Tuesday, August 11, 2015

SPG Amex - New Benefits Are Active

Our beloved Starwood SPG American Express card is getting an overhaul today. In addition to the new look of the card itself, there are new benefits that are now active (plus an increase in the annual fee from $65 to $95/year).

For my family, having the Starwood SPG Amex is a must for my father's yearly pursuit of SPG Platinum status. Just for having the Personal Card and the Business Card versions, he gets 4 stay credits and 5 night credits per year, reducing the requirement from 25 stays to 21 stays and from 50 nights to 40 nights.

New Benefits
But as of August 11, 2015, there are 3 new benefits being added to the Personal version:
  1. No Foreign Transaction Fees — You can now enjoy international travel without foreign transaction fees from American Express when using the card for purchases abroad. 
  2. Complimentary, Unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi — Receive Wi-Fi access on up to four devices to more than a million hotspots worldwide, and pay no Wi-Fi roaming fees. 
  3. Complimentary Premium In-Room Internet Access — Complimentary premium in-room internet access at participating Starwood hotels. 
Plus, if you have the Business Version of the SPG Amex, you also get another new benefit:
  1. Sheraton Club Access — If you have the Starwood Preferred Guest Business card, you’ll get free access to Sheraton Clubs when you book rates that are eligible to earn Starpoints. 
Are They Worth The Additional Fee?
Being a SPG Platinum elite member, however, my father already gets the Premium In-Room Internet and Club Lounge Access, but the first two benefits are marginally valuable.

We will of course use these SPG Amex benefits, but we don't value them that much, especially since:
  • We have multiple SPG Amex cards between my two parents, so duplicate benefits aren't worth anything. 
  • We have other credit cards that already waive Foreign Transaction Fees, such as the Citi Thank You Premier, Citi Hilton Reserve, US Bank FlexPerks, Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase IHG just to name a few.
But the Boingo Wi-Fi could be handy, especially when we're at an airport where we don't have free lounge access. But to access the promotion, you need to sign up here.

In and of itself, the new benefits aren't worth another $30 per year per card. Remember, we have multiple cards, so $95 fees on each adds up quickly.

However, having American Express cards allows us to access the Amex Offers, including Small Business Saturdays. And because each individual card (including free Authorized User cards) are eligible, we can get multiple bonuses and promotional offers for each card account we have. So while the free increase isn't ideal, it's a net positive to our young family.

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