How To Pay For Your Next Vacation By Hosting On Airbnb

This post is written by Jordan Bishop, perpetual traveler and founder of Yore Oyster. Since this promotion has now expired, we’ve updated the signup links to one that offers you ~$40 for using Airbnb as a guest and ~$100 for becoming a host, but you will not receive an additional $150 on top of those bonuses.

Airbnb is giving Toronto/GTA residents a big incentive to start hosting travelers. Here’s why hosting on Airbnb will make your travels, and your wallet, much, much richer.

Airbnb is the peer-to-peer marketplace that allows “regular folks” like you and I to rent out a spare room, couch, or our entire house/apartment to travelers looking for a place to stay in the GTA. And over the past few years, Airbnb has taken the travel world by storm, offering millions of spare bedrooms and entire homes up for rent on their worldwide accommodations network.

Put simply, Airbnb is one of the coolest places on the web.

Yet as Airbnb has grown, a problem has developed in major cities like Toronto: there are plenty of travelers looking for places to stay, but not nearly enough homes for them to stay in.

Travelers are practically begging hosts for a place to sleep, but there simply aren’t enough places for them to stay in the GTA.

Are you starting to see the opportunity here?

Knowing that we offer the lowest prices in the world on flights like our direct Toronto to London flight or the widely sought-after direct Toronto to Hong Kong flight, Airbnb shared this little tidbit with us: they need more hosts in and around Toronto.

So together, we’ve assembled a special Yore Oyster exclusive offer to make it happen:

As a Yore Oyster reader, you will receive a $150 bonus upon creating your new Airbnb listing by August 30 and hosting your first guest by October 30.
START HOSTING TODAY

But first – why aren’t you currently renting out your space on Airbnb?

You don’t have enough space, or you never leave home?No – you can rent out anything from the couch in your living room up to your entire home, so nearly all of us have somewhere we could offer. Plus, most of us are away from home at least 2 nights per month, so if you rent out your place at a very conservative $75/night, that’s $1,800/year you’re leaving on the table!
You’re afraid that your things may be damaged or stolen by a dishonest guest?Nope – Airbnb’s $1,000,000 host guarantee has you covered there. In the extremelyrare case that your place is damaged, Airbnb will take care of the damages up to $1,000,000. Ya, $1 million.

So what’s the real reason that so many people who could easily be making an extra $1200+ per year to put toward the cheapest flights on the market don’t rent out their space on Airbnb?

Because hosting seems difficult – even though it’s really, really easy.

That’s why we want you to focus on just one thing here: How quickly can you get your first booking?

Why?

Because once you’ve got one booking under your belt, you’ll internalize everything I’m about to tell you about hosting:

You’ll know what it’s like to make a new friend from somewhere else across the world.

You’ll know what it’s like to host a fellow traveler and make their stay in Toronto extra special.

And you’ll know what it’s like to leverage your home as an asset that can make you money, whether you’re currently living in it yourself or whether you’re off somewhere else in the world.START MAKING MONEY TODAY

How much will I earn as an Airbnb host?

Airbnb has an earnings tool that helps you learn how much you can earn as a host, and the numbers may surprise you. (Note: Feel free to use the earnings tool on that page, but don’t signup there or you won’t receive the $150 bonus!)

Okay – let’s assume you live alone in a studio apartment in Toronto. You’re planning a two-week trip to Hong Kong, and you’d like to rent out your apartment the entire time you’re gone.

You go to the Airbnb earnings tool and see that you can earn over $800/week by renting your apartment out to a couple visiting Toronto. If your apartment is well-located – near the CN Tower or along Queen Street West, for example – you can expect to earn quite a bit more. Still, even just an average amount of earnings will cover the cost of your direct flights both to Hong Kong and back from Hong Kong.

Just like that, the bulk of your trip cost has been paid for, and you hardly had to lift a finger.

Average Host Earnings in Toronto (Source: Airbnb)
Entire Home/Apartment, 4 Guests$1,036 per week
Entire Home/Apartment, 2 Guests$803 per week
Private Bedroom, 2 Guests$514 per week
Couch/Futon, 1 Guest$317 per week

Also, did you know that you don’t need to change anything about your home to make it suitable for Airbnb? Of course your place should be clean when your guests arrive, but if you don’t have air conditioning, a laundry machine, or something else that’s holding you back from hosting, that’s okay. You select the amenities you do have when signing up, so your guests will never be surprised when they arrive.CLAIM YOUR EXTRA $800/WEEK

What are some hidden benefits of being an Airbnb host?

Make friends all around the worldExpect your guests to come from absolutely everywhere, which means you now have a network of friends who would love to show you the best spots their city has to offer.
Global VIP statusWhen every Airbnb fills up during city-wide events like the Pan-Am Games, who do you think other hosts prioritize as their guests? That’s right, the guests they know they have the most in common with: other hosts.
Travel for next-to-nothingAs we showed in the Hong Kong example above, renting out your home while traveling can pay for most, if not all, of the cost of your trip. See how Jeff from Toronto has funded his trip to climb Mount Kilimanjaro 100% through Airbnb below.

Despite what you may have believed in the past, your home is now an asset, not a liability.

What risks are there to being an Airbnb host?

