Hey Hackers, I wanted to share with you our newest #travelhacker credit card. We just recently signed up, and were immediately approved, for a Marriott Rewards Premier credit card. It’s got a great 80,000 point bonus that piqued my interest.
Historically, we’ve been an exclusively Hilton Hhonors family. In fact, we’ve hacked both the Hilton Hhonors Surpass Amex and Citi Hilton Hhonors Visa Signature cards. However, three recent events have convinced us to try out Marriott (or SPG as you’ll read more about).
- The first event was Mrs. HackNow’s early retirement as discussed in July’s blog entry “F.I.R.E. Starter.” You see she used to travel somewhat regularly for business and her company was exclusive to Hilton. Therefore, so were we since we were earning those miles for free. This was really our first foray into reward travel. However, now that she’s not working for that company any longer, we’re no longer tied to Hilton for business travel.
- The second event was the Marriott Starwood merger that you’ve been hearing about. Not being an existing member of Marriott or Starwood I’ve been able to watch this from afar. I know many existing members were unhappy with this merger but I see it as an opportunity to join a new hotel loyalty program with twice as many properties. I’m always big on property location so I see the merger as a positive for our family.
- Lastly, we’ve been invited on a NYC vacation this summer but our travel partners are SPG loyalists. Therefore, if we want to stay in the same hotel, we either need to pay full freight or need to start hacking a new Marriott or SPG card. There is always the option of using our Capital One Venture points to reimburse us for this travel, but I’d rather save those for unplanned travel.
The third event was the final trigger point that put my hacker analysis into action. I decided to commit quickly so we could start making progress on the $3000 qualified spend requirement and earn our 80,000 points as soon as possible in order to book our NYC hotel.
Thanks to the merger you’re now able to transfer points between the two brands for free – this allowed me to look at both Marriott and Starwood cards. I used The Points Guy to identify the best hacker option for each brand – this narrowed the search down to the Marriott Rewards Premier card (80,000 Marriott point reward bonus) and the Starwood Preferred Guest credit card (25,000 SPG point reward bonus).
My first question to answer was which bonus is worth more in cash value. In order to answer that, I needed to know the ratio of how many Starwood points equal how many Marriott points. This was pretty easy to find under the Points Transfer section of the Marriott/SPG account linking FAQ.
Here is the answer:
• 1 Starpoint transfers to 3 Marriott Rewards Points
• 3 Marriott Rewards Points transfer to 1 Starpoint
Based on this ratio, here is the relative value of each card in Marriott points:
Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card – 25,000 SPG points
25,000 SPG points equals 75,000 Marriott Reward points
Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card
80,000 Marriott Reward points
So there you have it, the Marriott Rewards card is the better offer right now. Also, if you add in 7,500 points for adding an authorized user, plus the $3000 spend requirement, I’ll end up with 90,500 points in 3 short months (valued at $633.50 using Marriott point valuation of $0.07/point).
The SPG card would give me 25,000 + 3,000 (spend requirement) = 28,000 SPG points which is equal to 84,000 Marriott points. The difference in cash value favors the Marriott card ($633.50) over the SPG card ($588) by $45.50. You would also save $10 in the cheaper Marriott annual fee.
Now there have been times when the SPG card has offered up to a 35,000 point bonus which would make it more attractive with a value of 105,000 Marriott Reward points. However, I don’t want to wait around for an offer that may not come. I’d rather get my 90,500 points now and book my NYC room early. One less thing to worry about.
So that’s my full analysis, not so much that my head was spinning but enough to give me confidence that I picked the right card. Many of you may already know that I actually love this type of analysis as I discussed in my October blog post, “Do I Have a Tripadvisor Problem.” If you’re not an analysis geek, hopefully this blog helped you cut through all the clutter.
For more information on comparing these two cards visit the Frequent Miler who has enough data to please even the nerdiest Data Scientist out there.
Note: The much maligned Chase 5-24 rule would apply to this credit card.