Credit Card March Madness, Championship Match: Chase Sapphire Premier vs. SPG Amex [EXPIRED]

Posted By Trav

After three weeks of hard fought battles and many votes cast, we’ve arrived at championship match of the inaugural Credit Card March Madness with two deserving candidates:  the Chase Sapphire Premier and the Starwood Preferred Guess Amex.

If you haven’t read the original post explaining the rules or voted in previous matchups then I’d suggest you take a minute and read them quickly.

Just remember, you are pretending you can only have 1 credit card for the entire next year and you have no existing credit cards or frequent flyer miles or hotel points.  You are a CLEAN SLATE and are voting for the card you’d want to have more.

Since I have been able to unearth a live, open to the public deal that offers 50k as a signup bonus for the Chase Sapphire (after the original hubbub about it being dropped to 40k), please use the Chase 50k offer for the sake of this tournament.

When considering the Chase Sapphire Preferred, the benefits of the card are pretty clear:  50k is a healthy amount of points for a signup bonus and the points can be transferred to many partners, with the two best choices usually being United or Hyatt.  This gives you incredible flexibility because it has both a good airline and hotel transfer partner.

Also, it offers 2x points/$1 on both travel and dining, a big perk that can grow your points quick since we are only allowed 1 signup bonus a year.

In fact, the only card that offers more flexibility than the Chase Sapphire is….

The Starwood Preferred Amex!  SPG points are considered some of the most valuable out there.  They transfer tons of airlines (AA, Delta, JAL, etc.), and if you transfer in blocks of 20k points, they’ll give you a bonus 5k for 25k total.  SPG points can also be used to stay at SPG properties, which range from 2,000 to 35,000 depending on category.

No matter what category you stay at, you’ll always get the 5th night free if you stay using points for the previous 4, a great SPG perk.  Lastly, SPG also offers a Cash and Points option, which allows you to use less of your points but only pay a fraction of the hotel’s regular price.  This can often give you GREAT value.

The downside to the SPG Amex is that it offers a relatively paltry signup bonus of 25k (half of the Sapphire), it has a higher minimum spend, and it also charges a 3% foreign transaction fee.

With all that in mind, who do you have as THE BEST TRAVEL CREDIT CARD?  Does the bigger signup bonus, 2x points on travel and dining, and lack of a foreign transaction fee have you jumping for joy?  Or are you a sucker for the SPG and its amazing portfolio of transfer options, as well as the 5th night free and cash and points perk?

Defend yourself in the comments below and don’t hold back!  This is the championship game after all and I’m sure both cards would be elated at winning the very first Credit Card March Madness title!

Chase Sapphire Preferred

  • Sign up bonus:  50k Chase UR points
  • Points can transfer at a 1:1 ratio to United and Hyatt, among others
  • 2x/$1 travel and dining, 1x/$1 on everything else
  • $3,000 spend in 3 months to get your points
  • No annual fee, $95 after that.
  • No foreign transaction fee

 Starwood Preferred Guest American Express

  • Signup bonus:  25k SPG points
  • Minimum Spend:  10k points after first purchase, 15k after spending $5,000 in 6 months.
  • Points transfer to tons of airlines at 1.25 to 1 ratio.
  • Stay 4 nights with points at SPG hotel, get the 5th night free
  • No annual fee for the first year, $65 annually after that
  • 3% foreign transaction fee
  • 5x/$1 spent at SPG hotels
  • 1x/$1 spent on everything else

[polldaddy poll=6113770]

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.


  1. Keith says:

    I voted in the finals. Chase Sapphire Preferred is just too strong. The opening bonus of 50000 points vs SPGs 25000 is just too overwhelming for Amex to overcome. The 7% year end rebate is the Blake Griffin slam that just can’t be blocked by SPG and ultimately ends the game.

    1. Trav says:

      @Keith- Love the sports reference. Just like Blake, the Sapphire does seem to rise above the rest. I hadn’t even mentioned the 7% bonus due to the fact that it has so many other perks, but you are right, it is a great addition to an already strong card. Even if you made no other spend on it, it would give you an extra 3,500 points just from the signup bonus. And of course, the more spend you make, the more year end bonus points come your way!

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