Rundown of Marriott and Starwood Credit Card Bonuses

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Earlier this week we got the official word that beginning in 2018, there will be some new Marriott credit card products and that both Chase and American Express will be issuers of cards in the Starwood/Marriott/Ritz Carlton portfolio. Not all of the details were announced, but we learned enough to know that there will be some shake-ups in the current credit card line-up come 2018. It is likely, though not 100% confirmed, that at least some of the current card products will cease being available to new customers in 2018.

Which cards may disappear and on which date(s) is still a mystery, but let’s start the process of going over what is available right now, in case something strikes your fancy as being worth applying for in case it (and its sign-up bonus) are gone forever later.

Currently, the Marriott and Ritz Carlton co-branded products are issued by Chase and the Starwood products are issued by American Express. The American Express products have “once in a lifetime” terms relating to how frequently you can get the sign-up bonus, while the Chase cards have a less restrictive term that the bonus not available to “current cardmembers of this card or previous cardmembers who received a new cardmember bonus for the card in the last 24 months”. However, the Chase 5/24 rules do apply to the consumer Marriott Rewards Premier Card, though historically not to the Marriott small business card or the Ritz Carlton Card.

When deciding if any of these cards are right for you, remember that 3 Marriott Rewards or Ritz Carlton Rewards points = 1 Starwood Preferred Guest point. This means that 80,000 Marriott points would get you 26,666 SPG points if you wanted to transfer them into that program. Alternatively, 25,000 SPG points would get you 75,000 Marriott Rewards points.

Here is a rundown of the currently avaiable cards in the Marriott/Ritz Carlton/Starwood line-up, as well as their current public sign-up bonuses (though some may do better than these numbers), ongoing perks, and earning ratios.

Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Cards

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

  • 25,000 bonus Starpoints after $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months
  • 5 nights and 2 stays each year toward SPG elite status annually
  • Starwood Gold status with $30,000 in purchases on the card in a calendar year
  • Earn 2x at SPG and Marriott, 1x elsewhere
  • $0 introductory annual fee the first year, then $95
  • Terms apply.

Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express

  • 25,000 bonus Starpoints after $5,000 in purchases in the first 3 months
  • 5 nights and 2 stays each year toward SPG elite status annually
  • Starwood Gold status with $30,000 in purchases on the card in a calendar year
  • Sheraton Lounge access
  • Complimentary Boingo WiFi access
  • Earn 2x at SPG and Marriott, 1x elsewhere
  • $0 introductory annual fee the first year, then $95
  • Terms apply.

Marriott Rewards Credit Cards

Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card

  • Earn 80,000 Marriott bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months  opening
  • 7,500 additional points for adding an authorized user who makes a purchase in the first 3 months
  • 1 Free Night Stay every year after account anniversary at a Marriott Category 1-5 hotel
  • 15 Credits toward Elite status every year after account anniversary
  • Earn 1 elite credit for every $3,000 spent on purchases
  • Earn 5x at participating Marriott Rewards and SPG hotels, 2x on airline tickets purchased directly with the airline and at car rental agencies and restaurants, and 1x on other purchases
  • $85 annual fee

Marriott Rewards Premier Business Card

  • Earn 80,000 Marriott bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months  opening
  • 1 Free Night Stay every year after account anniversary at a Category 1-5 hotels
  • 15 Credits toward Elite status every year after account anniversary
  • Earn 1 elite credit for every $3,000 spent on purchases
  • Earn 5x at participating Marriott Rewards and SPG hotels; 2x on airline tickets purchased directly with the airline, at car rental agencies, restaurants, office supply stores, for internet, cable and phone service purchases; and 1x on other purchases
  • Gold status with $50,000 charged to the card each account year
  • $99 annual fee

