SPG vs Marriott Rewards

Update: The SPG card has been updated due to Marriott Reward merger.

RankCredit CardBonusRatingApply
1 Marriott Visa 4 Free Nights!!! Apply NowReview
2 Starwood Preferred Guest®* Credit Card from American Express 50,000 Bonus Points, Annual Free Night & More Apply NowReview

Compared the Marriott Premiere Visa and the AMEX SPG

The Marriott team is so sure you will love their Marriott Premier Visa Card they will give you points and bonuses redeemable for up to five free nights at no cost. All you must do is charge one morning coffee on the card (or anything, but coffee seems ubiquitous enough) and you are sorted.

If you are planning a big purchase in the near future, you can double that amount with the Starwood Preferred Guest credit card from American Express. $1,500 in the first three months gets you 50,000 bonus points – though you will need to fork out $120 in annual fees.

Did we mention that Marriott has waived the annual fee for your first year? Sickeningly good value for nothing.

How it Works? Here is how the Bonus Amounts Stack up

Annual FeeSign up BonusVesting RequirementValue
Marriott Rewards First year free 30,000 points One transaction See table
Starwood Preferred Guest AMEX $120 50,000 points $1,500 spend in three months Redeem with no blackout dates

So your choice is between a free card offering 30,000 points for basically nothing, or a card offering ~1.6 that if you can spend $1,500 in three months and pony up the $120 annual fee. Marriott and SPG AMEX put their hotels into particular categories which cost different point amounts per night’s stay:

Category Marriott Point Requirement
1 7,500
2 10,000
3 15,000
4 20,000
5 25,000
6 30,000
7 35,000
8 40,000
9 45,000

So do the math. You can get 4-8 nights in a category one hotel or, if you can’t find something there, 3 nights in category 5. You’ll also get an additional night from both SPG card Marriott rewards card every year on the anniversary of your card opening at eligible locations.

And to be clear – category one hotels aren’t fleabags. Marriott has a reputation to uphold, it is not as if you’ll ever need to bring your own mousetrap. The hotel tier is based on a few different parameters like location, hotel type and brand. You’ll find more motel-esque lines like the Towneplace Suites and Courtyard in lower categories and more boutique / luxury hotels in the higher ones, like the Autograph Collection for instance.

Earning and Spending Points

Marriott and SPG HotelsAirline Tickets (direct from airline) car Rental and RestaurantsAnywhere Else
Marriott Rewards 5 pts per $1 2 pts per $1 1 pt. per $1
Starwood Preferred Guest 5 pts per $1 NA 2 pt per $1

As described above, not all points are created equally – one of the major downsides of the Marriott Card is that points may only be spent on hotel stays; however, the ability to transfer points to the SPG program mitigates the issue. Starpoints may be transferred to more than 30 different airline frequent flyer programs – generally at a 1:1 rate – which allows for the card to function like a pretty flexible travel card. Moreover, if you transfer 20,000 points at a go, you will earn 5,000 bonus points – pretty incredible when you consider that is enough, again, to get two free nights at a category one hotel. Alternatively, you can simply use Starpoints to book flights with over 150 airlines – without blackout dates.

These cards are really hidden gems in the Canadian market. There is a stigma against hotel cards because the redemption value is seen as limited; however, as shown above, the merger between SPG and Marriott has opened up a host of opportunities to use points against flights. As a matter of fact, the Aeroplan redemption rate, if 20,000 points are transferred, comes to a 1.25% rate due to the 5,000 point bonus – this is a very good rate against even standard Aeroplan cards.

The Marriott Premiere card gets the coveted Checkrate Checkmate designation: get the Marriott card FOR FREE, make any purchase at all, and get yourself four free nights in a Marriott hotel. Every year you stick around, get an additional night in a category 5 hotel – for free. Alternatively, get ~1.6 points with the SPG AMEX card if you can spend $1,500 within the first three months and fork out the $120 annual fee.

RankCredit CardBonusRatingApply
1 Marriott Visa 4 Free Nights!!! Apply NowReview
2 Starwood Preferred Guest®* Credit Card from American Express 50,000 Bonus Points, Annual Free Night & More Apply NowReview

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2 Responses to “SPG vs Marriott Rewards”

    1. Hi John,

      First, just want to highlight the historic nature of your comment, the first on checkrate! Big thanks for giving us a click and taking the time to engage.

      Alas, your comment has come in prior to our live QA! We have been presently surprised with the speed in which visitors have found their way to our site. The SPG does have a fist year fee of $120, which further strengthens the case for Marriott as top hotel card in the market. Marriott, on the other hand, has said nothing to us concerning the addition of an annual fee. However, no guarantees, now would be a good time to take advantage of the offer without any up front costs.

      Thanks John!
      -Checkrate

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