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?