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Usually I have a pretty clear-cut strategy when it comes to my credit card spend, and which categories go on which card. For example, all of my grocery and gas station purchases go on the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card, as that’s a pretty obvious choice (given that you earn triple and double points, respectively, plus a 50% points bonus when you make 30 purchases per billing cycle).
Starwood is the hotel chain I stay at more than any other, yet I also go back and forth on which cards I use for my stays at Starwood properties. What am I switching between?
- The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express, which offer 2x Starpoints per dollar spent
- The Citi Prestige® Card and Citi ThankYou® Premier Card, which offer 3x ThankYou points per dollar spent
On the surface I value Starpoints at ~2.2 cents each, so that’s a return of ~4.4% for my Starwood spend on the SPG Personal and SPG Business cards. Meanwhile I value ThankYou points at ~1.6 cents each, so that’s a return of ~4.8% for my Starwood spend on the Citi Prestige and Citi Premier.
So what factors into the decision making process?
Benefits of using SPG Amex for Starwood stays
American Express rebranded their SPG Amex cards in August, and we saw some exciting developments. For one, they eliminated foreign transaction fees on the card, which was long overdue, since prior to that it didn’t generally make sense to pay for your foreign Starwood stay with an SPG credit card.
Perhaps the most useful benefit which was added to the card is that those with the SPG Business card receive club lounge access at Sheraton properties, which is a huge perk. But you don’t actually have to pay for your stay with the card in order to partake in the offer — just having the card is enough.
While I value Starpoints at ~2.2 cents each, I’d say there’s some uncertainty with that going forward, given the upcoming merger between Starwood and Marriott. We don’t yet know at what rate Starpoints will be converted into Marriott Rewards points. I hope it’s at a 1:3 ratio, though realistically I think it might be a 1:2 ratio, which would represent a loss in the value of Starpoints (Marriott Rewards points are worth no more than 0.7-0.8 cents each, by my math).
I seem to alternate which credit card I use for my Starwood stays just about every other hotel stay. To sum up my perception of things:
- The SPG Personal and SPG Business cards offer a return of ~4.4% on Starwood stays, though with the upcoming merger we don’t know how the value of those points will change
- The Citi Prestige offers a return of ~4.8% on Starwood stays, a valuation I feel pretty “secure” about
- The Citi Premier points can be pooled with those on the Prestige assuming you have both cards, so you can get a similar valuation; otherwise being able to transfer those points to airline partners is valuable as well
- SPG Amex cards can be worth holding onto just for the perks:
- The SPG Business offers lounge access at Sheraton properties
- Both the SPG Personal and SPG Business cards offer two elite stays and five elite nights towards status annually, which is a great fast track to earning status
Which credit card do you use to pay fro your Starwood stays?