The Starwood American Express card is one of my favorite cards. I use it for almost all non-bonus spending since I value an SPG point higher than any other point currency (my value is minimum of 2.5 cents/point). The normal bonus is 25K points after $5K spending in 6 months, but @RobertDwyer tweeted to me that the bonus is increased to 30K around August/September. The deal is supposed to “officially” be available tomorrow, but there are already applications available today. The first year fee is waived, but then it’s a reasonable $65 a year.
SPG points transfer to dozens of airlines at a 1:1 ratio, and can be very useful for topping off airline accounts. You also get a 5K bonus when you transfer 20K SPG points to an airline partner. One of my other favorite uses is the Cash & Points feature for Starwood hotels, even despite a recent devaluation. If you chase elite status, this card also provides 2 stay/5 night credits towards elite status. If you have both the personal and business version, you get 4 stay/10 night credits.
This card is not a good choice if you’re looking for “aspirational” or top-end properties. For those, go with the Chase Hyatt card or the Citi Hilton Reserve card. Don’t use the SPG card abroad either since foreign transaction fees are not waived.
A Recommendation: Take screen shots during your application. A reader of mine recently reported that Amex messed up one of their bonuses and it took a few weeks to get it corrected. Going forward, I’m going to always recommend to save screen shots just in case you have trouble down the road.