SPG Amex Vs. Hilton Amex — Which Limited Time Sign-Up Bonus Is Better?

In the interest of full disclosure, One Mile At A Time earns a referral bonus for anyone that’s approved through some of the below links. These are the best publicly available offers that we have found for each card. Please check out our advertiser policy for further details about the partners we work with. Thanks for your support!

Update: The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express has a limited time offer through 11/1/2017. Learn more about best available offers here.

Update: The below links for the Starwood Preferred Guest cards, Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card from American Express, and Hilton Honors™ Card from American Express are expired, but you can learn more about best available offers here.

American Express’ co-branded hotel credit cards are on fire at the moment. We’re seeing huge increased sign-up bonuses on both the Hilton and Starwood co-brand cards.

The details of the increased Starwood Amex bonuses (which expire on April 5, 2017) are as follows:

Meanwhile the details of the increased Hilton Amex bonuses (which expire on May 31, 2017) are as follows:

How many of these cards can you be approved for?

All four of these sign-up bonuses are fantastic, and I’d certainly consider picking up multiple cards. If you are going to apply for them, keep in mind that:

Which of these bonuses is best?

With that in mind, which of these bonuses is most compelling? Using my valuation of points:

The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express offers 35,000 Starpoints upon completing minimum spend, which I value at $770 (there’s no annual fee the first year).

The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express offers 35,000 Starpoints upon completing minimum spend, which I value at $770 (there’s no annual fee the first year).

Redeem your Starpoints at the W South Beach

The Hilton Honors™ Card from American Express offers 80,000 Hilton Honors points, which I value at $320 (this is a no annual fee card).

The Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card from American Express offers 100,000 Hilton Honors points, which I value at $400, plus a free weekend night certificate, which I value at ~$250; however, you have to pay two years worth of annual fees to get this, meaning I value the sign-up bonus at ~$500 (the card has a $75 annual fee).

Redeem your Hilton free weekend night at the Conrad Koh Samui

So overall I think the two SPG Amex cards still have the best sign-up bonuses, though there are potentially other considerations:

Get Sheraton club lounge access with the SPG Business Amex

Bottom line

American Express has some awesome limited time sign-up bonuses at the moment on hotel credit cards. There’s not a single best sign-up bonus — it all depends on your preferred hotel chain, preferred points currency, what perks you value most, etc. Assuming you’re eligible, the only mistake you could make is not picking up one of these cards, in my opinion.

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  1. So essentially, your title is entirely misleading and gets your readers to hopefully click on one of your links so you can make some $$ ??

    A more helpful article would’ve actually broken down the different sign-up bonuses and weighed the pros and cons of each. Your article just lists everything that’s already known.

  2. So this is additionally helpful on top of the article 2 days ago … am working on the SPG biz card spend right now; my regular SPG card renews tomorrow (and I hear it’s possible to negotiate the 2nd year annual fee or politely beg for points by renewing) … will finish the spend on the SPG biz card then go for the Amex card in May. Still undecided as to which Amex card but leaning heavily towards the Surpass for the Gold status and freebies.

  3. Such an unfortunate article. You and some other bloggers always go on and on about how lame Hilton’s program is but then you are actually going to compare And ask which is better. Hilarious

  4. @JeffG the 2/90 rule is alive and well. I had applied and approved for Amex Blue for business in January, then applied for both SPG cards 2 weeks ago. The first SPG (business) got approved automatically, the second went pending then “cancelled.” I then called for recon and after another 2-3 days status cancelled. I don’t remember the exact language of the letter, but it was essentially too many cards in a certain amount of time, which I then kicked myself and remembered the 2/90 rule. Hope that helps.

  5. @Rob – Thanks, I had that happen to me a few months ago, but other people have said that examples like ours have not happened to them.

  6. So many haters commenting about a content low, revenue driven post… who cares, let OMAT make some money and enjoy the other posts.

  7. Bloggers don’t work for free. These posts help fund their travels which in turn becomes ours one day. Lucky has reviewed so many hotels, airlines and places compared to others like The Points Guy.

