Which American Express Card Is Best For Everyday Spend?

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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?

Links:

  • 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.

St-Regis-Singapore-Suite-14
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

Frontier-Membership-Rewards-1
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

Emirates-First-Class-A380-Singapore-02
Transfer Starpoints to JAL for redemptions in Emirates A380 first class

Bottom line

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?

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Comments

  1. One thing about everyone’s valuation of SPG points on transfers is that they are only true in 20,000 point increments. If you have 30,000 points that would transfer to 35,000 miles then the valuation is different than 20,000 points transferring to 25,000 miles.

  2. i got spg amex through lucky’s link back in january.
    my strategy is to use this card whenever purchasing non bonus items.

  3. … 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.

    THIS…is what I’ve been looking for. There are no shortage of cards out there, and some are worth having just for the perks alone, but I like to know what people are actually using and for what. It may seem remedial for someone who has been playing the points game for awhile, but us noobs, it’s tough to figure out what makes the most sense in the long run, especially when you don’t feel like signing up for 8+ different cards.

    I was reading a different blog (heresy, I know!) where the author had a few different articles with comparisons between cards. Each time, their ultimate conclusion was “get both!” even when it was obvious that some of them weren’t worth bothering with. Of course that particular blogger had referral links to both.

  4. hello ben, do you have any info / ideas on credit cards / offers for people living in germany or switzerland? what works better? e.g. amex platinum or swiss intl branded amex platinum? i feel the swiss market is tiny and protected. thx

  5. I currently live in a city near Shanghai, what credit card would you recommend to earn miles for everyday spend in grocery stores?

  6. I’m closing my Amex business card but I’m not sure what to do with the points. I fly primarily on United which isn’t a transfer partner and generally stay at Marriott hotels (I know you’re not a fan of their membership program). What would you suggest I do with the points?

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