Posted by William Charles on February 17, 2017
Airline Rewards marriott-spg-ritz-carlton

Published on February 17th, 2017 | by William Charles

47

What’s The Best Use Of 35,000 SPG Points?

Introduction

American Express has just recently increased the sign up bonus on their two SPG cards:

The Personal card requires a total spend of $5,000 and the business card requires a total spend of $8,000. The only bonus categories are SPG properties (and now Marriott/Ritz-Carlton with a reciprocal earning agreement) – they earn 2x points. For the purposes of this post we’re going to assume that the minimum spend requirement is all on 1x purchases. This means after the minimum spend requirement has been met you’ll have:

  • 40,000 SPG points if you signed up for the personal card
  • 43,000 SPG points if you signed up for the business card
  • 83,000 SPG points if you signed up for both cards

Marriott 3x Transfer

Before we get started with what the best uses are, it’s important to remember that you can transfer SPG points to Marriott points at a rate of 1:3. If you transferred all your points to Marriott you’d end up with:

  • 120,000 Marriott points if you signed up for the personal card
  • 129,000 Marriott points if you signed up for the business card
  • 249,000 Marriott points if you signed up for both cards

Best Options

Airline Transfers

SPG let’s you transfer points to their massive list of airline partners at a rate of 1:1. You can view all those options below:

SPG Airline Transfer Partners (1:1 unless otherwise specified)    
AeroMexico Asiana Airlines Korean Air
Aegean Miles+Bonus British Airways Executive Club LAN Airlines LANPASS Kms
Aeroplan/Air Canada Cathay Pacific Asia Miles Lufthansa Miles and More
Air Berlin China Eastern Airlines Qatar Airways
Air China Companion Delta Air Lines SkyMiles Saudi Arabian Airlines Alfursan
Air France KLM Flying Blue Emirates Skywards Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
Air New Zealand & Air Points (65:1) Etihad Airways Thai Airways International Royal Orchid Plus
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Gol Smiles United MileagePlus (2:1)
Alitalia MilleMiglia Hainan Airlines US Airways Dividend Miles
All Nippon Airways (ANA) Mileage Club Hawaiian Airlines Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
American Airlines AAdvantage Japan Airlines (JAL) Mileage Bank Virgin Australia Velocity
Avianca LifeMiles

In addition to that for every 20,000 points you transfer you, you get a bonus 5,000 miles. That means:

  • 50,000 airline miles if you signed up for the personal card
  • 53,000 airline miles if you signed up for the business card
  • 103,000 airline miles if you signed up for both cards

spg-transfer

Our Verdict

This is a good option for those that need more airline miles (especially in a program that doesn’t transfer from Chase UR, American Express Membership Rewards or Citi ThankYou Points). Obviously the best value comes when you’re transferring exactly in increments of 20,000 points.

Marriott Flight & Hotel Packages

Marriott offer flight & hotel packages, these give you airline miles and also seven nights at Marriott properties. They have several different packages available, airlines are  separated into each of these five packages as follows:

  • Package Zero (this is the United package. These come with a bonus 10% miles over the next best package)
  • Package 1
  • Package 2
  • Package 3
  • Package 4

The only packages/airlines worth considering are Package Zero (United), Package 1 & Package 3 (Southwest). The rest of the packages give a much lower amount of miles/points that isn’t worth considering. This leaves us with the following airlines:

Below is an image of those packages mentioned above.

marriot hotel packages

As you can see above, if you want additional miles or free nights at a higher category property the package becomes more expensive in Marriott points. You get the best value when you redeem your Marriott points for more miles, as after the lowest level you’re basically just trading your Marriott points to miles at a rate of 1:1. For example you could pay 200,000 Marriott points for a 7 night category 1-5 package with 50,000 Southwest points or pay 270,000 Marriott points and get 120,000 Southwest points (in this case you’re paying an extra 70,000 Marriott points for 70,000 Southwest points – something pretty much everybody would be happy to do).

Even if you get both cards you won’t have enough Marriott points to get the packages with the most miles (these are also the best value mentioned above) but Chase does offer Marriott credit cards. The best offers currently are as follows:

Keep in mind that the Chase Marriott Business card is excluded from the Chase 5/24 rule, but the Chase Marriott Personal card is not.

Our Verdict

If you can get enough points for these packages they can represent good value, just make sure you’re actually able to use the seven night certificates and have a solid plan for them as well. You can also pay additional Marriott points at a later stage to upgrade your seven night certificates (it should also be possible to downgrade them, but this is more difficult).

They also have five night packages, unfortunately these are restricted to time share owners only. If you don’t own a time share and have recently gotten a five night package please let us know in the comments.

