TPG reader credit card question: Should I keep my legacy SPG card or switch to Marriott Bonvoy?

Dec 14, 2020

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Editor’s note: This article is part of a column to answer your toughest credit card questions. If you would like to ask us a question, tweet us at @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or email us at info@thepointsguy.com. 

Back in 2018, Marriott and SPG made waves in the hotel industry with the merger that created the new Marriott Bonvoy brand. Since the merger — and all of the complications that came with it — Marriott Bonvoy has rebranded its credit cards, now offering a lineup of four cards open for applications. Two of the cards are cobranded with Chase while the other two are cobranded with American Express.

But for those cardholders who had legacy SPG credit cards, they now have Marriott Bonvoy equivalents that are no longer open to new applications. Is it worth keeping those old cards, or is it a smarter option to cancel and apply for one of the newer Bonvoy cards?

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Good afternoon – I read your article today on the multiple Bonvoy cards and found it very interesting! I currently only hold the Bonvoy AMEX, which is the legacy SPG card, and definitely like using it for the free night benefit. However, I’m thinking of abandoning it so I can wait and get another very similar card and still take advantage of the sign-up bonus as well. Can you think of any reason why I should keep the card I currently have?

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide!

TPG Reader Phil

 

To level-set, let’s go through the benefits of the Marriott Bonvoy Card from American Express, which is no longer open to new applicants. Cardholders get 6x points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program and 2x on all other purchases, a free night award every year after your cardmember anniversary, automatic Silver elite status, 15 elite night credits each year and no foreign transaction fees. The card does charge a $95 annual fee .

The information for the Marriott Bonvoy Card from American Express card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

If those benefits sound familiar, it’s probably because this card is similar to the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card issued by Chase. In fact, the two cards offer almost identical benefits and rewards structures with the same $95 annual fee.

Related: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless credit card review 

An argument for canceling

Given the two cards are so similar, one might ask why it would make sense to cancel when Phil already has essentially the same benefits with his current Marriott Bonvoy Amex. While the two cards are almost identical, the Boundless does come with one added benefit that Phil can’t get with his current card — 125,000 bonus points + 1 free night (valued up to 50,000 points) after you spend $5,000 in the first three months from account opening (total of up to 175,000 bonus points).

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

TPG values the offer at up to $1,400, and it’s a great value for a cobranded hotel card that only charges $95 a year in annual fees.

Marriott cards come with potentially confusing rules on who is eligible for new cards — despite being different products from different issuers, cardholders of the Marriott Bonvoy Amex cannot have the card or have had the card within the past 30 days in order to apply for the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless.

If Phil is interested in the Boundless credit card, it definitely makes sense to cancel his current legacy card in order to wait and qualify for the Boundless card and its sign-up bonus.

Why it might make sense to keep the Bonvoy Amex

However, there are a couple of scenarios where it may make more sense to keep the Marriott Bonvoy Amex rather than canceling.

For starters, Phil may decide to keep the card if it’s his longest-open credit card. One of the factors when determining your credit score is the duration of accounts. So if Phil has had the card for almost 20 years and it’s the card he’s had the longest, canceling could hurt his credit score overall. Now, he may decide the benefits of a new sign-up bonus outweigh the risk to his credit score (especially if he has other cards that have been open a considerable amount of time), but it’s still something to consider before canceling.

Another reason to keep his current card is if he plans on applying for the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card or the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card.

(Photo by The Points Guy)

The Brilliant is Marriott’s luxury card offering, with a 150,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points and a bonus free night award (redemption level worth up to 85,000 Marriott points) after you use your new card to make $5,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership. Resort fees may apply. Offer expires 11/3/2021.

The card also comes with a myriad of benefits, including a more valuable free award night each year worth 50,000 points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program (certain hotels have resort fees) (and the ability to earn a second night after qualifying spending), an up to $300 annual Marriott statement credit on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program and complimentary Marriott Gold elite status. The card has a $450 annual fee (see rates and fees).

Related: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express card review

The Bonvoy Business Amex card offers a similar benefits lineup as the Boundless and the Bonvoy Amex, except with a more valuable welcome bonus, the ability to earn a second free award night after hitting qualifying spend. But another benefit to having the business card is that paired with a personal credit card, you can stack the elite night credits earned. So Phil could earn a total of 30 elite night credits per year with the Business Amex/Bonvoy Amex combo.

Related: Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express card review

In these two cases, it could make more sense to hang onto the card and simply apply for the new cards outright since there are no restrictions to having both the Bonvoy Amex and one of the current Amex-issued Marriott Bonvoy cards. While he’d be paying two annual fees, the free award night and other benefits on the legacy Marriott Bonvoy Amex should continue to make it worth it.

Bottom line

It all comes down to which card Phil is looking to apply for. If he’s looking to replace his current Bonvoy Amex with the Chase-issued Marriott Bonvoy Boundless, then canceling likely makes the most sense so that he can take advantage of the welcome bonus after at least 30 days.

However, if the Bonvoy Amex is his longest-opened card or he’s looking to upgrade to either the Brilliant or Business card, holding onto it wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Related reading: Which Marriott Bonvoy credit card is right for you?

Featured image courtesy of Napa Valley Marriott. 

For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex, please click here.

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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.

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