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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card

TPG reader Glen sent me a message on Facebook to ask about co-branded hotel cards:

“Which card is better to get: the SPG Amex or the Marriott Premier?”

I answered a similar question earlier this year, but a lot has changed since then. In September, Starwood Preferred Guest and Marriott Rewards began allowing members to link accounts and transfer points between the two programs. That development not only created an assortment of valuable new redemption options, but also changed the game on the earning side.

There are a number of credit cards that could prove useful to SPG/Marriott guests, and the co-branded cards are at the top of the list. Choosing between them depends somewhat on the value of available sign-up bonuses and other benefits, but in terms of pure earning potential, I’d go with the Starwood Preferred Guest Card from American Express. You’ll earn 2 points per dollar spent at both Starwood and Marriott properties, and 1 point per dollar elsewhere. I consider Starpoints to be the most valuable loyalty currency out there, so I think this card is a good option for everyday spending.

By comparison, the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card earns 5 points per dollar at Starwood and Marriott properties, 2 points per dollar on airfare purchased directly with the airline and at car rental agencies and restaurants, and just 1 point per dollar elsewhere. Given the 1:3 transfer ratio from Starwood to Marriott, the SPG Amex outperforms the Marriott Premier in all these categories, since you’re effectively earning 6 Marriott Rewards points per dollar within the two brands and 3 points per dollar elsewhere.

On the other hand, the Marriott card has the edge in terms of other features. Most importantly, the Marriott Premier card offers a free night at a Category 1-5 property each year after your account anniversary. In my opinion, that alone makes this card worth the annual fee. This card also offers a more immediate status boost, since you get enough elite credits to automatically qualify for Marriott Silver.

Beyond that, the Marriott Premier card currently offers a sign-up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first three months, and you can earn another 7,500 points when you add an authorized user and make a purchase in that same period. That’s better than the standard offer on the Starwood card (25,000 Starpoints after spending $3,000 in the first three months), though Amex has offered larger bonuses in the past and the card is currently offering up to 35,000 Starpoints to new cardholders. The Starwood card waives the annual fee for the first year, but the Marriott card is slightly less expensive beyond that ($85 per year rather than $95).

The Starwood Preferred Guest Amex card offers a better return on purchases.

If your main goal is to maximize your points on spending, I’d go for the Starwood Amex. If you’re mostly interested in the annual free night and elite status bump, I’d go with the Marriott Premier. If you’re a hardcore SPG/Marriott loyalist and you spend a lot within the two brands, you might consider getting both cards to cover all your bases.

For more on co-branded cards and other aspects of the Starwood/Marriott merger, check out these posts:

If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook or send me an email at

Featured image courtesy of Marriott Courtyard Cadillac Miami Beach.

Starwood Points are the most valuable points currency out there.
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

Earn up to 25,000 Starpoints which can be used for hotel redemption around the globe, transferred to over 30 airline partners, and even transfer from Starwood to Marriott Rewards at a 1:3 ratio.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 25,000 Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • Earn 2 Starpoints® for each dollar of eligible purchases spent at participating SPG® & Marriott Rewards® hotels. Earn 1 Starpoint for all other purchases.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on International purchases.
  • Redeem Starpoints® at over 1,300 participating hotels and resorts in over 100 countries and for flights on more than 150 airlines with SPG flights, all with no blackout dates.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Planning a road trip? Rent your car, fill up your tank, book your hotel, and pay for it with your American Express® Card.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
Regular APR
16.49%-20.49% Variable
Annual Fee
$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.