Why This Might Be A Great Time To Apply For The SPG Amex

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A couple of days ago we learned more details about the future of the co-brand credit card agreement for Marriott and Starwood. Specifically, we learned that long term Marriott will have credit cards issued by both American Express and Chase, and that each issuer will have access to specific segments of the market:

  • Amex will offer super premium and small business cards
  • Chase will offer mass consumer and premium consumer cards

I’ve had the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express for years. The SPG Personal Amex was one of the first cards I applied for when I turned 18, and I’ve had it ever since.

I’m sad to see that Amex is losing their premium consumer card, though I’m also excited to see that they’ll be issuing a super premium Amex card at some point. In light of the news from earlier this week, I think there’s a lot of merit to applying for both the SPG Personal Amex and SPG Business Amex soon, assuming you don’t have these cards.

Why it makes sense to apply for the SPG Personal Amex

The SPG Personal Amex is being discontinued, presumably at some point in 2018. We don’t know what will happen to existing cardmembers. There’s a chance Amex will work out a deal to sell their portfolio to Chase (since they’ll be taking over this type of card), or there’s a chance cardmembers will have the option to convert their card to another Amex product.

Regardless, of what your goal is, there’s merit to applying for this card soon:

  • We don’t know how much longer Amex will accept new cardmembers, since it probably doesn’t make sense for them to spend marketing dollars on consumers that will only have the card for a short period of time; for example, when it was announced that Citi would no longer issue Hilton Honors Cards as of 2018, they stopped accepting applications almost immediately
  • If they do give the option of having the card converted into a Chase Marriott Card, this may be the best way for many people to get the card, given the potential 5/24 restriction on a Chase issued card
  • If you apply now, you should still be eligible for sign-up bonuses on any new products in the future; this is very much a “use it or lose it” situation, since this exact card won’t be around for long, based on what we know

Why it makes sense to apply for the SPG Business Amex

American Express will continue to have the rights to issue the SPG Business Amex in the future. However, we don’t know what the terms will look like on that card in the future. So by applying now you can lock in the current benefits.

Also keep in mind that once this card formally becomes a Marriott Business Amex Card (whenever that happens), chances are that it would be considered a new product. So there’s a chance that existing cardmembers could potentially still apply for the other card in the future. We don’t know what the timeline of that looks like, exactly.

Doesn’t it make sense to wait for a better sign-up bonus?

The standard sign-up bonus on these cards is 25,000 Starpoints upon completing minimum spend. I value Starpoints at ~2.2 cents each, so to me that bonus is worth $550, which is big, especially as the annual fee is waived for the first year. The first year’s annual fee is also waived.

The last time that we saw both the SPG Personal Amex and SPG Business Amex offer a sign-up bonus of 35,000 Starpoints was back in February. Keep in mind that when they have these bonuses there’s typically an increased minimum spend requirement.

Personally it seems unlikely that they’d offer an increased bonus again in 2018, at least when the SPG Personal Amex is being discontinued. It seems much more likely that they’d offer a generous sign-up bonus when the new super premium card is being introduced.

So everyone has to decide for themselves, but the increased offers on the SPG Amex are rarer and rarer, and also come with bigger minimum spend requirements than in the past. If I didn’t have either the SPG Personal Amex or SPG Business Amex, I’d probably apply fairly soon.

What’s your SPG card strategy in light of the recent news?

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Comments

  1. Lucky, Jetblue is starting a strange route JFK-ORH just about 150 miles will be shortest in their network, might be interesting article.

  2. Can someone please refresh me on the technical rules of these? If I had the biz card in the past, but cancelled it over a year ago, can I get it again now and get the bonus?

    I know you used to be able to do that but not sure if one still can or not.

  3. I suspect the new Amex Marriott small business card will be treated as the same card as the current Spg business card as far as receiving one lifetime bonus goes. The PRG and Platinum is the same case, although they are different cards within the same family.

