CSP vs SPG AMEX and AoR Question

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Credit Cards' started by PHLFlyer, Feb 27, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. PHLFlyer

    PHLFlyer Active Member

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    Hi everyone,

    Forgive the newb-ness of this post, but if you think this should be moved to the Newbie forum, please go ahead and do so.

    I am thinking about applying for the CSP and SPG Amex cards in the near future. It seems like they both have their benefits and that lots of people carry both. This is where my AoR question comes in. In particular, I have excellent credit, but typically only spend around 500 to 1000 dollars a month on average. Given that, I can only probably apply for one until I meet the minimum spend (in 3 or 6 months), and then get the other. So my questions are as follows:

    1. Do people prefer CSP over SPG, or is either one a winner whichever I apply for first?

    2. I have an Amazon.com Visa card with a lot of points. Can I transfer those to a new CSP?

    3. Is this process of only getting one card every 3-6 months something people do, or is everyone a lot more aggressive? (I anticipate some higher monthly spend in my future when I change jobs, so that one card could turn into 2)

    I'll include some other questions here after I get a few responses. Thanks everyone in advance, and looking forward to the discussion.
     
  2. HaveMilesWillTravel
    Original Member

    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    I think it very much depends on what you want to do with your points. If you want to stay at Starwood Hotels (cash and points is a popular redemption), the CSP won't help you. Transfer to an airline program? They each have different partners, so which carrier would you want to transfer to?

    Some people are fairly aggressive and get, say, 4 cards every 91 days. Others are more conservative. Some don't churn at all.

    My main recommendation is: don't get in over your head and end up spending money you otherwise wouldn't be spending.
     
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  3. LAM

    LAM Silver Member

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    It is really up to you. What are your goals with your points. I am using CSP and Freedom right now to get points I will use on United for a business ticket to Asia in the future and it is not a good transfer from SPG to United. I am actually going to probably close my SPG card when the annual fee comes up. Statistically people value SPG points more but especially on travel and restaurants I think the CSP wins out with the 2x points.

    Get as many cards as you feel comfortable with and you can make the minimum spend. I don't really like to manufacture spend except for VRs to pay for my mortgage. One guy posted the other day he got 10 cards at once. I personally would never do that.
     
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  4. PHLFlyer

    PHLFlyer Active Member

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    Thanks very much for the reply!

    It is my intention with the points to use them for reward travel (that is, airline miles on any major carrier and by extension their alliance partners). I'd like to be able to book premium cabin travel to Hawaii, the Caribbean, and ultimately Europe/Asia. Seemingly the point rate for the CSP is slightly better than the SPG Amex, so maybe starting with the CSP is the way to go. That said, I know that the SPG has a larger number of transfer partners, and staying at some Starwood hotels (either for free or with C&P) would be a great perk as well.

    So again, begin with the CSP, meet the minimum spend, then get the SPG Amex, meet the minimum spend, and then use the CSP for dining and travel, and the SPG Amex for everything else. Does that seem reasonable?

    I think your main recommendation is spot on, and I am definitely not someone who will just spend like crazy to meet the requirements, so I would only get a few cards a year if that. Thanks again!
     
  5. PHLFlyer

    PHLFlyer Active Member

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    Thanks very much for the reply!

    As I mentioned, my goal is to get reward travel with the major airlines and their partners where applicable. I appreciate your thoughts about the SPG card, and how the points relate between the two. I guess the best option can/could/will be to open the CSP first, and then bring in the SPG Amex after I meet the minimum spend. Thanks again.
     
  6. PHLFlyer

    PHLFlyer Active Member

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    Did either of you (or anybody) know if I can transfer my current points balance with my Amazon.com Visa to the CSP once I open that card? Thanks!
     
  7. HaveMilesWillTravel
    Original Member

    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    I don't believe that's possible.
     
