Best Credit Card to Maximize Your Marriott and Starwood Points

This post may contain affiliate links from our advertising partners, such as American Express. Read my Advertiser Disclosure policy here. Additionally, some of the offers on this page may no longer be available through Deals We Like.

With the recent Marriott and Starwood merger, many readers are wondering which credit card to use on everyday spend to maximize their Marriott and Starwood points. Now with so many Starwood/Marriott/Ritz-Carlton credit cards, it is hard to figure out which one will be best for you depending on your everyday spend. There are actually even situations where using one of their cards is NOT the best way to maximize their points either! Here is a recap on how many points you’ll earn at any hotel chain under the Marriott/Starwood umbrella.

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

  • Marriott, Starwood, and Ritz-Carlton properties: 6 points per dollar spent
  • All other purchases: 2 points per dollar spent

Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express

  • Marriott, Starwood, and Ritz-Carlton properties: 6 points per dollar spent
  • U.S. restaurants: 4 points per dollar spent
  • U.S. gas stations: 4 points per dollar spent
  • Wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers: 4 points per dollar spent
  • U.S. purchases for shipping: 4 points per dollar spent
  • All other purchases: 2 points per dollar spent

Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card:

  • Marriott, Starwood, and Ritz-Carlton properties: 6 points per dollar spent
  • U.S. restaurants: 3 points per dollar spent
  • Flights booked directly with airlines: 3 points per dollar spent
  • All other purchases: 2 points per dollar spent

Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card (No longer available for new applicants)

  • Marriott, Starwood, and Ritz-Carlton properties: 5 points per dollar spent
  • All other purchases: 1 point per dollar spent

Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card (Learn More)

  • Marriott, Starwood, and Ritz-Carlton properties: 6 points per dollar spent
  • All other purchases: 2 points per dollar spent

Marriott Rewards Premier Business Credit Card (Learn More)

  • Marriott, Starwood, and Ritz-Carlton properties: 6 points per dollar spent
  • U.S. restaurants: 4 points per dollar spent
  • U.S. gas stations: 4 points per dollar spent
  • Internet, cable and phone service purchases: 4 points per dollar spent
  • U.S. purchases for shipping: 4 points per dollar spent
  • All other purchases: 2 points per dollar spent

Ritz-Carlton Credit Card (No longer available for new applicants)

  • Marriott, Starwood, and Ritz-Carlton properties: 6 points per dollar spent
  • Restaurants: 3 points per dollar spent
  • Car Rentals: 3 points per dollar spent
  • Airlines tickets purchased directly from the airline: 3 points per dollar spent
  • All other purchases: 2 points per dollar spent

So you see that almost all of them will give you 6 points per dollar spent when paying a Marriott, SPG, or Ritz-Carlton property directly. The business credit cards are best for restaurants, gas stations, and internet/cable/phone service. The SPG luxury card and Ritz-Carlton are best for airline tickets. The Ritz-Carlton card is best for car rentals. And then every other card (except the Marriott Premier) will earn you 2 points per dollar spent on everyday spend. For the most part, there isn’t a huge difference between the cards, but if you spend a lot in a certain category one card over the other might be best for you.

But you can do better…

If you branch away from the the cards above, you might see that other non-Marriott/SPG/Ritz-Carlton credit cards can actually earn you MORE points on some of these purchases, for example the Chase Ultimate Reward cards. Chase Ultimate Rewards and Marriott are partners, which means you can transfer your Ultimate Reward points directly to Marriott at a 1:1 ratio (as long as you have one of the cards that carries an annual fee).

Although transferring your Ultimate Reward points to Marriott points typically will not get you the best value. If you are looking to redeem your points for a hotel stay and are indifferent to the hotel chain, transferring them to Hyatt points is far better and your points will go much further. Marriott points are worth about 0.9 cents per point where Chase Ultimate Reward points are worth about 2 cents per point. So earning slightly less Chase Ultimate Reward points on a certain category might actually be more valuable then earning the Marriott points directly. And remember, when you earn Ultimate Reward points you have more flexibility on where you want to redeem them and are not pigeon holed into just Marriott/Starwood/Ritz-Carlton properties.

So let’s see the Chase Ultimate Reward cards that could earn you more points.

  • Marriott, Starwood, and Ritz-Carlton properties: Almost all of the Marriott/SPG/Ritz cards will earn you 6x where the Chase Ink Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve will earn you 3x points.If you definitely want to stay at Marriott/SPG/Ritz properties then absolutely use their co-branded cards. But if you are open to using your points at some of the other Chase partners (i.e., Hyatt, United, British Airways) you might find that you’ll get a significantly better value even though you are earning less points
  • Office supply stores: The Marriott/SPG/Ritz-Carlton cards will earn you 2x points, but the Chase Ink Plus, Chase Ink Bold, and Chase Ink Cash will earn you 5x points!
  • Internet, Cable, and Phone Services: The two Marriott and SPG business cards will earn you 4x points, but the Chase Ink Plus, Chase Ink Bold, and Chase Ink Cash will earn you 5x points!
  • U.S. restaurants:  While the two Marriott and SPG business cards will earn you 4x points and the Chase Sapphire Reserve will only earn you 3x points, Chase Ultimate Reward points are typically more valuable
  • U.S. purchases for shipping: Similar to above, while the two Marriott and SPG business cards will earn you 4x points and the Chase Sapphire Reserve will only earn you 3x points, Chase Ultimate Reward points are typically more valuable
  • U.S. gas stations: The two Marriott and SPG business cards will earn you 4x points and the Chase Ink Cash will only earn you 2x points. In this scenario you might prefer to use your Marriott/SPG cards.
  • Car Rentals: The Ritz-Carlton card will earn you 3x points, but so will the Chase Ink Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve since they earn 3x points on all travel!
  • Flights booked directly with airlines: The Ritz-Carlton card and Starwood Luxury card will earn you 3x points, but the Chase Ink Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve card also earn you 3x points on all travel. I’d prefer to earn Ultimate Reward points definitely!
  • All other purchases: While you’ll earn 2x points with most of the Marriott/SPG/Ritz_Cards on all purchases that do not fall into a category bonus, with the Chase Freedom Unlimited and Chase Ink Unlimited you’ll earn 1.5x points on every single purchase.

Ultimately, the best credit card for you depends on your spend at the various categories and how you are looking to use your points. If you absolutely only want to redeem for Marriott/SPG/Ritz properties, then use the card that will earn you the most points at that category. If you want to earn flexible points where you can transfer to Marriott or some other partner program, then be open to using a card that might earn you slightly less points as you might actually get a higher value in the long run!

Click here to compare all Chase credit cards

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Comments

  1. Ya, Marriott has basically neutralized all of their cards to sock drawer status to hold for free nights but nothing more. Quick correction, you cite Sapphire reserve as the Chase card to use for US Shipping, I think you meant Ink Business preferred.

  2. Marriott has killed SPG loyalty program goose that was laying the golden eggs. Marriott’s loyalty program is only useful for business travelers with nights and stays paid for by their employer. Why own a credit card that is not worth spending on? The annual free night sock drawer game may provide some benefit but an open credit card not in regular use is a security risk.

    Funny thing is, I had never stayed in a Starwood Hotel until I got the AMEX SPG card realizing the ongoing value that it represented – especially when the annual fee was $65.

    It is time to move on.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *