Is it time to jump?

NOTE: 30K offer has expired

In June, I said “don’t jump.”  In the post, “Pondering limited time credit card signup offers,” I advised against jumping into the latest limited time credit card signup offers, unless the timing and details were right for you.  Specifically, I said:

Don’t jump

When you read about exciting offers like these, and how great they are, and how valuable the points are, it’s hard not to get carried away and jump in.  Don’t do it.  If you’re not ready to sign up for new cards or for these particular cards, then don’t feel bad about saying no and missing the opportunity.  If history is any guide, there will be many more great opportunities in the future.  Bide your time until you are ready, and the opportunities will come.

The offers I wrote about in the June post are no longer available, but now everyone is touting a new great offer: 30,000 points after $5K spend for the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) card.  This offer, valid through September 3rd, is only 5000 points more than the standard offer, but those points are quite valuable.  Should you jump in and go for it?

 

The “don’t jump” advice I gave in June is just as relevant now.  Here are my thoughts of reasons to go for it, vs. reasons to hold off:

Reasons to go for it

  • SPG points are extremely valuable for stays: SPG points can be used, of course, to stay for free at Starwood properties (Sheraton, Westin, W, etc.).  There are many very nice properties that can be had for 10K or 12K points per night vs. often over $300 per night paid rates.  So, its not difficult to get 3 cents per point (or more) value from free hotel nights.  Plus, SPG offers 5th night free awards where you pay for just 4 nights with points and the 5th night is free.
  • SPG points are extremely valuable for flights: SPG points can be transferred to a large number of airline programs (you can see the list of partners here).  Most transfers are 1 to 1.  That is, each SPG point becomes one airline mile.  However, if you transfer 20,000 points at a time, you are automatically given a 5000 mile bonus such that 20,000 SPG points becomes 25,000 miles.
  • SPG points are hard to get: Unlike many other points and miles programs, there are very few options for collecting SPG points.  There is no SPG shopping portal for earning extra points while shopping.  There are no credit card bonus categories for anything but Starwood property spend (where you earn 2 points per dollar instead of the usual 1 point).  And, there are only two credit cards that earn SPG points: the personal and business versions of this card. 
  • The cards are helpful for chasing status: If you are hoping to qualify for SPG Elite Status, but are likely to be short of the stay or night requirements, each SPG card you have will automatically give you 5 nights and 2 stays annually toward the next level of SPG Elite Status.  Each person can have up to two SPG cards: one personal and one business.  Plus, you can get SPG Gold status by putting $30K of spend (per calendar year) on this card.

 

Reasons to hold off

  • The time isn’t right: Whether you’ve recently signed up for other credit cards, or you are planning to get a new mortgage (or refinance an old one), or any number of other reasons, you might feel that the time isn’t right to signup for a new card.  If that’s you, then keep this in mind: It is much more important that you be responsible with your credit than to earn an incremental 5000 points by signing up now (vs. signing up when the time is right).
  • You already have (or recently have had) the same card: American Express is very clear about this.  They say “This offer is also not available to applicants who have had this product within the last 12 months.”  So, if you had the card and cancelled it more than 12 months ago, you can qualify for the bonus, otherwise you cannot.  Note that the personal and business cards are treated as separate products.  So, for example, your ability to qualify for the business card signup offer is not affected by whether or not you have or have recently had the SPG personal card.
  • The spend requirement is too steep:  To get the full 30,000 points, you would need to spend $5000 in 6 months on the card.  Since I frequently write about ways to increase spend, this shouldn’t be much of a problem for most of my readers, but for some it could be quite daunting.  If you’re not 100% sure that you could meet the spend requirement and pay off the bill in full each month, then don’t do it.

 

Discussion

Personally, I’m not going to signup for this offer because I’m not qualified: I’ve held both the personal and business versions of this card within the last 12 months.  For my wife, though, I’m tempted.  We’re too busy to deal with it right now so I’m glad that we have until September 3rd to decide.  How about you?  Are you planning to go for it?  Did I miss any important reasons pro or con in the lists above?

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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Comments

  1. Just a quick note…..

    Unlike other banks, AEX will not grandfather you in ie; just opened
    a new account prior to the new sign up bonus, you have not made the min. spend for the bonus.

    I had 2 other cards from 2 separate banks both come up with a better bonus than what I signed up for and both banks gave me the new bonus.

    AEX is very very stringent on their T&C so please be aware.

