I’ve had a Starwood AMEX card ever since I turned 18 a decade and a half ago. Over the years the card has gone from blue to red to purple as the annual fee climbed from $30 to $45 to $65 and finally to $95. But it has consistently provided a great value for everyday spending.
Since the card launched it offered 1 Starpoint per dollar spent everywhere. It didn’t try to compete for bonus category spent, but it always provided a good value for non-bonused spending. The points were valuable for hotel stays and when transferring into airline miles thanks to the 20K:25K transfer ratio. There were no massive devaluations that obliterated that value proposition as some airlines underwent.
Sadly, tomorrow the card will be hit with a 33% devaluation as it goes from earning 1 Starpoint per dollar (3 Marriott points per dollar) to 2 Marriott points (0.67 Starpoints) per dollar spent.
Luckily, existing Starpoints won’t be devalued as they will be tripled on 8/18. However any new spending on the card as of tomorrow will only earn 2 Marriott points per dollar.
If your goal is maintaining a versatile points currency that can be used for airline miles or hotel stays and to accumulate versatile points that are a hedge against devaluation in any individual program, this is no longer the card to use. Previously, the card earned an effective 1.25 airline miles per dollar spend, but that goes down to 0.84 airline miles per dollar spent as of tomorrow.
You can still get a decent return on high end hotels, especially until combined category 8 launches in February, but you won’t get a great return on airline miles, so you will be subject to Marriott’s whims and potential future devaluations without the ability to transfer the points elsewhere at a favorable ratio.
The card will become a great card for the benefits it provides, primarily for the annual free night which will be the reason I won’t cancel the card. That free night will be worth more than the annual fee.
I’ll still use the card at Starwood hotels for 6 Marriott points per dollar. I may even use the business card at gas stations for 4 Marriott points per dollar. Perhaps I’ll pull the card out when I need to buy something that may need return/warranty protection, though that may also go on another AMEX card.
But otherwise I’ll be focusing my spending on the Chase Quadfecta. That will earn lots of points on everyday and bonus category spending while being able to transfer points into highly valuable airline and hotel currencies or being able to redeem the points for paid flights, hotel stays, car rentals, or other activities at an excellent value.
If you still want some last minute Starpoints, you might consider prepaying bills today or making an estimated federal tax payment at a cost of 1.87%, which a great rate for “buying” Starpoints.
To my soon to be dusty Starwood AMEX…chin up. We sure had some good times together back in the days of dollar coins from the mint, Amazon Payments, and REDcard…
I wouldn’t have been able to celebrate my 8th wedding anniversary by throwing out the first pitch before game 7 of the 2016 World Series and watching the heart-stopping game with Mimi in 2nd row diamond box seats behind the dugout without you:
I wouldn’t have been able to stay in hotels like the S. Regis Maldives without you:
I’m still sitting on 7 figures of Starpoints so I’ll still have the opportunity to do awesome things with my remaining points, but the opportunity cost of earning more points on the card seems too high with the 33% devaluation in card earning potential.
So thanks for the amazing memories, but I’m afraid it’s time to say goodbye. It’s not me, it’s you.