Open the #1 Travel Credit Card
NOTE: The offers in this post are expired. In fact, In February 2019 the SPG personal card was retired.
If you’ve been following the news of the merger of the Starwood and Marriott rewards programs, then you probably know that the ability to earn Marriott points (and the value of these points generally) has taken a pretty serious hit in recent months. However, there is some very good news that you should be aware of.
Earlier this year, the Starwood Preferred Guest credit cards from American Express all but disappeared, as they temporarily failed to provide a points-based welcome offer. This meant that the only meaningful way to earn points for stays at Marriott hotels was to use the Marriott credit card or transfer your Ultimate Rewards to Marriott.
Now, the Starwood cards are back in the game, with pretty impressive offers.
One important thing to remember, is the Chase 5/24 rule. If your end-game is to rack up as many Marriott points as possible, it likely makes sense to go for the Marriott cards first (subject to 5/24) and then the SPG card(s). OK, here are the offers.
Welcome Offer: You’ll earn 75,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months. There is no annual fee for the first year, then it’s $95.
Welcome Offer: Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on your card in the first three months. There is no annual fee for the first year, then it’s $95.
Again, these are good offers to supplement a larger strategy for acquiring Marriott points. Adding one or both of these to your portfolio could be a really good move.
Is this a Good Value?
If you look around on other travel sites, you’ll find some cynical commentary about these cards and about Marriott points generally. But, I actually have a positive outlook on this development, and think the cards are worth getting.
My reason is very simple: these cards provide a second way to earn Marriott points, and they come without an annual fee in the first year. Basically, before these offers were back, you were looking at a cap of 150,000 Marriott points per 2-adult household from credit card signup bonuses, or 225,000 if you had a business and got the Marriott business card. Now, that number increases to 300,000 on the personal cards, and up to 450,000 for a household that also has a business (and opts for one business card, the SPG instead of Marriott). That is significant, no way around it.
Another way to look at it is that folks used to rave about the occasional 35,000-point offer on the SPG cards back when they earned Starwood points. After the merger with Marriott and the 3:1 conversion, those 35,000 points would be worth 105,000 Marriott points, which is very close to the offer on the business card. And the standard 25,000-point offer of days past would be equal to 75,000 Marriott points. Now, of course most properties are now relatively more expensive than before the merger so the valuations are a bit different, but this is still a relatively good deal, and one that may not be “better” any time soon.
So, if you’re stocking up on Marriott points, now might be the best time for a while to get in on the action.