As it turns out, Airbnb has made hosting totally risk-free:

No long-term commitmentIf you host once and decide it’s not for you, simply take down your listing and be done with it. Of course, you’ll still get paid for the guests you did host, as well as the $150 bonus that comes with this special offer.
24/7 customer serviceWhenever you have any questions about how to be a great host, an upcoming guest experience, or anything else, their customer service team is available 24/7 and more than happy to help.
Totally freePlus this special offer gets you an $150 extra upon hosting your first guest before October 30th.
$1 million in coverageIn the rare case that something in your apartment is damaged after hosting a guest, Airbnb’s Host Guarantee covers your apartment for damages up to $1 million. Rest easy knowing your home and your possessions are completely safe.
All guests have been verified and reviewedEvery Airbnb user, both hosts and guests, have their previous Airbnb stays rated and reviewed, so you know exactly who’s coming to stay and what to expect from them.

How to set up a profitable Airbnb listing in under 30 minutes

Creating a listing on Airbnb is much, much simpler than you think it is; in fact, you can do the whole thing in 3 steps and under 30 minutes. Our special link starts the process, and will get you the $150 bonus upon hosting your first guest by October 30, 2016 – though keep in mind you need to publish your listing by August 30!

Step 1:
Basic home info
(5 minutes)
Start Here
Airbnb asks a few simple questions, and you just need to check the right boxes:
How many bedrooms/bathrooms do you have?
Do you have Wi-Fi?
Air conditioning?
Is your place better for solo travelers or big groups?
Step 2:
Photos
(15 minutes)
1 photo is technically enough to set up your listing, but having 8+ improves your odds of receiving a booking. Don’t worry, the photos don’t need to be of amazing quality yet – just whip out your smartphone and take a few of the living room, bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom right now.

Pro Tip: Did you know Airbnb offers a free professional photography service? Once your listing is live on the site, you can request to have a pro come and take beautiful photos of your home completely free! That means you’ll need to upload a few photos on your own right now to get your listing up on the site by August 30, but as soon as your listing is up you should capitalize on this amazing service.
Step 3:
Availability calendar and price
(10 minutes)
Are you available to host every night of the week, just on weekends, or only one day a month? Whenever it is, Airbnb’s intuitive software helps you through the selection process. Pricing works the exact same: you can either choose Airbnb’s suggested price based on your home’s amenities and location, or you can set your own price, including weekly and monthly discounts for when you’re away on longer trips.

My recommendation: Start with Airbnb’s recommended price. This will help you book your first guest as quickly as possible while still getting a fair price for your space.

That’s it! Your listing is ready to go live, and you probably spent well under 30 minutes getting to this point.

So what are you waiting for?

Confirming your first booking quickly is important, not only so that you ensure you get your $150 new Toronto host bonus by taking 30 minutes to create a listing by August 30 and hosting your first guest by October 30, but so that you can see just how easy it is to make a lot more extra money using Airbnb.

If you’re not already capitalizing on your space, you could be leaving hundreds or even thousands of dollars on the table each and every month.

You can buy a lot of flights with that sort of money.
START HOSTING ON AIRBNB TODAY

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The SPG Amex Canada: One Of The Best Hotel Credit Cards In Canada

Important Note: The SPG Amex Canada card has been refreshed as the Marriott Bonvoy Canada card. The current card promotion is no longer available under its original SPG name.

The SPG Amex Canada card is one of the best travel cards for Canadians, hands-down. It comes with an exceptional welcome bonus of 50,000 points—which we’ll show you how to turn into 15 nights at a 5-star hotel—an additional free hotel night every year, and an impressive travel insurance policy to keep you and your belongings safe and secure.

With an annual fee of just $120, this card pays for itself several times over, even for infrequent travelers. Even if you plan to spend just one night per year in a hotel, the SPG Amex Canada card is a no-brainer.

So why is everyone talking about the SPG American Express Canada card these days?

A few reasons. For starters, its 50,000 welcome points bonus is a seriously impressive one. On top of that, the SPG platform is one of the most flexible travel rewards programs out there, right up there with Amex Membership Rewards Points.

But the card isn’t only good for hotels—it offers plenty of benefits for those who want to fly, too. Whether it’s buying a flight with your points or staying covered with the card’s travel insurance, there’s a lot you’ll learn to love about the SPG Amex Canada card.

This post is broken down into the following 12 sections:

#1 The Basics & Benefits

Welcome Bonus Points50,000
Starpoints Earned Per $1 Spent At SPG & Marriott Properties5.5
Starpoints Earned Per $1 Spent On All Other Card Purchases2
Free Night Award
SPG Silver Elite Status
Travel Insurance
Supplementary CardsFree
Annual Fee$120

The card also comes with additional American Express benefits that come with all of their cards. These include Front Of The Line, which offers cardholders advanced access/tickets to concerts, sporting events and shows across Canada.

#2 Three More Special Benefits

Special Benefit #1: The SPG Amex Canada Free Night Award

On top of the 50,000 Starpoints that come with your SPG Amex Canada card, you also receive one free hotel night every year with a redemption value of up to 35,000 points (Category 1-5 hotel). (Note: if you don’t know what we mean by Category 1-5, we’ll explain below.) There’s no spending requirement for this free night—you’ll get it every year regardless of how often you use your card—making it an exceptional value.

What can you use this award on? How about a night at the swanky Avalon Hotel Beverly Hills, a member of Design Hotels?

Avalon Hotel Beverly Hills - SPG Amex Canada
The stunning pool at the Avalon Hotel in Beverly Hills, a member of Design Hotels

Or how about The Lexington in New York?

Lexington Hotel, New York - SPG Amex Canada
A spacious guestroom at the Lexington Hotel, New York City

Or the Moxy Amsterdam, a new design hotel in one of Amsterdam’s hippest districts? The Sheraton in Bali, with its infinity pool overlooking the ocean? Where will you choose?