SPG Award Nights

Unlike other hotel loyalty programs, it doesn’t cost a lot of points for some SPG redemptions.  Their award chart is as follows:

spg award chart

Category one & two properties are 2,000/3,000 points on weekends, but only category three properties and above qualify for the fifth night free benefit.

If you’re redeeming for category 6 & 7 properties then you’re not going to get great value, but 3-5 and especially 1-2 category properties can provide a lot of value. Let’s look at just how many free nights you’d get from the personal card sign up bonus + minimum spend requirement (40,000 points).

  • Category one: 20 – 13  free nights
  • Category two: 13 – 10 free nights
  • Category three: 5 free nights (plus ability to get fifth night free, so six total nights would be possible)
  • Category four: 4 free nights (plus ability to get fifth night free, so six total nights would be possible)
  • Category five: 3 – 2 free nights
  • Category six: 2 – 1 free night
  • Category seven: 1 free night

Obviously in a lot of those cases you’re going to have some left over points as well.

Our Verdict

I personally find a lot of value in SPG stays but everybody is different and it really depends on what level of luxury you want and where you want to travel to.

Marriott Award Nights

Marriott also offers a fifth night free benefit, they do not have any category restriction like SPG. Their award chart is as follows:

marriott award chart

This is similar to SPG, although I personally don’t find as many useful properties in the lower categories. Let’s look at just how many free nights you’d get from the personal card sign up bonus + minimum spend requirement (120,000 points after transferring from SPG at a 1:3 rate).

  • Category one: 20 – 16  free nights (plus ability to get fifth night free)
  • Category two: 16 – 12 free nights (plus ability to get fifth night free)
  • Category three: 10 – 8 free nights (plus ability to get fifth night free)
  • Category four: 8 – 6 free nights (plus ability to get fifth night free)
  • Category five: 6 – 4 free nights (plus ability to get fifth night free)
  • Category six: 4 – 4 free nights
  • Category seven: 3 -4 free nights
  • Category eight: 3 free nights
  • Category nine: 3 – 2 free nights

Our Verdict

As I said before, I find less useful properties in the bottom tier for Marriott. That being said three free nights in their top tier properties is pretty good value. Just make sure you see what’s actually available before locking Marriott in as an option.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully this post helps some readers decide on what to do with their points, I enjoy writing these posts so I hope you enjoy reading them. I’d like to know your thoughts on what you think is the best value and what you will be using your points on in the comments below.

 

 



47 Responses to What’s The Best Use Of 35,000 SPG Points?

  1. Ben says:

    It’s kinda crazy to me that SPG offers a bonus that gets you at best 1 night in their top tier program, but will get you 3 nights in Marriott’s top tier. Is that a function of an overly generous transfer rate? Or does SPG really think its top tier properties are that much better than Marriott’s? And how this plays out post merger will be really interesting/telling about which of the above two questions is closer to what they believe.

    • NinjaX says:

      this is just collateral damage that wont be around forever. here is the rule: any time this community is really happy and stoked about a deal, the deal is already on its last legs.

    • I think SPG top tier properties are nicer than Marriott’s. Not sure if they are 3x nicer, but I don’t really like that opulent luxury so I’m probably the wrong person to ask.

  2. Jim says:

    I would love to hear if anyone was able to book the 5 night package. I’ve called and got shutdown. With kids, I can really only swing the 5 night and could get companion pass since 5/24 has blocked me. Any insight?

    • Ben says:

      The 5 night package is pretty much impossible to book unless you’re a Marriott timeshare owner. If you have enough points you can get the 7 night package (which gives the CP) at a Cat 5 Marriott and then you can book a 5 night vacation….i.e. you’re not locked into a 7 night stay. If you wanted you could book a 1 night stay with the 7 night award certificate.

      Frequent Miler has a great post on this. Google “11 things you need to know about Marriott Travel packages AND Frequent Miler AND 2017”

      • Jim says:

        Got it. Great read, thanks! Any idea if I book a catergory 5, get the certificate, and then later after March 31st want to upgrade, if they’ll allow me to pull points from a friend of mine. I know they let you pull points for free from others when booking, I wonder if it would still apply since I’ll be “upgrading”

    • Chris says:

      I called a few times over the course of a couple weeks and was shut down each time when asking for the 5 night package (they referenced timeshare owners only). On my last call I was finally able to get the 5 night package. I asked for supervisor and stressed my Marriott platinum loyalty…after a brief hold they came back and granted the 5 night package. This was in March 2016.

  3. Alan R says:

    Aside from Hotel award night remember there is always SPG moments for redemption too. Some of those are pretty amazing.

