Added Benefits to the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card

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American Express just recently added some new benefits to the card that started on August 11, 2015. These changes are for all card holders, both existing and new, and can really add some value to being a card member. There are a total of four new benefits, where the personal version of the card will receive three of them and the business version will receive all four.

The new benefits include:

  • No Foreign Transaction Fees. While many other cards have been waiving the foreign transaction fees for awhile now, many American Express cards (this one included) still charged a few percentage points when using the card internationally. This meant I never used my Starwood card overseas, even if I was staying at a Starwood hotel. Now that there will be no foreign transaction fees for both cards, this will allow folks to use the co-branded card during Starwood stays to reap the double points perk.
  • Boingo Wi-Fi. Both cards will now give you free, unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi at more than 1,000,000 Boingo hotspots worldwide (enrollment required). Personally, this isn’t a deal breaker for me as many places are offering free WiFi. But if you are one that typically pays for Boingo Wi-Fi or have a monthly subscription, this will help you save some money.
  • Premium In-Room Internet Access. Both cards will now give you the upgraded premium internet access when staying at a Starwood hotel. This is already complimentary for those with Gold and Platinum members. Also, even if you do not have Starwood status, as long as you book your hotel directly with Starwood, you’ll receive free in-room internet access (it just might not be the upgraded premium access). Again, not the biggest added benefit, but still a nice enhancement for simply having the card.
  • Free Access to Sheraton Club Lounges. This benefit is only being extended to those with the Starwood Preferred Guest Business card (not personal card members). In my opinion this is a huge perk to the card. This is a benefit that is already given to those with Platinum status, but now everyone can enjoy lounge access regardless of status. Remember though, this is only for Sheraton hotels. While lounges can be spotty throughout the US, I’ve found international lounges to be top notch at Sheraton hotels. Having lounge access internationally will definitely save me at least $100 per year going forward.

While new benefits is always appreciated, they do come at a cost – the annual fee of the card increased. Even with the increased annual fee, I still find this card very valuable. I find Starwood points one of the strongest currencies. Their Cash + Points option is hands down one of the best values when redeeming points and there are many top notch hotels within the Starwood chain. Also, there is much flexibility with this program since you can also transfer points to participating airlines with a 1:1 ratio (most airlines) and receive a 5,000 bonus for every 20,000 points you transfer. I also do not mind paying an annual fee on an American Express credit card since I earn back the annual fee plus more every year with the numerous American Express statement credit offers that I write about often! More on this in a later post this week.

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