The SPG First Class Travel Credit Card Collection
Here are the cards that you’ll need:
Visa: TD First Class Visa Infinite Card (Optional, not really needed)
MasterCard: MBNA Alaska Airlines MasterCard (through GCR)
Total Yearly Fees: $635 after GCR rebates
Do not be alarmed at the high annual fees, as they will be well worth it. This portfolio is for users who will ultimately be redeeming their hard earned points for one of Marriott’s Flight and Hotel packages. The biggest challenge will be the $5,000 spend in 3 months using the Amex Business Platinum Card. The other card spends are relatively low and will be easy to manage when spread out over a few months. For a luxury traveler, the perks offered by the Platinum Card are invaluable and often hard to obtain through spend alone. The complimentary gold status with SPG and Marriott will include perks such as: welcome gifts, faster internet and potential room upgrades.
Here’s how it works:
End goal: Marriott Flight and Hotel Deal
We need: 270,000 Marriott rewards points = 90,000 SPG Starpoints
Transfer Ratios to Note:
2 American Express MR : 1 SPG Starpoint
1 SPG Starpoint : 3 Marriott Rewards Points
Your primary objective should be identifying when you can spend the $5,000 on the Platinum Card. Aside from that, make sure your CC applications are somewhat spaced out so that you don’t have to meet several spend requirements at once. Here’s the breakdown by card:
MBNA Alaska Airlines MasterCard: This is merely icing on the cake; The card offers 25,000 bonus Alaska points after $1,000 spend in the first three months. For those interested in flying to Asia, this is a must have to upgrade your ticket to first class. Nonetheless, this card will be used whenever American Express is not accepted. Click here for more details on the card.
American Express Business Platinum: Our primary objective is to secure $5,000 of spend on this card for the 75,000 MR point bonus. Once you’ve obtained your bonus, make sure you transfer the points to SPG. It will likely require some thought if your regular spending doesn’t amount to $1,500-$2,000 per month. For instance, look into paying off rent, tuition, or any large bills using PayTM or Plastiq. I have personally used them to pay off my bills and tuition loans; The 2–3% fee is well worth paying to meet the minimum spend. Click here for more details on the card.
Total MR after $5,000 spend: 81,250 = 40,625 SPG Starpoints
American Express Personal/Business SPG: Now, here’s the trick; Apply to ONLY the personal card first. Once the card shows up on your American Express web portal, use the Refer-a-Friend link generated for your SPG account to apply for the business card. You will receive 5,000 bonus Starpoints from the referral. Since the spend requirement is $1,500 per card in three months for a bonus of 20,000 Starpoints, it shouldn’t be too big of an issue to meet. Click here for more details on the cards.
Total SPG Points after $1,500 spend on each card: 21,500 + 21,500 +5,000 = 48,000 SPG Starpoints
Total with all 3 Cards: 40,625 + 48,000 = 88,625 SPG Starpoints
And just like that, we are steps away from our 90,000 point goal. At this point there are several options.
- Keep spending on the SPG Personal Card: Only $1,375 more in spending before the 90,000 points goal is reached.
- Notable mentions: Apply for an Amex Cobalt or Personal Gold Card: The Cobalt card is an excellent choice due to its high earn rates (5MR per dollar on food and drink) and points are transferable to SPG. It also has a monthly earn bonus for the first year which makes it valuable to have as soon as possible. The Personal Gold Card is also worth a mention with a 25,000 MR bonus with $1,500 spend.
- Buy Starpoints Online: If you need an injection of Starpoints quickly, Starwood offers them for sale; 1,500 points will cost $52.50 USD. This is not the best choice but will do in a pinch. Click here to take a look at purchasing Starpoints.
And… you’re done!
Time to look at your first class flight.
Once you transfer 90,000 SPG Starpoints to 270,000 Marriott points, you’ll be able to redeem a 7 night hotel voucher at any category 1–5 hotel under Marriott, along with a large sum of miles. We will be going with the 120,000 Alaska Miles due to its various flight partners and synergy with the suggested MBNA Alaska Airlines MasterCard. You can see the redemption list from the Marriott website below:
If you also finished the $1,000 spend on the MBNA Alaska MasterCard, you will effectively have a total of at least 146,000 Alaska Airline Miles.
What can 146,000 (or 120,000) miles get me ?
Let’s look at some notable redemptions (Business or First Class):
- 1 round trip business class ticket from Canada to Asia on Cathay Pacific or Japan Airlines = 120,000 Miles
- 1 round trip first class ticket from Canada to Asia on Cathay Pacific or Japan Airlines = 140,000 Miles
- 1 one way business class ticket from Canada to Asia on Emirates Airline = 105,000 Miles
There is also the possibility of redeeming flights to Europe, but those flights are generally much shorter and cost the same in Miles; I personally would milk my first class flight for as long as I can. Take a look at all the flights Alaska Airlines and its partners offer.
Wait… won’t this ruin my credit score?
No, it won’t. As long as you are practicing good credit card spending habits, the credit drop from applying for these cards will be negligible. From my experience, my credit will dip temporarily and fully recover within a few weeks of my application. If you are concerned about your credit score, make sure you spread out each credit card application and pay off your cards whenever it is due.
And there you have it!
An effective way to accumulate enough points for a first class flight across the world. Please visit my other posts for individual reviews on the various cards used in this strategy!