  4. Would it also make sense to close these cards at some point in the near future? Rather than having a card “converted” to a new card, I’d rather have the opportunity to sign up for whatever new cards are out there. This might represent an easy way to get bonuses one has already had.

  5. What about those who have the Amex SPG cards…does it make sense to get the chase Marriott card before it changes/goes away?

  6. The sole reason I have the SPG personal card is to eventually convert those points to my Alaska account. Is there some point at which I should do that before the card changes in any way?

  7. When you say you convert your SPG points to Alaska mile do you mean 20k+5K Bonus to Alaska or transfer all to Marriott and buy vacation package?
    90K SPG = 80k + 20k(4*5k bonus) + 10K(left over) = 110K Alaska Miles through SPG
    90K SPG to Marriott – 270k Marriott Points, 270K Marriott = 120k Alaska Miles plus 7 day 1-5 voucher.

    Extra points + voucher if you can save up.

  8. Is it not possible that the current Amex will still remain, but not allow new card members?

    Barclay’s was allowed this with the AA portfolio until they renegotiated contracts l.

  9. @ Andrew B — It’s a good question. Personally I think it’s unlikely that they’ll maintain existing cardmembers. I could be wrong, but the reason I think so is because they’d actually have to create a new product. Since there will be a new loyalty program, any new SPG Amex would also have to come with new benefits, etc., and I would guess this new contract would preclude that. Like I said, I could be wrong, though.

  10. @ Aaron — Nowadays the bonus on each card is “once in a lifetime,” so you can get the bonus on the personal and business card once each.

  11. @ Brian — We’ll have to wait and see the details of how the conversions will work, etc., but it certainly could make sense. I’m sure we’ll have some notice of any changes.

  12. @ James H — It certainly could, though my guess with the Marriott Premier Card is that it may just continue to be the standard card, and may not even be rebranded. So I’m not necessarily sure I’d jump on that right now. I actually think the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card could make more sense, since that will likely be discontinued.

  13. @ Jillian — As noted by Jerry D, booking through Marriott’s Hotel + Air Packages could be an even better value. I suspect we’ll receive notice of any major changes, so I wouldn’t necessarily do anything yet.

  14. #1) Grats to Scott on his LH accomplishment

    #2) If my SPG business card turns into a Marriott business card (which I already have) maybe I will get 2 free nights annual bonus?? Plus I have both personal cards too – so maybe 4 free nights?

  15. Regarding their recent 5 star ranking I sarcastically asked them on Twitter when they would be getting their new business class. They apparently did not get my sarcasm and replied with an eye-roll emoji after I explained it to them.

  16. @Lucky, the US Airways card was completely rebranded and changed benefits. That’s not too much different than what is happening here. And that’s assuming SPG goes away, which is starting to look less likely.

  17. Just checked around for the latest SPG link to the best sign up bonus/minimum spend. Found one for 30k/3k. But then I remembered to check my referral link. 25k/3k and 7.5k referral. Took the referral one and plan to transfer the SPG points from my husbands account to mine. (hopefully this will all happen before AMEX decides what to do with SPG personal.) Have to transfer at least 1000 per transaction, but it’s free if the person has your same address. After that, not sure, but at least they will be consolidated. I’m sure Lucky will do a post on the best thing to do with the points when the SPG goes away. 🙂

  18. @Sue – Is it worth using the referral link since there is only a 2.5k difference and you will presumably have to pay taxes on the 7.5k referral points?

  19. Hi everyone I am relatively new at this but have accumulated about 150k SPG points so far and could still sign up myself for both the personal and business and my husband for the business. Is this a good strategy? Sue’s idea of referring myself from husbands account would net 32.5k points in addition to another 50 or so for the business’s. Is this a smart thing to do? Lastly what would be the best thing to do with all of these points, in other words the best way to spend them and should we do it soon? Sorry, new at this and you all seem really informed. Thanks

  20. @Eric NYC – That, unfortunately, is brand new information. Boo. Guess that’s what these blogs are for. Learning for next time.

