Sponsored: The Fastest Way from “I Wish” to “I’ll Never Forget”

Here’s the thing about rewards programs: I’d really, really like to feel rewarded. Drugstore gift cards don’t feel rewarding. Cashing in points for an appliance I will only use once definitely isn’t rewarding. Rewards should be something special, something that provides a valuable experience.

That’s why I’m signing up for a Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express. Basically, you earn a point for every dollar you spend and then you can use those points on swanky hotels, blackout-free flights, and something called SPG Moments – that, I’ll get to in a minute. The card costs $120 annually (and $50 per extra card), and you get 10,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 during your first three months of card membership. That’s why I’m getting my card now; Christmas shopping ought to put those bonus points in the bag.

Travel is pretty high up on my agenda—after all, that’s a reward if I’ve ever heard of one—so it’s pretty cool that I can use Starpoints at over eleven hundred hotels in nearly one hundred countries. Seriously, look at this list. Points can be used any night, no blackout dates, on standard hotel rooms, with no extra cost at Starwood luxury hotels like Le Meridien, Westin, and the Sheraton. If I want to, I can get there by redeeming Starpoints for frequent flyer miles with nearly thirty airlines. The card also comes with all kinds of travel insurance: travel emergency assistance, $500,000 travel accident insurance, car rental theft and damage insurance, flight and baggage delay insurance, lost or stolen baggage insurance, hotel burglary insurance, purchase protection . . . all the stuff that can derail a vacation, this card covers.

Another great perk of being an American Express Cardmember is the Front Of The Line access I get. Rather than waiting around for tickets to go live (and suffering through the ensuing ticket website crash), Front Of The Line lets you buy tickets in advance for concerts, theatre shows, and special events . . . like Kanye this November.

Finally, the most exciting thing about this card, SPG Moments. Moments are cool experiences that you can bid on with your Starpoints. In the past, Cardmembers have had the chance to win a dinner with Chef Morimoto, driven through Austria on an ultimate Bentley road trip, and attended the Playboy Golf Super Scramble in Miami.

Now that sounds like being rewarded.

Photo courtesy of Patrick Rudolph.

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