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  8. travelpye

    travelpye Silver Member

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    Have you taken a look to see which airlines and hotels are best/most represented for the places you wish to travel?
    I have both the SPG and CSP. I would say for myself, due to getting the SPG when the bonus was higher, that it was well worth acquiring for the then available 30k bonus. However, for my travel and spending habits, I don't think I can justify keeping it long term. Most of the places I have looked at using the SPG points for hotels, I have found cash and points has not been an option and the points needed are high. But that would not be the same situation everywhere, so that is why I suggest checking out the options for the destinations you have targeted. I expect I will transfer my points to an airline when needed, and end up closing the SPG. I had actually expected to keep it long term, but I am not realizing the value due to my own particular circumstances that others might find with it.

    For example, my travel for work seldom has me staying at an SPG property. But perhaps yours would. For work, I stay at a Marriott, Holiday Inn or Hyatt most often. All these are SP ultimate rewards transfer partners. And I can often buy stuff I need from laundry detergent to pet food to birthday gifts via the Ultimate Rewards mall, earning at times 10 points for dollar spent. I find I can maximize my limited spending to best effect through SP.

    Since like you, I normally do not spend that much a month on routine expenses, I can say that my SPG balance would not rise very quickly as opposed to how quickly I can maximize points on my SP to see the UR points rise for redemption on UA, or at Marriott, Hyatt, etc..
     
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  9. Traveling Momma

    Traveling Momma Silver Member

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    As a newbie who opened 4 cards in the last two weeks for me and 4 for hubby I would say be conservative because of your spend. And, it is time consuming to setup and keep track of everything to ensure you hit the minimum spend, know the benefits and track the card. We planned out our trips and figured out what programs we needed the points in to make these trips a reality in business first and the types of hotels we want. I'm not sure if 3 seats of this category will be available when we're ready to fly but we're flexible.

    The planning of this strategy and execution so far has taken up a lot of time. Be sure you know what your time is worth and be efficient. Devouring all the information on the blogs to become an expert and not make mistakes is taxing.

    Blue.
     
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  10. PHLFlyer

    PHLFlyer Active Member

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    Gotcha, thanks!
     
  11. particlemn

    particlemn Silver Member

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    Are you looking for cards for the sign up bonus, or are you looking for the cards for monthly spend. I know both of these cards have first year free but if you are looking for long term spend on these cards i would suggest you look at a cash back no fee card. I will use the CSP card as an example it costs 95 per year, the points are worht 1 cent each in cash or 1.5-3 cents for average redemptions(this can be higher but not everyone is looking to goto the maldevies) so at the cash value of the points(most conservative) you must spend 9500 in a year just to cover teh annual fee, so the first 791 spend each month you get nothing from since it is equal to the annual fee( you actually get the points but in since you are paying for them they are not free.
    I would look at churning slowly and look at ways to increase spend with out increasing your budget(reimbursable work spend, or gift card games)
     
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  12. PHLFlyer

    PHLFlyer Active Member

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    Thanks very much for the reply!

    I haven't looked at any specific travel bookings, but I'm fairly confident that as far as airlines are concerned, all of the major carriers will get me where I need to go. For hotels, the Starwood properties or Hyatt, Marriott, and Priority (these are the three I think that you can transfer UR points to) would suffice. That being said, I suppose if you never stayed at Starwood and were just never using their Amex for purchases of anything, I could see getting rid of it. If I was using the CSP for hotels and dining, and the SPG for everything else (gas, groceries, etc), and then transferring those points to various airlines. I guess if there were a better card for all of your (or my) other spending, then closing the SPG and going with something else would be better.

    Thanks also for the description of your spend. I guess in your instance, it just makes sense to put everything with CSP, rather than bother keeping the SPG open and continuing to pay a fee, despite the transfer possibilities. Thanks again.
     
  13. PHLFlyer

    PHLFlyer Active Member

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    Thanks very much for the reply!

    I agree that I will move forward from here in a conservative manner (one card every 3-6 months). I've been doing a lot of reading, but enjoy it a ton and figured I want to learn as much as possible now before I start a new career and am really bogged down. But in the meantime and once I start, I can rack up miles in a slow, steady, comfortable way.