Moxy Hotel, Amsterdam - SPG Amex Canada
The beautifully-designed Moxy Hotel in Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Sheraton Bali Kuta Resort, Indonesia - SPG Amex Canada
The infinity pool at the Sheraton Bali Kuta Resort in Bali, Indonesia

As you can see, the opportunities are truly endless for this benefit. And if you haven’t already clued in, a Category 5 hotel can easily go for $300-500 per night, meaning your $120 annual card fee is worth several times its value through this free night benefit alone.

Are you starting to see why Canadians love the SPG Amex Canada card so much?

Special Benefit #2: SPG Elite Status

As soon as you get your SPG Amex Canada card, you’ll be upgraded to SPG Silver Elite status, which gives you lower hotel rates, late checkout, free internet, a dedicated customer service line, plus 10% more points at SPG & Marriott properties, boosting your earning rate to 5.5 points per $1 spent.

If you manage to spend $30,000 on your card in a year, you’ll be upgraded to Gold Elite Status, where you’ll earn 25% more on $1 spent at SPG & Marriott properties, complimentary room upgrades, and 2 p.m. checkout on your hotel stays.

Special Benefit #3: 5th Night Free

This technically isn’t a benefit exclusive to the SPG Amex Canada card, but it’s so good that it’s worth pointing out here, anyway. It goes like this:

Every time you book a SPG/Marriott hotel for 4 nights, they give you a 5th night for free!

There’s nothing more to explain than that, though I don’t need to tell you how amazing of a benefit this is. As you’ll see below, we’ll use this to our full advantage to get as many as 16 nights in a 5-star hotel with your card.APPLY FOR THE MARRIOTT BONVOY CARD NOW

#3 How To Use Your Starpoints

You have a few options of how to use your Starpoints:

  1. Hotel Stays: The best way to use your Starpoints—hands-down—is on hotel stays. As you’ll see in the case studies below, your card is worth up to 16 nights in a 5-star hotel if you use it wisely. We’ll show you how.
  2. Flights: Flights are the second-best way to use the 50,000 Starpoints that come with your SPG American Express Canada card. We show you below how to get a roundtrip flight anywhere in North America with your points.
  3. Marriott Moments: We won’t talk about Marriott Moments in-depth here, since our focus is on hotels and flights, but you can expect things like VIP Super Bowl parties, private dining with celebrity chefs and more. Here’s the full list of Marriott Moments that you can choose from.

But First…You Need To Understand Redemption Categories

Marriott & SPG have their properties separated into different “Categories,” with each property falling into a category from 1-8. Put simply, lower Categories correspond to cheaper hotels, but as we’ll see, some creativity enables you to find some truly exceptional properties at the low end of the redemption chart, making your points go much, much further.

Booking a hotel in a given category is as simple as consulting Marriott’s redemption chart below. In brackets we’ve included the PointSavers rates, which are promotional prices 10-20% lower than the regular price that you can sometimes take advantage of. SPG hasn’t released their peak and off-peak season dates yet, since this is a new setup for them. Sign up for our email list at the bottom of this post if you want our tips for how to book off-peak dates.

Hotel CategoryOff PeakStandardPeak
15,000 (4,000)7,500 (6,000)10,000 (8,500)
210,000 (8,000)12,500 (11,000)15,000 (13,000)
315,000 (12,000)17,500 (16,000)20,000 (18,000)
420,000 (17,500)25,000 (22,500)30,000 (27,500)
530,000 (27,500)35,000 (32,500)40,000 (37,500)
640,000 (35,000)50,000 (45,000)60,000 (55,000)
750,000 (45,000)60,000 (55,000)70,000 (65,000)
870,000 (65,000)85,000 (80,000)100,000 (90,000)

Now that you understand how Categories work (they’re really simple), let’s look at a few real-world examples of how you could use your points.

Case Study #1: Visiting Family

Suppose you want to visit some family in Calgary, so you do a quick search on Marriott’s website and decide to stay at the Courtyard Calgary South, a Category 1 hotel in the city’s up-and-coming Seton district.

Courtyard Calgary South - SPG Amex Canada
One of the gorgeous rooms at the Courtyard Calgary South.

As the redemption chart above shows, you’ll pay somewhere between 4,000-10,000 points per night for your stay, depending on the season you visit and whether the property is currently a PointSaver.

This means that at the very least, your 50,000 points get you 5 nights (50,000 points / 10,000 points per night), plus 1 additional free night from Marriott’s 5th night free policy and another free night from your SPG Amex annual free night benefit, which all shakes out to a total of 7 nights.

If you go during an off-peak period, though, you could pay as little as 4,000 points per night, which means you could get 12 nights with your points (50,000 points / 4,000 points per night). Add on 3 extra nights from the 5th night free policy (12 nights / 4 = 3 free nights) plus your SPG Amex’s annual free night and all of a sudden you’re at 16 nights—with 2,000 points left over!

This is my kind of card.

Case Study #2: The Big Winner

I’ve recently been planning a trip to Guizhou, China, to take in the natural landscapes there.

You’ve probably never heard of Guizhou—not many Westerners have—but it’s quickly gaining popularity in the East as one of China’s untouched gems. And in the heart of Guizhou sits the brand-new Four Points by Sheraton Bijie, a 5-star marvel of a hotel that’s, amazingly, just a Category 1 on Marriott’s redemption chart.

That’s right—a Category 1 5-star hotel. Here’s what it looks like:

Four Points Sheraton Bijie in Guizhou, China - SPG Amex Canada
The lounge at the Four Points Sheraton Bijie in Guizhou, China.
Four Points Sheraton Bijie in Guizhou, China - SPG Amex Canada
The indoor pool at the Four Points Sheraton Bijie in Guizhou, China.

