It’s that time of year again. Starwood Amex has increased the sign-up bonus 5,000 points to 30,000 on both the personal and business cards until 9/14/15. The cards have no foreign transaction fees. You’ll also get unlimited free Boingo WiFi. Annual fee ($95) waived first year. The points are still yours, even if you cancel the cards.
A trip across the country is now affordable – assuming free is in your price range. Here’s how to get flights and multiple nights in a swanky hotel for zip, zilch, nada.
2 Cards = 5 Night Vacation + Airfare For 2 (Click to Tweet!)
Seriously! How about two round trip tickets + 5 nights in Disneyland? You can pull this off with Starpoints. I love Starpoints as much as a man can love any reward!
Click on “Chip’s Favorite Credit Card Offers” at the top right side of this website and then “Travel Rewards Credit Cards” for up-to-date deals, terms, and conditions on these cards and more. Email me if you have any questions about which card might be right for your situation.
If you and your significant other, gal-pal or homeslice each get a card and meet the spending requirement – you’ll have enough Starpoints for two round trip flights and multiple hotel nights. I type from experience. I’ve done it! People living at the same address can combine their Starpoints. This is ideal if one is an organization freak and the other keeps misplacing his toothbrush. So, if a husband and wife got their own cards… do the math!
Starwood “Nights & Flights”
This is a fantastic use of your Starpoints for a hotel stay and flights. With Nights & Flights, you can redeem 60,000 Starpoints for 50,000 airline miles (enough for two round trip domestic tickets) and five free nights at a Category 3 hotel or resort. Or you can redeem 70,000 Starpoints and receive 50,000 airline miles and five free nights at a Category 4 hotel or resort (including Walt Disney World’s Swan and Dolphin hotels)!
Be The Griswolds
Let’s say you redeem 60,000 or 70,000 Starpoints for Nights & Flights, you do not have to use the airline miles for that trip. You will get 50,000 airline miles deposited into your frequent flyer account at whatever airline you selected, but you can save the miles for later. You could pile into the Family Truckster station wagon ala Clark Griswold, drive to your vacation destination where you have five nights in a nice Starwood hotel, and use the frequent flyer miles some other trip. Pretty sweet, as long as Aunt Edna doesn’t expire along the way.
There is no introductory fee for the first year with the personal and business Starwood cards, a savings of $95 each card. You get at least one Starpoint for every dollar you spend. If you got both cards and met the $3,000 and $5000 spending requirements for the bonuses, you’d have at least 68,000 Starpoints.
Remember, you can only get the bonus once in a lifetime on the personal card. You can get the business card multiple times as long as you have not it in the past 12 months. You can get a business card even if you don’t think you are a “business”. The screen capture below to shows you how to fill out the biz form.
(By the way, I may get a taste from American Express if you are approved for the cards using my links at Chip’s Favorite Credit Card Offers. I appreciate you supporting the site in that way. Many graciases.)
Meeting The Spend To Get The Bonus
I hear ya, “Spending $3,000 or 5,000 is a lot of cabbage. How do you propose I achieve that, ChipsMoneyTips?” Well, I’ll tell ya! Of course you can use the card to pay for everyday spending and bills. I pay for everything with a card, pay it off in full, then reap the rewards. For more helpful ideas, check out my post 11 Ways To Meet A Spending Requirement.
Use It On Small Business Saturday!
Another GREAT thing about this card: For the past few years, American Express has sponsored the very popular Small Business Saturday a couple days after Thanksgiving. When people register their American Express cards, as well as the cards of any authorized users, they qualify for that promotion. In 2014, the deal was that you got a $10 statement credit on any registered card on which they have at least a $10 transaction at small businesses that day.
Last year, I used all my American Express cards (including the Starwood cards) to buy a gift card at my favorite local restaurant. I walked up to the cashier and made a dozen $10 transactions (one per card).. I walked away with a single $120 gift card for future margaritas! This ain’t mooching. I get $120 free and the restaurant gets $120 in sales! This very generous offer from American Express was a win-win for consumers and small businesses. There’s your economic stimulus!
Remember, authorized users on your account can register their cards for this promotion. When you sign up, add your spouse and children age 15+. You can have up to 99 authorized users on the Starwood cards.
What the heck are “Starpoints”?
Starpoints can be converted into frequent flyer miles on over 30 different airlines or stays at over 1,000 hotels and resorts in nearly 100 countries. You get a Starpoint for every dollar you spend on this card. If you get one card and meet the spending requirement in 6 months, you will have 30,000 Starpoints (25,000 promotional Starpoints plus 5,000 Starpoints for using the card). The more you spend, the more Starpoints you accrue. This is a great card for people who travel or are travel wannabees.
How To Use Starpoints
I already covered redeeming Starpoints for “Nights & Flights”. Starwood will also convert 20,000 Starpoints into 25,000 airline frequent flyer miles. So if you wanted, you could convert 60,000 Starpoints into 75,000 frequent flyer miles – enough for 3 round trip tickets. 60,000 Starpoints is also enough for several free nights at a high end Category 6 hotels like the W San Francisco or the Westin New York at Time Square. You decide the mix for converting your Starpoints to airline miles and/or hotel stays. But if you are looking for the biggest bang for your Starpoints buck, “Nights & Flights” will give you enough miles for two free flights plus five nights in a hotel.
Keeping Your Starpoints Fresh
As you can see, it’s a great card. If you end up trying it and not keeping it, I suggest ‘roundabout month eleven of your free first year that you charge something on it. That will extend your Starpoints expiration date for another year. Here’s another way for you to keep your Starpoints alive. I think if you try the Starwood Preferred Guest personal and/or business card (see application screen capture below) – you’ll like ’em !!
Put a little Vasco in your da Gama!
Click on “Chip’s Favorite Credit Card Offers” at the top right side of this website for up-to-date deals, terms, and conditions on these cards and more. Email me if you have any questions about which card might be right for your situation.
Filing Out A Business Card Application
Applying for the personal card will be self explanatory. Here’s how to fill out the application that you will see (below) when you apply for the Starwood Business card. Do it this way if you are not incorporated, an LLC or are an entity of any kind. If you just said. “A what?” – that’s fine. You’d apply as a Sole Proprietor, which the IRS defines as “someone who owns an unincorporated business by himself or herself.” It’s completely legal. On the application, put your name as the Business Name and your social security number as the TAX ID.
If you have a little business on the side, you are a sole proprietor. Are you a babysitter, nanny, handyman? Heck, in Hollywood, I can’t swing a cat without hitting a dog walker… or a stand-up comedian or actor for that matter. Or maybe you sell stuff online. Congrats you’re a sole proprietor!
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