Now that Marriott and Starwood are one company you can use their points interchangeably. Starwood points transfer to Marriott at a 1:3 ratio and vice-versa. Both the Amex SPG and Chase Marriott Premier are viable options for gathering those hotel points for stays or for transferring out to travel partners, but which one is best? Well, like everything else in this hobby, it depends.
Current Public Sign Up Bonus
Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card
80,000 bonus points after you spend 3,000 dollars in your first three months of account opening. Plus, earn 7,500 bonus points when you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first three months from account opening.
Note: This product is available to you if you do not have this card and have not received a new cardmember bonus for this card in the past 24 months.
Starwood Preferred Guest Rewards Credit Card from American Express
25,000 bonus Starpoints after you use your new card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first three months.
Note: Welcome bonus offer not available to applicants who have or have had this product.
Winner: Marriott by a slim margin. After meeting minimum spend on the SPG Amex, you’ll have at least 28,000 Starpoints, which the industry values at roughly $700. If you converted those points to Marriott, you’d only have 84,000 Marriott points. After completing minimum spend and adding an AU on the Chase Marriott Premier, you’ll have at least 90,500 Marriott points which the industry values at about $724. It’s worth nothing that the Chase Marriott Premier has been as high as 100,000 bonus points, so a higher offer could be on the horizon.
Benefits & Fees – Which card is better on spend?
With the American Express Starwood card you earn:
- 2 points per $ spent on eligible purchases at Starwood properties plus 2-3 points you earn as a member
- 1 point per $ on all purchases
- No foreign transaction fees
- Free in-room premium internet at participating hotels
- Access to Amex Offers
- Sheraton Club lounge access (business card members)
- 5 nights/ 2 stays towards elite status each year
The Amex card has a $95 annual fee that IS waived the first year of card membership.
With the Chase Marriott Premier card you earn:
- 5 points per $ spent at over 5,7000 participating Marriott Rewards and SPG hotels
- 2 points per $ spent on airline tickets purchased directly with the airline, and at car rental agencies & restaurants
- 1 point per $ spent on all other purchases
- 15 nights towards elite status (good for Marriott Silver!)
- Free category 1-5 anniversary night each year
The card has a $85 annual fee that is NOT waived the first year of card membership
Which Card is Better For Spend?
As mentioned above, the Marriott-Starwood merger makes 1 Starwood point worth 3 Marriott Premier points. While we don’t know the future of the SPG Amex and rest of the co-branded portfolio, below is the SPG to Marriott math.
- 4-5 Starpoints per $ at Starwood Properties = 12-15 Marriott points per dollar
- 1 point per $ on all purchases= 3 Marriott points per dollar
As you can see when you compare it to the Chase Marriott Premier’s earning structure and their respective value, the comparison isn’t even close, SPG wins by a landslide.
What About The Other Benefits?
As listed above both cards offer some great benefits such as a fast track to elite status, premium internet, free anniversary nights and lounge access. Let’s look at each card’s other benefits
|American Express Starwood Preferred Guest||Chase Marriott Rewards Premier|
|Free in-room premium internet at participating hotels||Free category 1-5 anniversary night certificate|
|5 night/2 stay credits towards elite status||15 night credits towards elite status (good for Marriott Silver)|
|SPG Gold status with $30k annual spend||1 additional night credit for every $3,000 spent|
|No foreign transaction fees||No foreign transaction fees|
|Unlimited Boingo WiFi|
|Sheraton Club Lounge access (business version)|
Marriott: Silver status is basically worthless, but the 15 elite credits get you 30% of the way to Gold which offers free breakfast/lounge access for two at participating hotels and guaranteed room upgrades.
Starwood: No initial status but the cards puts you 20% closer to SPG Gold, very similar to Marriott Gold with benefits such as room upgrades and late checkout.
Winner: Toss Up, both give you a head start to elite status, but neither SPG Gold or Marriott Gold is anything to write home about. It’s worth noting that you can stack the stay/night credits with the SPG personal and business cards and be 40% of the way to SPG Gold status.
Even if you aren’t interested in elite status both of these cards offer benefits that may be worth paying the annual fee. The SPG Amex offers unlimited Boingo WiFi and premium in-room internet, and the business version also includes Sheraton Club Lounge Access. A similar Boingo Wifi plan would cost you $39 per month, and Sheraton Club Lounges offer amenities such as breakfast, hors d’oeuvres, WiFi, and office supplies.
The only feature that might entice you to pay the annual fee every year on the Chase Marriott Premier would be the free anniversary night at a category 1-5 property. These nights usually range between 20,000-25,000 points and there are some pretty nice options in that range. I pay the annual fee every year for this benefit; I recently used my free night to book my parents a hotel here in the Scottsdale area. Many category five options run north of $125 a night; this card is an easy way to save yourself some money every year on a hotel stay.
The Bald Thoughts
If you are focusing on spend and accumulating SPG or Marriott points the SPG card is right for you. The earning rate is miles (err, points) above the Chase Marriott Premier and I enjoy the complimentary Boingo WiFi and Sheraton Clubs access. It is worth nothing that you can only access the Sheraton Clubs with the business version while staying at a Sheraton property. This doesn’t mean that the Marriott Premier is a bad card to have. If nothing else, paying $85 for a night at a Category 1-5 property is a pretty decent deal.
If you’re chasing elite status, both of these cards will help you get there and may make it worth the annual fee as they will help you re-qualify. If you’re going for Starwood status getting both the personal and business version would put you that much closer to Gold as the night/stay credits do stack.