  8. Lucky your quote “100,000 Hilton Honors points, which I value at $400”; Why such a low dollar value estimation? Category 1 hotels cost only 5,000 points per night (20 nights for 100k points) which typically cost ~$150-200 per night for cash.


  9. @Peter — I gave up on @Lucky’s very simplistic approach to valuing points. There is no nuance as you just pointed out. There is no earn or redemption value of points. It’s all about redemption whether or not it’s​ appropriate. It is just “I value a HH point at .4¢; I have X points; he’s how much they are worth.”

    When all one’s is a hammer everything looks like a nail. 😉

  10. @Peter — Yup. That’s a powerful case for why it is utterly simplistic to latch onto the AVERAGE redemption value of about half a cent per HH point and simply multiply the number bonus of points offered by that “value” and claim that it’s the monetary “value” of the offer. It is not even close most of the time!!!

  11. Had the Hilton Amex card for 10 years and should be receiving the SPG Amex in the mail this week. Hilton points can have either good or horrible redemption value (as pointed out by others), depending on the property, location, and time of year. Points-plus-cash redemptions seem to provide the best value for H(H)onors points, in my experience. The free Hilton Silver or Gold status is a plus for the Amex cards.

    The good thing about SPG points is that they are transferable to a ton of airlines, and convert at a 3:1 ratio for Marriott points. The downside is SPG cards come with no complimentary status. And the Marriott/SPG/Ritz rewards programs will blend into a single casserole next year, so who knows what that will look like.

  12. @Luke Vader — Let me just clear some misconceptions…

    Every points currency, not just HH, can have “good or horrible” redemption value, “depending on the property, location, and time of year.” Even at 95K per night, a 5-night award stay at Conrad Koh Samui, with the 5th night free, is a steal, On the other hand and as has been pointed out by anyone who’s ever done the modeling, starpoints almost consistently offer the worst redemption value for their top-tier properties.

    As I recently showed ( https://goo.gl/1ZJAVz ), the “old” HHonors C+P awards provided good redemption value but not always and they were rather hard to come by. The “new” HH C+P awards “on steroids” do not offer the great value that one could get SOMETIMES with the “old” C+P awards, but they make up for this shortcoming with UNLIMITED availability — a net positive, in my view. At the moment, WoH offers the best value on C+P awards, combining decent availability with generally good redemption value.

    Lastly, much is made about the fact that starpoints convert 1:3 to MR points, but the two points currencies have exactly the same “purchasing power” within their respective programs. You can transfer starpoints, which are hard to earn, to MR points 1:3, but you’ll require more of the latter to book MR awards, and vice versa.

  13. I agree with the Star point transfer vs MR point transfer. Despite having more airline partners (e.g., Alaska; I wish United was 1:1 ), most common point transfers (Delta, ANA and Kris) have the same purchase power. I would keep the Star points for Starwood hotel redemption only, despite the 5000 point bonus feature when transferring 20000 points.
    One can earn lot more MR points using Amex EDP + one of the travel cards (platinum) compared to using the Starwood guest card for everyday purchases.

  14. @DCS – “I gave up on @Lucky’s very simplistic approach to valuing points. There is no nuance as you just pointed out. There is no earn or redemption value of points. It’s all about redemption whether or not it’s​ appropriate. It is just ‘I value a HH point at .4¢; I have X points; he’s how much they are worth.'”

    I know you like arguing because you like the sound of your own voice, but I fail to see why there needs to be any nuance to point valuation. The key point to it, which it seems to be evident that you don’t get, is that a lot of people will use that value to determine whether, for a given stay, it is better to pay or to use points.

    If Lucky, or anyone else, assigns a 0.4 cent value to an HHonors point, then they are going to be more likely to use said points for those 5,000 or 10,000 point redemptions that Peter talked about. If it’s a $150 per night room that would take 50,000 points, on the other hand, they will probably be less likely to use points, unless they absolutely have to.

    That’s the whole point of assigning the value — a person can make their own judgment about what is a good use of points for them. Why you have such an issue with this, frankly, is your problem.

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