Full disclosure: This experience was in conjunction with the SPG Amex Stars program I’m participating in, courtesy of the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express. They covered the cost of my flights to New York and two-night stay at the Westin Times Square New York. That being said, all opinions expressed are my own.
For the past several years I’ve been participating in the SPG Amex Stars program, which has taken me to some pretty awesome places. I love the SPG Amex, and it’s one of the cards I’ve had in my wallet for the longest amounts of time. It was one of the very first cards I applied for when I was 18, and I’ve had it ever since.
What makes Starpoints so awesome
As I’ve often explained, I consider Starpoints to be the single most valuable points currency out there. I value each Starpoint at 2.2 cents each, which is higher than I value any other individual points currency. The reason for that is because of how versatile Starpoints are. They can efficiently be redeemed for hotel stays, especially when booking free nights with the fifth night free, or when using Cash & Points.
For example, I stayed at the St. Regis Bal Harbour with my parents over Christmas 2014, a stay which would have retailed for $1,200+ per night.
But as someone who loves flying premium cabins, I also love how Starpoints can efficiently be converted into airline miles. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the only hotel points currency where converting them into airline miles is actually a good deal.
That’s because they convert into airline miles at a 1:1 ratio, and for every 20,000 points you transfer, you get a 5,000 point bonus. So if transferring in the right increments, each Starpoint is worth 1.25 airline miles. And sometimes even more than that, as we sometimes see transfer bonuses when converting Starpoints into airline miles.
Simply put, I hoard Starpoints. They’re the only currency that I voluntarily have 500,000+ of at any given time, since they haven’t devalued, as far as I’m concerned. I’ve valued them consistently for over five years now.
The refreshed SPG Amex
The SPG Personal Amex (Rates & Fees) and SPG Business Amex (Rates & Fees) underwent a major refresh as of August 11, 2015, which makes the card even more compelling. These changes included the following:
- The elimination of foreign transaction fees
- Complimentary unlimited Boingo wifi
- Complimentary in-room premium internet access
- Sheraton club lounge access (for those with the SPG Business Amex)
- The annual fee being raised by $30 per year, from $65 to $95 (the first year’s annual fee is $0, though)
There are several great new benefits there, though the best has to be that those with the business version of the card now receive access to Sheraton club lounges, which is an awesome value.
Getting tickets to the SPG Amex US Open cardmember event
A couple of days ago I wrote about my experience at the SPG Luxury Suite at the US Open, which SPG members can gain access to through SPG Moments. So you can redeem Starpoints for that experience, and it’s a heck of a value.
The SPG Amex cardmember event at the US Open is different, but equally awesome. It’s available exclusively to those with the SPG Personal Amex or SPG Business Amex, though you can’t redeem points for it. Instead, you can pay $110 for the tickets.
However, for that price you’re getting:
- Lower promenade seats at Arthur Ashe stadium for quarterfinal night matches (which retail for $115)
- Access to the SPG Amex cardmember event, which includes drinks, appetizers, etc.
- A pretty snazzy gift bag, including a signed copy of Andre Agassi’s book, a $50 Ralph Lauren gift card, a $10 American Express gift card, a Centurion Lounge pass, and more
Attending the SPG Amex US Open cardmember event
I once again went with to this event with my mom, and we arrived at around 5PM for the 5:30PM cocktail reception. We picked up our tickets at will call, and followed the signage to the Hospitality Pavilion, which gets you fast tracked through security.
The Hospitality Pavilion hosts all sort of events, and upon presenting our tickets we were directed to the SPG Amex event. The entryway is gorgeous, and doesn’t at all feel like it’s at a tennis stadium.
The SPG Amex event was located inside the entrance and to the right. Upon registering we were given wristbands.
The room itself was spacious, and I’d estimate there were maybe about 100 people in attendance. Seating was split between couches, dining tables, and then bar-style seating.
While the event is advertised as offering h’ordeuvres, I’d say in reality it’s just about a dinner spread. The food is fantastic, with all kinds of seafood, salad, chicken, cold cuts, etc.
On top of the impressive spread, there were servers constantly roaming to offer more appetizers, which weren’t otherwise available at the buffet.
On top of that there was an open bar with liquor, beer, wine, etc.
Every year they have a different pro tennis player speaking at the event. And this year it was possibly the most exciting guest yet — Andre Agassi! My mom is a huge tennis fan, so was clearly pretty starstruck when she saw him.
First there was about a 15 minute conversation he had with the host, and that was followed by a Q&A.
As I said above, my mom is a huge tennis fan, so was really excited by this. She’s usually a pretty shy person, but she was actually the first person to ask him a question during the Q&A. Given that Andre Agassi is married to Steffi Graf (another professional tennis player), my mom asked whether their two kids are also into tennis as much.
Here’s part of Andre’s response:
After the Q&A anyone at the event could have their picture taken with him.
At that point it was time for night matches, so tickets were distributed. The dessert spread was also put out at this point.
I especially loved the SPG Amex cupcakes.
The match started at 7PM, at which point we headed to the stadium, which was just a short walk away. We lucked out, as our tickets were for the men’s quarterfinals between Roger Federer and Richard Gasquet. This was my first time seeing Federer in person, and it was super impressive. Unfortunately it wasn’t much of a game, as Federer easily won in three sets.
It continues to be an excellent value, available exclusively to those with the SPG Personal Amex personal or SPG Business Amex. The tennis tickets would retail for $115 alone, so for $5 less you get the tickets and access to an incredible cardmember event.
Kudos to American Express and Starwood for offering this!
Have you attended an SPG Amex US Open cardmember event? What was your experience like?
The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express (Rates & Fees), and Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express (Rates & Fees).