    Enjoy your trips, when you do book them!
     
  14. PHLFlyer

    PHLFlyer Active Member

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    Thanks for the reply!

    I suppose I am looking for the cards for the sign up bonus generally, but want one or two cards to put into my wallet that I will use when not clearing minimum spend requirements.

    For your example with the CSP, I see that spending 791 a month will get me to 9500 in a year, which would cover the fee if I simply got 1% cash back. However, should we account for the fact that I get 2x points on travel and dining, decreasing the amount of potential spend needed to cover the annual fee? Plus, if redemptions are in the 1.5-3 cent range, then don't we need to factor that into the average monthly spend if I intend to transfer points to airlines for premium cabin travel? How should we go about doing that?

    I think I may have some reimbursable expenses (work related) in my near future that can help me increase monthly spend, but for the time being, I'm still restricted to that 500-1000 a month as I mentioned above.

    Thanks again for the reply, and if you have any other comments, I'm happy to hear them.
     
  15. LarryInNYC

    LarryInNYC Gold Member

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    Go with the CSP. It belongs to a family of cards that all earn into the Ultimate Rewards program, so there are potentially four or five bonuses you can earn, not just one. Different cards in the family have different bonus categories, so you may be able to realize more than 2 points per dollar, on average, earned on your spend.

    And, if there is a significant other in the picture, Ultimate Rewards allows combining points from your accounts.
     
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  16. PHLFlyer

    PHLFlyer Active Member

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    Larry, thanks for the reply!

    I think I am definitely leaning to starting with the CSP. There is a sig o in the picture, and the combining points is a definite perk. Thanks!
     
  17. particlemn

    particlemn Silver Member

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    I only factor the higher range price for premium cabin travel if i was off setting cash that i would actually pay for the premium cabin travel. I like to think of it this way, lets say i have to travel to a meeting and its 60 miles from the airport, so i arrange a rental car they have two options when booking a compact for $50 and a Ferrari for $1000. I book the economy but when i show up they are out and give me the Ferrari for the same $50, did i really get an extra $950 value since i would never ever ever ever ever pay 1k for a daily car rental.
    too many time we chase dreams and might over pay for them becasue of a preceived value. this is a personal value that only you can determine
     
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  18. particlemn

    particlemn Silver Member

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    For an eample forgetting the 40k sign up bonus since you get that no matter if you keep the card or cancel it lets look at regular spend and use for an average per month 750, of which 250 is on travel and dining. Each month you would earn 1000 UR points. Now you said earlier you would like to travel to hawaii in premium cabin, 2 RT first class tickets to Hawaii on United at the Saver level cost 160,000 total (40k each way each ticket) this will tkae 160 months or 13.33 years, you will have paid 1235 in annual fees for the 13 years. those tickets are probably worth much more than that but this example shows putting all of your spend ont he card and will detract form your abbility to spend on other cards.

    now for the possitive news, chase rocks and this is not a sprint you can win at this, my recommendation is to get teh freedom card and when not churning put all you spend on the chase freedom card. it earns UR points that are not transferable to airelines, but it get better. Do not take the ur points from freedom card and get cash back let he balances grow, when they have grown either you are partner gets the chase sapphire prefered card, you can online trnasfer your points from freedom to chase sapphire prefered and then to the airlines, you collect the points for years with no annual fee. you have a long credit reccord with one card, and you get to transfer when you need to.

    Final option with chase and UR if you can get a bussiness card is the ink, this workd great if you have cable or a cell phone, chase ink gives 5X on cable and cell phone, so say your cable bill is 80 and your cell bill is 80 thats 160/month or 800 per month, the annual fee is 95 or 791 pts per month you are ahead of the game after just those two bills and all other charges esentially earn free points.
     
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  19. Traveling Momma

    Traveling Momma Silver Member

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    Thanks. I'll do trip reports and outline any mistakes I've made as I make them. Others should benefit from this knowledge.
     