If you visit Guizhou during off-peak season, you’ll pay just 4,000 points per night at the Four Points, which means your 50,000 points will get you 12 nights, just like in the Calgary example above. Combine that with Marriott’s 5th night free policy for your extra 3 free nights and SPG Amex Canada’s annual free night and you’re up to an incredible 16 nights with your card.

16 nights at a 5-star hotel, all thanks to your $120 SPG Amex Canada card.

Not bad, Amex. Not bad at all.

Case Study #3: Balling Out

Of course, you don’t have to stretch your points as far as we are. You can also choose to spend them in a single night, if you’d like.

Spending the weekend in New York? Why not use your points on a Category 6 hotel like the W New York, which sits next to the new World Trade Center.

W Hotel New York World Trade Center - SPG Amex Canada
A typical room at the W New York World Trade Center.

With more than 7,000 SPG and Marriott properties to choose from, the sky is truly the limit with your SPG American Express Canada card.APPLY FOR THE MARRIOTT BONVOY CARD NOW

#4 Redeeming StarPoints For Flights

Your 50,000 Starpoints can also be transferred to 45 different airline partners. Most, but not all, of the airline partners accept Starpoints at a value of 3:1 (eg. 30,000 Starpoints = 10,000 Aeroplan Miles). If you transfer 60,000 Starpoints to any airline partner, you’ll also receive an additional 5,000 miles for free, meaning that 60,000 Starpoints turns into 25,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles, British Airways Avios points or American Airlines AAdvantage miles.

(Note: We recommend that you use your Starpoints for hotel redemptions, since they’re much more valuable that way. If you’re looking for a card for maximizing flight rewards, we recommend the American Express Platinum and the American Express Business Platinum.)

If you follow our advice on how to redeem your airline points, you’ll find that they’re worth about 2-3 cents apiece, putting the value of 60,000 Starpoints at about $500-$750 when you use them on flights.

Here’s a full list of all the airline partners you can transfer your points to, with their transfer ratios:

  • Aegean Airlines (3:1)
  • Aeroflot Bonus (3:1)
  • AeroMexico ClubPremier (3:1)
  • Air Canada Aeroplan (3:1)
  • Air China Phoenix Miles (3:1)
  • Air France/KLM Flying Blue (3:1)
  • Air New Zealand Airpoints (200:1)
  • Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan (3:1)
  • Alitalia MilleMiglia (3:1)
  • ANA Mileage Club (3:1)
  • American Airlines AAdvantage Miles (3:1)
  • Asiana Airlines Asiana Club (3:1)
  • Avianca LifeMiles (3:1)
  • British Airways Executive Club Avios (3:1)
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles (3:1)
  • China Eastern Airlines Eastern Miles (3:1)
  • China Southern Airlines (3:1)
  • Copa Airlines ConnectMiles (3:1)
  • Delta SkyMiles (3:1)
  • Emirates Skywards (3:1)
  • Etihad Guest (3:1)
  • Frontier Airlines EarlyReturns (3:1)
  • Hainan Airlines (3:1)
  • Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles (3:1)
  • Iberia Plus (3:1)
  • Japan Airlines JAL Mileage Bank (3:1)
  • Jet Airways JetPrivilege (3:1)
  • JetBlue TrueBlue (6:1)
  • Korean Air SkyPass (3:1)
  • LATAM Airlines LATAMPass/Multiplus (3:1)
  • Lufthansa Miles & More (3:1)
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer (3:1)
  • Qatar Privilege Club (3:1)
  • Saudia Airlines Alfursan (3:1)
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer (3:1)
  • South African Airways Voyager (3:1)
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards (3:1)
  • TAP Air Portugal Miles&Go (3:1)
  • THAI Airways Royal Orchid Plus (3:1)
  • Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles (3:1)
  • United MileagePlus (3:1.1—10% bonus)
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club (3:1)
  • Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyer (3:1)

You can transfer anywhere between 3,000-240,000 Starpoints to airline partners each day.

#5 How Do I Earn Starpoints?

There are several distinct ways to earn Starpoints:

#1: Card Spending

You’ll earn 5.5 Starpoints per $1 spent at SPG and Marriott properties, which includes the cost of your stay, food and drinks, and some hotel incidentals like spa treatments. Normally you’d only earn 5 Starpoints per $1 spent, but since Silver Elite SPG membership also comes complimentary with your SPG Amex Canada card, you earn an extra 10% on SPG and Marriott properties, bringing you to 5.5 Starpoints per $1 spent. You also earn 2 Starpoints per $1 spent on all other purchases.

#2: Work Purchases & Events

If you’re planning a work event, such as a conference or large meeting, you can also earn points on spending done by your guests. As a Silver Elite member, you can earn up to 66,000 points per event (earned at 2 Starpoints per $1 spent by you or your guests). You also earn 10 Elite Qualifying Nights for your first meeting, and 1 Elite Qualifying Night for every 20 room nights booked by you or your guests. Even if you’re planning a small event, these can accumulate very quickly.

This all adds up to one thing: if you’re an event planner, admin assistant or anyone planning a gathering, you need the SPG Amex Canada card.

#3: Special Purchases

Some purchases grant you additional Starpoints when you charge them to your card. For example, you’ll receive 500 Starpoints per day when you rent a rental card with Hertz, up to 2,000 points per rental. You also earn additional points on travel expenditures like cruises and long-distance telephone cards. We recommend calling SPG after you get your card to learn more about all the unique ways you can earn points.

#6 Is The SPG Amex Canada Card Right For Me?

