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SPG AMEX Versus the Chase Marriott

This is going to be the first of a slew of credit card comparison posts. I am choosing from the list of suggestions from a previous post. If you have other ideas, please leave us a comment in that post

Today, we start with the comparison between the Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Visa and the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card. Let’s start with the highlights of each respective cards and then breakdown each factor. As promised, I will discuss tangible and intangible factors.

Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Visa

  • $120 annual fee (waived the first year)
  • No annual fee additional cardholders
  • Earn 50,000 sign up bonus points after your first purchase
  • Earn 5 points for every $1 spent at Marriott hotels
  • Earn 2 points for every $1 spent on airline tickets, car rental agencies and restaurants
  • Earn 1 point for every $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Earn 15 nights credit every year
  • Receive 1 anniversary bonus free night stay at a Category 1-5 hotel every year
  • No foreign transaction fees

American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card

  • $120 annual fee
  • $50 annual fee for a supplementary cardholder (first year fee waived)
  • Earn 20,000 points when you spend $500 in the first 3 months of having this card\
  • Earn 10,000 referral bonus points when you refer a family or friend (up to a maximum of 150,000 bonus points per calendar year)
  • Earn 2 points for every $1 spent at participating SPG and Marriott Rewards hotels (between November 15, 2016 and November 15, 2017)
  • Earn 1 point for every $1 spent on all purchases
  • Spend $30,000 a year (anniversary year of having the credit card) to receive an automatic upgrade to Starwood Gold Preferred Guest membership
  • Spend $40,000 a year (anniversary year of having the credit card) to receive a Free Weekend Night Award

Annual Fees

Both credit cards have a standard $120 annual fee. The first difference comes with the Chase card offering the first year fee waived. As for the supplementary cardholders, AMEX charges the additional $50 per authorized user, minus a first year fee waiver.

On a side note, you can get $30 cash back if you sign up for the AMEX SPG through the GreatCanadianRebates site.

Winner: Chase Marriott

Sign Up Bonuses

I value one SPG point at 2.4 cents a piece (probably a little conservative anyway) compared to one Marriot Rewards point at 0.8 cents a piece. So a 20,000 sign up bonus with SPG, is worth $480 compared to $350 with the 50,000 Marriott Reward points sign up bonus.

Winner: AMEX SPG


AMEX now has a once in a lifetime sign up bonus. Chase currently has a 6 months waiting period. These rules change all the time. I can’t see Chase keeping this alive too much longer. So either get it while you still can, or keep the card, you will find that the benefits that it offers actually does justify the annual fee (as I will explain later).

Winner: Chase Marriott

Referral Bonuses

There is no debate here. AMEX SPG offers a 10,000 referral bonus (upon approval) to family and friends, up to a maximize of 15 referrals (or 150,000 bonus points) per calendar year. Chase has yet to offer this option.

Winner: AMEX SPG

Earning Ratios

As I mentioned earlier, I value 1 SPG point at 2.4 cents per point compared to 0.7 cents per point with Marriott.

So with the 5 point per dollar spent at Marriott Hotels worldwide, you are earning 3.5 cents per point. While with SPG, they are currently running a promotion where you can earn 2 point per dollar at Marriott Hotels, which comes out to 4.8 cents per point. There’s no question that the earning ratios are much better with the AMEX SPG overall.

Winner: AMEX SPG


With Chase Marriott being a Visa card, versus an American Express, Visa will have an edge as they are more widely accepted at retailers.

Winner: Chase Marriott

Elite Statuses

The Chase Marriott allows you to earn 15 nights credit every year, which automatically gets you Silver elite status (10 nights requirement). While the AMEX SPG only grants you Gold status after a $30,000 spend requirement. Obviously SPG Gold is worth more than Marriott Silver. However, I give the edge to the company that makes it easier to qualify for any type of elite status more easily.

Winner: Chase Marriott

Free Nights/Stays

The Chase Marriott offers an anniversary bonus free night stay at a Category 1-5 hotel every year (valid for 12 months). While the AMEX SPG has a $40,000 annual spend requirement to receive a Free Weekend Night Award. Of course the Free Weekend Night Award with SPG is way more valuable than the anniversary bonus free night with Marriott. However, once again, the edge has to go to the company who makes it easier to receive a free voucher.

Winner: Chase Marriott

No Foreign Transaction Fees

Between the two cards, only the Chase Marriott offers no foreign transaction fees, so this is an easy one.

Winner: Chase Marriott

Retention Bonuses

Based on my research, it appears that it is easier to receive a retention bonus (read about our tips to negotiate retention bonuses) with the AMEX SPG (e.g. annual fee rebate or bonus points). Keep in mind that the Chase Marriott already offers an automatically anniversary free night, along with the 15 elite status credits, without any spend requirement. These two perks to me are already worth the $120 annual fee anyway. So it will definitely be more difficult to negotiate with Chase than with AMEX SPG.

To improve your chances of getting a better retention bonus with SPG, just put more spending on it so that your card is more profitable to them. Also negotiate in good faith. Threatening to cancel your card is not the way to go, because credit card companies don’t want a client who is going to jump ship so easily anyway. They make enough money without you. So keep that in mind!

Winner: AMEX SPG


If you absolutely only want one of the two, I would go for the AMEX SPG at the moment. The reason is because they have a higher chance of being shut down at the moment than the Chase Marriott, because of the recent buyout (Marriott buying SPG). However, I am also worried that Chase Canada has a very fragile position in Canada.

Either way, as you can see, overall, both credit cards offer some different benefits. And both are at risk of being discontinued in Canada. So if you want the truth, I would say get BOTH!


  1. I wonder what will happen to the AMeX once Marriott & SPG finalize their merge. While I hope AMeX stays in the picture, it would be surprising if/when the points change to a common denominator.

    I always try to have both – because the Marriott card can be uselful in a Europe for spending w/o the interest charged for international fees. Yet, the SPG can be so profitable if you know someone to team with (referrals are golden) that THaT alone makes it better.

  2. I thought that the Marriott credit card was not churnable.
    “This one–time annual fee waiver is only valid for first-time Marriott Rewards Premier Visa Cardmembers. Previous and existing Marriott Rewards Premier Visa Cardmembers are not eligible for this annual fee waiver.”
    Any comments on this? Thanks

    1. YMMV. You can always try your luck after a 6 months or 12 months waiting period. Worse case, when you call in to activate, find out what you qualified for before actually activating it.

    1. With my recollection, I have never seen it at $95. Always been $120. Could you be referring to a card from another country?

  3. Data point for those with limited Canadian credit history: I moved to Montreal four months ago. I was able to get the Amex SPG right away through the global transfer program. Last week, I was denied for the Chase Marriott card. Upon calling Chase Canada, the representative stated that you needed a minimum of two years of Canadian credit history to be approved for this card.

    1. Thanks for the data point! Yes some credit card companies want a longer credit history. It’s good that you started building some.

  4. Interesting I received an offer to apply for the Chase Marriott Card. My credit score is good and I do have the Amex SPG.
    Having the Amex Platinum. I was thinking in just keeping the Chase for the anniversary free night to offset the AF.

    Since most of my spending goes to the Amex Platinum. I am thinking in churning the SPG.. thoughts?

    1. YMMV for SPG as their official rule is once in a lifetime sign up bonus. The only thing it would cost you to try anyway is a credit hit. And yes, if you can take advantage of the Chase Marriott perks, then keep the card! Especially if you can also earn 5x on Marriott purchases.

  5. You value Marriott points at 0.7 cents and those of SPG at 2.4. I think the value ratio should be 1:3 since you can transfer the points between the two programs at this rate.

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