Is It Worth Spending Your Way To SPG Platinum?

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Update: There’s an exciting new offer for the SPG American Express cards! The links below are expired, but you can learn more about the opportunity to earn 35,000 SPG points here!

Update: This offer for The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN is expired. Learn more about the best available offer here.


While I’m not thrilled about Marriott’s takeover of Starwood in the long term (it reduces competition), in the short term it presents some cool opportunities. For example, it’s now possible to transfer points at a fair ratio between the two programs. That means those with Starpoints can take advantage of Marriott’s Hotel + Air Packages, those with Marriott points can take advantage of Starwood’s direct mileage transfers, etc.

linking-marriott-starwood-accounts-1

It also means that SPG Gold members can match to Marriott Gold, and SPG Platinum members can match to Marriott Platinum.

The best way to spend your way to SPG Platinum status

Reader Ali asked me the following question on Twitter, regarding earning SPG Platinum status through credit card spend:

The Marriott “family” of loyalty programs has co-branded credit cards for Starwood, Ritz-Carlton, and Marriott, all of which offer some opportunity to earn status:

  • The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express offers SPG Gold status (which can be matched to Marriott Gold) after spending $30,000 on the card in a year
  • The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card offers Ritz-Carlton Gold status for the first year, and in subsequent years you can earn Gold status for spending $10,000 on the card, or Platinum status for spending $75,000 on the card (which can be matched to SPG Gold and Platinum status, respectively)
  • The Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card offers 15 elite qualifying nights per year, and you earn an additional elite qualifying night for every $3,000 spent; that means you’d have to spend $180,000 to earn Marriott Platinum status

So if you want to earn Platinum status with both Ritz-Carlton (which is virtually the same as earning it through Marriott) and Starwood, spending $75,000 on The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card is your best bet. If you’re a big credit card spender, that’s not all that much to spend in order to earn top tier hotel status, in my opinion.

W-Taipei
SPG Platinum members get unlimited complimentary suite upgrades

Should you spend $75,000 for SPG Platinum?

Now that we’ve established the best way to earn SPG Platinum through credit card spend is with The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card, the follow-up question is whether or not it’s worth it. In Ali’s case, the alternative is spending that money on the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express. Both cards offer one point per dollar on non-bonused spend, though I place significantly different valuations on the two points currencies:

  • I value Starpoints at ~2.2 cents each
  • I value Ritz-Carlton Rewards points at ~0.8 cents each

So for $75,000 of spend, your “return” would be $1,650 on the Starwood Card, or $600 on the Ritz-Carlton Card (the latter assumes you’re not spending in any of the bonus categories, which include travel and restaurants). So at most you’re losing ~$1,050 worth of points, but you’re gaining top tier status with Starwood and Ritz-Carlton.

Is that worth it? I guess it all depends on how many stays you’d make with the brands over the coming year. If you’re making just a couple of stays it’s probably not worth it, while if you plan on spending 50+ nights with them, it’s definitely worth it, in my opinion.

There are a few further things to consider:

sheraton-grand-london-park-lane-32
Just having the SPG Business Amex gets you Sheraton lounge access

For those serious about earning top tier status…

Assuming you’re a big credit card spender and plan on frequently staying at Starwood properties, I really think this is a strategy worth considering.

Keep in mind that if you spend the $75,000 early next year, the status would be valid through the beginning of 2019, so you’d essentially be getting two years worth of Platinum status for the $75,000 worth of spend.

Ultimately we don’t know what the future of Marriott’s three loyalty programs will look like. Eventually they may all be consolidated, though that shouldn’t happen earlier than 2018. Regardless, if you complete this spend you have top tier status in whatever the combined program is through 2019.

Le-Meridien-Cairo-Airport
I’ve received some great suite upgrades as an SPG Platinum member

Bottom line

I love The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card for the great sign-up bonus of three complimentary nights at any Tier 1-4 property, the $100 domestic companion airfare benefit, the Marriott Gold status for the first year, the $300 travel credit, etc.

ritz-carlton-bali
There are lots of great properties at which to redeem Tier 1-4 complimentary nights

For those who aren’t already top tier with Marriott and Starwood, I think putting $75,000 of spend on the card in order to achieve top tier status could make a lot of sense. While you’ll lose value in comparison to putting the spend on the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, the benefit of top tier status with the world’s largest hotel chain could more than make up for that.

Anyone else considering using the Ritz-Carlton Card to earn top tier status with SPG/Marriott?

About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

More articles by lucky »

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Comments

  1. I’d you’re spending $75k on just one credit card, you’re rich enough to not care about silly things like status and can just buy the best executive lounge level rooms

  2. Getting top tier status for Ritz-Carlton doesn’t mean much…so it shouldn’t be the big factor. That’s why it’s so easy to get: spend $75K on the RC credit card, and boom, you have top tier status with RC. ‘Nuff said.

    For the time being, because of status matching between RC-MR-SPG, you can take advantage of the RC credit card $75K spend to match to SPG Platinum. That does mean more.

    However, just being SPG Plat doesn’t get SNAs or Ambassador service. If you’re doing to enjoy SPG hotels and stay 25 times or 50 nights anyway, then go that route to get SPG Plat (and RC Plat too). If you want that and can’t stay enough, then you might as well use spend to do it.

  3. If you do this, would you get the SPG Platinum 50 night benefits? I like SPG Plat for the Suite Night Awards. Could I spend to Plat via Ritz and then get 10 SNAs?