The SPG Amex Canada card is a no-brainer for anyone who plans to spend at least 1 night in a hotel per year.

This sounds oversimplified, but it’s actually not at all.

Think about it. If you ignore everything else—the 50,000 points welcome bonus, the travel insurance, and all of the other extras that come with the card—and look only at the annual free hotel night benefit, that alone is worth at least double the $120 annual fee.

You’re getting one night at a 5-star hotel for $120.

And when you add on all the other benefits, the value of the card becomes overwhelming.

Every Canadian should have this card in their wallet for the next 10+ years.

There are other American Express cards we recommend as well, but the great thing is you can hold several Amex cards at the same time.APPLY FOR THE MARRIOTT BONVOY CARD NOW

#7 The Ultimate Canadian Traveler’s Credit Card Stack

Even the best travel credit cards have their strengths and weaknesses, so it’s best to hold multiple cards so you can capitalize on each of their advantages and downplay their weaknesses. Here’s the triple threat full stack we highly recommend for maximizing your earning and travel benefits:

#1 The SPG Amex Canada Card

As we’ve shown in detail here, this card offers an exceptional welcome bonus, but also provides more than enough benefit to keep it in your wallet year after year.

#2 The Platinum Card

Another card that every Canadian should have in their wallet. We value the current 60,000 points welcome bonus at between $1,200-$1,800, depending on how well you apply the points, plus you get a $200 annual travel credit, which you can actually use twice in your first year. This means that the purely quantitative benefits of the card are worth at least $1,600-$2,200 in the first year, compared to the $699 annual fee.

#3 The Cobalt Card

You’ll fall in love with this everyday spending card. We show you how to get 10% back on your spending (seriously!) when you use this card on coffee, groceries, restaurant and bar spending anywhere in Canada. It’s the card you should be using for your daily spending.

Contrary to what many people believe, having multiple credit cards actually helps your credit score, not hurts it, as long as you pay off your bill every month. This signals to creditors that you’re fully capable of paying off your bills on time, which they reflect by boosting your credit score.

So go ahead and get the full stack—your wanderlust will thank you.

  1. Your hotels card
  2. Your flights card
  3. Your everyday card

#8 Travel Insurance

The SPG Amex Canada card also comes with an impressive travel insurance policy. Here’s what it includes:

BenefitDescriptionCoverage Limit
Travel Accident InsuranceYou, your spouse and your children are covered in the case of accidental death or dismemberment while traveling$500,000
Car Rental Theft and Damage InsuranceDamage or theft of your rental car$85,000
Flight Delay InsuranceHotel, motel, restaurant expenses and other sundry items when your flight is delayed$500
Baggage Delay InsuranceReasonable and necessary emergency purchases when your baggage is delayed$500
Lost or Stolen Baggage InsuranceLoss or damage to your luggage or personal effects while in transit.$500
Hotel/Motel Burglary InsuranceLoss of most personal items if your hotel/ motel is burglarized.$500
Travel Emergency AssistanceMedical & legal referrals by phone 24/7N/A

Every American Express card also comes with two other insurance benefits:

  1. Buyer’s Assurance Protection Plan doubles the manufacturer’s warranty on your purchases and will repair/replace faulty or damaged items up to $10,000.
  2. Purchase Protection Plan insures your purchases against accidental physical damage and theft for the 90 days after purchase, up to $1,000.

Fraud protection, global emergency card replacement and 24/7 express customer service are included with every American Express card, too.

This is a very good insurance plan, especially since it’s included with your card. If you’re looking for an even more comprehensive insurance plan, though—one that covers emergency medical, emergency dental, trip interruption, personal liability and terrorism—we recommend SafetyWing, the $37/month plan that’s disrupting the travel insurance market in a big, bigway.

#9 The One Downside To The SPG Amex Canada: Foreign Transaction Fees

Despite all the amazing benefits and features of the card, there is one noticeable downside to the SPG Amex Canada card: the 2.5% fee on foreign transactions. This fee isn’t unique to this card—no card in Canada offers fee-free foreign transactions—but it is still worth mentioning here. If you’re able to pick up an N26 You card on your next trip to Europe, definitely do so: it’ll make your financial life on the road much, much better. Until then, though, we’ll have to accept that there are no good FX cards in Canada.

#10 The Amex SPG Business Card

This entire review has been about the Amex SPG Canada personal card, though there’s also an American Express SPG Business card for Canadians, too. There are a few minor differences between the two cards:

  1. Earn 3 points per $1 spent on gas, dining and travel vs. 2 points per $1 with the personal card.
  2. Supplementary cards cost $50 vs. free for the personal card.
  3. Annual fee of $150 vs. $120 for the personal card.
  4. Includes Disability Plan & Employee Card Misuse Protection, which is also included with the American Express Business Platinum card.

If you’re a business owner and plan to use this card in a business capacity, go ahead and get the SPG Business card. But if not, since we recommend using the Cobalt card for your everyday spending, you won’t really see any additional benefits for the extra $30 in annual fees you pay for the business card.

#11 Is The SPG Amex Canada Card Worth It?

Without a doubt.

The welcome bonus is incredibly generous. The annual benefits far exceed the annual cost of the card. The insurance is a nice bonus, and taking advantage of it all is as easy as a quick search online. If you’re a Canadian that plans on spending at least one night in a hotel in the next 12 months, we can’t recommend this card highly enough.APPLY FOR THE MARRIOTT BONVOY CARD NOW

#12 FAQs

Why Do I Earn Starpoints At Both SPG And Marriott Properties?

In 2018, Marriott and Starwood—formerly two distinct companies—merged into one. Their points programs joined forces as well, which is why your SPG Amex Canada card gets you so many bonuses and benefits with Marriott as well.

When Do My Starpoints Expire?

Starpoints expire after one year of inactivity. Since you earn Starpoints every time you stay at an SPG or Marriott property, or even just eat at one of their restaurants, it’s very easy to keep your Starpoints balance active. See our section “How Do I Earn Starpoints” above to see just how easy it is to keep your account active.

How Do Starpoints Compare With American Express Membership Reward Points?

They’re completely different. We value Amex MR points at 2-3 cents apiece, and we help you to get these values in posts like this one on $75 flights to Asia and this one on $75 flights to Europe.

Still, it’s hard to say which are more valuable. One thing we can say is that you should not transfer your Amex MR points to Starpoints. American Express offers a rate of 1,000 MR = 1,200 Starpoints, which is a very poor valuation. This is only a decision you’ll face with your other cards, since the SPG Amex Canada card earns Starpoints on its own.

All things considered, we recommend keeping your Starpoints as Starpoints so you can use them on amazing hotel redemptions (see the Case Studies above), and transferring your Amex MR points from your Platinum card to airlines for flights.

When Are The Peak Season & Off-Peak Season For Hotel Redemptions?

The peak/off-peak system is brand new to SPG and Marriott, so they actually haven’t listed which dates will be priced in which way. For now, every date is listed at the standard price, though this will change in the coming months. Join our email list at the bottom of this post so we can update you when that happens and help you maximize your points by planning your travel during off-peak dates.

What About Marriott’s Points + Cash Program?

If you prefer to save some of your Starpoints, or if you don’t have enough for a particular booking, you can take advantage of the points + cash option. Generally we recommend against this, since this setup values points lower than what they’re worth if you apply them smartly (see our Case Studies above), but it’s not terrible either. If you don’t have enough points for your hotel stay, use points + cash, but if you do, just use your points. Here’s the points + cash breakdown for each hotel category:

Hotel CategoryOff PeakStandardPeak
150 USD + 2,500 points55 USD + 3,500 points60 USD + 4,500 points
260 USD + 5,000 points65 USD + 6,000 points70 USD + 6,500 points
370 USD + 7,500 points80 USD + 8,500 points90 USD + 9,000 points
490 USD + 10,000 points105 USD + 12,000 points120 USD + 13,500 points
5120 USD + 16,000 points140 USD + 17,000 points165 USD + 19,000 points
6165 USD + 22,000 points190 USD + 25,000 points225 USD + 27,500 points
7225 USD + 27,500 points250 USD + 30,000 points325 USD + 35,000 points
8325 USD + 35,000 points440 USD + 42,500 points635 USD + 50,000 points

You also have another option if you don’t have enough points for a booking: you can book your stay with points and then earn the points later from other hotel stays or credit card spending later. As long as the points reach your account 14 days before your stay, you’re fine. If they don’t, though, your stay will be canceled and you won’t be refunded, so use this strategy with caution.

Where Can I Search For SPG & Marriott Hotels?

You can search for hotels using the Marriott search platform here.

We recommend searching on two parameters: the city you’re visiting and the redemption category you’d like to redeem with, which you can find by clicking “All Filters” in the top-right and then selecting “Rewards Category.” If you’re using your annual free night benefit, go for a Category 5, which will show you the best hotels you can get for the 35,000 annual free night points limit. If you’re using your 50,000 welcome points bonus, you can use them however you’d like (see the Case Studies above for ideas of high-value redemptions).

You can redeem your Starpoints (with zero blackout dates) at any of these hotel brands, anywhere in the world:

  • The Ritz-Carlton
  • St. Regis
  • JW Marriott
  • The Luxury Collection
  • W Hotels
  • EDITION
  • Marriott Hotels
  • Sheraton
  • Marriott Vacation Club
  • Delta Hotels by Marriott
  • Le Méridien
  • Westin
  • Autograph Collection
  • Renaissance Hotels
  • Tribute Portfolio
  • Gaylord Hotels
  • Courtyard by Marriott
  • Four Points by Sheraton
  • SpringHill Suites by Marriott
  • Protea Hotels by Marriott
  • Fairfield by Marriott
  • AC Hotels by Marriott
  • Aloft
  • Moxy Hotels
  • Element

How Many Starpoints Will I Earn?

Every SPG member earns 5 points per $1 spent on purchases at SPG and Marriott properties. This includes the cost of your stay plus food and drinks and some hotel incidentals like spa treatments. The SPG Amex Canada card comes with complimentary Silver Elite SPG membership, which means you’re automatically boosted to 5.5 points per $1 spent.

This table shows how much each level earns, plus the maximum number of points they can earn from any one event.

Points BonusPoints Earned Per $1 SpentMax Points Earning per Events
Member0%560,000
Silver Elite10%5.566,000
Gold Elite25%6.2575,000
Platinum Elite50%7.590,000
Platinum Premier Elite75%8.75105,000
Platinum Premier Elite with Ambassador75%8.75105,000

APPLY FOR THE MARRIOTT BONVOY CARD NOW

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SPG Amex Referrals In Canada

Important Update: As of February 26, 2019, the American Express SPG Canada card has been re-branded as the Marriott Bonvoy Amex Canada card. Read more about the Marriott Bonvoy card and apply here.

If you’re looking for a referral link with the best available welcome bonus offer for the SPG Amex Canada card (currently 60,000 points as of May 29, 2019), you’ll find that here. The updated card is called the Marriott Bonvoy card, but it’s very similar to what the SPG card used to offer.

The SPG Amex Canada card (now the Marriott credit card in Canada) offers exceptional value for frequent travelers and home bodies alike. There’s a 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points welcome bonus—which we show you how to turn into a remarkable 16 nights in 5-star hotels—an additional free night award, Marriott Bonvoy silver elite status, travel insurance, and much more, all included with your card. Here’s a quick breakdown of the card benefits.

The Basics & Benefits

Welcome Bonus Points60,000
Marriott Bonvoy™ Points Earned Per $1 Spent At SPG & Marriott Properties5
Marriott Bonvoy™ Points Earned Per $1 Spent On All Other Card Purchases2
Free Night Award
Marriott Bonvoy™ Silver Elite Status
Travel Insurance
Supplementary CardsFree
Annual Fee$120

The card also comes with additional American Express benefits that come with all of their cards. These include Front Of The Line, which offers cardholders advanced access/tickets to concerts, sporting events and shows across Canada.

Three More Special Benefits

Special Benefit #1: The Marriott Bonvoy™ Amex Canada Free Night Award

On top of the 50,000 Starpoints (now 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy™ Points) that come with your SPG Amex Canada card (Marriott Bonvoy Canada card), you also receive one free hotel night every year with a redemption value of up to 35,000 points (Category 1-5 hotel). (Note: if you don’t know what we mean by Category 1-5, see here.) There’s no spending requirement for this free night—you’ll get it every year regardless of how often you use your card—making it an exceptional value.

What can you use this award on? How about a night at the swanky Avalon Hotel Beverly Hills, a member of Design Hotels?

Avalon Hotel Beverly Hills - SPG Amex Canada
The stunning pool at the Avalon Hotel in Beverly Hills, a member of Design Hotels

Or how about The Lexington in New York?

Lexington Hotel, New York - SPG Amex Canada
A spacious guestroom at the Lexington Hotel, New York City

As you can see, the opportunities are endless for this benefit. And if you haven’t already clued in, a Category 5 hotel can easily go for $300-500 per night, meaning your $120 annual card fee is worth several times its value through this free night benefit alone.

Are you starting to see why Canadians love the SPG Amex Canada card (Marriott Bonvoy™ Canada card) so much?

Special Benefit #2: Marriott Bonvoy™ Elite Status

As soon as you get your SPG Amex Canada card (Marriott Bonvoy™ Canada card), you’ll be upgraded to Marriott Bonvoy™ Silver Elite status, which gives you lower hotel rates, late checkout, free internet, a dedicated customer service line, plus 10% more points at SPG & Marriott properties, boosting your earning rate to 5.5 points per $1 spent.

If you manage to spend $30,000 on your card in a year, you’ll be upgraded to Gold Elite Status, where you’ll earn 25% more on $1 spent at SPG & Marriott properties, complimentary room upgrades, and 2 p.m. checkout on your hotel stays.

Special Benefit #3: 5th Night Free

This technically isn’t a benefit exclusive to the SPG Amex Canada card (Marriott Bonvoy™ Canada card), but it’s so good that it’s worth pointing out here, anyway. It goes like this:

Every time you book a SPG/Marriott hotel for 4 nights, they give you a 5th night for free!

There’s nothing more to explain than that, though I don’t need to tell you how amazing of a benefit this is. As you’ll see below, we’ll use this to our full advantage to get as many as 16 nights in a 5-star hotel with your card.

In Summary

The SPG Amex Canada card (Marriott Bonvoy™ Canada card) offers truly exceptional value for its $120 annual fee. This makes it an excellent vehicle for referring friends, making them happy with the great value and bringing in up to 150,000 additional points for you.

We haven’t included all of the card details on this page, so if you want to learn more about the SPG Amex Canada card (Marriott Bonvoy™ Canada card), see our full card review here.

FAQs

How many friends can I refer to the SPG Amex Canada card?

Once you’ve successfully activated your Marriott Bonvoy card, you can refer up to 15 friends for 10,000 Marriott Bonvoy points each, bringing your annual referral limit to 150,000 points.

How many friends can I refer to my other American Express cards?

Here’s a list:

How do I complete an SPG Amex referral?

  1. Once you’ve activated your Marriott Bonvoy card, log in to American Express and click “Refer A Friend.”
  2. Enter your friend’s email address, or copy the link and share it with them directly.
  3. When your friend’s application has been approved, you’ll receive 10,000 points!

Will I receive a referral bonus for inviting friends to the American Express Platinum Card?

Yes. The Platinum Card has an exceptional referral program that gives you a 15,000 points for each friend you invite up to an annual maximum of 225,000 MR points.

Here’s our full post on Amex Platinum referral bonuses in Canada.

Amex Platinum Referrals In Canada

If you’re looking for a referral link with the best available welcome bonus offer for the Amex Platinum Canada Card (currently 50,000 points as of July, 2019), you’ll find that here.

The American Express Platinum Card offers exceptional value for any Canadian traveler. There’s a 50,000 Amex MR points welcome bonus—which we show you here how to turn into $1,500 worth of travel rewards—worldwide airport lounge access with Priority Pass, a $200 annual travel credit, upgraded hotel memberships, extensive purchase coverage and travel insurance, all included with your card. Here’s a quick breakdown of the card benefits.

Amex Platinum: Basics & Benefits

Welcome Bonus Points50,000
Annual Travel Credit$200
Points Earned Per $1 Spent On Dining3
Points Earned Per $1 Spent On Travel2
Points Earned Per $1 Spent On All Other Card Purchases1
Upgraded Hotel Statuses
Travel Insurance
Metal Card
Annual Fee$699

The card also comes with additional American Express benefits that come with all of their cards. These include Front Of The Line, which offers cardholders advanced access/tickets to concerts, sporting events and shows across Canada.

How To Maximize Your American Express Platinum Points

As good as 50,000 American Express points sounds, 65,000 points sounds even better. Later in this post, we show you exactly how to turn your 50,000 points welcome bonus into 65,000 Avios or Aeroplan miles.

Let’s look at a few different examples of what those points can do for you whenever you please. This isn’t magic – it’s just smartly-applied knowledge.

RoutePoints NeededTaxes & Fees
Roundtrip: Toronto to Hong Kong70,000$100
Roundtrip: Vancouver to Hong Kong60,000$90
Round-the-world: Toronto to Hong Kong to Dubai to London to Toronto74,500$761
Round-the-world: Vancouver to Hong Kong to Dubai to London to Vancouver74,700$742

The Amex Platinum’s $699 Annual Fee

The Platinum Card comes with a $699 fee.

It’s true. And no, there’s no getting around it.

But here’s the magic in it.

It’s impossible not to make money by having this card, even after paying the fee.

Huh? Sounds confusing, right?

Here’s how it works.

If you use the 50,000 points in the worst way possible, they’re worth $700 to you. Why? Because American Express allows you to apply your points against your statement balance at a value of one cent per point, which means 50,000 points = $500. Add in your annual $200 travel credit and you’re at $700.

The only catch with that is that you can only apply these points toward travel expenses, but you’d be surprised how widely that term applies. Flights and hotels are obvious, but Amex even categorizes a variety of other expenses like Uber rides as a travel expense, meaning they can be paid using your points as well.

Plus, that’s not even considering the other benefits you get from the card. The travel/baggage insurance and additional purchase insurance (for theft/damage of your items), the worldwide airport lounge access, the platinum hotel memberships, and everything else you see here are all just cherries on top.

So even if you use your points in the worst way you could – by applying them to your statement balance as a cash equivalent – you still come out way, way ahead.

But still, wouldn’t you rather do better than the absolute worst? I thought so.

Let’s Book Some Cool Flights

If you prefer to double or triple the value of your points, it’s actually quite easy. Every flight suggestion you see on our blog gets you at least 2 cents per point – double the value you receive when using your points as cash – and often that value is much, much higher.

3-4 cents per point is completely attainable once you start to know what you’re doing.

In fact, the round-the-world trips I mentioned above offer a value of well over 4 cents per point, meaning the $699 fee you paid just saved you several thousand dollars on flights.

And here’s the secret to turning your 50,000 points into 65,000: at least once per year, American Express offers a 25-30% transfer bonus when you transfer your points to a program like British Airways Avios. Just by transferring your points smartly, 50,000 points all of a sudden become 65,000 points.

You just gained another 15,000 points – worth at least $300 if you use them at a value of 2 cents per point or above – just for being in the loop.

Here are 3 realistic scenarios of the value you could achieve by getting the Platinum card, from least valuable on the left to most valuable on the right.

Very EasyVery EasyModerate Difficulty
Redemption TypeCash (against statement balance)FlightsFlights with creativity
Redemption Value Per Point1 cent2 cents3 cents
Total Value Of 65,000 Points$650$1,300$1,950
Less: Annual Fee($699)($699)($699)
Profit From Points-$50$600$1,250
Additional BenefitsYesYesYes

Most of you will find yourselves in columns 2 or 3 in the $600-$1,250 profit range, since you can just read our other blog posts to find tons of flights that get you 2-3 cents per point of value.

But if you’re ambitious and want to push your points even further, it’s completely possible to surpass what’s listed above with a value of 3 cents per point or more, and we’d love to help you get there. Just send us an email and we’ll help you sift through your options to ensure you get a great bang for your buck.

And since I alluded to them earlier, here’s a partial list of some of the benefits you get with the Platinum Card (most of them are also offered with the American Express Business Platinum Card, and some with the Marriott Bonvoy™ Card and the American Express Cobalt Card): 

Worldwide airport lounge access with Priority Pass Select ($399 USD value)$200 annual travel creditUpgraded hotel memberships (Marriott International, Radisson Hotel Group, etc.)
Platinum rental car memberships (Hertz Club Gold, Avis Preferred)Sleek metal cardEmergency travel medical insurance
Extended purchase insuranceTheft/damage insurance on your possessionsTrip cancellation insurance

In Summary

The Amex Platinum Card for Canadians offers truly exceptional value for its $699 annual fee. This makes it a great vehicle for referring friends, making them happy with the great value and bringing in up to 225,000 additional points for you.

We haven’t included all of the card details on this page, so if you want to learn more, read our full Amex Platinum review.

Amex Platinum FAQs

How many friends can I refer to the Amex Platinum Card for Canadians?

Once you’ve successfully activated your Amex Platinum Card, you can refer up to 15 friends for 15,000 Amex Membership Rewards points each, bringing your annual referral limit to 225,000 points.

How many friends can I refer to my other American Express cards?

Here’s a list:

How do I refer a friend to the Amex Platinum Card?

  1. Once you’ve activated your Amex Platinum card, log in to American Express and click “Refer A Friend.”
  2. Enter your friend’s email address, or copy the link and share it with them directly.
  3. When your friend’s application has been approved, you’ll receive 15,000 points!

Will I receive a referral bonus for inviting friends to the American Express SPG Card?

Yes. Amex’s SPG Card has been re-branded as the Marriott Bonvoy™ Card, but you’ll still receive a 10,000-point bonus for each friend you invite, up to an annual maximum of 150,000 Marriott Bonvoy™ points.

Here’s our full post on SPG American Express referrals in Canada.