Starwood launches loyalty-based Amex card

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on May 3, 2010

Starwood launches loyalty-based Amex card

American Express has joined forces with Starwood's loyalty programme, Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG), to launch a UK co-branded credit card that is linked to the Preferred Guest programme, offering greater rewards to both business and leisure travellers.

SPG Starpoints can be earned by cardholders for almost all spending on the new cards, and can be redeemed for rewards including:

  • Complimentary hotel nights on weekends and weekdays without blackout dates;  
  • Room upgrades;  
  • Free flights with no blackout dates with over 350 airlines bookable via the SPG web site, including American Airlines, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic;  
  • Once in a lifetime experiences such as VIP concert tickets and opportunities to meet celebrities through SPG Moments.

Recent research by American Express found that more than half of Britons (57%) have a credit card that rewards them for their spending. Of these, 28% currently have a travel related credit card that offers free flights, hotel stays or upgrades. According to the survey, travel related rewards are among the top three most popular ways of redeeming credit card reward points, along with retail vouchers and cashback.

The survey also found that nearly half of reward cardholders have previously redeemed their points several times a year (48%) and almost one third (30%) had redeemed their points once a year.

However, redemption frequency is expected to increase in the near future, as over two thirds of respondents (68%) said the economic downturn has made them more likely to use their credit card reward points on a more regular basis.

Katrina Cliffe, head of consumer cards for American Express, said: "Reward cardholders are increasingly looking for new ways to be able to accumulate travel related benefits for their everyday spending."

Among the main features and consumer benefits of the new credit card:

  • Enrolment into the Starwood Preferred Guest programme (see below for more details);  
  • 1 Starpoint for every full £1 spent on the card;  
  • Cardmembers earn 10,000 bonus points if they spend £1,000 on their card in the first three months (worth up to three free nights in a category 2 hotel);  
  • Upgrade to Gold Preferred Guest tier after £15,000 annual spend on the card, providing 50% more Starpoints at Starwood Preferred Guest hotels and resorts;  
  • Free Weekend Night in any Starwood Preferred Guest Category 1-4 hotel upon reaching £25,000 in annual spend on the card;  
  • There are no limits to how many Starpoints cardmembers can earn;  
  • A combined cash and points payment option is available;  
  • Cardmembers can apply for fee-free supplementary credit cards for friends or family members, allowing points to be earned and pooled more quickly;  
  • Automatic travel accident insurance, covering up to £150,000 in the event of loss of life, sight or limb while travelling on public transport with any airline ticket purchased using the card;  
  • Up to £150 for meals and refreshments charged to the card will be refunded due to cancelled or over booked flights, or if a connection is missed and no alternate travel arrangements are made within four hours or more of the original scheduled departure;  
  • If a flight is delayed or if the cardholder misses a connection due to the original delay and no alternate travel arrangements are made within four hours of the original scheduled departure, up to £150 will be refunded for meals and refreshments charged to the card. If the delay exceeds six hours (or is after 10pm) a further £150 will be reimbursed for a hotel stay, if charged to the card;  
  • If luggage is delayed for more than six hours after landing up to 600 will be refunded for essential items purchased using the card, and if the luggage still hasn't arrived within 48 hours a further allowance of £850 is available;  
  • Global Assist provides access to a 24-hour emergency helpline for medical or legal help should the cardmember, their partner or children travelling with them require it;  
  • Purchase Protection provides up to £20,000 per year or £2,500 per claim, covering stolen or damaged eligible items bought using the card (for up to 90 days after the date of purchase);  
  • If a UK retailer refuses a refund on an eligible purchase within 90 days from when it was bought, whether online or offline, the purchase price will be refunded (up to a maximum of £250 per item).

Chris Holdren, senior vice president for Starwood Preferred Guest  added: "This new partnership with American Express gives us another way to provide rewards for our most loyal guests. And, while the card provides automatic membership of the SPG  programme, cardholders will also be upgraded to the Gold tier after £15,000 worth of spending."

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