Maybe I have fallen behind the times (even though I'm really young): a comment on View from the Wing:
"I give props to Gary for recognizing that the common man likely won’t find much value in retaining this card after the first year. Back in the day, advice used to be, “Chase SP for this, AmEx PRG for that, and SPG AmEx for everything else.” Yeah, and $330 in annual fees on top of that."
That's still pretty much my advice, but with the PRG swapped out for the CSP or BCP or Southwest Rapid Rewards or British Airlines for those who don't spend $30k/an. The CSP is excellent for avoiding F/X fees, although the 2.7% F/X is still worth it at Starwood properties overseas (4 SPG/dollar [valued at 2.5c/p] - 2.7% = still over 7% net). The CapOne Venture is probably decent-to-good (2 points per dollar on everything, no F/X, pretty low AF), but I really don't like Cap One so I've never checked it out, and No Hassle Rewards don't have a reputation for being excellent like UR, SPG, MR, etc. do.
Almost all of my travel is either domestic or to Rome (again, Catholic functionary), so YMMV (no pun intended) if you have a more varied or different travel itinerary.
If you carry both cards, you should use the CSP for overseas SPG properties. You're still getting the 3 points/$ from your base earning (or 2 pts if you are not Gold/Plat). So you have to compare the FX fee against the incremental 2 additional points you get from the CC, not against the total amount of points earned for the stay. 2.14 UR points is better than 2 SPG points minus the 2.7% fx fee.
So, do you use your CSP just for dining, airlines, and rental cars?
First, I use my CSP for all uncategorized spending, as I value UR points above the 1.5% cash back I get from Cap 1. I also use the CSP for all airline purchases other than United (I use United card for free bag/priority boarding), all hotels other than hilton (which is my preferred brand, but not always possible), all dining and all bus/train/cab/parking stuff. I use my surpass for hilton hotels, groceries and non-costco gas, costco card for costco and costco gas, and United card for rental cars 2/2 offering primary damage coverage.
CSP counts taxis as travel. I spend probably $1000 in taxis a month. That's a lot of double points.
[Quote]If you carry both cards, you should use the CSP for overseas SPG properties. You're still getting the 3 points/$ from your base earning (or 2 pts if you are not Gold/Plat). So you have to compare the FX fee against the incremental 2 additional points you get from the CC, not against the total amount of points earned for the stay. 2.14 UR points is better than 2 SPG points minus the 2.7% fx fee.[/quote]
Correct indeed. 2 UR points are worth about as much as 0.96 SPG points when redeemed for travel (using 1UR = 1.2c, 1SPG =2.5c). I didn't even take into consideration how much was earned from specific "branches" of the program (the SPG status itself, the card), and just lumped it all together, assuming that CSP = 2.14 UR (worth something like 2.4c when redeemed for travel), no SPG and SPG = 4-6 SPG and no UR.
I actually don't carry the CSP (I cancelled mine for the A/F and haven't seen any decent 50k or 60k UR offers for signing up again, and I won't take a 40k UR offer when so much better ones are commonly available), but it may be more worthwhile to use my Southwest Rapid Rewards with 0% F/X overseas (earning 1 Southwest RR mile, worth about 1.4c when redeemed for SW flights) and reap the 3 SPG points from merely having SPG gold or whatever status, because, even without the rewards being as good as the CSP, almost any rewards are better than a bare 2 SPG - 2.7% (about 2.3% return). As pointed out, a lot of the benefit comes from the SPG membership and status itself, and earns points independent of the cards as long as you're at an SPG property.
YM will probably not vary, as the 2 additional SPG/dollar is irrespective of gold or platinum status, and 2 SPG - 2.7% is a crappy deal [SEE EDIT] unless all you have is a Chase Slate or some other card with no rewards.
Thank you for the correction.
EDIT: Actual Math:
In reality, the correct numbers are
CSP: 2.14 UR + 2-4 SPG - 0%. That is ~2.5% off with UR (valued at 1.2c/p) and 5-10% SPG (valued at 2.5c/p), for a total of 2.5c UR and 5-10c SPG per dollar, for a total of between 7.5% and 12.5% (14.5% at the outside) off.
SPG: 0 UR + 4-6 SPG -2.7%. That is 0% off with UR, 10-15% with SPG, minus 2.7% flat, for a reasonable total of around 7.3%-12.3% off, a mere 0.3% difference in favor of the CSP.
Concrete example: no elite status, one night at an SPG property, theoretically $100 a night (LOL) in Rome:
CSP = 2.14 UR and 2 SPG per dollar spent, for a total of 214 UR (counting the dividend: 200 immediate UR) and 200 SPG
SPG = 0 UR and 4 SPG - 2.7% per dollar spent, for a total of 400 SPG minus $2.70, immediately available (no waiting for yearly dividend)
For $100 spend, the CSP user has earned roughly $2.50 in UR and $5.00 in SPG, a total of $7.50, of which the value of UR rewards are pretty set in stone, whereas SPG rewards can be worth both quite a bit more and quite a bit less than 2.5c/p
For $100 spend, the SPG user has earned $0.00 in UR and roughly $10.00 - $2.70 = $7.30 in SPG, of which the rewards, when redeemed properly, can more than make up for the 0.2% difference in actual base earn, while keeping all rewards in one program (millions of points spread across a hundred programs is useless; it's better to keep points in one or two programs).
The results were much more "dead heat" than I thought. I thought the CSP would blow the SPG out of the water in the example you listed. If my math is in error, please point it out - both cards appear to be about equal when used at overseas properties, the 2.7% off 5% leaving a 2.3% net. SPG and UR are worth about the same when transferred to airlines (1.2 miles per point with UR, 1.25 miles per point with SPG), but SPG are harder to earn and redeeming for airlines SPG is one of the least valuable redemptions - airlines can make SPG points worth less than 1c (Delta SkyMiles), and a max of about 2.1c (Southwest Rapid Rewards). For UR, redeeming for airlines is one of the most, and, generally, the most valuable redemption possible.
If the user wants ease of redemption (or flights), UR rewards are more valuable, as they transfer to more places that aren't Starwood or airlines, and they have a consistent value, unlike SPG, which has a value that fluctuates wildly depending on the skill of the user making a redemption and what the points are redeemed for.