Or, consider other cards for 50,000 more miles or points that transfer into United miles with additional flexibility for your everyday spending.
Reward nights start at 10,000 points. Free anniversary night (no points needed) good at any IHG hotel (Intercontinental, Crowne Plaza, more).
$1,000 toward travel or transfer to United, Southwest, and more.
Marriott and Starwood have lowered the barrier to using your SPG or Marriott credit card at both brands.
You can now earn 5x Marriott points at Starwood hotels with a Marriott Rewards Premier credit card. That’s on top of the Starwood points you’ll earn for your Starwood stay.
And you can now earn 2x Starwood points at Marriott hotels with a Starwood Preferred Guest American Express. Again, that’s on top of the Marriott points you’d earn for your Marriott stay.
The rub is this…
The Starwood Amex can now indirectly earn you Marriott Rewards points faster than the Marriott Rewards Premier card in every spending category.
That’s because 1 Starwood point gets you 3 Marriott Rewards points when you transfer points between your Starwood and Marriott accounts.
So the earning rates for spending at Starwood or Marriott hotels work out to be:
After converting your Starwood points to Marriott, using the Starwood Amex nets you an extra Marriott point per $ when you use it at Starwood or Marriott hotels, beating the Marriott Rewards Premier.
And the extra earning doesn’t stop there.
The Starwood Amex can earn you Marriott points faster than the Marriott Premier across all other spending categories.
Yes, the Marriott Rewards Premier does earn 2x Marriott points on airfare, car rentals, and dining.
But the Starwood Amex effectively earns 3x Marriott points on everything you spend.
You earn at least 1 Starwood point per dollar on every purchase with the Starwood Amex, and since 1 Starwood point converts to 3 Marriott points, you’ll beat the Marriott Rewards Premier’s 2x Marriott points per dollar even in the special airfare, car rental, and dining categories.
The annual fees are pretty similar, too. The Marriott Premier’s is $85 while the Starwood Amex is $95.
So why spend on a Marriott card anymore?
What the Marriott Premier card does offer is the ability to earn Marriott Rewards Elite status via card spending.
You get 1 Elite Credit for every $3,000 you spend, which can help you top off your credits from hotel stays to get the bump to Gold or Platinum status.
The Starwood Amex offers no way to earn Elite status credits via card spending. As a Card Member, receive credit for 5 nights and 2 stays each year toward SPG® Elite status.
If you don’t value earning Elite status from card spending, the Marriott Rewards Premier card also offers a free night at a Category 1-5 hotel each year you renew.
That could justify the annual fee if you really do use the certificate, but you don’t have to spend on the card to earn it, so you’ll still get more value out of using the Starwood Amex for your spending at this point.
If you’ve locked in Marriott Elite status for the year, you’re a good candidate to consider adding the Starwood Amex and using it for more of your spending. There’s a $0 introductory annual fee, then $95, so it’s easy to give it a try.
You’ll just need to go online to convert your Starwood points to Marriott Rewards points, but that’s a quick process, and you can move points back and forth freely any time once you link your accounts.
And don’t forget to take advantage of some great deals on Marriott Rewards hotels with the attractive Starwood to Marriott conversion rate, like getting a Ritz Carlton for the price of a Sheraton in Maui.
It’s a great time to be earning Starwood points and taking advantage of the benefits this transition is offering, though you might want to try using points as soon as you have plans, as reward prices could change once the programs get more closely aligned.
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Foreign Transaction Fee Waived
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