35,000 Points > 100,000 Points. Here’s Why!

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With the recent limited-time 35,000 Starwood point offer on the AMEX Starwood cards, and the 100,000 Hilton point (plus a first anniversary free night certificate!) AMEX Hilton Honors Surpass card deal, some folks might be having a hard time choosing between cards.

Just like a nickel being twice the actual size of a dime, bigger isn’t always better!  And in our hobby, not all points are created equal.

How Much Are Starwood Points Worth
Consider Each Hotel Chain and Their Award Chart Before Assuming Their Points Are Similar!

I’ll compare the sign-up bonuses from AMEX Starwood cards and AMEX Hilton Honors Surpass card, and explain why I’d much prefer one card to the other!

AMEX Starwood Cards Versus AMEX Hilton Honors Surpass Card

Link:   Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

Link:   Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express

Link:   Hilton Honors™ Surpass® Card from American Express

Through April 5, 2017, you can earn up to 35,000 Starwood points on both the personal and small business AMEX Starwood cards after meeting tiered minimum spending requirements.  You can read my review of this limited-time deal here.

And with the AMEX Hilton Honors Surpass card, you can earn 100,000 Hilton points after meeting the card’s minimum spending requirements, through May 31, 2017.  Plus, you’ll get a free weekend night certificate after the first anniversary date of card approval!  The certificate is good at just about any Hilton hotel, with a few exceptions.   I’ve written about this increased offer here

Keep in mind, American Express only allows folks to earn the bonus once, per person, per lifetime, on all its cards.  So if you’ve had either of these cards in the past, you can NOT earn the bonus from that specific card again.

That said, if you haven’t had either card in the past, you could apply for both cards, because they’re considered different card products.

And if you’re trying to decide between the AMEX Hilton Honors Surpass card and AMEX Starwood cards, comparing the size of the sign-up bonuses isn’t enough.  I’ll explain why.

What Are Starwood Points Worth?

Starwood points have flexible redemption options that make them extremely valuable.  Like free hotel stays at Starwood, Marriott, and Ritz-Carlton hotels.  Or the ability to transfer Starwood points to airlines.

Plus, they are somewhat difficult to earn.  So being able to earn up to 35,000 Starwood points with a credit card sign-up bonus is a great deal!

How Much Are Starwood Points Worth
With 35,000 Starwood Points You Can Save $1,000+ on a 7-Night Stay at the Beautiful Westin Puntacana Resort & Club in the Dominican Republic!

Check out these posts for ideas about what you can do with limited-time 35,000 Starwood point offer on the AMEX Starwood cards:

For example, with the personal AMEX Starwood card, if you earn the full 35,000 Starwood point sign-up bonus, you’ll also earn 5,000 Starwood points for meeting the $5,000 tiered minimum spending requirements.  That’s 40,000 Starwood points (35,000 + 5,000)!

And when you transfer 20,000 Starwood points to an airline with a 1:1 transfer ratio (like American Airlines), you’ll get 5,000 bonus miles.  So your 40,000 Starwood points become 50,000 American Airlines miles!

That’s enough for 2 round-trip coach tickets between the mainland US and the Caribbean, Mexico, or Central America in the off-season.

How Much Are Starwood Points Worth
Traveling With a Friend of Loved One? You’ll Have Enough Points for 2 Round-Trip Coach Tickets to Certain Tropical Destinations After Earning the Sign-Up Bonus on the Personal AMEX Starwood Card.

And 2 round-trip coach tickets between Dallas and Cancun in September 2017, for example, cost $429 each.  Meaning your 40,000 Starwood points would be worth ~$858 (~$429 X 2)!

For more about Starwood points, check out my series on earning & using Starwood points here.

What Are Hilton Points Worth?

100,000 Hilton points is a good sign-up bonus too.  For example, it’s more than enough for a night at a top-tier luxury Hilton like the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, where Emily and I stayed.  Nights here cost 95,000 Hilton points or ~$660+ per night, depending on the season.

Or spend 5 nights at less expensive Hilton hotels like the DoubleTree by Hilton Beijing, which costs ~$152 or 20,000 Hilton points per night.  Using 100,000 Hilton points for a 5-night stay here would save you ~$760 (~$152 X 5 nights).

And the free weekend night certificate you’ll get after the first anniversary date of card approval can be used at almost any Hilton hotel, even those top-tier Hilton hotels that can cost $1,000+ or 95,000 Hilton points per night!  That makes the free weekend night certificate worth up to 95,000 Hilton points, depending on how you use them. This perk alone is worth paying the $75 annual fee for another year.
How Much Are Starwood Points Worth
If You Want to Splurge, Using Your Hilton Points for Free Nights at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island Could Be Worth It!

That said, you’re stuck using the Hilton points you earn for hotel stays, and you don’t have the flexibility you have with Starwood points.  Because although Hilton has ~40 airline partners, most of them have poor transfer ratios.  And you’ll get more value out of using points for free stays at Hilton hotels.

So if you have a specific Hilton hotel stay in mind, and you know you’ll save a lot using your Hilton points and free night certificate for for free stays, applying for the AMEX Hilton Surpass card could make sense for you.

But with both the personal and small business AMEX Starwood cards, you’ll have a lot more flexibility with the Starwood points you earn.

Bottom Line

The 100,000 point offer on the AMEX Hilton Honors Surpass card is a good deal for many.  But the 35,000 Starwood point sign-up bonus on both versions of the AMEX Starwood card is a great deal for most.

You can get a lot more Big Travel with 35,000 Starwood points, compared to 100,000 Hilton points.  And you’ll have more flexibility with Starwood points.  Because you can use them for free nights at Starwood, Marriott, and Ritz-Carlton hotels.  Or transfer them to airline partners for free flights.

Which great offer do prefer?  Let me know in the comments!

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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