I’ve never been more on the fence with a credit card as I am with this one. I got a lot of use out of the sign-up bonus (35,000 points, since I got it during the increased bonus last spring). However, I’ve barely spent any money on it since originally hitting the minimum spending requirement. In the past, I’ve written about my love/hate relationship with SPG points, and that’s what’s driving the indecision here. On the one hand, the points are fantastic because of how many transfer partners are available, as well as some awesome hotel redemptions if you want to go that route. On the other hand, points often take so long to transfer that you have to gamble that the availability you found will still be there by the time the points clear. Also, you have to focus on 20,000 point increments in order to get the 20% transfer bonus and wring maximum value out of your points. Finally, and most frustratingly, the card has no bonus categories except double points at SPG properties, meaning that unless you’re a road warrior who’s loyal to Starwood (or you’re a vigorous manufactured spender), the points accumulate painfully slowly.
I like SPG points, but I don’t think they’re worth 1.5x Amex or Chase points. So far, I have been able to meet all my travel goals mostly through Chase and Amex. True, I did use Alaska Airlines to book my most recent award, and a big chunk of my points there came from SPG. However, that chunk mostly consisted of bonus points from my timeshare presentation and points that I purchased outright, so they had nothing to do with the card. In a world where I can earn at least 1.5 Amex *or* Chase points on every transaction, I can’t justify earning SPG points instead. Also, I’m able to leverage so many bonus categories with my existing slate of cards that there isn’t actually that much unbonused spend left over. Even if I dedicated all unbonused spend to the card, I don’t spend enough money to earn 20,000 points, which is pretty much the minimum required for SPG points to be worth earning. (It’s this line of thinking that makes me wish I had the risk tolerance and time and energy for manufactured spending.)
I was hoping for a retention bonus in order to tip the scales, but multiple calls to Amex came up empty. So now the question is whether I spend $95 to keep a card I barely use, just because it may be going away soon and I might want it in the future. The only other consideration is that I could get 5000 points by referring Justine to the card, but I don’t know if I’ll even get around to that before the card goes away. My future plans include the new US Bank card, a Barclay arrival+, and maybe even another Business Rewards Gold Amex, since there’s currently an offer for 50,000 points without the once-per-lifetime language in my account. (There’s a 75,000 offer too, but I’m not targeted for that one.) But between those cards, I’ll have more than enough spend to keep me busy for the next six months, making me question whether it’s worth it to spend $95 for the possibility of earning 5,000 extra points. Since I have around 10,000 points right now, the 5k plus the 28k from the new card (25k bonus plus 3000 points from hitting the minimum spend) would put over the 40k mark for the transfer bonus – and, as Gary Leff often reminds us, points at the margin are worth more than points in general. So if the 5,000 points from the referral bonus mean the difference between getting the transfer bonus right away or needing to spend an additional $2000 to get there, maybe that’s worth $95?
I don’t know. Tell me what to do. Is there some hidden value to the SPG card that I’m missing? Is it crazy that I’d rather consolidate my points earning into Chase and Amex, rather than diversifying and letting a few points trickle into my SPG account here and there?
If I were you I’d probably cancel. I was actually pretty set on canceling (also signed up for 35K bonus last year), I just didn’t spend enough to earn many points, however I did get the 10K offer when I called in weeks ago so keeping it was an easy decision. I don’t plan on spending on it since my overall strategy is signing up for cards to meet minimum spend with light MS thrown in.
We’ve already packed it in on one of our two Amex SPGs… Will probably deep-six the other soon, unless they throw a few bucks or points our way. But why should they? We hardly use them. A few inter-related (or semi-connected) thoughts:
1. For some reason at $65/year keeping the cards seemed like a no-brainer, but at $95/year it somehow seems to “pinch.” Not sure if either of these perceptions is (were) completely rational.
2. I guess one of the reasons at $65 it seemed like such a good deal is that you could add AUs for free and then mop up the cost / profit from the card from AMEX offers. The extra $30 makes it that much more annoying; and I don’t know whether it is perception or not, but the stuff that was like free money for me (us) — Staples, Amtrak — just doesn’t seem to be coming around as often. And, as you have noted elsewhere, many of the good Amex offers are now only on the MR cards.
3. I do like having some SPG points, especially for 3000 point rooms in nowheresville places on weekends and 12000 point NYC rooms; but:
4. After you spend the bonuses, how do you ever get more points? Honestly, I think that the idea of “everyday spend” is a complete contradiction in terms. If you have so much non-restaurant, non-travel “everyday spend” that you can run-up meaningful numbers of points on this spend alone, then you have the income to sustain a spending habit that suggests you are wasting your time in the miles-and-points game. It seems to me that most credit card spend, to have any value, must be in either (a) high-value bonus categories; (b) making initial spends on credit card bonuses; or (c) using hotel or airline cards that give you something desirable after a certain level of spending (like the 2-stays I used to get on the Hyatt card before World of Hyatt took over; or the $10,000 spend on the Citi Hilton card for a free Waldorf-Astoria night; or the EQMs on a Barclays Aviator card). Thanks to you, I got onto the Amex Blue for Business card (which was completely off my radar otherwise), and even though I have exhausted my restaurant allowance already, I still have >$40,000 spend in the next 9 months that will give me ~$0.045 back (coupled with my Amex Business Platinum) on “everyday spend.” I’ll be costing myself money to use the SPG.
5. And, what with the merger with Marriott, if I want to replenish the SPG points, wouldn’t it be easier to just hit the Marriott card offers, or Ritz-Carlton when it pays points?
Of course, a couple of good Amex offers on the SPG between now and the time the AF comes up, and I’ll probably hold on for another year.
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