Best credit cards for earning Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints

Best credit cards for earning Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints

Only a handful of Australian credit cards allow customers to earn Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Starpoints, but it’s a great option to have for advanced, points-savvy spenders, as it opens the door to a host of global frequent flyer programs and even comes with bonus points every time you make an eligible transfer.

For example, Starpoints can be converted into miles at a 1:1 rate with Air France Flying Blue, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, American Airlines AAdvantage, British Airways Executive Club, Japan Airlines Mileage Bank, Lufthansa Miles and More, Korean Air Skypass, Qatar Airways Privilege Club, and more: most of which have few, if any, direct Australian banking partners.

Every time you convert 20,000 Starpoints into frequent flyer points, you’ll also pick up a 25% bonus of 5,000 points, making 20,000 Starpoints equal to 25,000 frequent flyer points with most partner airlines.

Although your SPG-earning options are limited to American Express and Diners Club in Australia, here are the picks of the bunch for boosting your balance of Starpoints.

1. American Express Explorer, Business Explorer credit cards

For a solid ‘everyday’ earning rate on the bulk of your purchases, both the American Express Explorer and the AMEX Business Explorer cards provide the equivalent of one Starpoint per dollar spent, uncapped, through the Membership Rewards Gateway scheme.

That’s achieved by earning two Gateway points per dollar spent, which convert to Starpoints on a 2:1 basis – on top of which, Business Explorer cardholders can also unlock 100,000 bonus Gateway points (50,000 Starpoints) when applying by January 31 2018 and spending at least $3,000 on the card within the first three months.

Personal Explorer cardholders can instead earn 50,000 bonus Gateway points (25,000 Starpoints) when spending at least $1,500 on the card within the first three months: so although the number of bonus points to be earned is half that of the business card, so is the qualifying spend.

Government spend accrues points at a lower rate on both cards, being 0.5 Gateway points or 0.25 Starpoints per dollar spent, although the personal card also includes a $400 travel credit each year, and the business card tempts with 50,000 bonus Gateway points (25,000 Starpoints) if you spend at least $100,000 per year on the card.

2. American Express Business Accelerator Card

Another option for small business owners is the American Express Business Accelerator Card, serving up two Membership Rewards Ascent points per dollar spent on most purchases, equal to one Starpoint per dollar spent as with the Gateway program.

There’s a lower annual fee to pay – $160 versus $395 with Business Explorer – although utility payments and insurance charges attract a reduced 0.25 Starpoints per dollar spent, as do government payments.

Once you’ve earned 100,000 Ascent points (50,000 Starpoints) each year, your ‘everyday’ earning rate is also halved to 0.5 Starpoints per dollar spent on regular charges: making Business Accelerator a better fit for smaller businesses, and the Business Explorer more suited to those spending over $50,000 per year.

3. American Express Platinum, Business Platinum cards

Love to travel and dine out? The American Express Platinum charge card dishes up a respectable 1.5 Starpoints per dollar spent at most Australian restaurants, and one Starpoint per dollar spent with airlines, hotels and on foreign currency transactions (overseas spend).

Business owners could also be earning one Starpoint per dollar spent on advertising, courier costs, purchases of computer equipment and at restaurants, airlines and hotels using the AMEX Business Platinum card, although both cards provide a reduced 0.25 Starpoints per dollar spent with utilities, insurers and government bodies.

You’ll pay $1,200 per year for the personal Platinum card – but can earn 80,000 Ascent Premium points (40,000 Starpoints) when you apply, are approved and spend $1,500 in the first three months – or $1,500/year for the Business Platinum card, aside 120,000 Ascent Premium points (60,000 Starpoints) when applying by January 31 2018 and spending $5,000 within the first two months.

4. David Jones American Express Platinum Card

If you’re a regular shopper at David Jones, slip a $295/year David Jones American Express Platinum Card in your wallet to earn four ‘David Jones Membership Rewards’ (DJMR) points per dollar spent in-store, equal to two Starpoints.

Purchases at major supermarkets and petrol stations deliver three DJMR points per dollar spent (1.5 Starpoints), and everywhere else – including everyday purchases plus utility, insurance and government charges – you can earn one DJMR point per dollar spent, equal to 0.5 Starpoints.

