The Best Credit Card to Pay for SPG and Marriott Hotel Stays

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I recently covered some of the announced changes to the SPG/Marriott credit card line-up that are to come in 2018, and provided a rundown of what Marriott and SPG cards and bonuses are currently available as of today. While the good news is that we know some new Starwood and Marriott cards are to come in 2018, the flipside of that is that it is very likely that some of the currently available products will stop being available for new sign-ups at some point in 2018. If you missed those posts and are at all interested in those programs, I encourage you to take a look at them and start getting your Marriott and SPG card strategy in order so you don’t miss out on any bonuses you were hoping to get.

 

That said, this post specifically was born out of a simple but important question I received in the comments section of one of those recent posts about what is next for the Marriott and SPG cards.

The question was, which credit card is best to pay for Starwood and Marriott hotel stays? Is it a SPG Amex, a Chase Marriott Card, or the Chase Ritz Carlton Card?

Gaylord Texan Hotel

The best credit card for Marriott and Starwood stays is…

Thankfully, this is a question with a pretty clear-cut answer. The Chase Marriott and Ritz Carlton cards all award 5 points per dollar for eligible spending in Marriott, Ritz Carlton, and Starwood hotels. The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card and the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card award 2 points per dollar at Marriott, Ritz Carlton, and Starwood hotels. Since the transfer ratio between Starwood and Marriot is 1:3, this means that the SPG cards are the winners since they are earning the equivalent of 6 Marriott points per dollar vs. the 5 earned currently on the Chase Marriott and Ritz Carlton Cards. 

Now, the caveats to one of the SPG Amex cards being the best choice for eligible Marriott and SPG hotel spending is if you are working on hitting a bonus of some sort on one of the cards. In that case, whatever bonus or perk you are working on could tip the scales in favor of that card if you need all the spending you can get to help meet your goal. Additionally, remember that the Ritz Carlton Card offers a 10% bonus on points earned on the card each year, though that alone still doesn’t make it more valuable for in-hotel spend than the SPG Amex Cards.

It would not surprise me if they align the in-hotel spending bonuses on the cards in the coming year so that one issuing bank doesn’t always win this contest, but for now, the SPG Amex cards reign supreme, even when paying for a Marriott stay.

What credit card do you use to pay for SPG and Marriott hotel stays?

 

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

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Comments

    • Great point. The best card for you may be none of the above. SPG points are so hard for time to earn and I get so much value out of them that I’ll usually take 2 SPG over 3 UR, but only by a very small margin.

      • @MommyPoints SPG points are indeed harder to earn, but at the end of day it’s the value of the point that matters. 1 starpoint is worth at most 1.25 major airline miles. A top Marriott hotel free night requires 23333 starpoints, and a top Starwood hotel requires 35000 starpoints, whereas a top Hyatt free night requires only 30000 UR points. UR points are more flexible and can be redeemed as cash. I don’t understand why so many people appear to value SPG point significantly higher than UR points.

        • All depends where you want to go. I love Hyatt, but 9,600 SPG points per night are getting us to whistler, grand cayman, and aspen snowmass and Hyatt can’t do that.

        • Starpoints can also be exchanged for a much wider range of airline miles, and 90,000 can be exchanged for 7 (consecutive) nights at a category 1-5 Marriott AND 120,000 airline miles.

          So it depends upon which airline miles you value, and which hotel brands you prefer.

        • Great debate, but I paid for my Westin Grand Cayman stay using my SPG card. I can easily churn UR points, but SPG points are much harder to earn. I like the diversification and value of SPG points when used at higher end SPG properties. I was originally going to increase my spend with my SPG card so that I can get 3X Marriot points (1:3). Turned out the best value for Grand Cayman was converting Marriott to SPG for the Westin at 16,000 pts per night. Still had to pay the $60 per night resort fee, but that is the cost of staying at a really nice beach resort.

      • Agree but it’s not 3 against 1, it’s 3 against 2 which is closer, especially if you need SPG points more than UR points. Both are great choices, though.

  1. If you have a huge stash of UR points, the SPG points are worth marginally more to you than if not. We assign an arbitrary value to both types of points, but that is not their actual (cash) value, or is it a minimum or maximum guaranteed redemption value.

    But if you are looking for either SPG or Marriott points, as Summer noted the SPG card is the clear winner for spend at those brands – a 20% higher return, regardless of how you value the relative points.

  2. I’ll throw another card in the mix. I am currently at the Marriott Beach Resort in Grand Cayman and I’m not using eithe the Marriott or SPG card. I’m using my Citi Prestige to get the 4th night free.

  3. We used SPG points for the Westin Grand Cayman two weeks ago. 16,000 points per night. If you book four nights, the fifth is free (even on points). I converted my 80,000 Marriot credit card bonus points to SPG points and combined them with the SPG points I already had. Per reviews and our personal experience – Westin is less crowded and has a better beach that the Marriott in Grand Cayman. (and better reviews!)

    Side note: If you are short on cash or SPG points, you can book Sunshine Suites across the street from the Westin Grand Cayman and have full access to the Westin beach, the Resort and all of its restaurants and bars. Of course the Suites are not beach front, but the cost is a less than what the Westin costs (Westin is $500 + per night plus a $60 per night resort fee)

    You can book the Sunshine suites through the UR Shopping & Travel portal for about 35,000 UR points per night. Includes breakfast. Food costs are very expensive in Grand Cayman! I think the suites come with partial kitchens, but you will want to check that out for yourself. There are several good Grocery stores on the island near 7 mile beach.

  4. Thanks for this post! What about properties like the Waldorf Astoria? My wife, infant son and will be staying at the Waldorf Astoria in Boca Raton one of the Fine resort hotel collections from AMX platinum. I booked using amx travel so I will get 5x on the booking but for expenses in the hotel (lunch, dinner, spa, etc), which credit card would be best to use to maximize the points? Assume that I’m not trying to reach minimum spend on any card. The AMX representative said that even if I charged them to my room they would not be eligible for the 5x.

    Thanks! 🙂

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