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New Benefits for the SPG Amex Credit Cards: Huge Sign-Up Bonuses and More

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The new SPG credit card bonuses are now available. And they’re exciting, easily topping any bonus we’ve ever seen for these cards. You’ll get 75,000 points with the SPG personal card and a huge 100,000 points with the business card.

Sadly, those bonuses aren’t all they appear to be. That’s because the SPG program is now essentially the Marriott program. In other words, transfers to airline frequent flyer programs are now at a ratio of 3:1 instead of 1:1. You need three times the points you used to for the same number of airline miles.

What’s Changing?

We knew that changes were coming ever since Marriott and SPG merged back in 2016. But it took awhile for the two brands—and their loyalty programs—to fully combine into one. Now that has happened, and the new rewards program is essentially the old Marriott program.

That’s too bad since SPG used to have the most valuable rewards points on the market. While you can still transfer points to a huge number of airline partners (40+), those points aren’t worth nearly as much as they used to be. In fact, they’ve essentially been devalued by a third for airline redemptions.

For the time being, the SPG personal and business cards are still available, but the benefits and perks have changed. There’s also a new SPG Luxury card in the works, but it won’t launch until late in august.

What About the Starwood Credit Card Transfer Bonus?

It’s not going anywhere, though it’s been adjusted to the new 3:1 transfer rates. Instead of getting a 5,000-point bonus for every 20,000 points you transfer to a partner airline, you’ll get a 15,000-point bonus for every 60,000 points you transfer.

That works out to a total of 25,000 frequent flyer miles. So the end result is the same as it used to be, but it now costs 60,000 points instead of 20,000.

On the bright side, the SPG cards earn more than they used to. Let’s take a look.

The New SPG Credit Card Perks

Bigger bonuses and better earning categories; do they make up for the devaluation in SPG points? We’ll explore that below. But first, let’s have closer look at the cards.

Of course the big news with the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express card is the big 75,000-point sign-up bonus. That sounds huge since the SPG card used to offer 25,000 points, but those points aren’t worth as much as they used to be.

The card also offered 5 points per dollar for Starwood and Marriott purchases, but now you’ll get 6 points per dollar. Not much of an increase considering your points are worth a third of what they used to be.

You’ll also get 2 points per dollar for all other purchases with the new card. The old card only offered 1 point per dollar for those purchases. Again, an improvement, but not great.

The most valuable upgrade to the SPG card is that you’ll get a free night award every year you renew your card. That’s in line with the Marriott cards and wasn’t previously offered with the SPG card.

You’ll also get Silver elite status and free in-room WiFi. The old card allowed you to earn Gold status if you spent $30,000 a year, which is still an option with the new card. But instant status is definitely a nice perk.

Starwood Business Card From American Express

Not surprisingly, the new benefits that come with the Starwood Business card are similar to the personal card. You’ll get the same 6x points at Starwood and Marriott, an annual free night award and complimentary Silver status.

The sign-up bonus, though, is better for the time being. You can get 100,000 points until October 31, 2018. The old business card typically offered just 25,000 points, though those points were obviously more valuable.

Perhaps the best perk of the business card over the personal is that it offers 4x points at restaurants and gas stations, and for wireless phone services and shipping. All other purchase earn 2 points per dollar.

If you can get the Business SPG card, it’s definitely the way to go.

You’ll Earn More in the New SPG/Marriott Program, but Is It Enough?

While SPG points are definitely worth less now since transfers cost 3 points for 1 airline mile, you’re going to earn more thanks to these new card benefits. Does it balance out in the end? Short answer: not really, but the cards are still worth having.

Sign-Up Bonuses

The sign-up bonuses are essentially a wash. The 75,000 points that come with the personal card translate into 25,000 points after calculating for a devaluation of a third.

The Business card’s bonus of 100,000 points translates into 33,333 points after the downgrade. That’s better than the typical bonus you used to get of 25,000 SPG points and roughly equivalent to the biggest bonus ever seen on that card (35,000 points).

Earning Categories and Transfer Rates

Before the merger was complete, you could transfer your SPG points to Marriott points at a rate of 1 to 3. So every SPG point was worth 3 Marriott points. That translated into 15 Marriott points for purchases from SPG and Marriott (5 SPG points per dollar spent x 3) and 3 Marriott points per dollar spent everywhere else (1 SPG point per dollar spent x 3).

Now you’ll earn just 6x Marriott points at SPG and Marriott properties and 2x points everywhere else. That’s a whopping 60% drop for SPG and Marriott purchases and a 33% drop for everything else.

The outlier is that the Business SPG card now earns 4x at restaurants and gas stations, and for wireless phone services and shipping. So you’ll get 4x Marriott points for those purchases instead of the previous 3x.

Amex Application Rules to Watch Out for

Unfortunately, since Chase issues the Marriott cards and Amex issues the SPG cards, the SPG card bonuses will be subject to both Amex and Marriott rules starting on August 26, 2018.

That means you can only earn one sign-up bonus per lifetime for each Amex SPG card, and you won’t get a sign-up bonus if you’ve received a bonus for one of the Marriott cards in the last 30 days.

It gets worse. You can’t get the bonus for the SPG cards if you currently have any of the Chase Marriott cards. You can close your Chase Marriott card account and then apply, but the Marriott card must be closed for at least 30 days before you can qualify.

In addition to all of the restrictions above, you also can’t get bonus for the SPG Business card if you’ve earned a new card bonus from a Chase Marriott card in the last two years.

Bottom Line

While the combined SPG/Marriott program isn’t as good as the old SPG program, it still offers valuable rewards thanks to its extremely flexible currency. No other rewards program lets you transfer points to over 40 airline partners.

So you’re going to still want to have an SPG or Marriott card. If you’re looking to add one to your collection, consider getting the SPG Business card if you can. It’s enhanced earning categories and bigger sign-up bonus make it a winner.

If you’re open to getting a premium travel card, the new SPG Luxury card launching later in August will have a lot to offer, too. You may want to wait for that one instead.

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