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Just yesterday, Starwood launched their new welcome offers where you can earn up to 175,000 bonus points between the personal and business card. While some of the points earned and benefits received changed, by far my favorite new addition to the card is the free night certificates.
- Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express OPEN (business): Earn 100,000 Bonus Points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary. $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95. Offer ends 10/31/2018. *Terms Apply. See Rates & Fees
- Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express (personal): Earn 75,000 Bonus Points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary. $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95. *Terms Apply. See Rates & Fees
Not only will you receive the free night certificates on these two Starwood credit cards, you’ll also receive it on the Starwood Luxury card that will most likely be available at the end of the month. And remember, you can still earn the free night certificate on the Marriott credit cards. So the more credit cards you have within the Starwood/Marriott umbrella, the more free nights you’ll receive on a yearly basis. Keep in mind though that the free nights are capped at a certain point level and it varies between the seven cards.
Here is a breakdown of the free night certificate you’ll receive with all Marriott and Starwood cards.
- Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express – Free night up to 35,000 points a year ($95 annual fee)
- Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express OPEN – Free night up to 35,000 points a year ($95 annual fee)
- Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card – Free night up to 35,000 points ($95 annual fee). Learn More
- Marriott Rewards Premier Business Credit Card – Free night up to 35,000 points ($99 annual fee)
- Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card – Free night up to 25,000 points ($85 annual fee) (this card is no longer available for new applicants)
- The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card – Free night up to 50,000 points a year ($450) annual fee) (application link no longer available)
- Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury Card – Free night up to 50,000 points a year ($450 annual fee) (this card has not yet launched, but I assume we will see it come out August 26th)
Just by having the credit card, you are ultimately getting a standard room at either a category 4, 5, 6, or 7 property, depending on the card you have. Now since the new award chart hasn’t been rolled out yet and off-peak awards will not go into affect until 2019, we aren’t yet sure how common “peak” and “off peak” times will appear at every hotel, so the value is still to be determined. Assuming you have all the cards possible, this can get you 5 free nights at Marriott and Starwood hotels a year. Even though there are 7 cards listed, you are not able to get the Marriott Premier Plus card if you currently have the Marriott Premier card (you need to either cancel and apply, or upgrade), and you will not be able to get the Starwood Luxury card if you currently have the Ritz-Carlton card. I personally will end up with 4 free night certificates a year – 3 from the 3 Starwood credit cards and 1 from the Marriott personal card. I always end up making up the annual fee paid on American Express credit card (which are Starwood cards) due to Amex Offers so the free night certificates will truly be free. Assuming Amex Offers are not completely dead! The Marriott card is the one where I’ll actually be paying the annual fee for the free night certificate so I will have to decide whether or not it is worth keeping.
Hotel credit cards that come with a free night certificate are by far my favorite. I do not mind paying an annual fee for a card when I receive something physical in return where I earn my annual fee back (plus more) on a yearly basis. There are actually many category 5 properties in New York City, so being able to use a free night certificate from a card that costs just $95 a year is pretty awesome. I visit Manhattan at least once a year and to stay for under $100 a night is pretty unheard of. While there will be times I will be using the free night certificate at other locations, I can foresee myself using them in NYC quite often!
Just remember though that Marriott will start restricting applying for new Marriott and Starwood credit cards starting on August 26th, so if there are any cards you are looking to get that you will eventually be ineligible for, you might want to apply now!