  21. @Joe – You don’t need to pay taxes for points you receive as part of a credit card. They are basically considered as discounts on the purchase. But if you receive points from a banking relationship or through other mechanisms where no charge is required (such as referral bonuses) you technically do have to pay taxes.

    I don’t remember the exact number but I think they have to value the points at $600 or more before the company has to report it to the IRS though. But there have been cases where the company would use very overestimated cent per point values triggering the IRS reporting.

  22. But as always, talk to a tax professional to determine if your case requires you to pay taxes and, if so, what amount.

  23. I just applied for 30k/3k offer. Got pending further review. After calling in, I was told I have to verify my address with a banker’s letter. Is this normal? My app status now states “cancelled,” so will it go back to being “under review” once I send the letter in?

  24. Strategy: hold biz Starwood Amex, dump personal Starwood Amex as well as that useless Chase Marriott card (which I only used to accrue the bonus and then never touched again)…

    @Deanna: “Lastly what would be the best thing to do with all of these points, in other words the best way to spend them and should we do it soon?” Best thing to do is study the blogs for a month and learn about the many many options you have for these points — many will tell you they are the most valuable points and you’ve got so many possibilities … depends on what sort of travelers you are and what sort of experiences you seek. In any case, you can find excellent values that are incredible uses of points as well as lousy value on your points … so research carefully!

  25. The SPG personal and business card each provide 2 stay and 5 nights credits each year. This usually happens right a the beginning of the year. Does anyone know if the cards are cancelled shortly thereafter, do they claw back those credits?

  26. (Yes, but I want to be notified.) Your estimate for the value of a Starwood (SPG) Star Point is $0.022. Formerly I have read your estimates of a Hilton Honors points to be $0.004, Marriott Rewards point $0.004 and IHG Rewards point $0.005 or $0.00525 including the +5% with its credit card.
    Also, I have calculated an Honors point to be worth approximately 1.125% and a Marriott Rewards point to equal about the same as your prior estimate of 0.08%.

    Are these values inline with your current estimations? And what are the percentages for all of the hotel loyalty points listed here?

    Obviously, these amounts need to be taken in context of how many points you earn per dollar spent and with the exchange values o hotel stays, etc.

    Than you for your great service,it is great to see someone calculate these useful values for those of us who appreciate the information, confirmation and use them.

  27. (Please ignore the prior two posts. What do I enter under “Website”? )
    I have just seen your estimate for the value of a Starwood (SPG) Star Point of $0.022. Formerly I have read your estimates of a Hilton Honors point to be $0.002, Marriott Rewards point $0.004 and IHG Rewards point $0.005 or $0.00525 including the +5% with its credit card.
    Also, I have calculated an Honors point to be worth approximately 1.125% and a Marriott Rewards point to equal about the same as the other site’s prior estimate of 0.08%.

    Are these values inline with your current estimations? And what are the percentages for all of the hotel loyalty points listed here?

    Obviously, these amounts need to be taken in context of how many points you earn per dollar spent and with the exchange values of hotel stays, etc.

    BTW, although all depends on what benefits each individual uses, the current combination of Hilton Honors and the AMEX Honors card (points earned are more valuable in exchanges and Diamond status is reachable by annual spending of $40,000) and worth about 1.125% is heads above the combination of Marriott Rewards and JP Morgan Chase (mostly due to the very poor Marriott Rewards credit card worth 0.08% and a nearly worthless annual stay that has not been upgraded in years as the Hotel Tiers of most of their major brand hotels have increased regularly. I also hope that Marriott an , even more likely, that Chase does not ruin the combined programs of Starwood (SPG)/AMEX. I also find the Hilton Diamond and AMEX services to be excellent, the Marriott Rewards service to be good and the Chase service to be terrible and show no loyalty to Marriott.

    Than you for your great service, it is great to see someone calculate these useful values for those of us who appreciate the information, confirmation and use them.

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