  4. I spend seven figures annually on my credit cards and I’m located in Canada.

    Currently, I have:

    Marriott Rewards visa
    SPG Amex
    Amex Plat
    RBC Visa Infinite

    I would love to get SPG platinum status as I do stay at St. Regis properties often on points stays. However, I don’t see any links for a Ritz credit card that is open to Canadians. If you could post the link (if available) that would be greatly appreciated.

    Also, do you recommend any other Canadian credit cards I should get?

    I have millions of points now, and I have you to thank for this hobby!

  5. @B – plenty of people have 75K spend annually without being rich. The best examples being people who travel several times a month for work. I know plenty of folks who spend far more on reimbursable travel than they make in salary. Booking flights last minute for popular business travel times is very expensive – i’m thinking consultants at Deloitte/Accenture/PWC.

  6. UA Silver that comes with Marriott Platinum is worth a couple hundo as well. At least for me, the premier access to bypass security lines is well worth it.

  7. @Stannis, bypassing security lines shouldn’t be worth more than $100, because you can always buy Global Entry for $100 which comes with Pre-Check

  8. Have to be honest, it makes me sad hearing all the time that that is so easy in residents of US and sometimes other specific countries. As for me who is located in Eastern Europe to get a status you have to do it hard way. Than I believe it is a thing that helps to appreciate it. 🙂

  9. Agreed Mikey, but UA Silver also offers a free checked bag along with E+ at check-in. It’s very rare that I’m frozen out of E+ as if it’s not available at T-24, I repeatedly check the app until it is, especially when higher ranking elites start getting upgraded at the gate.

  10. Stannis,

    You also get status with Delta with SPG Plat. Checked bag, priority boarding, priority security line(what business traveler doesn’t have PreCheck/NEXUS/etc already?), and at-the-gate upgrades. The only difference is that you’re last on the list for upgrades, though the newly announced move to allow for coach+ upgrades is welcome and will probably generate more upgrades than before for me.

  11. Hello Bob,

    “Also, do you recommend any other Canadian credit cards I should get?”

    I am not sure where in Canada you are, my home airport is YLW (Kelowna, British Columbia) which is served by Alaska/Horizon as is Calgary, Edmonton, Victoria & Vancouver. These will link yoiu to Seattle and Alaska Airlines network.

    Alaska Airlines has a co-branded Mastercard in Canada through MBNA (www.mbna.ca) which is a division of the Toronto Dominion Bank. In the United States Alaska has a co-branded VISA card with Bank of America. Features of the card include:

    Receive 25,000 Bonus Miles after your first eligible purchase
    An annual coach Companion Fare every year from $121 (USD)($99 base fare, plus taxes and fees from $22
    earn 1 mile per $1 spent on every eligible purchase
    earn 3 miles per $1 spent on Alaska Airlines tickets, cargo purchases, in-flight purchases and vacation packages
    redeem miles for flights to over 700 destinations worldwide
    $75 annual fee

    There is no requirement for a minimum spend. Simply activate and make your first purchase and you will receive your bonus. The annual companion ticket is worth much more than the $75.00 annual fee. You can use it on one-way or round trip and you can also use it for open jaw itineraries.

    I have 2 Alaska Airlines Mastercards, my partner has one and I also have the Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa. Together we receive 4 companion tickets each year.

    If you are a big Costco customer as I am you will also benefit with purchases there too. When Costco nixed American Express they went with Mastercard in Canada and Visa in the Untied States. When I am in the US I use my Alaska Airlines Bank of America Visa and in Canada I use my Alaska Airlines MBNA Mastercard keeping charges and making payments in the respective currencies.

    I was fortunate to fly Emeriates this summer before the devaluation and got two first class award tickets from LAX-DXB with a four day layover (another great feature of Alaska Airlines awards) and then first class DXB-FCO. I enjoyed Lobster salad in the Emeriates Lounge at LAX before the flight. There were only 5 people in first class with a crew of 6 at our disposal. I had two showers, one before bed, the other before arrival in Dubai, drank more than a bottle of Dom Perignon, a fourty year old port, had caviar and was pampered with the most attentive service making the 16 hour 40 minute flight seem too short. The experience was every bit as good from Dubai to Rome and the 3 hours in the First Class Lounge in Dubai went by much too quickly. The published fare for two was a little over $78,000.00 USD so the 200,000 miles for the award was well spent.

    Even if Alaska Airlines is not convenient for you they partner with a lot of airlines where you can use your Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles to book award travel and you don’t have to originate out of the Untied States. You can book with American, Air France, KLM, Japan Airlines etc out of Canadian gateways even where Alaska Airlines metal isn’t present. You can check out their partners and award charts at http://www.alaskaair.com.

    If you are looking for another Canadian Based credit card that will give you travel benefits I highly recommend the Alaska Airlines MBNA Mastercard. I just got the Canadian SPG Amex card (20,000 bonus points with only $500.00 CAD spend) and have applied for the US SPG Amex & Chase Marriott VISA. with the intent on transferring all points to Marriott Rewards to redeem a hotel and air package.

    Happy Accumulating!

    James

  12. @James.

    It is not easy as a Canadian to get a US Credit card now. Unless you have SSN.

    I would love to Hear from DCTA. @DCTA

  13. I’m platinum with Marriott and am not convinced SPG is better. We stay at high end hotels and the points required on SPG seem far more than Marriott. It seems all the bloggers love SPG. Is it sponsored or am I missing something?

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