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:
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.
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?