Should I Get the SPG Amex or Marriott Rewards Premier Card?
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
TPG reader Colin sent me a tweet to ask about a few limited-time credit card offers:
“Which sign-up bonus do you like better, 35,000 Starpoints or 80,000 Marriott Rewards points?”
Credit card sign-up bonuses come and go, and a great way to boost your loyalty accounts is to make sure you jump on the top offers while they're available. In the last month or so, Starwood and Marriott have come out with highly valuable, limited-time offers for their co-branded cards. I think both of them are worth a look, but if I have to pick one, the choice is clear.
The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express is offering a bonus of 35,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first three months, while the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card is offering bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first three months, plus 7,500 points when you add an authorized user and make a purchase in the first three months. Clearly, 87,500 is a lot more than 35,000, but it's important to remember that points are not created equal.
After meeting the minimum spending requirements on the SPG Amex, you'd have at least 38,000 Starpoints. I list those points at 2.5 cents apiece in my most recent monthly valuations, which gives you an impressive total value of $950. Meanwhile, meeting the requirements on the Marriott Rewards card would net you at least 90,500 points. I list those points at 0.7 cents apiece, so the bonus is worth about $634. That's also a solid value, but clearly I'd prefer the Starpoints.
You also have to factor in how these bonuses compare to what's been available in the past. The Marriott Premier offer is strong, but we saw a similar bonus as recently as last summer. There's no guarantee that this card will offer 80,000 points again in the future, but at least there's some precedent. On the other hand, the SPG Amex offer is the best we've ever seen. Of course, there's also no guarantee that a better offer won't appear down the line, but I wouldn't hold your breath.
In a bubble I think the SPG Amex bonus offers better value, but your decision of which card to apply for may depend on your travel plans. If you have a Marriott award stay in mind, or if you're thinking of booking a Hotel + Air package to earn the Southwest Companion Pass, then the Premier card could be a better fit.
Some readers have asked whether earning Starpoints and Marriott Rewards should be a priority because of the impending acquisition. However, with this week's accepted bid from Anbang, there's now a fairly good chance that these two loyalty programs won't be combined, so I think there's no more or less incentive than there would be otherwise.
For more on maximizing these two cards and their respective bonuses, check out these posts:
- How to Use 35,000 Points from the SPG Amex Card
- 5 Ways to Use 80,000 Points from the Marriott Rewards Premier Card
- Starwood Accepts Anbang’s Bid for Acquisition