    • Curt: Yep, that’s a good point. Amex used to be very good about grandfathering in bonuses, but they cut that off completely about 2 years ago.

      jim: Yes, financial reviews are a danger of any Amex card.

  2. Thanks for providing the most balance coverage of this offer. No other blogger seems to post the cons related to applying for this card. They all just seem to tout the benefits so they can get their precious referral fee. This is one of a handful of blogs that doesn’t seem to be completely in the pocket of the credit card companies.

  3. @Seth – what are you talking about? Both Gary and Lucky wrote about the 12 month eligibility requirement. Everyone writes about the minimum spend, and even FM here acknowledges it’s pretty much a non-issue. The only other reason not to get the card is if you’ve had too many recent apps/it’s not your time which is pretty much “duh”…

  4. You missed th FR part. Friend of mine got hit with FR twice. One when he first applied and second for using the card. It is very inconvenient cos your account is suspended and you waste money for the tax forms. He cancelled It after he didn’t want a third FR.

  5. A voice of reason is a good reminder. With all the hoopla surrounding each and every card deal on so many blogs all at the same time, the noise can be deafening, and persuasive. The recent Ink cards were the best example, but it seems to continue in that manner with many others. It is always best to have a master strategy that is well planned and stick with it. Everyone’s situation is unique and it takes maturity to recognize that just because an offer seems amazing, it might not be right for you at that time. I appreciate the way you articulate your message. Thanks for that.

  6. OMG! OMG!

    Such a frenzy! With all the blog postings about this offer – both before and after it became active – you would think it’s the greatest thing…

    5000 extra points than the standard offer. Yawn… The frenzy is driven by the referral income and nothing else. Many bloggers’ motivations are quite transparent.

    FM is one of the few bloggers that maintains credibility and imparts useful AND original information.

  7. I have 2 different businesses…. and have 1 business card already… Do i qualify for 2nd business card/ bonus using my 2nd business TIN?

    • Skudu: With Amex, I believe that you can only have 1 business card of a product even if you have multiple businesses. Chase is different. With Chase you can get one for each business.

      theotherfamousamos: Great question. Actually, once you link your SPG and Delta accounts, you will earn both Delta miles and SPG points when flying Delta (the latter, only if you booked through Delta directly)

  8. Good article! I need to wait a couple more days to be safe, I closed my last SPG personal on 8/4/12 and applied for my last two credit cards on 5/8/13. I am debating applying for 3 or 4 cards this time, I’m usually more conservative.

  9. You wrote: ” Unlike many other points and miles programs, there are very few options for collecting SPG points. ”

    I’m a newbie to this whole game, so I’m still learning, so bear with me if this is a stupid question!

    I just applied for, and was accepted for, both the SPG personal and business cards. I noticed that you can earn SPG points for flying on Delta. I have not tried to do this, so I assume that you have to choose one or the other, either Skymiles or SPG points. Is it a good idea to forgo Skymiles in favor of SPG points?

  10. @John M.- Its not just about information, its about how its presented. Frequent Miler presents information in a balanced way. I find the majority of blogs push a card hard and if there is a reason not to get the card it is dismissed out of hand. I said this is one of a handful of blogs that doesn’t seem to be in the pocket of the credit card companies. I think Gary’s blog is also one such blog.

    All you have to do is look at the frenzy on boardingarea with this offer to see the way credit card companies take advantage of blogs. Its not quite as bad at the AMEX 75k offer a couple of weeks back, but we’ll see how things progress.

  11. Think about how all the other blogs are presenting this offer… Hurry Hurry. Then decide who’s links you are going to use, who do you trust? For me I only use FM.

  12. Thanks so much for this balanced analysis. Since I am about to leave for a month, I had decided to postpone signups til my return, but just seeing the headlines on all the blogs makes me wonder about my good judgement. Do I really want to leave 5000 points on the table? While I think I’ll stick to my strategy, it is harder amidst all the hoopla.

    I was not aware that SPG points are not as easy to get as some others. Good point; pun intended.

    My question is – sometimes these offers get extended. Does anyone have any ideas/info on whether AMEX tends to do that? And as a more general question – do the banks extend the offers if they haven’t hit their target number of new accounts, or for other reasons?

    Thanks for your refreshing approach! You’ll get my click when the time is right.

  13. Sigh, SPG is a joke of a program. Negatives outweigh positives. Yes points are valuable, but that’s not what matters – what matters is how valuable vs. alternatives.

