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A Weekend Getaway to San Diego With Help From the SPG American Express Card

This post is sponsored by American Express, but all opinions are my own.

Last weekend, my husband and I were blessed to enjoy a couples-only getaway to one of our favorite places in the U.S., San Diego, by using one of my favorite travel cards, the Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Card.

La Jolla SPG American Express

I hold both the personal and business version of the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Cards and in the past my family has used points earned through these cards to attend a Chicago Cubs game in a suite at Wrigley Field and score second row seats to “School of Rock” on Broadway.

I love these cards both for their opportunities to earn points to book free hotel rooms, as well as amazing experiences and this San Diego getaway had some of both :).

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The Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury Card

Starwood also has a new luxury American Express card, which grants you even more benefits. With the SPG American Express Luxury card, cardholders get:

  • $300 statement credit annually to use at participating SPG and Marriott International hotels
  • Annual Free Night Award (redemption level at or under 50,000 points) after card account anniversary
  • 6 points per $1 at participating Marriott properties which includes over 6,700 hotels in 130 countries, across 29 brands.
  • 3 points per $1 at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines
  • 2 points per $1 on other eligible purchases
  • Complimentary Gold Elite Status and the ability to earn Platinum Elite status after spending $75,000 on the card in a calendar year
  • $100 Global Entry or $85 TSA Precheck fee credit every four years
  • Priority Pass Select membership to for access to 1,000+ airport lounges
  • Complimentary Boingo Wi-Fi
  • Free in-room premium Internet access at SPG and Marriott hotels when loyalty number is entered upon reservation
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • In 2019: Card Members will earn 15 Elite Night Credits toward the next level of Elite status, and annually every calendar year thereafter.

The card has a $450 annual fee, but you easily get that back in the first year with the $300/year statement credit, annual free night, TSA Precheck.

The Priority Pass membership also grants you access to participating airport restaurants that give you a $28 restaurant credit (you only pay tip) for each person you bring with you (up to 2 per Priority Pass card holder). If you take 3 people to one of these restaurants, that’s another $84 in savings, and you can take advantage of that perk as many times as you can visit the airport restaurant!

Learn more about the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury Card.

Booking Our San Diego Hotel

We booked our San Diego hotel using points provided to us by Starwood Preferred Guest and American Express with a few of our own for a three-night stay at Hotel Republic in downtown San Diego, part of the Autograph Collection.

Hotel Republic San Diego

It was 60,000 points per night to stay at the boutique hotel, which was intimate and had large rooms with window seats (my favorite!) and mini-fridges. Holders of the SPG American Express Luxury Card also receive free Premium internet access at Marriott hotels.

Marriott points hotel book
The Hotel Republic is 60,000 Marriott points per night; we stayed three nights.

We love downtown San Diego, and this hotel put us right between two of our favorite spots: the trendy, busting Gaslamp Quarter and Little Italy with its amazing dining and charming atmosphere.

Hotel Republic San Diego room

We enjoyed dining at yummy restaurants each night and headed over to see a comedian at the American Comedy Company in the Gaslamp Quarter, too. It was hard to believe we were sitting in what felt like a balmy 63 degrees for dinner after leaving 20-degree Indiana earlier in the day!

Flying to San Diego

We chose to fly Southwest, my favorite airline :). Because Southwest flies to San Diego, you can use the Southwest Companion Pass, if you hold one, to bring one person free with you!

If you choose to book your flight with the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Card, you can earn 3X points when you book directly with the airline.

Electric Bike Tour Booked Through Marriott Moments

One of my favorite ways to use Marriott and Starpoints is to book experiences. Marriott has a long list of “Moments” that you can book with points, ranging from sporting events and cooking classes to concerts and festival tickets.

But… you can also discover amazing local things to do in your destination which you can pay for in cash versus points and then earn additional Marriott rewards points on your spend.

We were able to enjoy a premium experience that we booked using Marriott Moments: an electric bike tour of a gorgeous coastal area of San Diego called La Jolla. I had never ridden an electric bike and wanted to try it out!

San Diego electric bike tour

The tour cost $99 per person and we earned 1980 points for our spend. The points arrive in our account in two to three weeks.

The tour, with San Diego Fly Rides, was fantastic and the electric bikes were amazing with hills! The tour took us through La Jolla Cove where we could visit with sea lions, see the famous “Lorax tree” (Theodor Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss lived in La Jolla and was inspired by its trees and wildlife) and learn about marine habitat in the area.

San Diego Fly Rides

At the top of Mount Soledad in San Diego

We then pedaled by some jaw-dropping homes in an area with some of the most expensive real estate in the country and made our way up the very steep Mt. Soledad in less than 10 minutes thanks to the power from our bikes for amazing 360-degree views of San Diego. It was so clear that we could see all the way to Mexico to the south and snowy mountains in the north!

Dining in San Diego

Gaslamp quarter restaurant San Diego

One of our favorite things to do in San Diego is eat! The city has such great restaurants, especially in the Little Italy neighborhood, which has many authentic Italian eateries.

When you use the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express luxury card, you can earn 3 points per dollar on all dining expenditures, helping encourage you to take further advantage of all the great food.

Our favorites include Buon Appetito in Little Italy, as well as barleymash and Osteria Panevino in the Gaslamp Quarter.

We had an amazing weekend just the two of us, exploring one of our favorite cities thanks to our SPG American Express Card!

Want more tips for what to do in this gorgeous city by the sea? Check out my family’s top 35 things to do in San Diego.


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