What's the Transfer Ratio to Marriott for US (and Canadian) Membership Rewards?
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"Reader Questions" are answered twice a week by TPG Associate Editor Brendan Dorsey.
Not all credit card rewards are made the same, and that's just as true for our northern neighbors in Canada. TPG reader Patrick wants to know what the transfer ratio looks like from the Canadian version of The Platinum Card® from American Express to the new combined Marriott/SPG rewards program...
[pullquote source="TPG Reader Patrick"]Currently have the SPG Amex. Should also specify I'm in Canada. Does the Platinum Card transfer points to SPG/Marriott 1:1 or more? Trying to see if it's worth the switch.[/pullquote]
Canadian Amex cards have a different earning structure along with different transfer ratios for their version of the Membership Rewards program. So now that Marriott and SPG have officially unified their rewards programs, what's the new transfer ratio for Canadians?
According to Points Nerd, a Canadian points and miles blog, before the new integrated Marriott program was launched, the old Starwood Preferred Guest program allowed you to convert Amex MR points to SPG at a 2:1 ratio. Those SPG points could then be converted into Marriott points at 1:3 ratio, so a transfer through both steps under the old terms would have looked like this...
1,000 MR —> 500 SPG —> 1,500 Marriott
However, now that the new ratio has been implemented, Canadian Amex Membership Rewards points convert directly to Marriott points at a 1 to 1.2 ratio. That means a transfer will appear this way...
1,000 MR —> 1,200 Marriott
As Points Nerd points out, that's effectively a 20% devaluation of the Amex to Marriott transfer ratio. The Canadian Amex SPG card earns 2 Marriott points per dollar on everyday spend, while Canada's Amex Platinum card earns 1.25 Membership Rewards points per dollar. If Patrick is focused on earning Marriott points, then he's better off sticking to the SPG Amex since the Platinum would effectively earn 1.5 SPG points for every Canadian dollar spent.
What about US Amex cardholders? What's their new transfer ratio? Before the merger, Membership Rewards-earning cardholders could convert MR points into SPG points at a 3:1 ratio, and then SPG points into Marriott points at a 1:3 ratio. To turn US Amex points into Marriott would look like this...
1,000 MR —> 333 SPG —> 999 Marriott
Effectively, you were transferring points to Marriott at a 1:1 ratio — you just had to go through SPG first. Now 1,000 Membership Rewards points convert directly into 1,000 Marriott points, so there's no devaluation for US cardmembers, just a simpler transfer.
You can earn Amex Membership Rewards with these cards:
- American Express® Business Gold Card
- The Platinum Card® from American Express
But is it a good idea to transfer Amex points to Marriott points? Well, TPG doesn't have a valuation for Canadian Membership Rewards, but when it comes to US cardmembers, he values Membership Rewards at 1.9 cents apiece, but Marriott points at only 0.9 cents each. So you'd be losing more than half the value of your Amex points by transferring them to Marriott.
Still, if you're a Marriott regular, it could be worth getting certain certain Amex cards anyway. That's because the Amex Platinum card comes with complimentary Gold elite status in the new Marriott program, which includes benefits like late checkout and room upgrades. The new Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card also earns Gold elite status, and you can spend your way to Platinum status after $75,000 is charged to the card in a calendar year. In total, TPG values Gold Elite perks at $725 a year.