A similar number of points can be earned via the standard David Jones American Express Card at a lower $99 annual fee in exchange for David Jones spend fetching a lower one Starpoint per dollar spent.

5. Diners Club Card + World Mastercard

Although Diners Club isn’t as widely accepted as American Express, its personal charge card churns out two Diners Club Rewards points per dollar spent on all but government payments (on which no points are earned), equal to 0.8 Starpoints after a 2.5:1 conversion.

The companion World Mastercard on the same account carries an earning rate of just 0.3 Starpoints per dollar spent (converted from 0.75 Diners Club Rewards points), but as the only Visa or Mastercard product in Australia to offer SPG points at all, it’s your only other ‘non-AMEX’ option.

While the companion Mastercard is technically an optional extra, having it attached to the account – even if you never use it – oddly boosts the earning rate of your Diners Club spend: because without it, your Diners card would reel in only 0.4 Starpoints per dollar spent, instead of 0.8.

Chris Chamberlin
Chris Chamberlin is a senior journalist with Australian Business Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!
 

5 comments

  • Satoshi Takayama

    Michael Kao

    28 Sep, 2017 10:24 am

    If you are including platinum charge card, shouldn't we also include platinum edge card? It also earn up to 1.5 SPG per dollar in supermarkets and 1 SPG in gas stations which is probably more commonly used by people than restaurants. At $195 pa fee it's also more palatable than $1200. Of course if we are including sign up bonuses then that's a different story. But purely for earning SPG on everyday spent, I think it's worth mentioning platinum edge.
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  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    28 Sep, 2017 10:31 am

    Platinum Edge didn't make the cut here because the (standard) David Jones AMEX Card earns 1.5 Starpoints per $1 at both supermarkets and petrol stations at a $99/year fee, whereas Platinum Edge (as you say) awards only 1 Starpoint per $1 on fuel purchases at double the annual fee (while providing no more Starpoints than the DJ AMEX at supermarkets). DJ AMEX also offers twice as many Starpoints than Platinum Edge (0.5/$1 vs 0.25/$1) on utility, insurance and government payments, and the earn on 'everyday' transactions is the same on both cards: so by all counts, if you're shopping on annual fee, the DJ AMEX is better card for Starpoints than Platinum Edge, because in no case is the Platinum Edge earn higher than DJ, yet its annual fee is.

    For this reason, you're most welcome to mention the card down here in the comments section, but it doesn't make the cut for our top five (the fifth, being Diners Club, having a higher everyday earn rate on regular spend than Platinum Edge and gives the option of earning points through a Mastercard as well, even though the MC earn rate is low). :)

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  • kimshep

    kimshep

    28 Sep, 2017 11:05 am

    Not criticising a well-researched and written article, Chris.

    What this article highlights to me - in glaring style - is how poor a job SPG / Hilton / Marriott and Accor et al generally do in attempting to court 'loyalty' of Australian members.

    Each is remorsefully critical of the OTA market and emphasises the supposed benefits of booking direct with their own web-sites. Each will now trash your points after 12 months, without question .. and yet none of them seem to be inclined to co-market with local banks or airlines (barring VA's complimentary 1 year once-off upgrade).

    Amex, Amex, Amex, DJS & Diners. And they wonder why the Australian market is so hard to capture loyalty? Go figure ...

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    David

  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    28 Sep, 2017 11:12 am

    I'd definitely love to see some more hotel-earning cards in Australia (with an earn rate attractive enough to consider in place of earning airline frequent flyer points instead), because the only other options outside of AMEX and Diners for hotel points in Australia are the Macquarie Hilton Honors card (which only earns 1HH/$1 on most spend but does have the Gold/Diamond boost), and the Citi Prestige Visa (which can convert to Club Carlson, Hilton Honors and IHG Rewards Club), but the latter is out of reach of most people with a $150,000 p.a. income requirement and a minimum credit limit of $30,000.

    The US credit card market is definitely a decade ahead of Australia in that regard!

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  • Bob Burgess

    Bob Burgess

    28 Sep, 2017 06:59 pm

    I agree, this is a massive opportunity for hotels and the credit card industry alike. The market in the US for these types of cards is massive and given that Australians travel so much you'd think it would be common sense to have credit cards partnering and branding with Hilton, Marriott, Starwood, IHG etc.
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Guest

16 Jul, 2019 04:41 pm

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