This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express
TPG reader Kavin emailed me to ask about strategizing for the Marriott-Starwood merger:
“Should I sign up for both the Marriott Rewards Premier Card and the Starwood Preferred Guest Amex before the two programs merge?”
There’s been both a lot of excitement and anxiety over the future of SPG since Marriott announced plans to acquire Starwood back in November. Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson reassured members that the plan moving forward will be to preserve and strengthen both loyalty programs and to avoid devaluing rewards and benefits. Until we hear specific details, it’s too early to say how a merger will impact award travelers. However, I think now is a good time to focus on earning Starpoints before any major changes go into effect, especially with respect to existing welcome bonuses.
The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express currently offers a bonus of 25,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first three months. Meanwhile, the Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express offers 25,000 points after you spend $5,000 in the first three months. Those bonuses typically increase to 30,000 points at some point each summer, but even the current offers are worth $625 based on my most recent monthly valuations.
Again, we don’t know how the merger will shake out, but I think the writing may be on the wall for both of these cards. Last year we witnessed the demise of the US Airways Premier MasterCard during the merger with American Airlines. Rather than disappearing entirely, those accounts were changed over to one of the varieties of AAdvantage Aviator cards. However, applications were no longer accepted for new cardholders, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the SPG Amex cards eventually meet a similar fate.
Amex is fairly restrictive when it comes to welcome bonuses: You can only earn a single bonus for the personal card, even if you haven’t had it for years. The rules are less stringent for the business card, which allows you to earn a bonus provided you haven’t had the same product in the past 12 months. If you’re eligible for those bonuses, I would think about applying in the near future. Starpoints are just too valuable to leave on the table, and you don’t want to end up wishing you got on that gravy train after it leaves the station. You could consider holding out for the increased bonuses, but pay close attention as the merger progresses for any hint of those cards going away.
I think there’s less urgency to get the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card, partly because Marriott points are less valuable than Starpoints, but also because I suspect the card is unlikely to disappear soon. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with it — Chase commonly offers an increased sign-up bonus, and the card comes with benefits like Silver Elite status and a free night at a Category 1-5 property each year following your cardmember anniversary. However, I don’t think you need to go out of your way to apply before the merger.
Check out these posts for more on Marriott Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest, and their respective co-branded credit cards:
- Award traveler’s guides to Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest
- One Year of Earning and Burning with the Marriott Rewards Visa
- One year of Earning and Burning with the SPG Amex
The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.
- Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
- Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
- 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
- 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
- Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
- Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
- $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
- Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
- $550 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees