August 2015 Update: since writing this article, the point value has been a degraded somewhat. Internet consensus is about 2.5 cents per point. Also, the annual fee went up to $95. On the plus side, they added free Boingo wireless(Current Cardholders Register Here, removed foreign transaction fees, added premium in-room internet and, for the business version only, gave access to the Sheraton club lounge
Earn: 1 Starwood Preferred Guest point per dollar spent (2 points at Starwood hotels). I value Starpoints at about 4 cents for my use, though may be worth 2-3 cents for a more budget oriented traveler (see my analysis below).
Starwood points can be converted into Airline points (e.g., American) with a 25% bonus making this card clearly superior to all of the Airline cards. Even better is to use the points on Starwood hotels. There are no blackout dates, capacity controls, usage fees or taxes. I find that you get the most out of them for use last minute at hotels in expensive cities or for the most demanded dates of the year.
Examples (amounts are per night including tax):
Now, you may need to adjust the value to you if you wouldn’t normally stay at such hotels. E.g., if hostels are your style, better to convert your Starwood points to airline miles.
Also, if you spend $30,000 per year on the card, you will get Gold Status in Starwood’s Preferred Guest program. This is good, though it is Platinum status that gives you the big benefits and that is not available through credit card spend (though you can get Hilton Diamond status via $40,000 spend on the Hilton Surpass Card).