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Last night I wrote about my latest round of credit card applications, and reader Gaurav asked the following:
Lucky–do you think the everyday preferred is better than the SPG fit everyday spend? One offers the extra .25 mile per dollar while the other offers a lot more flexibility. I can never make up my mind. Your thoughts?
- Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
- Sign-up bonus: 10,000 Starpoints after the first purchase, 15,000 additional Starpoints after spending $5,000 within six months
- Annual fee: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $65
- Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card
- Sign-up bonus: 15,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $1,000 within three months
- Spend bonuses: Earn 3X points at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1X); earn 2X points at U.S. gas stations; earn 1X points on other purchases; use your Card 30 or more times on purchases in a billing period and get 50% more points on those purchases less returns and credits
- Annual fee: $95
For years, the SPG Amex was in a league of its own. And it’s still a great card, but it has now gotten competition from Chase, Citi, and even other American Express cards.
Redeem Starpoints at the St. Regis Singapore
Both points currencies are extremely flexible
Both Starpoints and Membership Rewards points are among the most flexible points currencies out there. So whatever you’re hoping to redeem for, chances are that you can redeem these two points currencies for it:
- American Express Membership Rewards has 17 airline transfer partners, and occasionally offers transfer bonuses; points transfer at a 1:1 ratio
- Starpoints can be transferred to over two dozen airline partners, and can also be efficiently redeemed for hotel stays; points transfer to airline miles at a 1:1 ratio, and for every 20,000 points you transfer you receive a 5,000 point bonus, meaning you’re really earning 1.25 airline miles per dollar spent
American Express Membership Rewards airline transfer partners
What are these points worth?
At the most basic level, let me share my valuation of these two points currencies:
- Starpoints: 2.2 cents each
- Membership Rewards points: 1.8 cents each
So, which card is better for everyday spend?
If you’re making at least 30 purchases per billing cycle on the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card, you’re earning at least 1.5 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent, which I value at a ~2.7% return on everyday spend (not factoring in any of the category bonuses). That’s better than the ~2.2% you get on the SPG Amex.
That being said, choosing the right card for you goes way beyond that. There are things to keep in mind, like:
- Membership Rewards points convert into airline miles instantly (or in some cases it takes up to a day), while Starpoints convert into airline miles much more slowly than that
- Starwood has some airline transfer partners which Membership Rewards doesn’t, like American AAdvantage, Alaska Mileage Plan, JAL Mileage Bank, etc.
- Membership Rewards sometimes offers transfer bonuses, which can increase your earnings rates even further
Transfer Starpoints to JAL for redemptions in Emirates A380 first class
There’s never going to be a single “best” card for everyone. It all depends on what kind of rewards you’re looking for, and beyond that, specifically which airline transfer partners you value most.
As far as my situation goes, I have very sizable points balances with Chase Ultimate Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest right now, while my American Express Membership Rewards balance is a bit less impressive. That’s because American Express doesn’t generally have huge sign-up bonuses, and I’ve been focusing a lot of spend on my Chase Sapphire Preferred.
Now that I’ve finally picked up the EveryDay Preferred, I plan on using it as my primary card for a while, so I can further diversify my points balance.
Which do you think is more rewarding for everyday spend — the Amex EveryDay℠ Preferred Credit Card or Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express?