Revealed: New Design for the Starwood American Express Cards (and When You’ll Get Yours)

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Along with new benefits coming to the Starwood American Express cards on August 11, they’ve rolled out a new card design — just being announced this morning.

New Benefits of the Starwood American Express Cards Coming August 11

There are four new benefits effective August 11. Three of the benefits apply to both the personal and business cards, and one benefit – in my view, the best one – is specific to the business card.

  1. No Foreign Transaction Fees

    This has been a long time coming. Premium travel credit cards shouldn’t have foreign transaction fees. Customers travel abroad, put the card away, and don’t take it back out when they return home. It’s in the bank’s interest not to charge these for customers who are regular international travels, and the portfolio of hotel and airline co-brand credit card customers overall meets this criteria. I can finally use my Starwood American Express cards at Starwood hotels, even outside the U.S.

  2. Complimentary, Unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi

    This is a benefit that American Express added to their Platinum cards a year ago. It’s free unlimited unlimited access to Boingo’s wireless hot spots around the world, something they’d charge at least $60 per month for.

  3. Complimentary Premium In-Room Internet Access

    Starwood no longer charges SPG members for internet access, and as a result they give ‘premium’ (faster) internet to Gold and Platinum members. This upgraded internet will also be extended to their co-brand American Express card holders.

  4. Access to Sheraton Club Lounges for Starwood Preferred Guest® Business card holders.

    I get this anyway as a Starwood Platinum, but for cardholders without Platinum status — and especially with the investment that Starwood is putting into the Sheraton brand — this could be the real sleeper gem benefit.

    The benefit isn’t included with the personal card. So this, along with the OPEN savings program, is another reason why the business card is actually better than the personal card – though I have both.

Time to Refresh the Old Look and Feel

I still love the original metallic blue look of the Starwood American Express I got in 2001. I’ve never been as much of a fan of the red. It was time to change, anyway, since that no longer matches Starwood Preferred Guest’s branding in any case.

Here’s my personal and small business Starwood American Express cards.

The New Purple American Express Cards!

Here’s what the new Starwood American Express card looks like:

The new card design has a black ‘core’ which you’ll notice from a side view, and a matte finish. It has an EMV chip.

They were pretty clever to send me a graphic with my name embossed on it, and also showing that I’ve been a Starwood Amex cardholder since 2001. For the record though, and for anyone that might otherwise be tempted, that’s not my actual account number!

My Starwood cards (in red, above) actually show ‘Member Since 00’ because American Express reflects the year you got your first American Express card, not that particular American Express card — I’ve only had my current Starwood business Amex for a couple of years, for instance, and it still shows the ‘member since’ date as 2000.

You Won’t Have to Wait Long to Replace Old Cards

I figured it would take awhile for existing cardmembers to have their cards replaced, even recognizing a need to move to chip-enabled cards in the near-term.

But plans are actually to replace existing cards with the sleek new ones right away. In fact, just a few weeks.

Specifically, I was told

We will be sending existing Card Members new plastic. It will take a few weeks past August 11th to get them all out though.

Who Knew Purple Could Look So Good?

I admit I’m not a huge fan of the Starwood Preferred Guest purple colors, but I think it looks really good contrasted with a black core and with the American Express logo and EMV chip. It just works.

It’s not a mic-dropping statement out of ‘Legends of Cool’, but it’s a subtle, classier update to a card I’ve carried for 14 years.

I love the Starwood American Express cards because they earn what’s:

  1. The most valuable points currency
  2. That’s difficult to earn, due to limited partnerships and limited promotions outside of staying at their hotel properties

The look and feel of the cards aren’t the reason I’ve held onto them, but I do enjoy unique looking cards, loyalty cards are enough of my life that I appreciate when thought goes into the design.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Wow…. I don’t think that I could be more displeased with the visuals of the new card…. Amex really went above and beyond with this design. Maybe it will look better in person.

  2. Hey Gary. Thanks for all the great info on your blog! Any idea if the increased bonus will be back this August? I haven’t seen anything yet and I want to get the business version to replace my personal for the new Sheraton benefit.

  3. @Rob well we have seen an increased bonus each summer since 2010 so it wouldn’t surprise me at all. Though we’re already in August and it hasn’t appeared yet.

  4. I just got a message two days ago that Amex updated the card through Apple Pay. The same design as above showed up when I went to use it, which at first confused me, since I was not expecting such a radical change.

    All of the cards are now trying to go for more visual “curb appeal,” in part to appeal to the Millennials.

    Thanks for the info.

  5. I’ll be in the middle of a trip and was wondering if the new benefits would kick in even as I hold the current card? Specifically wondering about free internet as I’ll be making a stay at a Westin on the 12th.

  6. Not sure how anyone could be unhappy with the new design. The current card is arguably the worst looking major credit card in use today. Doesn’t make up for the increased annual fee, but at least I won’t feel like I’m using the fake card that you get in a new wallet anymore.

  7. Do current card holders retain the $65 annual fee and get the new benefits? If so, I might apply quickly.

  8. The new annual fee is way too high for what you get. AMEX has been jacking that fee up several times in the last few years. The new ‘benefits’ they’ve given to try to justify this few are not impressive. The lack of spend bonus categories make it unimpressive relative to the competition. Im a Hyatt person so I rarely stay at spg hotels so that spend or any benefits given there are of little use to me. This used to be at the front of my wallet for years. It’s now in the sock drawer. Looks like a cancel next time they bill me an annual fee.

  9. @Gary Any pictures of the old blue SPG Amex? I’ve never seen one before and I’d love to see what it looked like. I didn’t find anything on Google.

  10. not free lounge access is for the spg business card and yes you already had the card the
    annual fee was $ 65 this july that just passed but next year is going to be $ 95 which
    I don`t think I`m keeping the card because the perks does not meet cost for me.

  11. Can you please post the pictures of your existing red card without the large black boxes over the #s? It’s hard for us to visualize the new vs the old with that distraction

  12. I received the new card. HATE HATE HATE the design. The purple IS NOT as sharp as what it is in the promotional photography. The promo photos almost look as if the card image was filtered via Instagram to make it look nicer. At any rate, I have refused to activate the card (same number as my old one – just different CCV and EXP). I tried via AMEX chat and phone to have an old card sent to me with an updated EXP so I can keep the old design as long as possible. They refused.

    I know this might sound frivolous, but as someone who uses the SPG Amex for both brand loyalty (to both SPG & AMEX) and in addition, putting more than 100K annually through the card, you’d think they’d reach out to their customer base via email, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter… or any of the 20 other social media platforms that they use to keep touch with their customers and give their customer a choice or a voice in what the new card design would look like.

    I don’t mean to paint the whole wall with one brush, but I would dare to assume that most people who use the SPG AMEX are loyal to SPG and have a vested interest in the benefits provided to them by the company, thus, SPG and AMEX should treat those who are dedicated to the brand loyalty by giving them a voice in the card design replacement process.

    Rant over. I hate the new design.

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