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.