Ritz Carlton Rewards Credit Card

Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card

  • Earn two complimentary nights at a Tier 1-4 Ritz-Carlton after you spend $4,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • 10,000 additional points for adding an authorized user who makes a purchase in the first 3 months
  • $300 annual travel credit for qualifying airline purchases such as seat upgrades, baggage fees and lounge membership or passes.
  • Automatic Gold status the first year and continues upon spending $10,000 on the card in each subsequent year
  • Platinum status with $75,000 in spending on the card each year
  • Priority Pass Select Membership
  • $100 Global Entry statement credit
  • 10% bonus on all points earned on purchases on the card each year
  • Three annual club lounge upgrade passes annually and other travel perks
  • Earn 5x at participating Marriott Rewards and SPG hotels, 2x on airline tickets purchased directly with the airline and at car rental agencies and restaurants, and 1x on other purchases
  • $450 annual fee

Which Card is the Best

None of these cards are currently at their all-time peak sign-up bonus levels outside of some targeted or potentially matched offers, but they are all solid bonuses in their own ways. Your guess is as good as mine on if/when any of these public bonuses may increase, especially if they may be changing or going away in the near-ish term. That piece of historical information out of the way, I think the best card is the one you are eligible for, as they are all roughly equal in my view.

The Marriott cards have a slightly higher sign-up bonus than the Starwood cards, but they also come with annual fees in the first year while the Starwood cards have a $0 introductory annual fee the first year. The Ritz Carlton Card has tons of travel perks and two award nights to use at amazing places like Ritz Carlton Kapalua – MauiRitz Carlton ArubaRitz Carlton Vienna, or Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay but it also has a $450 annual fee and you only have a year to use the award nights after you earn them so you can’t just bank them indefinently.

Ritz Carlton in Maui

The Marriott cards come with an annual 1-5 award night beginning on the first anniversary that you can use at somewhere like the Renaissance Austin Hotel, which is very nice considering the SPG card doesn’t currently offer anything similar, but I know some folks have trouble finding somewhere they want to use their Marriort Category 1-5 award nights. On the other hand, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Amex has a pretty cool perk of providing Sheraton Club access which can save you on food costs.

Renaissance Austin

I just did the math and (to my shock) I am currently only at 3/24 for Chase card purposes, so I really need to do some strategizing on this myself. I’ve had both the SPG Amex cards, but have actually never had any of the Marriott cards. The only thing stopping me from apply right now for one is that I may want to go for the Chase Southwest cards next year to try and secure a Companion Pass, so I need to make a decision on that strategy before going for a Marriott card. I need to do a 5/24 count for Josh, too, as he may be the one to go for a Marriott card in the near term if we decide to have me hold off potentially in favor of going all-in on Southwest.

I’d love to hear your Marriott/SPG credit card strategy now the we know a little more about the direction they plan to take their credit cards in 2018.

Head here to learn more about available credit cards and their bonuses.

Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.

Comments

  1. @mommypoints If/when the SW cards increase to maybe 50k or 60k bonuses….Will you post about the best strategy to use to get two cards? Either the personal and business or 2 personal cards? It would be nice to have a breakdown of how to go about trying to get approved for 2 cards without out mucking up your chances. Just a thought =)

    ~Shane

  2. Looking forward to hearing your decision. We’ve historically been SPG when possible but next two stays are at Marriotts (love being able to transfer points). The Ritz perks have always been appealing but I always worry about availability on those cards for using the free nights.

  3. Here’s my dilemma. I have both the SPG and Ritz card.
    I’m staying at a Marriott branded hotel next week (3 rooms) and will probably spend $5000. Which card do I use to charge the cost? Would the answer be any different if I hade a Marriott card? Thanks

    • So all things being equal, the answer is the SPG cards as they award 2x at Marriott and Starwood properties and the Marriott/Ritz cards awards 5x. Since SPG converts at a 1 x 3 ratio, that means you are earning 6x Marriott points using the SPG card and only 5x with the Marriott/Ritz. Hope that helps!

      • Brilliant. Your posts are always in plain English and easy to understand. Sometimes this stuff can get very confusing.
        Thanks for the fantastic work you do.
        Happy Holidays!

  4. I am wondering when during the year (typically) the Starwood business card comes out with a 30,000 point offer? Would you know? I think I might just jump on that one!

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