  20. servo

    servo Silver Member

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    Between those 2 and not looking at manufacturing spend (buying cash and using prepaid debit cards), I would go with the CSP also. It's a lower spend, and more points/miles. SPG is a very nice program, but they don't offer a bunch of bonus points, and with the value of points being somewhat equal between the 2 programs, if you're not a heavy spender, then I'd go with the more points first.
     
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  21. PHLFlyer

    PHLFlyer Active Member

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    Thanks for the reply, I very much appreciate it!
     
  22. PHLFlyer

    PHLFlyer Active Member

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    Good post. Point definitely made.
     
  23. PHLFlyer

    PHLFlyer Active Member

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    Another really good post. Would I be able to get the bonus points for the Sapphire Preferred, downgrade to the Sapphire after one year, and then at some point when I become eligible for the bonus again, bump back up to the Sapphire Preferred, and do all my transfers that way? Let me know if that seems reasonable.

    Also, we forgot to include the yearly 7% dividend on earned points for the Chase Sapphire. A post from thepointsguy (http://thepointsguy.com/2012/05/com...e-preferred-cards-which-one-is-right-for-you/) notes that if your monthly spend is less than 592, the Sapphire would be better, otherwise, go for the CSP. Thoughts on that inclusion?

    I'm still leaning to the CSP, given that I will likely be hitting the 592 monthly spend for the most part and also doing a lot of spend on dining and travel (for the multitude of categories that encompasses with CSP).

    I really appreciate your posts. Keep em coming!
     
  24. TWA44

    TWA44 Active Member

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    Very interesting thread. I especially appreciate hearing from people who do not do/promote doing AORs for a gazillion miles every 91 days, such that they need to manufacture spend. I routinely put my monthly expenses on CCs whenever possible and always have. I ended up here after a bad experience trying to use points accumulated on an FIACard Services Visa, and have been slowly moving to cards with sign-up bonuses and better programs. But heavy churning is not for me. I dabbled briefly in Vanilla Reloads - just one for $500 - when I got lucky at a new Walgreens the first time I tried to put a VR on a CC, but I live in a CVS-less state and have not found any Walgreens that will accept a CC since that first effort. No problem; I did not count on using something like that to make a minimum spend. I also am not really into aspirational travel. I will be a happy camper in Business class and at a decent hotel, so I do not need a gazillion points.

    So, my first AOR was in late November, when we got cards as follows:
    US Airways for me
    US Airways for my husband
    Chase Sapphire Preferred for him
    Hilton Hhonors Amex for him
    That meant $3,750 plus two "first purchases" in 3 months, which is quite manageable for us. We typically spend more.

    Yesterday I returned to the well and applied as follows:
    CITI AA MC for my husband
    CITI AA Hilton Honors Visa for my husband
    Club Carlson for my husband
    That will entail $4000 in 3 months.

    Next week I am looking to add a few more cards in my name. Among the candidates:
    CITI AA Amex ($3,000 in 4 months)
    SPG Amex ($5,000 in 6 months)
    CITI AA MC ($750 in 3 months)

    I live in the Pacific NW so considered cards marketed by Alaska, Frontier and now, with the new bonuses, Southwest. But they will probably have to wait until next time. When I started this, I had my eye on some of the sweet spots on the US Airways awards chart, but with the new AA/US merger, that may not pan out as I had hoped. Still, I think I'll get some nice trips from the effort. And indeed it is a lot of effort, especially at first at the start of the learning curve.

    One final note: if I find myself needing to create some spend, I will do Kiva loans. I love the idea and can float a few hundred bucks or more if need be.

    Good luck!
     
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  25. TWA44

    TWA44 Active Member

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    Oh, one more thing - I assume you know that you can often pay utility bills and insurance premiums on CCs. Look at everything for which you now write a check or use a debit card and figure out if you can instead put it on a CC. One of the first things I'll do is change the cards which are being used to autopay various bills and that will help with the spend. A pain, but part of the game for me. Some of the bloggers have decent posts on how to increase CC spend.
     
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