Should I Use My SPG Amex or Chase Sapphire Reserve at Starwood Hotels?

Sep 29, 2017

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“Reader Questions” are answered twice a week — Mondays and Fridays — by TPG Senior Writer Julian Mark Kheel.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of TPG’s go-to cards for travel purchases. But, as TPG reader Sam asked us via email, is it still the right choice at Starwood hotels if you also have an SPG credit card?

I am a SPG Platinum member and have an SPG Amex credit card. I also have a Chase Sapphire Reserve card. Which credit card should I use while staying in a Starwood property?

TPG Reader Sam

There are technically two parts to this question, but the first part is easy. In Sam’s case, he has SPG Platinum elite status, which you can earn with either 25 stays or 50 nights at Starwood hotels in a single calendar year. As an SPG Platinum member, you earn 3 Starpoints for every dollar you spend at a Starwood hotel — but you can use any credit card you want for your hotel bill and you’ll still get those points. They’re in addition to any points you earn from the credit card you use.

The same is true if you’re SPG Gold elite, either because you’ve stayed at least 10 times or 25 nights in a calendar year or have complimentary SPG Gold status from The Platinum Card® from American Express or some other means. You’ll still get those 3 points per dollar regardless of which credit card you use. In fact, even non-elites earn 2 points for each dollar spent at the hotel just by being an SPG member and adding their loyalty number to the reservation.

St. Regis Macau Hotel Review SPG Starwood
If you’re staying at the St. Regis Macau — which is an SPG property — which card should you use?

But putting those bonus points aside, what about the actual credit card points? The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express both earn 6 points per dollar spent on all charges made at Starwood and Marriott hotels. But since hotel stays are travel purchases, if you use your Chase Sapphire Reserve, you’ll earn 3 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar for the transaction.

At first glance, it would seem that earning 3 points per dollar is better than 2, right? Except that we need to remember that not all points are equal and to consider the value of the points we’re earning as well.

As it happens, SPG Starpoints are extremely valuable. In fact, TPG considers them the most valuable points currency around, pegging them at 2.7 cents each in his most recent point valuations. But he actually values Ultimate Rewards points only slightly lower, at 2.2 cents apiece. So even though earning 2x Starpoints on Starwood stays is worth 5.4 cents per dollar, 3x Ultimate Rewards points are worth 6.6 cents for each dollar spent, which makes the Chase Sapphire Reserve the slightly more useful card in this case (though only by a little bit).

But in the end, Sam, if you’re sitting on a ton of Starpoints or Ultimate Rewards points, the values are close enough that you wouldn’t be crazy to use either card to collect more of the points you don’t already have, and not feel badly about losing out on any value. Thanks for the question, and if you’re a TPG reader who’d like us to answer a question of your own, tweet us at @thepointsguy, send us a message on Facebook or email us at info@thepointsguy.com.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the 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.

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