How I Stay in 5-Star Hotels for Free

If there is one thing that almost everyone has, and uses often these days, it’s a credit card. Security, convenience and the added benefit of earning “points” with every purchase makes them the obvious choice over cash in most situations.

Selecting a credit card, however, can be a daunting task. Different annual fees, APR, benefits and other restrictions vary significantly from card to card and between companies. For people who travel, it is particularly important to select a card for flights or other travel rewards.

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Behold, Starwood Preferred Guest credit cards!

A good card to add to a traveler’s wallet is the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) credit card from American Express. Available to residents of the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Japan, the card is free for the first year, and $95 a year for each subsequent year.

As American Express is becoming more widely accepted at stores around the world, it has become easier than ever to start earning points through purchases towards free night stays in hotels around the world. This year alone I have stayed in Nashville, Brussels and Dublin for completely free thanks to the points I have earned through SPG.

I must clarify that I am absolutely NOT a financial adviser, nor an expert on credit cards. This information is solely from my personal experiences with the program, as well as information from their terms of service from the Starwood Preferred Guest website.

The key part of making a credit card’s point system worth it is paying it off in full, every single month. This may seem obvious information, but too often, people get way over zealous with the purchasing component of earning points, and forget that they also need to pay off what they spent. This credit card does have high APR rates, which can be extremely damaging to an irresponsible user.

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The Westin Dublin
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The Aloft West End Nashville

The great thing about these American Express cards is that they are now also becoming much more widely accepted at international retailers. I have seen throughout Madrid, in my short time living here, AMERICAN EXPRESS stickers on the doors of many shops and restaurants. Starwood Preferred Guest affiliated hotels include the 11 below, and it has been confirmed that soon, Marriott will officially acquire the brand, expanding the benefits to their hotels as well.

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The mobile app makes it even easier to browse various hotels at which to use Starpoints, as well as managing the amount of Starpoints the account holder has.

In addition to redeeming Starpoints at the above listed hotels, points can also be used to book flights on over 30 airlines, all with no blackout dates.

In conclusion, I would highly recommend this card to a younger traveler seeking to start building points to use for future trips. The first free year is great, and the $95/year fee thereafter is a small fee to pay for the incredible benefits of having this card. With even just one Starpoints redemption per year, the fee pays itself. Many of the hotels would easily cost over $200 a night, and with Starpoints they are completely free.

I hope you found this information about the program useful, and are finding ways to earn points to fund your future travels!

 

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