Starwood Has a New Premium UAE Credit Card With 50,000 Bonus Points and Automatic Gold Status

Starwood has a new co-brand credit card partnership. They’ve just launched the Emirates NBD Starwood Preferred Guest® World MasterCard® and what’s notable about it isn’t just that they’ve added a fourth region where there’s a co-brand product in addition to the US, Canada and Japan.

Of course that matters — the UAE and Middle East generally is a big market for Starwood, which is why they launched “Your World Rewards” with Emirates a year ago.

It’s significant because:

  • The signup is bigger than what they offer elsewhere: 50,000 points — 25,000 on activation and 25,000 more after US$20,000 in spend during the first three billing cycles.
  • It comes with automatic Gold status, something that requires $30,000 in spend in the U.S.
  • There’s a joining fee. The card costs AED 2500 the first year (~ US$680) and then AED 1500 (~ US$408) each year after that.

So I was a bit jealous of the signup bonus and the automatic gold status until I saw that fee. But it’s a premium card, and comes with additional premium benefits:

Additional Emirates NBD benefits include access to over 500 airport lounges globally; complimentary local concierge services and airport transfers in the UAE; complimentary rounds of golf and privilege access to select courses across the UAE along with complimentary multi-trip travel insurance.

The lounge network is most likely LoungeKey since that’s what they provide on other cards (updated). Concierge services are standard for premium cards, though some products offer specialized concierges.

The complimentary rounds of golf is of course similar to what Citi offers with its Prestige product in the United States.

I do find the airport transfers in the UAE benefit intriguing — although of course both Emirates (on Emirates’ own ticket stock) and Etihad offers a similar benefit in the UAE to their premium cabin customers.


Etihad Car Service, Abu Dhabi International Airport

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I have a different EmiratesNBD card with all the benefits listed already. The fine print unfortunately is a lot less attractive. The airport transfers only apply within the same Emirate of departure (so no Dubai to Sharjah rides) and only for flights booked via their designated travel agency, who charge a service fee higher than the cost of the transfers. The lounge benefit is via LoungeKey, which has a decent network, but you can get Priority Pass for a lot cheaper. The golf benefit is only applicable on 2-3 specific courses and IIRC, excludes weekends and holidays. Travel Insurance is also one of those policies where actually making a claim is so tedious, it’s not worthwhile – I had a flight booked with my eNBD card delayed 5 hours and tried to make a claim – I gave up after 5 calls without getting even the slightest bit of information about the process.

    $20k minimum spend in 3 months and $600 fee for the first year makes this card a complete non-starter for me. If eNBD can’t design a product that an existing customer of both eNBD and SPG finds attractive, this isn’t likely to get much market penetration.

  2. @mrredskin I made clear in the title it was a UAE card so not applicable to most. How long do you think titles should be? There is a difference between the title and the post.

  3. generation mrredskin needs a title with all the info & disclaimer because that’s what they are fed with.

  4. Most UAE cards that compare with North America have an annual fee with high sign-up points…the first year free cards are available, but don’t provide anywhere near the miles /points as in North America. With a bankable population of about 4 million and something like 15+ banks offering over 120 products, it’s a bit of a crazy situation.

    Add to it there is no credit bureau (yet) and so no equivalent of FICO scores, when the next recession comes, there will many people maxing their cards (or withdrawing cash) and leaving the country.

  5. Just moved over to Dubai gents and I travel a lot with work. Which bank a/c and card do you recommend?

  6. @Christopher Wallace : Take any card except the Starwoods Preferred Guest from Emirates NBD. Its a total rip-off. Daylight robbery, in my opinion.

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