  4. jeff F says:

    SPG’s are fancier properties. i work within the brand, no expenses are spared on SPG hotels there’s a lot of extra spending, Marriott brand is smarter with money so cuts back on unnecessary extras, 500k flower budgets, waterfalls in lobby’s. things like that. you may be wowed more at SPG. Marriott much better value

    Source: myself longtime Marriott employee.

    • aby says:

      OT reply to OT post:

      lol. as a MAR employee, you don’t know shit about what guests who stay in hotels 200+ nights/year want. hint: we want what we get from SPG- it’s the reason we have status with SPG and not Marriott even though there is a MAR on every corner.

      and… it isn’t flowers and waterfalls (wtf did you get that idea?)! it’s the service and perks vs cookie cutter rooms and the ‘ehh… another Platinum, who gives af’ attitude of MAR employees like you. the Marriott hotel ‘experience’ has more in common with that of Red Roof Inn than most Starwood properties. truth.

      and, yeah… Marriott is run better for shareholders. build a behemoth and scale will drive ‘loyalty’. their goal is the hotel loyalty space equivalent of the US airline industry. build size then thru oligopoly race to the bottom. not exactly something that works out for the consumer over time…

  5. Kris says:

    Why is SPG nights and flights rarely considered/discussed? Is the Marriott flight and hotel package that much better?

  6. jazz says:

    We also get Gold status at SPG and Marriott. right?

  7. Adam says:

    Another good option, especially for those of us on the east coast – SPG transfers to Amtrak at 1:1. Since Amtrak points are worth 2.9 cents (!), this is a pretty great deal if you’re regularly using them.

    • Tim says:

      Adam,good point! But I do not think the Amtrak points are so valuable. According to the Amtrak website, one point worth 2.5 cents, I think.

      • Adam says:

        I’ve found them (on non-Acela trains) to be worth 2.7 or 2.9 (I forget which) in the past, but looking at some fares now it looks like the valuation varies a bit! In any case, definitely a great value for certain people.

        • Jan W says:

          Thanks for posting! I was not aware of this option, but it pushes me over the edge to apply now. Living in a small Va city, I regularly take Amtrak to IAD. Now I can do it for free!

    • No 5,000 point bonus per 20,000 though right?

  8. Jim says:

    I already have the SPG card, and I just signed up for my wife. Could I transfer all my remaining SPG points to her and then she can convert them into Marriot points and then book the Hotel Package? We’d have enough points my transferred points will convert. Thanks in advance!

  9. Darv says:

    This is an awesome post, William. Thank you!

  10. Ron says:

    The Hyatt card is not under 5/24? I thought it wasn’t at first but after October 2016 it went into 5/24

  11. Andy says:

    Marriott travel package 2 gets a bad rap, but it’s in the ballpark of SPG airline transfers.

    I needed 75k Korean miles to finish a booking. I could either transfer 60k SPG to get 75k. Or the top travel pack would cost me 90k for 7 nights at a category 5 plus 85k Korean miles. For the extra 30k I get 10k more Korean miles and 7 nights. I’m still thinking about it

  12. Abey says:

    This is a very good post. I kinda knew about all of the above but to see it in detail was very helpful.

    By the way on a random note:
    Since Amex 35,000 SPG sign up points equals 105,000 Marriott points. I wonder if Chase will soonish offer 100,000 Marriott sign up bonus points on their Marriott card.

  13. aby says:

    there are a lot of great Cat 1 and 2 values in Asia (TIP: book LM Chiang Rai before it goes to Cat 3 next month).

    TImed well and combined with HH points stays, one can get 13-14 nights in hotels that would cost $1500 easily when considering the REAL cost of paid stays (ie: add in the taxes you must pay vs zero taxes on award stays).

    with intl airfares soooo cheap right now, wasting 35k SPG points on a transfer to air miles makes no sense unless you have a lot of SPG points and, thus, can do N&F or (with more) Marriott travel packages.

    that said, if you have very few to none SPG points (likely the case if you are just now getting the card for the first time!), throwing away the most valuable currency out there for airline points you can get thru another airline credit card sign up makes little sense.

    source: me who has 1.9mm SPG points and 9 million overall points and miles across programs

    • I agree, one of the reasons I don’t fly premium cabins is because then I don’t have a constant need for airline miles so my flexible currencies can be used for things like hotels (e.g keeping SPG and transferring Chase UR to Hyatt).

  14. Shawn K says:

    I called Marriott 2 weeks ago and was able to get a 5 night package on my first call. So if you want the 5 night package it is available (I don’t own a timeshare either)

  15. Michael says:

    Sham they stopped Virgin America transfer.
    this past summer I got 2 round flights JFK-LAX for just 20k spg points

  16. Michelle says:

    When transferring to United, it might be a better idea to transfer to Marriott first I believe.

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