Best Credit Card Sign-Up Bonus For SPG Points
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here - Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Card from American Express, Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Card, Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve
Now that Marriott and Starwood have merged (and unless you have been offline for days), you probably are aware of the basics of the merger including the 3:1 ratio of points transferred between Marriott to Starwood, elite status matching between programs, and that SPG and Marriott will essentially operate as two separate programs likely until 2018.
The Best Card for SPG Bonus Points May Not Be a SPG Card
Since Starwood and Marriott both have a lot of partners of their own, their "marriage" now brings other previously unrelated partnerships with third parties into the equation. For example, SPG previously did not have a relationship with Southwest Airlines, but Marriott did. Now that you can transfer SPG points to Marriott, and then use them for a Hotel and Air package with Southwest, you can now essentially use your SPG points to earn a Southwest Companion Pass if you so choose.
Alternatively, since your Chase Ultimate Reward points can transfer to Marriott, and then from Marriott to SPG, you can now essentially turn Ultimate Reward points into SPG points if you wish.
With all of these new domino effect relationships created by the marriage/merger of SPG and Marriott, let's look at what that translates to in terms of credit card welcome bonuses. Specifically, I want to look at which credit card welcome bonus is now best if you are after SPG points.
Starwood Preferred Guest Amex Cards
The personal and business SPG Amex Cards are both still available either by direct links or referrals with a welcome bonus after hitting the spending requirements.
However, since the points are more valuable in most cases, I'll focus on the points versions of the welcome bonus for now. If you wanted to transfer the points to Marriott the 25,000 SPG points would become 75,000 Marriott points.
Marriott Rewards Credit Cards
In addition to the 80,000 sign-up bonus points after hitting the $3,000 spending requirement, the personal version of the Marriott Rewards card gives the option of earning 7,500 bonus points for adding an authorized user who makes a purchase in the first 3 months. This brings the total to a potential 87,500 Marriott bonus points that would translate to 29,166 SPG points. Combine that with the palatable annual fee of $85 and this is probably the best all-around credit card sign-up bonus out there at the moment if you want to rack up SPG points, with the business version of this card coming in a close second place.
- Marriott Rewards Personal Card: 80,000 points after $3,000 in 3 months + 7,500 with authorized user purchase, $85 annual fee
- Marriott Rewards Personal Card: 80,000 points after $3,000 in 3 months, $99 annual fee
Chase Ultimate Rewards Credit Cards
The three Chase Ultimate Rewards earning cards that allow for 1:1 transfer to Marriott Rewards are:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve: 100,000 points after $4,000 in 3 months, $450 annual fee
- Chase Sapphire Preferred: 50,000 points after $4,000 in 3 months, $0 intro annual fee the first year then $95
Those are all very good sign-up bonuses on their own, but the problem is that historically a transfer from Ultimate Rewards to Marriott hasn't provided a very good overall value compared to transferring to United, Hyatt, or Southwest. Once you divide that number by 3 to get from Marriott to SPG, you are left with a number of SPG points that probably isn't worth as much as the Ultimate Reward points you started with. Add to that reality that the 100,000 points from the new Reserve card could be used to book $1,500 in travel via Chase, and the idea of instead turning them into 33,333 SPG points doesn't look so hot since you would have to get 4.5 cents in value per SPG point to make that "worth it".
In other words, going from Ultimate Rewards > Marriott > SPG will have some limited situations where it does make sense, but I think there are better uses for those Ultimate Reward sign-up bonuses for most people.
Best Sign-Up Bonus for SPG Points Is....
From a pure size-of-sign-up-bonus perspective, the Sapphire Reserve and its 100,000 points converted to 33,333 SPG points is best, but for the reasons outlined above I don't think it is actually the best overall SPG welcome bonus. I think that title right now goes to the Marriott cards, and specifically the personal card if you can add the authorized user to trigger 87,500 bonus points which can turn into 29,166 SPG points. Do remember that the Marriott cards likely fall under the Chase 5/24 rule.
Are you contemplating a credit card welcome bonus such as one of the Marriott cards in order to rack up more SPG points? I'd love to know your strategy in light of the recent merger and uncertain future for the co-branded credit cards!