Battle of the Best Credit Cards: SPG American Express vs. Marriott Rewards Premier Visa

Jordann Brown
by Jordann Brown May 15, 2015 / No Comments

Travel is one of the greatest joys of life, but it can be expensive. Paying for flights, transportation, and especially accommodations adds up fast. To save on these costs, you should consider using a travel rewards credit card to earn points that can be redeemed for free hotel stays.

If you aren’t sure which credit card is best for your jet-setting ways, read our analysis of the two best hotel credit cards in Canada. We’ll start with a basic side-by-side comparison of the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express and the Marriott Rewards Premier Visa.

Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card vs. Marriott Rewards Premier Visa at a Glance

Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card Marriott Rewards Premier Visa
Annual Fee $120 $120

(annual fee waived for the first year)

Value of Sign-Up Bonus 20,000 Bonus Miles when you spend $1,500 in the first three months = $446 30,000 Bonus Miles with first purchase = $243

1 Free night stay at a Category 1-4 hotel after approval = $142

Value of 1 Mile $0.0223 $0.0081
Annual Income Requirement $15K individual Any
Interest Rate 19.99% 19.99%
Special Features Can earn points by booking outside hotels through Tribute Loyalty program. No foreign currency charges on international transactions.

Based on the comparison chart above, the SPG credit card seems like the better card. The cards waive the $120 fee for the first year. However, the SPG credit card offers the greater sign-up bonus. The average value of every point you earn is also higher. But, as with any rewards credit card, you need to consider how your personal spending will affect the rewards you earn. Let’s do a detailed spending analysis to find out which card is the better travel rewards credit card using the following monthly spending profile. (We assumed you’re a frequent traveller, for this one!)

Monthly Spending Profile
$400 on restaurants
$1,000 on hotels
$1,600 on everything else
Total per month: $3,000
Total per year: $3,000 x 12 = $36,000

Now let’s look at how many points these expenses will earn if you charge them to your travel rewards credit card.

1. Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express

Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express

starwood-preferred-guest-from-american-express

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  • $120 annual fee
  • Earn one Starpoint per dollar spent
  • Receive 20,000 bonus Starpoints after you make $1,500 in the first three months
  • Enjoy a Free Weekend Night Award when you reach $40,000 in purchases each year

 

Annual Fee Sign-Up Bonus Spending Rewards Monthly Spending First Year Return Subsequent Years Return
$120 $446 1 Starpoint for $1 spent on everything 1 Starpoint x $3,000 = 3,000 Starpoints

Value of 1 Starpoint = $0.0223

3,000 x 0.0223 = $66.90/month

Sign-up: $446

Spending Rewards: $66.90 x 12 = $802.80

Annual Fee: $120

Total: $446+$802.80-$120 = $1,128.80

$802.80-$120= $682.80

Depending on which hotels you redeem your points for, the SPG credit card will yield $1,128.80 in rewards in the first year and $682.80 every year after. This credit card has the stronger introductory offer of the two cards and earns 1 Starpoint for every $1 charged to the card.

2. Marriott Rewards Premier Visa

Marriott Rewards Premier Visa

marriott-rewards-visa-from-chase

  • $120 annual fee; first year free
  • Earn up to five points per dollar
  • 30,000 bonus points after your first purchase
  • Free anniversary stay e-certificate valid for 12 months at any participating Category 1 to 5 Marriott location worldwide

 

Annual Fee Sign-Up Bonus Spending Rewards Monthly Spending First Year Return Subsequent Years Return
$120 $588 5 points for $1 spent on travel

2 points per $1 on restaurants

1 mile per $1 on everything else

5 x $1,000 = 5,000 points

2 mile x $400 = 800 points

1 mile x $1,600 = 1,600 points

Value of 1 point = $0.0081

7,400 x 0.0081 = $59.94/month

Sign-up: $588

Spending Rewards: $59.94 x 12 = $719.28

Annual Fee: $0

Total: $588+$719.28-0 = $1307.28

$719.28-$120= $599.28

While the SPG credit card has a weaker sign-up bonus than the Marriott Rewards credit card, you’ll find that your SPG points have significantly greater value. With the strong sign-up bonus the Marriott card comes out on top in the first year with a total return of $1,307.38. However, you’ll notice that in subsequent years the SPG card pulls ahead with a return of $682.80. This makes the SPG credit card the best long term option.

It’s important to remember that the comparison above is based off a very specific spending profile. To be sure that the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express is the right hotel credit card for you, fill out your spending profile on our website and see which card comes out on top. No matter which one you choose, both of these cards would be a good choice if you’re looking to score free hotel stays on your next trip.

Flickr: Roderick Eime