How Many Free Anniversary Nights Can I Earn With Marriott and SPG Credit Cards?

Aug 21, 2018

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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available – Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card,   Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express

“Reader Questions” are answered twice a week by TPG Associate Editor Brendan Dorsey.

Marriott has now officially combined the Starwood Preferred Guest and Marriott Rewards programs, and with that, it’s implemented a new award chart and elite benefits. The co-branded credit card changes have also gone into effect, so TPG reader Vik wrote in asking if he can stack one of the new benefits across the various cards…

Can I technically have the SPG Amex, SPG Amex Business, the Marriott Chase and the Marriott Chase Business and still get a free night voucher from each card?

TPG Reader Vik

Back in April when the details of the new combined program were announced, changes to the Marriott and SPG co-branded credit card portfolio were also revealed, including the introduction of a new SPG premium credit card. And while the credit cards mostly saw a devaluation when it came to everyday spend, Amex and Chase did add a sweet little perk to each card.

With each new card — and even the old card — came the introduction of a free award night on every account anniversary, and what makes the perk even better is that it’s stackable with free night certificates from the other co-branded cards. So yes, it’s possible to get a free night for every Marriott and SPG credit card you hold.

Now, that doesn’t mean every card comes with the same free night. Each of the lower tier cards offers a free night up to 35,000 points, worth $280 according to TPG’s valuations. (If existing Marriott Premier cardmembers didn’t upgrade to the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card, they’ll only receive an anniversary night up to 25,000 points.) On the other hand, the new SPG Luxury Amex and now-discontinued Ritz-Carlton Rewards cards will offer a free night up to 50,000 points each, worth as much as $400 based on TPG’s valuations.

Here’s a chart breaking down the differences between each card:

Card Annual Fee Travel Credit Free Night* Elite Status Status Credits** Other Benefits
Marriott Rewards Premier $85 None Up to 25k value Silver 15 N/A
Marriott Rewards Premier Plus $95 None Up to 35k value Silver 15 N/A
SPG Amex $95 None Up to 35k value Silver 15 N/A
Marriott Premier Plus Business $99 None Up to 35k value Silver 15 N/A
SPG Business Amex $95 None Up to 35k value Silver 15 N/A
SPG Luxury Amex $450 (See Rates & Fees) $300
(applies only to Marriott purchases)
Up to 50k value Gold 15 Priority Pass, Global Entry, Boingo
Ritz-Carlton Rewards $450 $300
(applies to airline incidentals)
Up to 50K value Gold 15 Club Level upgrades, companion airfare discount, Global Entry
* Issued on each cardmember anniversary starting after the first year.
** A maximum of 15 credits may be earned per Marriott member; begins in 2019.

While you can’t stack the elite night credits like you could before the merger, you’ll be able to stack the free night certificates. In fact, last month I answered a reader question about why you should or shouldn’t hold on to both a Chase Marriott card and Amex SPG and concluded that it’s really only worth it to stack the free night certificates.

So yes, while this benefit can be used on more than one card, you’ll have to maximize the perk to offset the load of annual fees you’ll have to pay to earn them. Additionally, starting on August 26, Chase and Amex are limiting the welcome bonuses on each card, so it’ll be impossible to receive a bonus on every card if you hold other products in the portfolio, lowering the value proposition of holding each individual card.

But, let’s say you hypothetically held the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express, the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card and the Marriott Premier Plus Business Card. You’d pay $384 in annual fees but you’d also have four free night certificates for any property up to a Category 5 hotel (excluding peak prices at Category 5 hotels when that portion of the new award chart comes into effect in 2019). According to TPG’s valuations, that could get you as much as $1,120 in hotel stays for a net return of $736 after deducting the annual fees.

If you throw in the Amex SPG Luxury card and still have the Ritz-Carlton Rewards card, you’ll pay $900 more in annual fees for a total of $1,284 in fees, but you’ll have enough certificates for $1,920 in hotel stays. That still ends up at a net return of $636 in hotel stays, but remember that these premium cards also have travel credits that can offset the annual fees.

Theoretically you’d be able to hold six of the cards at a time, but realistically most people will probably only hold onto a few of these credit cards at most since you’ll have to cancel some of the Marriott and SPG cards you already have to receive the welcome bonuses on others. Additionally, you can’t have the Marriott Rewards Premier credit card and the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card at the same time.

Bottom Line

If you’re confident in your ability to use the free night certificates at higher-tier properties every year, then it could be worth holding onto more than one or more Marriot and SPG cards. But if that doesn’t make sense, it’s probably best to just hold onto one, or go with a separate travel rewards card altogether.

Thanks for the question, Vik, and if you’re a TPG reader who’d like us to answer a question of your own, tweet us at @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or email us at info@thepointsguy.com.

Featured image by The Points Guy staff.

For rates and fees of the SPG Luxury Card, please click here.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.