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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express
The Marriott acquisition of Starwood has been long awaited by some and dreaded by others. But ready or not, Marriott’s new combined program will officially launch on August 18. Although the Starwood Preferred Guest program as we know it will be no more, the Starwood Preferred Guest credit cards remain. And after a drought of points-earning welcome bonuses, the SPG credit cards now have new welcome bonuses featuring points in Marriott’s all-new nameless points program.
The new welcome bonus on the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express is now 75,000 points after spending $3,000 on the card within the first 3 months. From now until October 31, 2018, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express is offering a limited-time bonus of 100,000 points after spending $5,000 on the card within the first 3 months. (Don’t forget to clear your browser’s cache if you don’t see the offers when you click on the links.)
These new bonuses might sound gasp-worthy at first compared to the old standard SPG bonuses of 25,000 and (occasionally) 35,000 points, until you realize that the points are now worth only one-third of what they used to be, thanks to the 3:1 conversion rate of Marriott points to Starpoints. Even so, based on TPG’s latest valuations, 75,000 Marriott points are worth $600 and 100,000 Marriott points are worth $800.
The bigger issue with the revised SPG cards is the devaluation of the everyday earning rate. Starting August 1, both the personal and business SPG Amex cards will earn 2 Marriott points per dollar on everyday non-bonused spend. Again, at first glance, that sounds favorable compared to the old “1 point per dollar” earning rate, but since you’re now earning 2 new Marriott points instead of 1 old Starpoint — which was equal to 3 Marriott points — the new earning rate is actually 33% less.
The new Marriott program has 45 transfer partners, but if you want to use your points for hotel properties in the newly combined portfolio, the 75,000-point welcome bonus on the personal SPG Amex card could get you one or two nights at a high-end property like the Ritz-Carlton Macau or W Miami, or ten nights at a Category 1 hotel like Protea Hotel Cape Town Tyger Valley (7,500 points per night).
Annual Fee: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95 (See Rates & Fees). This means you’ll have 12 months to enjoy the welcome bonus and spending perks on the card before paying anything. And when each successive annual fee hits starting with the first one, it’ll be accompanied by a Free Night Award valid for a one-night redemption at a property that normally costs up to 35,000 points.
Category Bonuses: Earn 6x at participating SPG and Marriott hotels and 2x on all other purchases. The business version also earns 4x at US restaurants, US gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from US service providers and on US purchases for shipping.
Starwood / Marriott Benefits: Free in-room premium internet access while staying at participating properties, and 15 nights of elite credit each year, which will get you complimentary Silver Elite status (note that only one 15 night elite credit will count for each Marriott member per year, regardless of how many SPG or Marriott cards you have). But if you spend $35,000 on your card in a calendar year, you’ll earn an upgrade to Gold Elite status through the end of the next calendar year.
Travel Protections: Both the personal and business cards offer travel protections that include secondary car rental loss and damage insurance, roadside assistance hotline, travel accident insurance and a baggage insurance plan for lost, damaged or stolen baggage.
Purchase Protections: Both cards offer an extended warranty benefit that matches manufacturer’s warranties of five years or less by up to one year, purchase protection against theft or accidental damage during the first 90 days after you purchase an item and return protection when a retailer refuses to take back an item within 90 days of purchase.
Other Benefits: No foreign transaction fees (See Rates & Fees) and complimentary unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi on up to four devices at more than 1,000,000 Boingo hotspots worldwide.
Application Restrictions: In addition to being subject to Amex’s usual one-bonus-per-lifetime rules, starting on August 26 the SPG cards will also fall under Marriott’s additional restrictions on earning welcome bonuses, which include Marriott cards issued by Chase. These new rules mean that you can’t get the personal SPG bonus if you have or have had any of the personal Marriott or Ritz-Carlton cards in the last 30 days, and you can’t get the SPG business card bonus if you’ve had one of the Marriott business cards in the last 30 days or if you’ve gotten a Marriott personal card sign-up bonus in the last 24 months. Even if you’re eligible for one of these SPG bonuses, applying for it will effect your eligibility for Marriott cards from Chase, so make sure you’ve carefully planned out your application strategy.
Although these cards aren’t ideal for everyday spending any more, they earn decent points for paid stays at Marriott and Starwood properties. Plus, the welcome bonuses can provide solid value and the free night certificate provided at each account anniversary can effectively pay for the annual fee. So if you think it’s a good time to add either card to your wallet, here are the links to apply for the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express with a 75,000 point bonus or for the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express with a 100,000 point bonus.
For rates and fees of the SPG Amex Card, please click here.
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