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TPG Reader Vick recently tweeted me to ask:
The real answer is neither, but let me answer first and then provide a card that will get you more value than either of those options.
Starwood Preferred Guest points are really valuable and I tend to use my SPG Amex for purchases that won’t be banking me a bunch of points in bonus categories on other cards in my wallet. I value StarPoints at about 2.2 cents each conservatively and what’s great is they can be transferred to several airlines partners. I love using my SPG points for hotel bookings, especially when Cash + Points is available, but the downside is if you’re going to a location where Starwood doesn’t have a presence you will be out of luck in terms of accommodations.
SPG also has a SPG Flights program where you can redeem StarPoints with no blackout dates, but in general StarPoints are not going to cover a lot of your travel expenses.
Alternatively, BarclayCard Arrival miles are treated like currency since you can redeem them for statements credits and receive a 10% mileage refund on travel redemptions. In that case you’re getting a return on your spending of just about 2.2% since you earn 2 miles per dollar on all purchases. While the value of Arrival miles is very similar to StarPoints, you have more flexibility in redeeming Arrival miles since you can use them to cover travel expenses like travel agencies, hotels/motels/resorts, cruise lines, passenger railways and car rentals.
If you’re going to stick with just these two cards, I would recommend mixing up your spending so you’re diversifying your point portfolio. If you’re trying to book Starwood hotels or first class award tickets on partners like British Airways, Alaska or American I would use your Starwood Amex more, but if you want to earn points that will cover more general travel charges, use the Arrival card.
Instead of using either of those cards I would suggest opening up a Chase Ink Bold or Ink Plus card if you find yourself spending a lot on cable, internet and phone charges. Right now there is a limited time bonus for 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after $5,000 spent within the first 3 months for both the Ink Bold and Ink Plus cards. That sign up bonus alone is worth about $750 in travel and the $95 annual fee is waived for the first year. In terms of spending, you’ll earn 2 points per dollar on hotels and gas purchases and 5 points per dollar on cellular, landline, internet and cable TV services. Earning 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent is worth far more than one StarPoint or 2 Arrival miles.
The no brainer here would be to go get one of those business cards as long as you have a qualifying business. Keep in mind, even if you don’t have a major business you can still qualify for business cards. Most issuers will let you get a business credit card by applying with your own social security number if your business is a sole proprietorship (a business run by one person).
For more information see these posts:
Top 10 Reasons to Get a Business Credit Card
Top 1o Ways to Maximize Barclaycard Arrival Miles
Detailed Look at the Benefits of the Ink Bold and Ink Plus Cards
Top 10 Benefits of the Ink Bold and Ink Plus Cards,
A Detailed Look at Ink Bold Benefits You Might Not Know About,
Maximizing Chase Ink Bonus Spending Categories
Maximizing the Ink Office Category Bonus Spending
Maximizing the Ink Bold’s 5X Spending Bonuses With Gift Cards
Maximizing Ultimate Rewards With the Chase Ink Cards
Chase Ink: Which Card Is Best For You
Can You Get Both The Ink Bold and Ink Plus?
Ranking the Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partners
Top 10 Ways To Maximize Each Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partner
Why I Love Chase Ultimate Rewards