you book your stay in 2018 to lock-in the Category 7 rate for these properties.
You can also get the 5th night free on 5+ night award stays when you use points to pay for the first four nights. It’s also possible to use points to pay for hotel nights.
Should You Apply for the Starwood Preferred Guest Luxury Card?
Regular Marriott and Starwood Preferred Guest members can benefit from the multiple hotel benefits. Make sure you can maximize the travel credit and anniversary night to gain the most from the card. Being an automatic Gold Elite member is also beneficial in enjoying a few other hotel loyalty perks like free room upgrades and points bonuses.
Even when you’re not staying at a Marriot or Starwood property, the 3x bonus on dining and airline purchases also make it easy to earn bonus points that can pay for your next hotel stay.
Summary of the Starwood Preferred Guest Luxury Card
The Starwood Preferred Guest Luxury Card launches August 23, 2018. It’s a great option if you can use the $300 hotel statement credits and free card anniversary night. If you fly on a regular basis, the free airport lounge access and Global Entry/TSA Precheck reimbursement add additional value.
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