    Most will do much better with PRG. For $30K spend, you can get 75K MRs, plus can get much higher signup bonuses (there have been 50K and 75K this year). Plus there are multiple cards that earn MRs, so you can build meaningful points fast. Also, Amex offers limited time transfer bonuses to various programs (anywhere from 20-50% in recent years).

    Put it all together and you can effectively get up to 3x on PRG. Best you can get is 1.25x on SPG, (only in blocks of 20K that can take several weeks to transfer, so are not very friendly if you need points right away – MRs transfer instantly and can be transferred in blocks of 1K).

    Downside to MRs are limited transfer partners. However, you can transfer to at least one airline of each alliance, so indirectly have access to many more airlines.

    As for hotels, neither program is worthwhile. SPG is the worst of all major hotel chains (Loyalty Lobby ran an excellent series back in May that showed SPG dead last by a country mile). Carlson best for low/mid tier. Hyatt (when getting 5x via Inks) best for top tier. And Hilton, even after devaluation is not far behind plus has lots of properties so arguably remains best overall program.

    • Paul: There’s no doubt that MR points are easier to earn and are fantastic for their transfer bonuses, but they won’t help you if you want to stay at SPG properties or transfer to a number of airlines such as AA. I don’t think of it as picking one or the other. I like to earn points in all valuable programs so that I can use the best program(s) for each trip. Also, if I remember Loyalty Lobby’s post correctly, the issue with SPG was on the earning side. That is, with most other programs you can more quickly and easily earn free nights. That doesn’t take away the fact that the SPG points are very valuable on the redemption side. For example, 30K SPG points can often get you three nights in a very nice hotel whereas it would usually take over 120K Hilton points to stay in a similar hotel.

  14. There’s a reason I do so many of my credit card signups through this site. Love the “balanced coverage,” as opposed to the “This-Chase-card-is-the-greatest-Chase-card-I’ve-seen-since-the-last-Chase-card” that we often get.

    Yes, I know this is an Amex card. 😉

  15. I agree with Paul, the big consideration is is 30,000 SPG points better than the alternatives? I doubt it, there are lots of cards out there with better signup bonuses so it’s not worth rushing to do.

    Also, FM – Personally, I’m not going to signup – in this case sign up should be 2 words since it’s a verb. If it’s an adjective or noun, it’s 1 word (same as every day vs. everyday, log in vs login, etc).

    • Steve: thanks for the signup language lesson :).

      Glenn: I don’t know the answer to that.

      Danya: As others have said, the business card offers OPEN Savings, which can be great under certain circumstances. Conversely, the personal card might have better consumer protections.

  16. Well, one thing I haven’t seen discussed is the date when having one of these cards adds 5 nights/2 stays to your SPG account. I think its in mid-January? IF you are going for gold or platinum at SPG then having one or both of these cards on that date may be very useful to you. It is to me anyway. Unfortunately I currently have the personal card and cancelled the business in late January, so it won’t be until next year I can apply again.

  17. I have 1 SPG Personal & 1 Business. I’m planning to close 1 of them. Which credit card is better to keep, Business or Personal?

  18. Danya – Biz has open savings, no brainer. Cancel the Personal.

    I love it when an offer is bumped. I said then, and I say now, go ahead and jump.

  19. Let’s say I want to get this card and the AA Visa with new 50k bonus before both expire at the starting of September – should I do it or, since its only 45 days since my very first AppORama, no matter what wait to 91 days between AppORamas?

    — Newbie

    • MrWheat: Personally, I would recommend waiting. If you push it now then you risk missing out on the next great signup offer if it happens in a month or two.

      DBest: If you’re looking for the single best card, then each person has their own circumstances that make this or that card best for them. Good candidates for best single card (besides the ones you listed) include: Chase Sapphire Preferred, SPG, Fidelity 2% cash back, BarclayCard Arrival, Club Carlson, JCB… Personally, though, I do much better by holding several cards and using the best one for each situation.

  20. @Danya check the protection plans on each…most of the time business cards have less protection that personal cards…ie rental car protection, return protection, extended warranty, ect ect. My wife and I had both cards and cancelled all but her personal card about 18 months ago, we also combined our points into her account which she keeps from expiring by using card every 6 months to get a few points.

  21. I’ve had this card and remain underwhelmed. I know the cw is that this card is the best for unbonused spend but I prefer my Chase BA card at 1.25x. Even better I think would be the United Club card at 1.5x for all spend, and the $395 fee is waived in the branch the first year.

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