Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

A fork in the rewards value road

American Express Starwood Preferred Guest vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred

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If you’re looking for a travel rewards card with high redemption potential, look no further than the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. Both have comparable interest rates and annual fees to similar cards, and their intro bonuses can get you off to a good points-earning start. But when it comes down to redemption value, these two cards offer slightly different strengths. So, which of these Preferred rewards cards should be the most preferred? Let’s take a closer look.

Amex SPG vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred

  Starwood Preferred Guest card
Starwood Preferred Guest
Chase Sapphire Preferred
Chase Sapphire Preferred
Rewards rate
  • 6 points per dollar at participating SPG and Marriott hotels
  • 2 points per dollar on other purchases
  • 2 points per dollar on travel and dining
  • 1 point per dollar on other purchases
Sign-up bonus
  • 75,000 points if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months
  • 50,000 points if you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months
Annual fee
$95, $0 in first year $95, $0 first year
Estimated yearly rewards value (for someone who spends $15,900) $401 $391
Pros
  • No blackout dates
  • No expiration dates
  • No point limits
  • 1:1 point transfer to most frequent-flyer partners
  • High redemption value for hotel and airline purchases
  • Earn bonus points when you convert 15,000 points into miles
  • Redeem points on gift cards, travel, entertainment packages, donations and more
  • No blackout dates
  • No expiration dates
  • No point limits
  • Redeem points for $.01 cash
  • 1:1 point transfer to frequent flyer partners
  • Pay for travel with partial points
  • 25% bonus on travel rewards
  • Combine points from other Chase cards
Cons
  • Points are somewhat inflated
  • A lot of points are needed to redeem for weekday travel
  • Lower rewards value for merchandise
Who should get this card?
  • Frequent guests of Starwood and Marriott hotels
  • Frequent travelers who want a great, flexible points travel card

Intro bonus, annual fee and flexibility (oh my) 

When you zoom in on commonalities, the first thing you should notice is that both have a nice-sized intro bonus. The Amex SPG comes in with a big 75,000 bonus point offer after you spend $3,000 in the first three months of account opening. The Chase Sapphire Preferred isn’t far behind it, with 50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. If you spend a lot on travel, either of these bonuses should be helpful toward future trips. Chase Ultimate Rewards points are valued at 1.26 cents per point. 

The second thing the two cards have in common is their annual fee. Both allow you to spend during the first year of your account with the annual fee waived – after which, the $95 fee kicks in. This is a fair trade-off for the intro bonus you’re getting along with the redemption options. 

Speaking of redemption: When booking travel with either the Amex or the Chase, you don’t have to worry about blackout dates, expiration dates or points limits. They both allow point transfers to frequent flyer partners, and, while you can earn points from everyday purchases, most of your bonuses will come by making travel transactions. In addition to travel, the Amex allows you to redeem points for gift cards, entertainment, donations and more. The Chase Sapphire lets you pool points with other Chase cards to maximize what you’ve earned.

Best for frequent travelers who want hotel-related rewards: Starwood Preferred Guest

The Starwood Preferred Guest card offers six points per dollar on Starwood and Marriott hotel purchases, and two points per dollar on all other purchases. This is an updated rewards package that resulted in points being worth slightly lesser than they had previously been overall.  But that just means most of this card’s value has been concentrated on hotel spending. 

Along with these hotel benefits, this card comes chock full of perks such as free internet in select hotel rooms, internet hotspots, ticket pre-sales at VIP events, as well as travel, rental car insurance and roadside assistance. So if you’re a year-round traveler and prefer to stay at Marriott or Starwood hotels, the Amex SPG should offer you plenty of satisfaction. 

Note: If you were a part of the Starwood Preferred Guest Program and enjoyed the point transfer options, you should be glad to know that the new Marriott rewards package has adopted similar point transfer options. Marriott allows you transfer points to frequent-flyer programs at a 3:1 ratio and will give you a 15,000-point bonus when you transfer points in increments of 60,000.

Best for frequent travelers who are experienced with maximizing points: Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers an average rewards rate of 2:1 on travel and dining. If you’re a big spender, you could see some fair returns. But the larger value of this card is found in how you can transfer points to maximize rewards. 

Chase allows you to transfer points to a number of frequent flyer programs at a one-to-one rate. You can also transfer points from other Chase cards into your Chase Sapphire Preferred account. So if you own another Chase card, such as the Chase Freedom®, you can use that card to get five points per dollar in the bonus categories and transfer them onto your Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. Then, you can transfer all of your points to your frequent flyer account to take advantage of a special price on a flight. 

While you’re strategizing with your points, you can enjoy additional perks with this card such as no foreign transaction fee, trip cancellation/interruption insurance, auto rental collision damage waiver, baggage delay insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, travel and emergency assistance, travel accident insurance, VIP events and experiences and more.

If you’re a frequent traveler, experienced cardholder and a strategizer, the Chase Sapphire Preferred can be a very useful tool in your wallet.

Bottom line 

Both of these cards offer good value for a traveler looking for some comfortable perks. You’re essentially paying the same for either one, so the difference comes down to which areas of value you give more weight to. When making your decision, keep an eye on the bonus point opportunities as well as the opportunities to leverage your other cards.

See related: What's changed with the  new Marriott Rewards program?Why the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great first travel card


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Updated: 12-19-2018