Best Credit Card For SPG Stays?

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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?

W-Taipei
Which credit card should you use for your Starwood stays?

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.

Sheraton-Club-Lounge
Get Sheraton club lounge access with the SPG Business Amex

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).

Bottom line

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:

Which credit card do you use to pay fro your Starwood stays?


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Comments

  1. Hi Ben –

    Do you have any information on whether the combined SPG/Marriott Rewards program will still allow point to mile transfers with the current plethora of airlines, and at the current rates?

  2. As I use Starwoid points as quick as I earn them, but have plenty of TYPs and AA miles, it’s a no brainier.

    Agree that the decision might be different if my balances are reversed.

    The fact that Starwood points are far harder to get in general than things that reduce airline costs is the deviding factor for me, at least for a balance that so can use in 2016/2017.

  3. Don’t forget that if you want to use the 4th night free benefit from Citi Prestige you need to pay with that card. Regarding the benefit of using lounges at Sheraton if you have the SPG business card, is that Sheraton only or Westin as well? I was surprised I was at the Sheraton in San Diego last week and the person that did my check in told me how to access the lounge. I wasn’t sure why but not I see that she might had in my profile that I own that card.

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